We started at our new daycare this morning and I have SO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT IT.
We enrolled in Daycare #1 primarily because it was the only place in our general vicinity that had an opening for Wesley. We started looking when I was 20-something weeks pregnant, and every single other place we looked said the waitlist was a year long (TWO years in one case) and I needed care in July (which turned out to be June since Wesley was early).
We got on the waitlist at a couple other places just in case a spot magically happened to open up. We heard nothing for months and months and months. Then we got a phone call! It was Daycare #2 saying they had an opening!
I liked Daycare #2 all right when we visited it; it’s hard to judge these things ahead of time but the people seemed nice and the facility seemed cozy. It was also waaaay closer to my work and about $100 less expensive per month. (Giving cost as a reason for choosing a daycare sounds crass, but it’s an important consideration budget-wise when you’re spending $X,XXX per month for someone to take care of your kid.) I was bummed that it was one of the year-long waitlist places.
When we got the call, I was very surprised but also very interested. I talked it over with Daniel and we made the decision to move. I was a bit torn, because, well…
Yay: A spot opened up at Daycare #2 right before we needed it!
Boo: By “right before” I mean the day before we were going into Daycare #1 for our trial day so we could comfortably start on Monday.
If I’d had my way, we would have just started at Daycare #2 and not had to switch. Unfortunately, we’d paid a nonrefundable deposit already, plus Daycare #1 requires 30 days notice to withdraw your child. We started on that Monday by giving our 30-day notice and hoping they didn’t hate us.
It was incredibly, brutally hard to leave him that first week and every day was different. Monday, I just powered through and tried not to think about it. Tuesday was great – I felt like I really had a handle on things. Wednesday saw me crying in the bathroom at work; Thursday was marginally better and then he was at home with Daniel on Friday.
The next week was better (just like everyone told me it would be). It’s still hard to leave him, but I am no longer sobbing in bathroom stalls.
I definitely felt comfortable leaving Wesley at Daycare #1, but I never felt like I knew what he did during the day. They gave you the diapers/naps/food sheet but it never had any notes, not even the time he ran low on diapers without us noticing and they had to borrow one from another baby’s stash. They advertised that they take babies outside to play, but come to find out, they only do it for the “Mobiles,” the babies who can crawl or walk already. No biggie, but… why make it sound like he’ll be doing something he won’t be?
Last Thursday was our last day at Daycare #1. We brought them some delicious cookies and a thank-you card with Wesley’s picture on it. One of the caregivers gave me a hug and said she hoped we would come by sometime so they could see how much he’s grown, and welcomed us back anytime in case the switch didn’t work out.
We went into Daycare #2 the next day as a trial run to make sure we could get there and back all right and to bring in some supplies ahead of time.
Right away I could sense things would be different.
We walked in to people saying “Hello!” and “Welcome!” and “This must be Wesley!” and lots of remarks about how cute he is and who is going to “claim” him. One lady even got him to laugh! Real baby laughs with no coughing or crying halfway through!
Then, a mom stopped to introduce herself and her baby! I formally met only ONE MOM in the month we were at Daycare #1 and that was the week we were leaving. And yes, I know I can introduce myself too, but the environment there was so much different; it was like they didn’t expect or encourage you to socialize. Very businesslike – get in, get your baby, get out.
Today, ANOTHER mom introduced herself! The mind boggles. Everyone is SO FRIENDLY!
When I would pick Wesley up from Daycare #1 at 5:30-ish, he was either the last baby there or the second to last; workers seemed like they were eyeing the clock and waiting for me to arrive so they could bolt. If I needed to feed him before we left, I felt awkward because the caregiver would clock out and leave before I was done, leaving me alone in the infant area. They usually had everything cleaned/packed up already so if I needed to change him I felt bad, because I had to put the changing pad back down on the counter, use it, re-sanitize it, and then put it back – if I could find the sanitizer spray bottle at all!
I mean, it’s not like I expect them to hang out while I’m feeding Wesley since by being there I’m reclaiming responsibility for him, but… it felt SUPER AWKWARD to be left more or less alone in this daycare center (the Mobiles caregiver was still there but left right after me). I worried sometimes that the Mobiles caregiver would accidentally lock me in or something.
When I left Daycare #2 today, all the caregivers were still present, one was talking to me about Wesley and his day (spitting up lots, fell asleep in the bouncer but was transferred to a crib) and on my take-home sheet I noticed they said he also fell asleep on a walk! They took him on a walk outside! I had just assumed since Daycare #1 didn’t do it for the little babies that Daycare #2 wouldn’t as well, but I was wrong.
I am inordinately pleased. It’s like this: you’re going out with Decent Boyfriend, and he’s perfectly adequate and things seem fine, but later you break up and you eventually find SuperDuper Awesome Boyfriend who not only cooks you dinner but gives great footrubs. You had no idea Boyfriends could even cook! And then you realize he also has a great group of friends. This is how I feel about our daycare situation.
I mean, really. If you have to leave your baby with somebody else all day, you had better be at least somewhat enthusiastic about them, right?