Starting my baby at daycare
I started working again when my baby was six months old – it was a flexible part-time job with good prospects and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. After a few days I realized that working from home with a baby was impossible and I was seriously tired from working into the night to get everything done. It was time to look for a daycare center. The experience of choosing one and then getting used to the situation was quite a roller-coaster of emotions.
As I looked at my daughter Ava, who wasn’t even crawling or weaned, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pure panic. She was so small and helpless – how could anyone (other than me!) look after her properly?
They say a worried mother does more research than the FBI. I made an extensive list of nearby daycare centres and got a few recommendations. All of them had cutesy names and their websites more or less said the same thing. Whilst visiting each centre, I felt like they had a typical script of what to say – I started tuning out ‘the sales speak’ and concentrated on a mental checklist I had made. How did the place feel, did the kids seem happy, was there good outside space, lots of activities to do, adequate food, etc? Some places horrified me, while others were ‘ok’ and only one stood out from them all so I went with my gut instinct and booked her in.
D-day arrived – Ava’s ‘orientation’ day was here. Now I wasn’t one of those mums sobbing as we entered but I was beyond anxious. I shouldn’t have worried, she was fascinated by all the new toys and I was sent off with promises that if she got upset then I would be called. No call came and I picked her up 6 hours later!
There are good drop offs and then there are the bad ones. The good ones are that Ava goes into the arms of her carers and happily waves goodbye. Bad drops off consist of her instantly clinging onto me as soon as we step inside and then come the tears when handing her over. They stop as soon as I leave but it’s a horrible feeling leaving your child upset. Whether it’s a bad drop off or a call saying your child is sick – the guilt of choosing to put them in daycare (and away from your care) will never leave you. It gets easier to deal with, but is always niggling at the back of your mind.
On the plus side – starting back at work again and using my brain for non-baby thinking was liberating. I felt like I was back in the real world where I enjoyed adult conversation and doing what I had trained for 15 years to do. Don’t get me wrong, the novelty wears off (along with the deadlines and meetings) but it was great to claim back a bit of my old self again.
Ava is happy at (99% of) drop offs and pick-ups, she has her favourite carers and I honestly think her development has been accelerated due to being in daycare. Meanwhile, I’m busy juggling my two jobs – my paid job and then trying to be the best mum I can. It’s exhausting but rewarding.