When we made the decision to start a family, it never occurred to me that we might only have one child. In every day dream that I ever had there were always two children. I saw my husband carrying a little girl on his shoulders while I held a little boy’s hand. Of course they were perfect well behaved children & we were all full of smiles walking together hand in hand. After our daughter was born, I woke up from that dream. After what seemed like endless sleepless nights & a colicky infant that cried constantly, we started to rethink baby #2.
Things eventually began to get easier, the cries slowed down, our baby began to sleep through the night & I began talking to my husband about baby #2. His mind had not changed. We went back and forth with it, named off the pros and cons and even asked for opinions here on my blog. It was a hard sell, but after a lot of convincing the day finally came and we began to try to get pregnant. We were not successful. With my advanced age and some medical issues, it seemed that my dreams for a second baby came to an end.
Even though my husband & I were perfectly happy with being parents to our one sweet little girl, there were some concerns about her being an only child. I worried about how it would affect her socially. Would she be spoiled from always being the center of attention? Would she learn how to share? These were definitely valid concerns as I already noticed that Mai had problems in dealing with organized events & classes she was in involving other children.
We recently started her in daycare a couple times a week. Even though it still pains me to send her off to day care, I know that it will be beneficial to her. Being an only child there is much that she can learn from this environment.
1. Sharing: Our daughter came home from daycare the other day and said to me “Mama the kids took my toys.” This made me sad for a moment and then as horrible as this sounds, it made me smile. While the kids were not actually taking the toys out of her hands, she still thought they were taking them from her because in her mind all of the toys are hers. Other than the occasional play date, she has seldom had to share. She has free reign over a houseful of toys daily.
2. Patience: At home when our daughter wants something she is attended to right way or at least pretty quickly. She is not accustomed to waiting. With several other children to attend to, her daycare provider is not always at her instant beck & call. At daycare she is not the center of the universe. She needs to wait until it is her turn.
3. Learned behaviors: This can be a good thing and a bad thing as she may also pick up bad behavior, but socializing with other child especially of an older age can be a great learning tool. For instance, my daughter has a difficult time sitting still in her seat & eating, but at daycare we get a report back each day that she sat & ate almost everything on her plate at each meal & snack. I was amazed. Our provider explained that at first she was resistant pushing her plate away as she often does at home, but when the other children continued to eat & talk, she joined in. Hopefully she can take some potty training cues.
4. Basic socialization: We talk with our child all the time, but it is not quite the same as interacting with her peers. After 2 1/2 years of mostly talking to mommy, daddy & nanna, she is now able to chat with children her own age. Today she told me all about her new friend Colton & how he really likes bears, but is still afraid of them too. Oh, the conversations they must have.
5. Dealing With Conflict: All of my friends that have multiple children have kids that fight like cats & dogs. They love each other. They hate each other. They beat up on each other. Having only our daughter I feel that we shield her from far too much sometimes. After daycare the other day, our daughter told us, “Colton hurt me.” What happened? “Colton pushed me.” I checked with the provider to make sure that it was nothing serious. She assured me that nothing concerning happened, but then I learned that they also got into a verbal argument over a picture in a book. One was certain that the picture was of a boy, the other thought it was a girl. Neither backed down. Debates, conflict, differences of opinion are a part of life & something that should be introduced early. The longer you shield your children from these things the harder it will be for them to deal with at a later age.
I am enjoying listening to all of Mai’s new experiences. She is loving her days with her new friends & is learning a lot along the way.
After weeks of searching and talking to different daycare providers, we finally found one that we felt comfortable with. We went with a small home run daycare. I had spoken to the provider several times and liked her. She only had 4 children at on a time on a given day. They do a lot of outdoor play, nature hikes, picnics and arts & crafts similar to what Mai and I do already on a regular basis. During our interview, Mai took to her immediately and jumped in and started playing. I felt relieved that I had found a place that I felt comfortable with, but as the first day neared my anxiety started to grow. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed & turned all night. What if the kids were mean to her? What if she didn’t eat? Would she nap in this strange house? Will they remember to put sunscreen on her when they go outside? What if she gets stung by a bee? I was beginning to feel like maybe daycare wasn’t the way to go.
Her first day arrived. We packed up our daughter’s backpack, got her dressed & walked out the door bright and early.When we arrived, we were greeted in the driveway by Miss Laura. We did a quick recap on the ins & outs of all things Mai. By this time our daughter had already made herself comfortable & was playing happily with some toys. I told Miss Laura about Mai’s poor eating habits, reminded her that she needed sunscreen. I realized that we forgot her favorite owl blanket which she never sleeps without. I made sure to add that my cell phone was on me at all times.
