By Jess, Contributor
My baby is in daycare. She started at 12 weeks old. My oldest didn’t start daycare till she was almost 2 and a half. Entirely different ball game when your kid can eat on her own and speak up for herself (sort of).
Allie is at daycare very close to my office, so I’m very lucky that I can visit during the day. Her teachers are absolutely wonderful and caring. They’ve made the transition into the world of daycare a lot easier.
Not all daycare providers are Mary Poppins happy to be caring for kids. There’s no law that says you have to love your job, but in this case, it sure would be nice if they at least liked their jobs. It’s a disheartening feeling to leave your baby with someone you know could care less. Yes, the baby’s fundamental needs are met (diapers changed, bottles fed) but care and love is important too. I am so glad that A’s teachers show a real interest in the kids.
I won’t lie, leaving your kid at daycare isn’t easy. Yesterday I dropped off milk during a quick visit and for the first time, my heart broke because I had to run off. My sweet girl had just woken up and was in a happy mood. It killed me to leave her there while all the other parents spent their lunches playing with their babies. I felt like a fail for not staying.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, the daycare experience can be made better. The key is feeling comfortable and knowing your child is safe and accommodated. You can’t be shy and you have to speak up for yourself (or in this case, your kid). I’ve watched my friends’ journeys through daycare with their babies and they’ve taught me a some things.
- If you want things done a certain way, you have to make that very clear and stick to your guns. All parents want different things. If you don’t specify, then the daycare teacher will just do what’s easiest or what all the other kids are doing.
- Be nice. Seriously, this is the golden rule for everything. You want people to be good to you (and your kid) you have to be nice. Genuinely show an interest in your child’s care providers. Talk to them. Smile at the other parents and babies. Don’t you want people to smile at your baby on a fussy day?
- Keep the lines of communication open. Make clear that you want to help them resolve any issues. You are there to make their job easier too. I firmly believe that if you make yourself approachable, they will talk to you and be receptive when you talk to them about your concerns.
- A little thoughtfulness goes a long way. The people watching your kids are with them for the majority of their waking hours. Show them how much you appreciate them by dropping them a simple note now and again or telling their supervisors how great they are. Bring in donuts or bagels one day. I guarantee that little act of kindness will go miles at your daycare. The teachers talk, I’ve heard them.
- Do what works for you and don’t worry about all the other parents. We all run our households differently and there’s no reason it can’t work that way at daycare. So what if your kid doesn’t nap in a crib or eat every 4 hours? No big deal.
Above all, just remember: be nice and talk to your daycare providers. I can’t tell you not to worry because you will. But when you pick up a happy face like this, it makes it all worth it.