Choosing a dayare center prooved to be one of the hardest tasks I faced. Well, choosing the center was not extremely hard but I had no idea what I was doing. I thought that finding the biggest, brightest, highly staffed center was what I wanted for my unborn baby. I always assumed that daycare was our best option. After he was born, it was completely opposite of what I wanted!
I am truly not trying to bash daycare. Many moms find that it is a great option. I certainly think there are some benefits. However, my priorities as a new mom were very, very different. I found it very hard to be graceful and flexible with our daycare providers. I understood that things would not be done the same as I did them (my husband may disagree with that) but I just wanted there to be a consistency and priority to his activities. I was not okay with him being fed 1.5 hours late as a 3 month old just because he was not crying like the other babies.
As you will come to find out, I am also pretty much a stickler about sleep and naps (yes, I am certain the daycare workers called me a nap nazi behind my back). I left the daycare in tears almost every day because he would go hours upon hours without sleeping and then conk out in the car on the way home. I felt like I had hardly any time with him whatsoever. I have heard it gets a lot easier as they get older, but I just didn’t think I had it in me to find out. In some ways, it got even harder as he got older because he was more alert and interested in what was going on around him instead of napping.
In the end, even my husband realized it just was not working. We were having to take too many sick days to take care of our son due to ear infections and croup. Our little boy was exhausted, and mama was not happy! We needed another solution and ended up nanny sharing for the next 6 months.
Often, it is the only or the best option for us as working moms. I completely understand that. I am grateful for every day that we had another option. The best advice I can give is to pick 1-2 things for your daycare provider to work on. Do you want them fed at specific times (within a 30 min window)? Do you want them to nap after being awake x amount of time? Once those things are well established, then consider working on additional requests. Also, communicate daily. Thank them for all that they do, offer grace when they do things differently, and know that your baby is usually more resilient than mommy.
Some disadvantages of daycare centers:
- Brightly lit, often no separate sleeping area for infants
- Rarely quiet for sleeping in infant room
- Wide age range in most infant rooms (6-52 weeks)
- Rules you may not agree with
- Lack of schedule in infant room (often 6-18 different babies/schedules)
- Ratio (often 1:6, higher in toddler rooms)
- Illness (pink eye, croup, strep, ear infections, chronic colds exposure…just in 3 month experience)
- Very different parenting philosophies
- Numerous holiday/school closings
- High turnover of caregivers
Advantages I have seen/witnessed:
- Cost, usually quite reasonable
- State certified (+/-)
- Flexible hours
- Schedule usually in toddler/older rooms
- Educational activites
What am I missing? I know lots of moms have had great experiences with daycare? Any other tips on making it work?