Daycare drama

Figuring out who would take care of our children while we worked was one of the toughest parenting choices we’ve had to make. Having me be a stay at home mom was never a viable option for us financially, so as soon as I got pregnant with our first child, we started looking into childcare options.

We live in a city where finding daycare spaces can be very, very tough. Not only is daycare ridiculously expensive, there are also long waiting lists for many daycare centres, starting from before the babies are even born. We did some research and found a daycare centre that would meet our needs: good reputation, good facilities and convenient location. We got ourselves on the waiting list when I was three months pregnant, knowing that we would require care for our child starting at age one.

Fast forward to summer 2011. Our son, Littleman, was about six months old and we decided to ask to for another tour of the daycare we had chosen. Now that we were parents, we had a better sense of what we wanted to know/ask about so we set up a time to visit. As we took the tour, we spoke to the supervisor about the chances of space being available when we needed it in January 2012. This is when we learned that Littleman was unlikely to get a spot.

Right away, we started looking around for other options. While we preferred the idea of a daycare centre rather than a home daycare, options were limited because we needed something in walking distance from our home and there weren’t many places that accepted babies under 18 months. We ended up choosing a home daycare where Littleman would be one of five children. We had to start paying for the spot two months before we needed it because someone else would have snatched it up if we didn’t.

We expected the transition from being at home with me to being in daycare all day to be tough for Littleman. We had heard that it often takes a couple of weeks for kids to settle into the new routine. What we didn’t expect is that he would NEVER settle in.

After two and a half months of constant crying, emails and phone calls to pick him up early, we finally had to admit defeat and accept that this daycare just wasn’t right for us. We made the decision to pull him out. I checked in with our first choice – the daycare centre – to see if there was a chance he could get a spot there. At the same time, I arranged to see a few other home daycares in the neighbourhood.

In the end, we chose to keep him at home for a couple of months until a space opened up at the daycare centre in the summer. We were lucky enough to find a nanny who was available part time to cover the days that D had to work. When she wasn’t available, I would take some time off of work or my mom would help out. When Littleman finally started at the daycare in July, he was 17 months old and the transition went extremely well. He was very happy there and remains happy there now. His little brother, Bo, joined him at the same daycare in February of this year.

Now that Littleman is four and will be starting Junior Kindergarten in September, we had to start over with the whole child care application process. Where we live, Kindergarten is now full day. Our public school offers a before and after school child care program. As it turns out, getting a spot in that program is just as cutthroat as regular daycare and we (almost) waited too long to get ourselves on the waiting list. After a couple of stressful weeks, we found out that Littleman got the last spot in the child care program.

We were super-relieved when we found out. But, seriously, what are people supposed to do if they don’t get a space for their child?   After the bad experience we had when Littleman was a baby, I hate the idea of having to settle for childcare that isn’t my first (or even second or third!) choice. Ugh

Learning from past mistakes, we have already put Bo on the waiting list for a before and after school child care space for when he starts Kindergarten (in 2018!). I know I will always worry a little bit about my kids when they are in the care of someone else, but hopefully I no longer have to worry about whether they have a daycare space at all.

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There were some tears

After his morning nap, I took Bo back to daycare for day two. This was his first day without me staying with him. “Come back in two hours, unless we call you sooner,” one teacher said as she walked off with my baby.

I felt the lump in my throat. Determined not to break down in the daycare centre, I headed for the door. One of the administrators caught me on the way out. She gave me a sympathetic smile. I told her how hard it was for me to leave him. She said that, in her experience, it’s often the parents who have struggled with infertility or loss that have a harder time leaving their baby at daycare.

This, of course, is a major generalization. But it also feels a bit true for me. I seem to feel the need to hold on to Bo just a little bit tighter. Maybe because he’s our rainbow baby, conceived after a loss. Or perhaps it’s just that he’s our last child and I know I won’t have any more time at home with a baby in the future. Either way, it helped to know I wasn’t alone in my sadness.