I looked at the time and realized that it was time to go or I would be late for work. There were some tears, a little bit of clinging, but then I pulled myself off my daughter and dried my eyes. “Mommy has to go to work.” “Bye mama!” There were no protests, just a quick kiss & then back to exploring her new environment. I drove off with a pit in the bottom of my stomach.
At work I kept checking the clock. I was counting down the hours until daddy would be there to pick our daughter up. Miss Laura said that I could call if I wanted to check on her, but it had only been an hour. Tick tock, tick tock. About 3 hours after having dropped off my favorite girl, I received a text:
Just want to let you know she is having a wonderful time!
Playing with the other kids and all the toys.
She is a very sweet girl 🙂
Yes she is! I received a few updates over the course of the day. While mommy was having a difficult day with our daughter in daycare, Mai was happy as can be. She played with her new friends, ate all of her lunch & even made a new craft. With all the new fun, she never did take a nap. Daddy showed up promptly to pick her up & sent me one more update in the form of a picture message.
Mai must have had a pretty fun day.
I was extremely fortunate that after the birth of our daughter I was able to take a year off from work & stay home with her during such a crucial period in her life. It offered me the opportunity to be there for all of those beautiful milestones that I might have otherwise missed out on. It gave me the ability to nurse her for a full year, to take daily naps with her, to grow our bond & to just soak up every second of her short infanthood even with all of its difficulties. What was even luckier than that was when I was ready to re-enter the workforce I had a mother-in-law that was willing to take on our child care responsibilities.
Under her Nanna’s care, Mai flourished. Together they would read books, go the park & library, do puzzles and built forts. Our daughter is bright, imaginative, caring and so happy & I know that it is largely in part of her time with her Nanna. There was only one thing missing during these past 2 1/2 years, social interaction. Sure we would play with her friends on occasion, but being an only child I found that Mai lacked a certain understanding in regard to waiting her turn, not always being the center of attention and sharing.
When we made the decision to put her in daycare a couple of days a week, I am not going to lie it freaked me out. It still is and she hasn’t even started yet. Being the helicopter mom that I am, I am extremely paranoid about entrusting my heart to a stranger. Choosing a daycare has been very stressful. I found that many were full or that they didn’t have the days available that I needed or the hours did not work with our schedule. Then I also found that I myself had reasons that I did not like the facilities. When you are picking a place that it going to be caring for your most precious of packages, you better be sure. It turns out I found one that I liked. I interview with them next week.
Here is my checklist in finding a daycare…
1. Figure out what is most important when choosing a facility. Is it distance, cost, curriculum, # of children? For me I wanted her to be in a smaller more intimate daycare where there was more attention to each child & the same educational values as we have with her at home.
2. Make sure that they are licensed & accredited. You can find this info online by state. Believe me that I stalked each daycare to make sure they were legit.
3. What hours do they operate? Is there a fee if you run behind? I discovered that many of the daycares hours were outside of our needs. With my husband and I’s schedules we would have to juggle a few things to make it work. What I did not realize is that some places will charge you an additional fee for picking up your child even a few minutes late.
4. Do they have a set nap schedule? This is something you should find out ahead of time. Mai is on a nap as she gets tired schedule. Many daycares have a set nap schedule. If you are thinking of putting your munchkin in daycare you might want to start them on a mid-day nap schedule right away to make the adjustment.
5. How many children do they have & how many workers? I opted for a smaller home based daycare. The one I am interviewing with next week only has 4 children at a time.
6. What kind of activities do they do? I was pretty certain that I found a winner when I saw all of the things that this child care professional did with the children. She puts a lot of focus on nature activities, does nature walks, lots of crafts and alphabet & number lessons. When I saw the photos on her site, it looked like things that I would do with Mai.
7. Meet the caretaker in person & check out the facility. This I will do next week. We have spoken several times on the phone.
8. What is the daily menu for meals and snacks? If it is Pop Tarts and Spaghetti Os 5 days a week than it is not for me.
9. Do they have a policy on toilet training. We are still in the process of potty training. We have taken a more natural approach and have been doing it slowly. Some daycares will not accept a child that is still in diapers. Be sure to find this out up front.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask a million questions. If they don’t want to answer then you probably do not want them there anyways.