Daycare - preparing to send off your child while setting expectations

1:30 AM

I have been meaning this write this post for a month, but I also wanted to give it some time to get a better perspective. As always, I try to be gender neutral, but for the sake of avoiding too many grammatical errors, I talk about my son, so most of my content will refer to 'him' as 'he'.

On the second week of Nov, I placed S at daycare. My son has been at home so far, and while it is amazing that I have had help without having to place him in a daycare or even a nanny, I felt it is high time that he start getting some outside air soon. The right time is different for every child, and often parents are left with no choice but to put their dear one in the care of others. I'm pretty sure if I had put him right after my maternity leave was done, or at one year, or two years, he would have still done fine.

However, he dropped some hints, or so I felt, that helped me figure out the time is right.

He was getting too much special attention at home. Right from being fed while running, to getting diapers changed while running, he had no idea how to sit and eat in one place. We needed a break for our own sanity's sake.

He became too dramatic, and got his way with it. There needed some breaking force to break this vicious cycle of an angry toddler getting his way all the time, and learning to be more loud and dramatic the next time. Of course in the same paragraph, the poor child still suffers from separation anxiety and you felt like there was a glue attached to you even when you slept. It was time for both of us to let him go and get him slowly exposed to the outside world.

He wanted to share. Never mind that wanted to share everything with us, and we usually sat with him or near him while he played with us, or by himself. However, now he wanted to sit in our lap all the time and would not allow us to do anything else. This was not feasible in the long run. He had to realize that even though nothing else is more important than him for us, we cannot always be with him or he sit with us. Those legs hurt after an hour of sitting in 'padmasana', with no back support.

He started showing interest in other kids. Almost a year ago, I remember he would pay less attention to children, and only 'hang around' with us. His only interest, if any was in what toys the other kids had. He would grab the things and play alone. Which is supposedly normal and healthy for a one year old. But we noticed that as we kept inviting other children, around his age, home, or went out, the little ones look at each other, even babble to each other in their own language.

He was getting bored and frustrated. Toddler tantrums are not unknown to any parent. However, I could sense his frustration was because of getting fed up being in the same room/house most of the time. While we took him for regular outings, unplanned backyard runs, playtime with neighbors, it was not enough for a high strung toddler. He was getting frustrated. He would say 'bye tata' (he wants to go out) and run up down the stairs. I definitely am not the parent to buy all the world's best toys in the world. I do spend several hours googling up the best toys though, and end up buying maybe one or two each month, maybe more.

Let me share how I prepped myself and my toddler in daycare.

Do your research. 

I started taking an hour or two off work to research and visit potential day cares at prime hours. If you are looking for a nanny, most of my suggestions may still apply, but you will need to do a solid background check. In that case, definitely consider a paid search. Gobble up all the reviews you can read.

I was not sure I could bring someone into my house and trust them with my child one on one, even if I had placed cameras around the house. I could not stare at the camera all day and keep playing it back anticipating the worst. And, to help even more, I had read way too many news articles about the worst happening with some 'in the right job' nannies. Obviously for the moms who do use a nanny, I don't want to scare you more. Even daycare come with risks, but at the end of your day you can only do so much to protect your child.

Try to put your child on a schedule, in advance. 

Find out typical schedules in the nearby daycare. Most of them must have a time for breakfast between 7:30 to 9:30 am, and a nap time somewhere in the afternoon. There will also be a snack time between 3:00 to 4:00 pm. Don't worry too much about it, but see if you can get your child on a similar schedule before you start.

Transition slowly, if possible. It takes time to get adjusted to a daycare. 

We started with two hours the first day, then another hour the next day. After that, we put him half a day the next week and slowly made it a full day. If you have the ability, put him for half a day for three or more days. 

It is going to be tough, especially for the pampered one. You will thus, need to invest time and make sure you are readily available to pick up your child if there is a need. Trust me, there will be. Even if you have the busiest schedule, you need to be there for your child if they really need it. And, if the daycare is sort of done with your kid for 'the day'.

Daycare is not a cure all.

 Initially, hubby miraculously expected daycare to solve problems we could not solve. Now, S eats at the daycare. Some days. He will still not use his hands at home and expects someone to continue feeding him. As days passed, we too adjusted our expectations accordingly. Don't expect black magic, but if that does happen, watch out.

Be prepared for the anxiety of  separation. 

The first day was a breeze. The second week, not so much. S figured out we're leaving him there for a good few hours, and mommy/grandma/dad is not going to watch him like a stalker. Some days will be good, many days won't. As long as you don't have too many (any) expecations, you will do just fine. 

Your child will still suffer from separation anxiety. He may cry even longer as the days pass by, especially if you run back and swing him in your arms. In the evening, be prepared to attach your child to yourself as a part of your body. Then, suddenly, he will just shoot off and even go willingly towards the 'daycare aunty' (how she must hate that term). You will be shocked to realize how quickly kids adapt, and how suddenly you are not going to remain the apple of your child's eye. Which is a good thing.