With tears in my eyes, I walked back home. I did some little tasks to distract myself – laundry, cleaning out some cupboards, signing Littleman up for t-ball – while I waited for the two hours to be up. Then the phone rang. I jumped. It’s the daycare! Bo had enough for one day.

I practically ran down the street and burst through the daycare door. There he was, crying in a teacher’s arms. He reached for me and stopped crying immediately. Together again.

We’ll try again tomorrow, because I know we have to, but it’s going to be hard. I’m sure there will be more tears (possibly from both of us!) but hopefully each day will get a little easier.

It’s daycare day

I’ve been dreading this day for a while but we managed to survive the first day of daycare…

Monday, 8:00am: I’m semi-awake when I hear my phone buzz with a text message.  My friend (and neighbour) needs to borrow our shovel.  Tons of snow has fallen overnight and her shovel broke.  I respond, telling her where it is, and roll over for a little more snoozing.

8:05am: Bo starts to make some noise.  I brush my teeth and head into his room.  We have a little snuggle as I nurse him.  “Ready to start daycare?” I ask.  He coos and babbles in response.  Clearly, he has no idea what is coming today.

8:10am: Bo and I climb into bed with my husband and hear Littleman come barreling out of his own room.  The four of us hang out in bed together.  The boys smile and hug each other, which melts my heart.  I take it all in, knowing that the opportunities for mornings like this are few and that my time at home is so close to the end.

9:00am: D bundles up Littleman and heads off to drop him at daycare.  There is so much snow that they decide to take the sled.  Littleman is excited about his “toboggan ride” and, since daycare is just down the street, it’s probably the easiest way to get there in this weather.  I take Bo upstairs for his morning nap.  Nursing him in the silence, it finally hits me.  This is actually happening.  No more days at home together.  No more staying in our pajamas on a snowy day.  I hug him a little tighter than usual as I put him down in his crib.

9:30am: D clears off the car and heads to the grocery store to pick up a couple more sippy cups for Bo.  He’s never taken a bottle and we’ve been working hard on teaching him how to use a cup in preparation for daycare.  Yesterday we had a breakthrough with a straw-style cup, so now we need to stock up on those.

11:00am: The kid wakes from morning nap. It’s time! I get him dressed and bundle us both up to walk through the snow to the daycare. Since this is his first day, I’ll stay with him the whole time.

12:00pm: After a bit of playing, the daycare staff and I decide to try feeding Bo some lunch. Today’s menu features quinoa and edamame. I know, right? Anyway, although it is puréed for the littlest ones, Bo still spits it out. He gobbles up the applesauce and crackers, though.

1:00pm: After a bit more playtime, I decide to leave the room for a bit. I wave goodbye and retreat to the hallway. I have a few moments of heartache when I hear him cry (he dumped a bin of toys on himself). He seems to be doing fine, other than that. He plays for a while and then they try to give him some milk. He’s not interested and starts rubbing his eyes and whining. Enough for today.

1:45pm: We bundle back up and head home for a snack. Bo munches on some pita with hummus while I scarf a bun and some chocolate covered raisins (I know, lunch of champions).

2:45pm: Nursing, then nap time. Bo goes to sleep easily, so it seems he survived his first hours of daycare relatively unscathed.

3:00pm: I whip up a cauliflower mac and cheese for dinner. We need a quick and easy meal tonight, so it’s better if I can prepare it in advance.

4:00pm: I head back to daycare with the sled to pick up Littleman. It’s earlier than usual because we have his skating lesson tonight.

5:00pm: Dinner is in the oven and we’re all in the living room. Bo is happy after a good afternoon nap and Littleman is clearly tired after no nap at daycare today.

6:00pm: Everyone is (somewhat) fed and we’re rushing out the door.

6:15pm: Skating! Bo gets passed back and forth as we watch Littleman’s skating lesson.

7:15pm: Bedtime for Bo. We made it through our first time at daycare. As I nurse him, I wonder how tomorrow will be. Tomorrow I won’t be staying at daycare with him. He’ll be doing it on his own. I give him an extra little cuddle tonight because, even though things are changing around here, he’s still my baby.

