Our Transition Into Child Care
When I was younger, I had this ideal vision of what kind of parent I would be. I would be involved 150% in my child’s life, but I would also be a professional, career-driven (not to mention incredibly successful!) business woman. I would have it all and be great at everything.
By the time I was many years deep in the working world of 9 - 5-ers, my husband and I were joined by the most precious little girl and just like that, my priorities changed. My newborn baby was wasn’t a newborn baby for long and time flew by. All I wanted was to spend the limited time that we are given with our “babies” with her. However, little ones can have big costs and I needed to find a balance in work and home.
We had friends that were already looking into child care options when their baby was only a couple weeks old. They had been told about wait lists and how difficult it can be to find a suitable daycare or day home. I found it sad to think about childcare and leaving my daughter with a stranger when she was still so young. But like many parents, the reality was that we needed to think about it at some point.
There were many questions and so many things to take into consideration; Where do you even begin? Daycares? Day homes? Nanny? Close to home? Close to work? It was an overwhelming process to say the least and I am so incredibly thankful for friends that helped me through.
Not long after we started our quest, the heavens above opened up – a child care centre was opening across the street from our house! I insisted on checking it out, although I did have some reservations. Being brand new, it obviously wasn’t as established as a lot of centres.
After attending the open house, we found out they had only one more spot for an infant, so we paid our deposit to reserve our space. I still wasn’t convinced that this was the place for us, but at least if all other options fell through, we had a spot reserved to fall back on.
One day, my husband and I decided to pop in to the centre to see it in action. We were greeted by two very pleasant ladies, one of them being from the infant room. She introduced herself, said hello to Everly, and asked if she could hold her. We agreed, although at 8 months old Everly was going through a ‘stranger-danger’ phase, so, as I handed her over, we expected an immediate meltdown. We held our breath and waited, and…silence, followed by a few happy coos from our little munchkin. What?! We stood there and watched our normally very attached little girl in a complete stranger’s arms, with a smile on her face as she ran her tiny little hands through this woman’s long hair. “She must like you, she never goes to anyone”, my husband said.
As we walked away that afternoon, I felt a peace. We had made a good choice.
Fast forward four months, Everly started at her new centre and I went back to work. There was no difficult transition period, and there were no tears – none! She loved her care-givers and she didn’t think twice about being dropped off there every day. The development we saw out of her as the weeks and months went by was astonishing. We would sing songs to her at home and she would start doing accompanying motions to the words that neither myself nor my husband had come up with. Once she started talking, she was saying a new word every single day. She started to develop the most amazing little personality. She created relationships with the other kids and the staff, starting every day by giving each of the staff and each of her friends a hug hello and leaving every day by doing the same. The experiences that Everly was getting at daycare was some that we could never provide her had she been at home. It made going back to work easier knowing she was happy and in good hands, but most importantly seeing how much this little girl was changing just by being exposed to a new setting, new people, new activities.
Before daycare, Everly wasn’t shy by any means, but she was reserved. She liked to hold onto mom and dad until she was comfortable around you and she most definitely had no interest in talking to whomever was around. But now, if you run into us at the mall or at the grocery store, whether we know you or not, you can almost always expect to hear a friendly little “Hi!” out of her sweet little lips and an accompanying wave of her toddler hands.
Sometimes I do still imagine what life would be like if I could be home full-time with Everly. How wonderful it would be to have that extra time when they’re little. However, now that I have seen the amazing things that child care can provide developmentally, socially and mentally, I am truly an advocate. No matter our situation, providing environments with learning, growth and socialization opportunities will always be a top priority for us as parents.
Brittany lives in Edmonton and is the Alberta Marketing and Events Coordinator for Kids & Company. She is the mom of one little girl and a four-legged fur-baby, who both bring so much love and excitement into her and her husband’s lives every day. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.