Daycare will provide mental stimulation for the kids.

Daycare is a good option as they are known to provide a variety of activities. 'Fun' scribbling (artistic) activities where you don't worry about your newly whitewashed walls and run behind your child to see if he swallowed that last piece of colored crayon can happen in a daycare. These things magically happen in daycare and they still exist in one piece.

Don't expect your loved one to be loved like at home. 

Now, I will write out an award to each daycare that tells your otherwise, but if you are realistic, you must know that watching a toddler who is not your own can be a pain at times. Now, multiply that times 12, and pretty much all day will be spent changing diapers and feeding, then cleaning. Don't expect that your child will be hugged and his nose wiped each time it leaks. Which brings me to the next case in point.

He will fall sick. You may fall sick too.  

That was bound to happen. Who asked you to never expose your little one to any germs. Now wait till you both fall sick and he hopefully recovers faster than you. Also, be ready to wipe your own leaky nose and his, and try to remain dignified about it.

Also, that is the reason day cares request you not to send in your child when sick. Leaky noses, are of course, acceptable. Anything else, please take the time for your child on your own. He deserves it, and so do you.

You can finally relax. Wait, what?

You don't have to worry about the multitude of play dates and social interaction with other sleep deprived parents. Your child needs social interaction. You may  not be in the mood for it. But, now you can make sure your child learns how to bite other toddlers yummy cheeks. I mean, eat food with other toddlers and share toys (break toys together).

Working moms don't have to feel any more guilty than they already do. Yeah, you work? How the hell can you, leave your child with some other person? Well, guess what. Working moms can finally relax, hoping that (most of) their salaries will be put to good use, aka their child care. So, it still makes sense for them to go out and work.

Stay at home moms, you need time for yourself. You need to go to the restroom, at least once in a day, doing it in peace is not too much to ask for! Of course, if the chores need to get done, it will be done better with no poopy diaper running around where you cook/eat. You need to drink atleast one tea/coffee/wine, alone! Put your child in a daycare.

Yes, our children are the best, but will keeping them away for a few hours hurt? Maybe, but a sleep deprived, no private peaceful mom is not going to be a very happy mom. So, you need to put your child in day care. Even for a few hours. It's good for them and good for you. 

I'm almost done, but then I want to share how S did. That was the whole point of writing today! If you are almost asleep, you can skip this section :)

Day one: Mr. S was least bothered about us dropping him at daycare. Grandma and me were more emotional than he was. He was more interested in the new place he was in, with all the toys. He loves to mock cook. There was a playstove, so he was there most of the day (read 2 hours where we were more anxious than he was).

Day two: Dad dropped S at daycare. This time, he figured something was up and didn't let go that easily.
We put him for a few hours on two consecutive days, to help him transition. This is the plan for the intial two weeks, and we will see 'how it goes'. He was there for about four hours.

Week two, day one: S realized we are doing this regularly, but not daily. He will now try and see if Dad runs and picks him up like mom does. Dad didn't, though he was emotional too. In anger and emotions overflowing, S didn't eat breakfast, and didn't allow anyone to change his diapers. He ate lunch, but refused to sleep.
Later in the day, he played well and even 'fed food' to other kids. This had to be true, as he does that with us periodically. He must have sneaked some food somehow.
He cried during pickup and drop off. It was sad, for two minutes.

Week two, day two: S was left in daycare by me and Grandma. I sat there with him for the first 20 mins, waiting for things to sink in so he wouldn't miss me as much when I left. I also made sure he got familiar with his caretakers. This time though, he cried a lot more than the first week. It was hard for me to let him go, seeing him cry this way. I waited and tried a couple more times till he finally stopped crying, but still looked very sad. He was sitting in a corner and still not mixing with other kids. He enjoys playing by himself.

Week three: He ate and slept. Another child fed him, that's when he ate. Who am I kidding?

Week four: Initially resisting daycare and claiming to have put him 'this early' only because of my husband, I decided S needed to be on a schedule longer than two days. If you are taking a long vacation and coming back to work, you are going to be grouchy. So, I became the villain and registered him for three days a week. My husband is almost always right, though I almost never admit it.

First day was again tough, but the second and third, he did great. He slowly started to sit with other kids and even takes a nap, some days the usual time he does at home.

Week four: "No more tears" (courtesy Johnson & Johnson). S went to 'daycare aunty' willingly. He still doesn't eat on his own, but he's going to have to figure it out soon. He also napped. This happened the two days I dropped, though Dad claimed he cried a lot when he dropped him. I guess he just dropped him and ran off as 'that works best'. 

And now, for god's sake, don't go searching for those weird daycare videos which always make the news. There is no good news on the news channel. Unless it's about the weather. 

So long, have a great weekend! And if you are reading, please subscribe or comment so I know this blog is useful (or not). And, now your child can soon learn to fend for himself, infections, bullies and all.


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Welcome to Sleepy Mom Bliss, written by Amrita. I wanted a platform to share all my experiences, struggles and memories of being a mom.

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