I've often seen posts about the difference between Mama's who work outside the home and those who stay home with their kids when it comes to the specific topic of daycare. Nothing is more true than "Mama's who work outside the home always wish they could stay home with their babies and those who stay home with their babies wish they could take them to daycare." I've heard and seen both sides and it's so accurate! I'm definitely the Mama who works full-time but wishes I could stay home with my girl full-time.
It seems super appropriate for me to blog about daycare this week because Johanna just started her third daycare and I've been having really bad Mama guilt this week. Yes, you read that correctly, third daycare....
Now before I get into the details or get too sappy on you, I have to tell you a really cute story. Yesterday was Johanna's second day at her new place. I got there to pick her up and she was headed to the playground holding hands in a line with 3 other kids her size. Omg! I die just thinking about it. Well as soon as she saw me she froze and burst out into tears. I immediately started laughing because I knew she was crying because I was there to pick her up! I told her it was okay to go ahead to the playground. So we stayed for about 10 minutes while I spoke with her teacher and she played with her new friends. I literally died inside at the cuteness of that episode and I wasn't offended at all that she wasn't excited to see me!
It's so hard to find a daycare for so many reasons. I've posted a blog before about choosing a daycare, weighing your options and writing your list of must haves. After starting our third daycare, I realize as your baby changes so does that list. For example, our first 2 daycares were home daycares. Now, she is in a center that is set up like a school. She has a classroom, 2 teachers, projects she brings home and even a daily report card. I wasn't going to put her at a center because I thought she's just too young. But in actuality, it's perfect for her. Johanna needs a lot of stimulation and this place provides her with just that!
Why 3 daycares you ask? I don't want to get into too much detail but the first one just wasn't cutting it for us when it came to the things that were important for me and Johanna. The second was unable to work with me on my working hours so we had to switch again. I'm hoping this third daycare is the right one and there will be no more searching. I honestly feel like I've visited every daycare in the county and there are just none left for us to try.
I want to talk about our priority list when it comes to daycares.... as I stated it has changed over the last few months. Obviously, like every single parent in the world who takes their child to daycare, it has to be a safe place for her. I think that's a given but wanted to tell you it's first on my list. The provider must be a compassionate caregiver, loving and someone who actually wants to be around my Johanna. The environment must be safe as well meaning clean, baby proofed and no sick children. I hope no one is offended by that. I want to make sure I'm completely transparent with you. No one including myself should take their sick child to a daycare.
The other things included on my daycare priority list are allowing me to bring Johanna's own food (I like to know what she eats plus shes picky), must be a learning environment (which is why I tell her she's going to school), must be interactive environment, must be able to bring her own diapers, wipes, creams, etc. Must have open communication with the provider at all times and of course Johanna has to like it.
Okay, now that you think I'm crazy I'll continue. I was at home with Johanna for 7 months. Putting her in daycare was extremely difficult for me and still is to this day. I constantly say I don't ever want her to feel abandoned by me or for her memories to be that she was always at daycare. I know this will not be the case but the feeling is different! It's very hard to explain in words but my feelings about it are much stronger and emotional than my thoughts. I understand I'm at work and this is my reality. I have no other choice. I've recently been reading articles about Mama guilt and how you can combat those feelings.
The majority of my guilt (like 95% of it) comes from taking her to daycare. Combating that guilt is done by understanding there is no other choice and that I can do everything to ensure she is well taken care of and happy at the daycare she attends. From the looks and sounds of it, she's extremely happy at this new place!
Here's the thing, sometimes things are way out of our control. Have you ever heard of making the best out the situation you're given?! Welp, that's what we are working on! I am her provider, I am her Mama, but in order to be the best at those things I have to work.
I also think of all the positive things that come from daycare!
Johanna learns so much all day long! She is bringing the things she learns home and impressing me every single day. She is allotted the opportunity to bond with people outside of our support system and create her own relationships that I'm not necessarily 100% involved in. She also gets time to be on her own and learn independence. Given the fact that she is already pretty independent it allows her growth and opportunity to do things without me breathing down her neck 24/7. It also gives her somewhere to look forward to going. She can learn to be herself. Taking her to daycare also prepares her for school life and helps her adjust to being in a classroom.
I hope you Mama's can take something from this. Whether your baby goes to daycare full-time, part-time or not at all, I hope you're able to see that Mama guilt sets you back. Whatever your situation, try to write down a list of all of the positive things you can gain from that situation. Relieve some of your guilt or hopefully all of it. I still have a rough days and sometimes it lasts the entire week. Blogging, venting, reading about others who have similar situations and writing all the positives helps tremendously.
Always remember, you're amazing and you're doing a wonderful job! Check out the pictures from Johanna's well deserved ice cream play date with one of her best friends after her first week at her new daycare! She did such a good job adjusting and making new friends! She was so excited every day when we got there and definitely not ready to leave when I picked her up. You go baby girl!