Monday, August 5, 2019

Motherhood Monday: On Starting Daycare

Mia started daycare last week, and we are slowly adjusting over here. It's such a funny thing, to go from spending literally every second with your baby to only seeing her an hour in the morning and an hour at night. It has been a hard adjustment for me and a very easy adjustment for her! I just wanted to share a little bit about why we chose daycare for Mia, the process of getting into a daycare in Chicago, why we're starting daycare now, and how it's been going.

Why We Picked Daycare

Deciding what's best for your child is such a personal thing, whether it's staying at home, hiring a nanny, or finding a daycare. My mom stayed home when I was growing up, I think she was a full-time SAHM for 16 years! For me, it was an amazing experience and something I hoped I'd be able to do for my kids someday. But as Jeff and I talked it through, we weren't sure it would really work for us based on the lifestyle we want. Jeff went to daycare starting as an infant and he thought it was really good for him. Who knows if it's related to daycare or not, but Jeff is a much better sleeper than me and has a better immune system, and 100% has better social skills ­čśéObviously all of that can't be from daycare, but I like the idea of our kid being adaptable and learning from the get-go that everything isn't always about her. I also liked the idea of Mia being able to socialize with other kids all day. I also wanted her to experience some of the Montessori concept if I could, because I went to Montessori pre-schools growing up and know first-hand the amount of independence kids gain from it. And while every nanny or babysitter is different, I've heard some true horror stories from some of my friends which made me nervous about having one person alone with my child all day. A nanny also might make more sense if we had more than one kid, but based on pricing for daycare vs a nanny in Chicago, for one kid it was less expensive to do daycare.

Finding a Daycare in Chicago

Once we decided we'd be doing daycare, it was time to dive into the craziness that is the Chicago daycare scene. We started looking back in November when I was six months pregnant, and it turned out we were already way late. I don't know when other people start applying to daycares (the day they find out they're pregnant?) but every place we looked at had at least three kids in line ahead of us for our same start date. It turns out the spaces are really competitive to get, so the recommendation is that you apply to three or four daycares and pay a non-refundable $50-100 fee at each to put your name on the waitlist. Then you just pray (and annoyingly badger via email) that a spot will open up when you need it.

We ended up applying to five places back in November/December/January for a mid-August start date, and in June I started hearing back from each place that they definitely wouldn't have a place for Mia. I was starting to freak out that no one would have a spot available for us and we'd have to scramble to find a temporary babysitter or figure out how Jeff and I could take enough time off of work to watch her.

Finally at the end of June, I got an email that there was a space opening up at our first choice daycare (a Montessori), but that she would have to start in mid-July to hold the space. I read the email and immediately started crying, both out of relief but also sadness since it was cutting short the time I'm supposed to have with her before I go back to work. I managed to negotiate the start date back a week and have her going just part-time until I go back, but I still was pretty upset about the whole thing.

Our Experience with Daycare So Far

The first day was so rough. Jeff and I walked her there and got her settled with her teachers and everything was great. Mia seemed just fine to be hanging out on the floor with all of the new toys she could put in her mouth, and didn't appear to even notice when Jeff and I left the room. Of course, I started crying immediately! It was just so sad to me knowing that she was going to spend all day with strangers instead of me - I missed that little girl the second we left. Mia, however, had a blast! The teacher showed us pictures from that first day of her playing on the floor with the other kids, smiling in a swing, and even holding her own bottle (which I still can't get her to do at home!). She has been having a harder time adjusting to napping there and has been exhausted every time I've picked her up, but the teachers say she's been pretty happy despite that.

While Mia is adjusting easily, it's definitely still hard for me. I've found that I need to schedule stuff for me to do during the day to distract myself. It's been nice to be able to exercise and get stuff done, but I still miss that little girl! I'm hoping things get easier as we go. While I would have preferred we start a month later, the slow transition from part-time to full-time has been nice, and I'm definitely glad I didn't have to adjust to getting Mia in daycare the same day that I had to go back to work!
Why we're sending our baby to daycare - Kristina does the Internets

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