Originally published on December 4, 2009. It is so amazing to think about how much I have learned since that very first week taking Darah to daycare!
Thanks so much to everyone for your encouraging words this week. Darah went to daycare on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Today is my special day with her of the week. We are both very ready for it!
I wanted to share a few things that I have learned this week about the world of daycare and I’d like to share them with those of you who are going to be going through this same thing at some point.
1. You need to bring a lot of stuff.
Basically you need to bring several changes of clothing, a large package of diapers and wipes (if required…my place takes care of the wipes), bibs, blankets, and a few favorite toys.
2. There is no room for all the stuff you are supposed to bring!
I was given a large list of items to bring, and then was given a container the size of a shoebox to put it all in. You can imagine the look of confusion on my face. It turns out that what most parents do is leave a diaper bag there to hold all their stuff. So on day 2, we had our diaper bag there!
3. LABEL EVERYTHING.
Now that I think about it, it is understandable that the people who watch over 10 children can’t remember exactly which child came in wearing this or that bib, or who the pacifier belongs to. This did not occur to me at first, because where I live, if it is tiny, it is Darah’s! So I’ve had to break out the magic marker and write her initials on bottles, bottle caps, pacifiers, bibs, socks and clothes. I felt really sad about doing this to her clothes, because I’d like to pass them on to other people, but they insisted that the clothes also be labeled. I’ve heard that there are labels you can buy just for this purpose, so I’ll have to look into that. Edit: I now use Sticky Labels from Mabel’s Labels. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice, it would be to have ordered those before her first week at daycare. They are fabulous!
4. Making a good first impression can be tough.
Here’s what I mean: You want to give very clear instructions for what your child likes and doesn’t like, and what they need. You also don’t want to be seen as the obnoxious, bossy mom on day 1. The situation I immediately struggled with was swaddling. I explained to the ladies that Darah still needs to be swaddled in order to sleep. This seemed like no big deal to them. When I came back later in the day to feed her, she hadn’t slept at all, because she hadn’t been swaddled. The blanket was right where I had left it! What I decided to do was to simply swaddle her myself, hoping that they would watch (and they did). They were impressed to see that she immediately fell asleep. I was basically able to say, “See! I told you so!” without actually saying it.
5. If you are going to visit your child to breastfeed, you’d better not be shy.
I’ve fed Darah during lunch 3 times, now. We do this in a resource room next to her classroom. I’ve been walked in on 2 of those 3 times. Once by a man. He was extremely embarrassed. I was very surprised by how I didn’t really feel embarrassed at all…but I did feel bad for him! I’m glad to see that I’m getting more brave about feeding Darah outside of my home, but I would still prefer to be uninterrupted. I’m thinking about making a “Room in use” sign to stick on the door when we are in there.
6. Sometimes you have to just insist on what you need.
I participate in the dependent reimbursement program (or whatever it is called) where you can deduct up to $5,000 in childcare expenses from your taxes. In my case, doing this saves me close to $1,000 in taxes each year, which is really helpful. It is a pain, though, in that the money gets automatically deducted from my paycheck and put into an account with an insurance company. Then I have to send the company a proof of payment in order to get reimbursed. So for a period of time, I am basically floating 2 payments at once, if that makes sense. Anyway, so the office at Darah’s daycare has been really terrible about getting me my receipts (did I mention we’ve been having to pay for daycare for months even though she just started?…daycare is such a racket, but that’s another post altogehter). Anyway, when I gave them my latest check on Tuesday I asked for the receipt, and the woman told me she would put it in my child’s box. And of course, she didn’t. I even gave her a few days. But on Thursday at lunch, when it still wasn’t there, I went in the office and said, “I REALLY need my receipt.” She huffed and puffed a bit about it, and had a really hard time making it for me. It seems that she couldn’t find her record of what I had paid and ended up just asking me what my monthly bill is. Yikes! She also asked if I was leaving right then and if she could just leave it for me, but I said that I needed it now. I was polite, but firm. It was awkward. I tried to make some pleasant small talk with her while I waited to smooth it over a bit. And in the end, I got my receipt. Next month I’ll ask for it on the spot and say once again that I need it immediately. I think that’s the only way I’ll ever get it! I guess other parents aren’t participating in this program, because I get the impression that it is odd to her that I want a receipt. Oh well!
7. Your baby will be mad at you.
Darah won’t make eye contact with me for the first 5 minutes or so when I visit her at lunch and when I pick her up. It is really heartbreaking. But she eventually warms up to me, and I know this will get better with time.
8. Your baby will eventually warm up to the people who watch her.
On Wednesday evening, I saw Darah give a big grin to the lady in her class. While I was sad that she was witholding her grins from me, it gave me SO much comfort to see her giving love to her teacher.
I’ll be sure to share more insights with you as I get them. I’d love to hear any lessons learned from folks out there who currently have their children in daycare, or who have in the past. We can learn a lot from each other by sharing our stories!
What are some things you learned about daycare or parent’s day out programs after you started going? Any tips to share with other moms and dads out there who will be taking their babies for the first time in the near future?
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