Adventures in Daycare

Let me start this one off by saying how much I love my daughter's daycare!

When we first started looking for a daycare I wasn't sure what I should expect about anything. Price? Facilities? Teachers? I mean there are the basics that should be common sense, does the place look like a death trap, is the teacher chain smoking and those kinds of things but picking one really nice place from another is difficult. For us it came down to gut feelings. We looked at 2 different places operated by the same group. One felt sort of sterile and a bit like a nursing home. The people we spoke with there seemed too busy to really slow down and talk to us. When we visited the room the lead teacher never even really acknowledged us and let the part time assistant give us the rundown.

At the next place, as soon as I walked in I was greeted by the owner and it felt like walking into a friend's home rather than a business. I had already spoken to the teacher, Ms. Katie, on the phone but wanted to meet her in person. On the phone she was super polite and told me all about what they do on a day to day basis and how they work on developing skills for the babies. I was already sold on the place just from talking to her. But I met with her anyway. In person she was even more engaging and she was genuinely concerned with making sure we were comfortable leaving our child in her care. Emma was going to start on a Monday, so she told me I could come by with Emma and just hang out and watch how things go during the day. The Friday before we went and watched and got a good feel for the room and the teachers.
On Monday, I was ready to drop her off at daycare and was prepared to miss her all day but having her in the office was not working anymore. She required a lot of attention and I could not get anything done. I think having her at work with me for two weeks made the transition a little easier. I teared up a little bit as we walked out (after about 2000 times of telling Ms. Katie that if she needs anything to call me) but overall felt good about leaving Emma at her daycare. I think that alone speaks volumes about our choice of daycare. If you can't walk out of the building with a good feeling about the place, then that is not the daycare for you and your child.

We thought we loved Emma's daycare. We were wrong. We loved Emma's full-time teachers and her classmates. We didn't really care for the rest of it. While we were there the director of the facility changed 3 times in 5 months. Around October, things started getting less like clockwork. Before then, every afternoon the same person was in the room as the closer so that the teachers that got there at 7am didn't have to stay until 6pm. Then new faces started popping up. Emma's pacifier started popping into her mouth all the time (we only used it for sleep and when she was starving and food was delayed for whatever reason). It was never some big hoopla that killed our high on the place it was small changes over time that were not for the better. Babies kept getting moved from one room to another. We told the staff at the time that we did not want Emma in any room other than Ms. Katie's, luckily it never became an issue. Then one day as Stuart was picking Emma up, he ran into one of the other mom's. She mentioned that her baby, Emma's BFF, was leaving in a couple of weeks. Stuart ran into her again in the parking lot where she was waiting to give him the scoop on which daycare they were switching to. I can never thank her enough for staking out the parking lot that day! She told Stuart that the rumor was that our beloved teacher, Ms. Katie, was leaving to move to this new daycare.

When I got home, Stuart filled me in on everything and I checked out the website. It looked really great! The pictures were lovely and the teaching philosophy lined up pretty nicely with what we thought. So the next day as I was feeding Emma for lunch, I was fishing for some information from Ms. Katie. She let me know that she "heard" there was a Meet-the-Teacher night that night and we were welcome to stop by. We stopped by and Ms. Katie and another teacher we knew were there. All it took was confirmation that Ms. Katie was moving and we signed up. It turned out that we got the last open spot for the infant room. We would have been heartbroken to show up one day and Ms. Katie just not be there anymore. So after Thanksgiving we started at the new daycare.

We are loving it. Everything is cozy and it's a much smaller operation so that everyone involved is more invested. One of the owners told us that when hiring teachers, she didn't bother to call employer references. She called parents. And she picked great teachers. Everyone is so much happier with the entire situation. At the old daycare, there was always a feeling of tension that I couldn't really place and eventually didn't even notice until we switched. Now when I go to feed Emma at lunch, even when every kid in the room is awake and playing and there is the general state of chaos that goes along with having 8 infants in one room, it still feels relaxed.

I always laughed at the sitcoms that showed parents of infants jumping through all sorts of hoops and putting their baby on the waiting list before the baby is even born in order to get into the "best" daycare. While I still think it's a little crazy and over the top, I totally understand the motivation and desire to do it.


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