8:00pm: Mom’s night out. I bundle up (again…so much bundling!) to walk to a local pub for a drink with some girlfriends/fellow mamas. It’s cold and snowy. I’m tired and a bit sad. But an evening with the girls is just what I need.

10:55pm: Bedtime for me. It’s been a long day. Starting daycare went as well as it could but it still wore me out emotionally. Tomorrow is another day but for now, sleep.

Last day

Today is the last day that Bo and I will spend at home together before he starts daycare. On Monday, we will begin a slow transition to daycare in advance of my return to work in March.

I have been lucky enough to have a whole year of maternity leave. At the end of each of my pregnancies, I remember thinking “a year. A whole year!” But then life happens and a year is gone in the blink of an eye.

I’m not ready. I’m not ready to leave this sweet, smiling boy. I’m not ready to see the inevitable tears as I leave him when he’s not expecting it. I’m not ready for daycare-itis, the never ending colds that he’s sure to pick up during his first year.

I know this is all just another part of growing up, of becoming a big kid. Before I know it, he’ll be waving goodbye and running off to play with his buddies. But I’m not ready yet.

Today we’ll spend the day getting ready for his big brother’s fourth birthday. We will nurse and cuddle and enjoy our day at home. On Monday, we will figure out our new normal. Til then…

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Two more weeks

I’m entering my final two weeks of having Bo at home with me full-time.  I don’t return to work until March, but we start paying for daycare on February 2, so we will likely start transitioning Bo right away.

I know I am ridiculously lucky to have had a whole year at home with each of my babies.  I know there are lots of moms who had to go back to work much, much sooner.  But even though I know these things, it still feels much too soon to leave my boy.

I’m trying my best not to think about it too much because I don’t want to spend these final precious days feeling stressed and sad.  However, I have to think about it a bit because I need to start getting Bo ready to be away from me for longer stretches (ok, for any stretches!) of time.

The biggest issue, of course, is eating.  This kid is a boob man.  He still nurses like a champ and knows how to ask for it.  He has this cough/pant/laugh sort of sound he makes while grabbing at me, making it perfectly clear that he wants the breast.  He still won’t really take a bottle (we try every once in a while but it seems wasteful and pointless since he barely swallows anything).  We’ve started trying a variety of different sippy cups, in hopes of finding one that he’ll drink from successfully.  We’ve given up on offering any formula because he shows zero interest in it and we’d have to supply it if we wanted him drinking it at daycare.  So, now we’re on to homogenized milk.  I think he drank a bit today, but mainly he just chews on the sippy cup spout and then maybe swallows a bit of the milk that dribbles out.

We continue to offer a variety of foods, but the only thing he consistently swallows are purees.  (Go figure.  His older brother flat-out refused the stuff).  He eats baby greek yogurt like it’s his job.  Other than that, he’ll munch on foods and then spit them out.  Apple pieces turn into a pile of little apple chips.  He expertly places Cheerios into his mouth and gums them until they become soft and mushy before spitting them back out.  He used to love cheese, but now, just like pretty much everything else, he spits it back out.

The other thing I worry about is sleeping.  This baby loves his naps.  Just yesterday (during his morning nap), I googled “when to drop the morning nap”, thinking that it will be hard to drop him off at daycare right when he’s ready to be sleeping again.  Of course, then he promptly slept for 2.5 hours.  I guess he was telling me he’s not ready!

So, ya.  All that is swirling through my head.

I know I should try not to worry so much.  In all likelihood, the transition to daycare will go just fine.  There will be some hard moments, but I’m sure he’ll settle in okay.  Most kids do.  But, we had a bad experience with the first daycare that Littleman attended when he was Bo’s age (will share that story another day) so I know that there are instances where a child never actually does “settle in.”

OK, enough of the “poor me” stuff.  I am going to take a few deep breaths and then get the sippy cup ready for after nap so we can practice some milk-drinking.  And then I’ll let him eat puree for dinner because I’m a sucker that way!