You look at your baby for the first time, and feel as though your heart has literally melted. Your world becomes complete in that very instant. You bring the little pumpkin home to cuddle, kiss, and love. You find you are so in love that you can’t keep your eyes off of them, amazed at how perfect they are. Yep, you’re hooked.
Then, after about six weeks, reality sets in and you realize that soon, someone else will be spending the majority of the day with your baby, when you want nothing more than to never leave their side. Ugh, work!! You dread the day you have to return…
Like most mothers nowadays, I have to work full time in order to tackle those little pieces of paper with due dates staring you down, which seem to pile up on the kitchen counter. The result: daycare. My overall experience in the dreaded search was tolerable, with an excellent outcome. After surveying about 10 potential candidates, I made my final decision on who would get the privilege of caring for my little angel while I worked.
For me, the most important thing was how comfortable I felt with the caretakers and their interaction with the babies. Also, cleanliness! An extra bonus, my baby’s teacher is an R.N! Yep, I was hooked. No doubt about it, these people were worthy of caring for my baby. My first day back to work, I drove him to his first day of daycare, and avoided the fact that I could have a panic attack at any moment. The hardest part was knowing how much time I would be away from him and what I could possibly miss out on. Would I miss his first smile, first word, first steps??? I had to trust that someone I didn’t even really know would take as good of care of him as I would. The drop off wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I thought I’d be a complete wreck and everyone would have to be throwing tissues my way. But, when I got there, everyone remembered my name as well as my baby’s. They were all so excited to get their hands on him, and also wanted to make sure I was doing okay. They made me feel at ease, and I knew he would be in good hands. So far, he has been!
Lucky for me, my mom worked in a daycare for over twenty years. She was by my side during the search, asking questions that needed to be asked, examining the classrooms and teachers, yada yada yada. These are some of the questions we felt were important to ask while performing the search:
Some of this information should be posted at each classroom, but it’s good to ask the questions as well….
1. What is the child to teacher ratio in all the classrooms?
2. What is the schedule for activities in each classroom?
3. What is the typical lunch/snack menu?
4. Do you offer staff any kind of benefits?
5. Are you accredited or just licensed by the state?
6. What deficiencies did you receive from your last state visit?
7. Is there an outside play area? If so, how often do the children go outdoors?
Now, the list of warning signs (in other words, proceed with caution):
1. Unhappy children
2. Un-cleanliness of children or classrooms
3. Smells (especially in younger classrooms)
4. Unhappy/agitated staff
5. Children seeming bored
There’s just one more thing I feel compelled to add. Remember, daycare really is good for your child. As hard as it is to be away from them, it gives them great social skills. They learn to not only depend on their parents and also how to interact with other children. You’re a mom now. You have that maternal instinct. Use it!