A few weeks ago, I wrote this piece, "Ripping Off the Child Care Band-Aid." I was on the verge of putting my son into child care for the first time. I had heard so many horror stories about child care over the time, things like, "they just left her crying on the floor," "they yelled at him to eat," and so on. So to say I was nervous and worried about his welfare in child care was an understatement! After all, no one could care for him as well as I could, right?
Well, here is the second half of my child care journey -- the ripping off of the child care Band-Aid. It might surprise you...
We rolled up at our child care centre at around 7.30 a.m. and were greeted by the smiling faces of staff and parents dropping their kids off for the day. The staff welcomes my little one and spoke to him as if he was a real human (unlike some people we know who pretend children don't exist). We had an orientation where we were shown the in's and out's of the center; where to put his things, what food they would be having, why I need to bring in his bottles full of water but formula in a container, where he would sleep, what toys he would be playing with, etc.
I had this vision that the caregivers wouldn't play with the kids (I am not sure why) but when we first walked into the nursery, a male caregiver had three children sitting on his outstretched legs and they were playing 'row, row, row your boat.' I was pleased -- this is the sort of games I would be playing if I was home with Bub.
I was impressed by their clean facilities. They had toys made from natural organic products -- bonus! Magnets stuck to the fridge were actually containers full of seeds and nuts from the tree outside. The furniture was brand new and made from natural products. The toys were pine cones, pieces of ropes and other natural-looking products that not even I know the name of. If I'm being honest, I am not sure if I can provide this for my son. I mean, we have some wooden products at home (in my opinion they're much better than plastic), but we also do have many fluorescent-colored plastic toys that light up with the press of a button and play annoying, high-pitched music until you want to stab yourself in the eye with a nappy pin. Who am I kidding? I don't use nappy pins.
The centre had checklists for everything: every nappy changed, very wee, every poo, every sip of water, every bite of food, even a checklist to ensure that the children were checked on every five minutes while they napped. Gosh, I don't even do that at home!
I felt very comfortable with leaving him there. I spent about an hour with him while he adjusted to all the noises and people around him. He soon felt relaxed enough to crawl away from me and explore his surroundings. Then,as he was making his way around his second lap of the lunch table, I walked out, taking a big deep breath as I went. I thought slipping out unnoticed would be easier. It was... for him.
As I walked up the street with no pram, with no baby and with nothing that would indicate to others that I was a mother, it occurred to me that to anyone who was looking at me at that point in time, they wouldn't know I was a mother. I'll admit, it upset me a bit -- and surprised me. After initially struggling to adjust to my new identity as a mother when Bub was first born, I was confronted at the thought of not being identified as one twelve months later. What an interesting journey I had made without even realizing it.
So I called my mum from my mobile for some reassurance -- she talked to me on my short journey home. I told her was fine and not worried but as I got to my front door I tapped my pockets for my keys and phone and realized that my pocket where my phone should be was empty. I said to mum, "Great, I've left my phone at the centre, I'm now going to have to go back and get it." Mum reply, "Err Lauren, who's phone are you calling me from?" Idiot! Turns out I was probably more anxious than I realized.
A few hours later, after a couple of coffees and much mindless Facebook stalking (not that I would ever admit to that!), I called the centre to see how he was. He was asleep and had gone down without tears. Sweet! This was so comforting, and I knew I had an hour or so before he would wake up.
When I returned an hour and a half later, he was awake. In fact, when I walked in the room, he was doing 'horseys' on one of the carers. One of his favorite games! Obviously, he had somehow tricked/convinced her to give him a horsey ride. My heart just about melted! This is exactly what I would be doing at home. It occurred to me that perhaps child caregivers really do love their jobs and the kids in their care. God forbid, perhaps they could even offer him the same standard of care as I can. Maybe....
So all in all it was a pretty successful transition. The only downside was that after being there for only four hours, he contracted the Rotavirus, which meant he was home for another 10 days. You know when parent's say that when you're child is in daycare they pick up every single cold, flu virus.... well, it's totally true in our case! Plus, on another occasion he came home with a nappy full of biscuit. Not sure how that happened as he was wearing a onesie, but the caregivers were very apologetic and it has happened only the once. Also, he has had a nappy rash a couple of times, but I've noticed they applied a cream to soothe the irritation.
But he went back and he has now been in child care for just shy of three weeks. And you know what... he's loving it! Each time I drop him off, I stay a little less and he settles in more quickly. The caregivers are lovely and kind and when I come in to pick him up after work he gives me a big smile and cuddle. They report on his daily activities; when he slept, how much he ate (it is always two servings!), what he played with each day, if he poo'd, how much he drank etc.
I have also noticed some improvements in his development already. He is showing me more of his toys, he learnt to wave in three days, he is playing with his toys at home differently such as he is stacking blocks as well as knocking them down, and he seems to be getting into a regular routine for sleeping and eating times.
It turns out that child care isn't so bad. I'm not sure if they're attentive to his needs as I am, but then there are many things that I can't provide for him, such as socialization skills. I am very happy with my centre and it looks like this is just the beginning of a lovely journey for my little one. I think we can safely consider this child care Band-Aid officially ripped off!
This post was originally published here.
What have your child care experiences been like? Good or bad please share..
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