Friday, May 3, 2013

From Nannycare to Daycare

The first week of daycare is over.

When my husband and I learned ten weeks ago that we would be moving from California to Colorado for a great job opportunity, we took the time to assess and agree that now that our son is close to two years of age, it would be a good time to move from nannycare to daycare.  For the past year, our son has spent four days of every week with a wonderful caregiver who dedicated more energy and love into caring for my son than I could have ever wished for.  Every morning, Jennifer* would show up at 8am, and the three of us would spend about 15 minutes together having a little breakfast and chatting (mostly about my son: how did he sleep last night?  Did he have any breakfast yet?  What are the activities for the day?).  Then I would pack up and head out for my "commute": a 30-second walk to our in-law suite, separate from the house, where I could work, undistracted and fully focused.  I love working at home, not just for the convenience of not having to go through the daily traditions required to commute to an office but mostly because I could see my son throughout the day (this was especially helpful when I was still nursing).

*Not her real name

What I'll Miss about Nannycare
When it was time to say goodbye to Jennifer, I realized then and there, that the relationship I had developed with her, was by far, the most important one in those first two years as a new parent.  The convenience of having someone come to your home to take care of your child is eclipsed by the experience of having someone become a part of your family.  Although I was working at home, I did see alot of Jennifer, and seeing how much effort she put into the care of my son, I grew very fond of her.  Being a first-time parent, I learned quite a bit from Jennifer.  I appreciated that she never dictated what I should do as a parent, but would provide suggestions.  I never felt judged for my parenting.

I also grew to like Jennifer as a person.  At first, I found it awkward to have a stranger in my house, as I've never hired anyone for any services: housecleaning, gardening, etc.  Over time, as we got to know each other, there were certain subjects we both enjoyed.  Firstly, my son.  We also both enjoyed food and would both contribute to meals.  It wasn't long, where, after enough lunchtime gatherings, we were comfortable with one another.

The Transition to Daycare
Which brings me to daycare.  Up until last week, I could see my son regularly throughout the day.  Not anymore.  If my work day wasn't too busy, I would occasionally eat lunch with my son and Jennifer.  With my son at daycare, I am now all alone in our new (temporary) housing.

The worst part of moving to daycare is the separation anxiety my son goes through when my husband or I drop him off for the day.  Taking advice from other friends who have their children in daycare, we decided to start off with a half week this week: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  To make it even less stressful on my son (at least, this was my thinking), I have been picking up around 3pm, right after naptime, to keep his days on the shorter side.

Tuesday my son and I took a half hour tour of the facility.  We even had a chance to explore his new classroom together by ourselves, as his soon-to-be classmates were out at the playground.

Wednesday I brought him in, spent the recommended time playing with him for 15-20 minutes and then I left.  I swear I could hear his cries all the way to the car.

Thursday I had my husband drop our son off.  I got a text later that morning: that was one of the most heartbreaking moments so far.

Friday I had dropoff duty.  This time I spent half an hour with my son.  Then I firmly announced that mama had to go bye bye but that she would return this afternoon.  More crying.  But this time, not as loud.

I know it will continue to get easier.  It's hard to not want to comfort your child.  I know that with each day, as long as I return, he will eventually come to understand that he is not being abandoned but being brought somewhere where he can play with other children his age.  I long for the day when he will be excited about going to see his friends at "school".

Do you have children in daycare?  At what age did your kids start daycare?  What did you find helped them learn to "accept" going to daycare? 

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