As of now, my baby has been in daycare for a month. We got her into a place near our neighborhood, and it has turned out really well in general. The teachers are terrific, and it feels strange to find myself going, “Wow – daycare is so cheap!” but compared to the price of a full-time nanny…daycare is cheap. Although, I say that, and I also know that if the Boy and I had more disposable income with which to do things like hire a nanny full time, we probably would have hired our nanny from the beginning of the summer who B just loved, and who seems to adore B to bits as well. Lucky us, we were able to get an occasional babysitter out of this deal too, so they get to see each other every once in a while.
But back to daycare. I know that because she’s bigger now, she’s able to do more, and that’s why it seems like the activities she’s doing are so much more advanced (and frankly, cuter). But it pleases me so much that she gets to interact with lots of other kiddos her own age, especially since her big sisters are a LOT older than she is. Getting that opportunity for socialization is the one thing we have worried about with having a much younger child, and I think this experience so far (as short a time as it has been) shows us that we don’t really have to worry about it. And she gets to do activities there that she wouldn’t get to do at home because we don’t have the economy of scale to buy all that paint and whatnot. She get to do art, and play with musical instruments, cruise around on kiddo sized furniture and basically have the best time ever. It is a physical and social environment that we just aren’t equipped to provide for her.
A thing that I love about our daycare is how interactive it is. Not only are there normal things like opportunities for parents to help out in the classroom (which…sorry guys. Full time job.), but they make it easy for us working stiffs to have an opportunity to peek in during the day. First off, they’ve got a terrific app which records all the baby information my little heart could desire – when she eats, when she sleeps, what her diapers are. It’s all the crazy baby data I love, PLUS there are pictures and videos from activities, and notes from her teachers, as well as the ability to message the daycare with any specific issues. There’s also a second account that you can get which lets you look in on the room where your child is during the day. I will admit to having spent quite a lot of time watching it the first few weeks because I could, and because it was so reassuring. A parent with a child in daycare wants nothing more than for their child to be well cared for and even loved, and I saw support for that of that every time I looked on the cameras, and I knew we had made good choices about where she spends her days. And being this reassured, and having the ability to go back and watch the camera anytime, I’ve pretty much stopped checking in all the time.
Perhaps the hardest part of having her in a commercial daycare environment with lots of other kids is…germs. But this is the first time she’s been exposed to a broad spectrum of bugs from lots of different places, and because of that, she’s been low-grade sick since the end of her first week. Yes, I know that a runny nose is not the end of the world and that a lingering cough isn’t going to hurt her in the long run. She’s still happy and active for the most part, so until we see a quality of life change, taking a trip to the doctor or being pulled out for a couple days just won’t happen. Instead I will perfect new ways to surreptitiously wipe her nose (because she hates it!), and to pay attention to her health and well-being without letting it become an obsession.
It’s amazing how this one thing of having (more) affordable childcare is able to give our family so many opportunities. For me it means not having to rush home to relieve the nanny. I have a little breathing room between my regular end of work time and when I need to pick B up, which means I have options. If I need to pick up groceries, or run an errand – I can. If I need to stay a little late at work and finish a project, I can. That in particular means I have the ability to earn a little extra time off, which is a crucial thing when you have a baby and vacation plans that require big chunks of leave. Even if it just means I can get home and put away all the pumped milk and the used supplies that come from expressing milk at work before going to pick her up at daycare – that’s huge. Because any time I have to be doing these day to day chores while she’s with me is quality time we really aren’t getting to spend together.
I wish childcare were more affordable for everyone, so that there was not one mother out there trying to decide if it was really worth it to hand her baby off to a professional during the day. I wish there wasn’t a stigma about working mothers and “letting someone else raise your child”, because I am so thankful for these women who let me be the best version of myself for the baby each evening. And I have high hopes that this experience will continue to improve as she gets to be bigger and learns more each day.
Anyways. That’s how our life has changed from being in daycare for a month. I know not everyone else who reads this has kids or has experience with daycare, but I know most people have things in their life that have made things easier for them. What’s that for you – a simple service or thing that has just allowed you to live your life better? I’d love to hear about it!