In the past 10 years, I’ve worked in multiple settings with children before settling at my current job as an infant teacher. Of course in each setting I learned new skills and pieces of knowledge about the field, the parents and their children, and myself, but there’s a few things I’ve learned about working in professional childcare centers specifically that I would like to share with parents. In no particular order:
1) We don’t have an endless supply of diapers and wipes.
When we say you’re out of one or both, you’re out. We don’t have a secret stash the company or ourselves bought just in case. When you don’t bring in supplies for your child, we end up having to borrow another child’s, causing them to run out more quickly than usual. When you show up the next day (and quite possibly also the next day after that) without a new package and laugh it off as “Mommy Brain” or whatever, it’s not really that funny and it’s not fair to the parent whose diapers you’re having to borrow in the meantime. So when we ask you to bring something in, bring it in as soon as possible, please.
2) Don’t spend a lot of money on diaper bags and bibs.
We get it, you want to be the fashionable parent and you want your child to be the fashionable baby with the latest bibs by so-and-so. But when you spend money on an item you know your child will spit up on and get stained with baby food, and then yell at us for having actually used it, that stresses us both out. Save your money and scout Goodwill and the clearance bin, please.
3) Please acknowledge us at the beginning/end of the day. When you walk in the door, we know all you want to do is hug your kiddo after being apart all day, but don’t forget we were with them for eight hours. Go ahead and do hugs, but please don’t brush us off when we greet you and ask how you are, etc. We hate being ignored or treated as an “oh yeah, you were here with my child, too.” 4) We don’t make as much money as you think we do. You might think childcare/preschool is expensive, but do a quick search of what teachers in your area are earning per hour and you’ll be surprised. The majority of us are underpaid - think a couple dollars more than minimum wage. So when you’re writing your monthly tuition check, remember what it breaks down to per hour in our pay and that’ll give you a new perspective.
5) Work with us and don’t automatically assume the worst. The best care and education for your child requires parent-teacher communication. We want you to ask questions about your child’s day and their overall progress, no matter what their age. If you have a question, bring it up – don’t talk behind our backs to other parents or principals/directors. This only creates tension and miscommunications. Remember we’re on the same team: caring for your child!
6) Don’t come in to drop off/pick up your kiddo while talking on your cell phone. We get it, sometimes you get stuck talking on the phone and you have a hard time ending the call. But make a point to get those calls out of the way before drop off and pick up times. Parents who come in and expect us to read their minds about how their child’s morning was or communicate through ESP how their child’s day was are frustrating. Take the time to communicate with us about your child so we’re on the same page.
7) Try not to coddle your baby at home.
As difficult as it may be, when you have a newborn you just don’t want to put down, try to get them used to floor time as soon as possible - simply putting them in a boppy and sitting next to them is a great start. This will assist them in learning to self-soothe and will prepare them for when they begin preschool/daycare. At most centers, as much as we love your baby, it isn’t realistic for us to be able to hold them constantly. This doesn’t mean we ignore your baby while they lie in their crib or on the floor and cry, but a baby who can self-soothe helps when we can’t grow a third arm to pick them up right away.
8) Please don’t bring your child to school/daycare if they’re sick. I’m talking consistent runny nose; a rattling chest cough; pink eye symptoms; or if they had a fever the night before “but it’s gone now.” We understand it can be difficult for you to get off work, but even if you can’t, it’s better to have a backup plan for your kiddo. One of our biggest battles as teachers/care providers is maintaining as clean an environment as possible, so the less contact with “sick germs,” the better.
9) Feedback is everything. If we were in this profession for the money, we would’ve chosen something else. Remember we are human – we like to feel appreciated, too, so a simple “thank you for all you do” every now and then goes a long way to letting us know how we’re doing.
10) Understand we love your children as our own... ...and treat them with nothing less than the utmost care. We think about your child before we go to sleep, wondering what the next day will bring; we think about them on holidays and hope they’re enjoying it as much as we are; we refer to them as “my kids” when away from work; and we love them as if they’re an extension of ourselves. When they’re with us, they’re with family, and there’s no one we’d rather spend the day with.