|Thatbaby's first day of "school."|
Because if you're not the one with your child for hours every day, it's important that the people who are, are people you trust.
We really lucked out with our daycare. It fell in our laps at a severe time of need. But I'll share with you what I love about it, in the hopes that it helps when/if you need to find a place for your little munchkin.
1) Location, Location, Location. There are 3 options for a daycare - somewhere near home, somewhere near work, or somewhere between the two. Each has their benefits and detriments. As I've alluded to previously, we didn't have a choice with our daycare, but we lucked out in the fact it is literally right beside our home. Which means we can (and do) walk there from time to time (in fact, on Friday before Christmas, Thatboy got off work early, came home and did some packing, and then walked down to daycare to pick up Thatbaby.) The upside of the location is that I don't have to leave home early to get to work, and once I pick him up, I'm basically home. And we don't have to plan who's picking Thatbaby up, since we both have to pass the daycare to get home. So, first person to the parking lot texts the other to let them know not to stop.
2) Cost. I'm not going to lie - daycare is expensive. Like ridiculously expensive. Like the cost of a month's rent expensive. While our daycare is more expensive than many of our friends who use in-home daycare, it's less expensive than any of the other centers in our area. And I love our center so much, I can't imagine using an in-home provider that may not offer as much. What does our center offer that's so fantastic? I'll tell you:
3) Communication! This is really important! Thatbaby gets a daily report detailing his sleep, diapers, food intake, and activities he did that day. There is a monthly newsletter filling us in on everything the children in his class are doing. We have parent/teacher conferences to talk about how he is meeting his developmental milestones. When he graduated from the infant room we got a little booklet highlighting pictures, activities, and artwork he created in that room. And the PICTURES! Every month we get a link to a private shutterfly account with pictures from that month. (All the pictures in this post are from those monthly albums.)
4) Willingness to meet your/your child's needs. In daycare, your child ceases to get the one-on-one attention s/he was getting at home. There is always a concern that the day care providers won't devote the time to your child that you do. That your child will cry themselves to sleep in a wet diaper, missing mommy (or daddy). Our daycare really works with each child's individual needs - and Thatbaby is a little high needs, so I appreciate everything they do.
Daycare was also fantastic with our BLW endeavors. Although they weren't familiar with the concept before Thatbaby, they quickly fell in love with the fact that they didn't need to feed Thatbaby, and the fact that he was so self sufficient.
5) Education. I was actually talking to Thatboy about this on our drive up to the inlaws. This wasn't a priority of mine AT ALL when finding a daycare. Because really? What kind of education does a 5 month old need? But now that he has it, I love the fact that his daycare has a curriculum. Each day there are different activities related to language skills, math skills, social sciences, etc. There are tactile learning experiences and group activities like "circle time" which involves stories and songs.
Thatbaby also does loads of art projects, which I could never hope to compete with at home.
And maybe my favorite thing is that most of these art projects get sent home! (We're already out of room on the fridge).
There's also physical development. Thatbaby gets indoor and outdoor play every day where he gets to climb, slide, walk, crawl, run.....
6) Social interaction. Thatbaby's current class has 7 other kids in it. He's been with 5 of them since his first day of daycare and it's been wonderful to watch them all grow together. It's fun watching them light up with excitement when he shows up for the day. They take fieldtrips around the campus together.
They learn to share and play with each other on the playground.
This picture is from the day where Thatbaby's daily report told me that "Thatbaby and Bestfriend had lots of fun rolling on the floor together."
Up until the week before Christmas, we were having some real struggles with drop offs at daycare, but it's clear that during the day, Thatbaby was having a blast. He loves it there, and I love it because of that. I love that he has new and different toys to play with there so I don't feel the need to have every toy in creation in our home. I love the fact that he gets reading and singing and art. I love the fact he plays with his friends. So if you're worried about sending your child to daycare, I can assure you, it can be a wonderful thing.