Our Experience Starting Daycare As A Toddler | Anchors Aweigh

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Our Experience Starting Daycare As A Toddler

Last night, I published a few posts over on Instastories about our experience with starting daycare as a toddler, my initial reservations, and how our son handled it. So many responded that this was something they were considering or could relate to, so I thought I would write a quick blog post on what the daycare journey has looked like for us. 

A little background on our situation: I work from home full time and have for almost 8 years. When I had our son, I took 3 months of maternity leave and then continued to work from home with my baby home with me. I did this for a year, and I credit being able to work full time with a baby at home to several things: a content baby, a strict schedule and routine that said baby had down pat, knowing how to be efficient with my time while I was working, and being willing to work after that baby went to sleep at night. 

Fast forward 14 months, and with our son only taking one nap a day at this point, there just weren't enough hours in the day to get it all done. I had a decision to make: either quit the job that gave me so much flexibility with a company that had always been wonderful to me, or start daycare. 

I didn't grow up going to daycare. My mom stayed home with my sisters and I until the youngest went to kindergarten, and I loved that, so this is what I wanted for my kids. Unfortunately, "daycare" can sometimes have a negative connotation, despite just how amazing it is for kiddos. There are people (like me) that didn't know anything about it and never wanted to explore it any further. I read the book "Bringing up Bebe" earlier this year about French parenting, and it was interesting when they talked about daycare. In France, it was a prestigious, common practice to take your kids to daycare, and moms (working and stay at home) threw elbows just to get them into a program. It's not always perceived that way in America.

A little background on my child: From day 1, he has been a mama's boy through and through. I don't just mean that he prefers me. I mean that I am his person, and when I am around, he doesn't really care to have anything to do with anyone else. He doesn't want anyone to hold him and screams when someone takes him from my arms. We had weekly playdates with friends, so he was accustomed to being around babies, but I was always there, and you can bet he never strayed more than a few feet away from me. Sounds like he's going to thrive in daycare, right? ;)


I decided to try part time daycare. At that point, our son was 14 months old. My plan was to send him for 3 hours in the morning so that I could get some work done. I only wanted to do it a couple of days a week, but my husband was adamant that we send him all 5 days for the first few weeks until he was acclimated. This just about killed me, and I won't pretend we didn't argue and fight about this fact for the entirety of those first few weeks. In hindsight, he was right, and had we not done it every day, I think it would have taken that much longer for our child to "get it". 

I dropped him off the first day, and he screamed. He cried. I cried. And I watched that clock all morning. When it was time to go pick him up, he basically collapsed in my arms and just clung to me. I thought maybe it would take him a few days to warm up. That was wrong. It took him weeks. For weeks, I left a crying baby and often picked up a crying baby. For weeks, I asked his teachers how the day went and heard "It was rough" in response. One thing I really appreciate is that his teachers didn't sugarcoat things. They told me when he had a hard day or when he cried, and I liked knowing they would shoot straight and tell me the truth. 

I wanted to throw in the towel so many times, but I had faith in my child that he could do this. He would get this. Around week 5, something clicked. He stopped crying when I dropped him off. He still leapt into my arms with joy when I picked him up, but he didn't cry anymore at drop off. His teachers said he was clapping his hands and dancing to songs. He was eating foods he had never eaten with me. He was interacting on his own with the other kids. He was having fun!


I honestly wondered if we would ever get to this point. It's been 5 months since we started daycare, and it has been amazing for both me and my child. My child has blossomed and learned things I wouldn't have even thought to teach him. He isn't as picky of an eater. He understands what it means to wait his turn and to sit at a table with his friends. As for me, it's allowed me to do my job and do it well. It's given me the gift of a little more time to get things done. It's recharged my batteries so that, when I am caring for my son, I am functioning at 100% and giving him the best version of me. 

Daycare isn't for everyone. I would never sit here and tell someone whether or not to do it. It's such a personal choice, and for many, it's not a choice at all but a necessity. But, I wanted to be honest about our experience and maybe give hope to the mamas that are currently struggling with it. My only advice is to stick with it if it's something you want to do. I wanted to throw in the towel for weeks. I didn't care about the benefits or keeping my job anymore... I just wanted my child to be happy. But, by the grace of God, I stuck with it, and I am a better mom for it now. My child is happy and thriving, and we are still the best of friends. 

And if you're wondering, my little man is still every bit of the mama's boy he always has been. He still only has eyes for me and doesn't appreciate other people holding him. It definitely hasn't hurt our relationship, to say the least... #stagefiveclingerforlife ;)

Here is a screenshot from a video of me picking him up from daycare. We both had a great morning, and we are both overjoyed to be back together.


7 comments :

Brittney said...

I'm so glad you guys stuck it out and he is doing well! I work full time and didn't want to stay home (both for my sanity and my career and for our family) so we did daycare since she was like 7 months (I stayed home for 12 weeks then grandmas and dad took care of her- he was off some week days). She is THRIVING there. We never had tears at drop off, so I can't imagine how hard that was, but for our girl, daycare is amazing. She is so loved, so engaged and learns so much there. I'm glad it's working out for your little guy! He's adorable!

Jen said...

I am so glad you stuck with it and did this for him and for you! This is why I chose to send E to preschool at 2 because she needed that time away from me with her friends and socialization. It has been so good for us.

Bailey @ Becoming Bailey said...

I love, love, LOVED reading this post, even though we don't have littles yet. Neither Andy nor I ever went to daycare so we initially thought it would be my career or kids. It's so encouraging to know that we (me more so than Andy!) can have both.

Katie said...

We put my daughter in daycare a few days a week when we found out I was pregnant with twins - so that I could have a little break during the day. It was the best decision and she loved socializing with other kids. Even though I'm a SAHM, I love that she is learning so many other skills when she's there.

Samantha Pavalok said...

I loved this! As a hopeful future mother who works from home, this provided great insight. Thank you! <3

Sarah Hogan said...

I LOVE this!! My son has been in daycare (on and off thanks to PCSing) since he was six months old and it has been the best thing for him and for me! He is a picky eater at home, but will eat anything he sees everyone at school eating, he reaches milestones earlier because he has peer models and he is extremely social. Of course, I have tons of mom guilt about leaving him and only getting a few hours with him in the evenings, but I know I am a better mom because he and I both get time apart. There are so many mommy bloggers who are stay at home parents (which is GREAT!), but it is so refreshing to hear from someone who's child goes to daycare and has a positive experience.

Julie Lee said...

Thanks for writing this blog. I found this article on pinterest and I'm a mom of a 14m old that we're going to send to daycare next month! I'm so glad to hear that things are working out so well for you guys. It makes me feel so much more secure in our decision to send him!!

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