I struggled a lot with the decision to send our 2-year-old and almost-1-year-old to day care when we moved to Corpus Christi. They have never gone away from home for day care or babysitting, so I had grown used to having them home and terrorizing entertaining me when I took breaks from work. But, when my sister when back to college in August (RUDE) and we weren’t able find the perfect nanny, we turned to searching for day cares. Unfortunately, neither of the schools we REALLY love had room for both of them. So not only did we start one day care, we started two. I knew that things like separation anxiety and a change of schedule would be hard on all of us, but I’ve been bombarded with a torrent of things I was not prepared for- you know what they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. These are the things I DIDN’T know!
1.Save your vacation days
If you think that you should go on one last fling as a family before shipping the kids off to school, think again. Within THREE days of starting school Bellie was home with her first cold and Graham followed suit two days later. Needless to say, our entire house was sick by the end of week one and we ALL spent more time in bed than at school/work for the next TWO WEEKS. Word to the wise: bank those days off and don’t be too proud to call in reinforcements. My parents and sisters all picked up our slack and missed work/school when we were in a crunch those first few weeks.
2. You think you have a lot of laundry now? HAHAHAHA
Your kids will get dirtier than you EVER imagined. I think this isn’t that they are exposed to more messes, but that the teachers aren’t able to singularly address the cleanliness of each child like we are at home. Bellie has had dirt stuck to her scalp even AFTER bath time more than once. I do AT LEAST twice the amount of little people laundry now than I’ve ever done before. Make sure the day cares have at least 2 spare outfits at all times. Just last Friday I received a call because Bellie had 1 potty accident (have we talked about the glamour of potty training yet?), and 1 spill, and she was out of spare outfits. Thus she was running around in a pull-up and oversized t-shirt until I could get there with more clothes. My child was THAT child. Lord.
3. Try not to have important meetings or sales pitches planned in the first weeks of school
Which leads me to the next point- if you can avoid it, try not to plan huge meetings, sales pitches, etc. those first few weeks. You will, in all likelihood, receive a phone call regarding one of your kids AS SOON as your client shows up or you login to that all-important webinar. Someone is running a fever, someone blew out of their last outfit, or someone’s teachers are DONE with them for the day. The first few weeks of day care will require that you or your spouse be available at the drop of a hat for one emergency or another.
4. Steel yourself for judgment
Old, young, married, single, tattooed, or buttoned up: you will be judged. Whether it’s the teacher, the other parents, or the center directors- someone is judging you. Just get comfortable with that going in. There have been days that I haven’t gotten dressed or put on makeup until it’s time to go pick up the babies. How crazy is it that I feel the need to put on something other than leggings to save myself the judgement of the teachers thinking I’m lying in bed eating bonbons and watching Real Housewives all day while my kids are being taken care of by strangers?
5. You’re going to be really annoying
Especially in the early days, you will think of your babies constantly: you will wonder what they’re doing, if they’ve had a BM, if they will have an incident report when you pick them up. And a lot of the time, especially in the early days, you won’t be able to control the urge to pick up the phone and check on the status of your baby.. It’s 8:05 and you’re about to walk into work, better call to see how your son transitioned from Welcome Circle Time to Free Play Time. It’s 11:11 and you remembered you should make a wish (remember that from middle school?), better call your daughter to see what she wished for. It’s 12:27 and you’re wondering if your baby was able to go to sleep for the first time on his new nap mat. Needless to say, the school phone numbers will be on your recent calls list for the foreseeable future. Hopefully the centers you’ve chosen are gracious enough to bear with your emotional umbilical cord being cut at their telephone expense.
6. Be prepared to buy MOUNDS of school supplies
My sister’s middle school supply list is enough to overwhelm this grown woman. There isn’t one store that houses every supply she needs to start the 7th Gone are the days of Wal-Mart shopping the night before school starts. This year, we went to three different stores and 2 additional online retailers to get her fully supplied. Day cares aren’t much easier: we had to special order nap mats for the babies, label all of their clothes and belongings, and rotate out pacifiers, loveys, etc. on a routine basis. Getting them packed and ready to go each morning requires a 1 adult: 1 child ratio at minimum.
7. While you’re buying all those school supplies, better stock up on medicine and disinfectant
The amount of times Keith has seen CVS after midnight is inappropriate. Due to the aforementioned illnesses that your children WILL pick up, do yourself a favor and stock up on cold medicine, Lysol, haz-mat suits, and wine so that you aren’t joining Keith for anymore snot-induced midnight rendezvous.
8. Familiarize yourself with the dress code
Yes, most day cares have dress codes. Ours don’t require uniforms but they do require close-toed shoes. Try telling beach-loving mongrels like mine that not only do they have to wear shoes, they have to wear socks. ALL. DAY. It doesn’t go over well. One of them arrives at school with no shoes or socks basically every day.
9. Buy more car seats
Let’s just start with saying that car seats are too big of a pain to be installing and uninstalling on any sort of a routine basis. And yes, they are outrageously expensive. We spent just one week car shuffling between drop off and pickup before we bought car seats for every car in our house. The person not in a meeting or cooking or picking up Anna is the person who picks up the kids. It just so happens that this person is constantly changing. Rather than struggle through the half an hour installation process daily, we ponied up the money and got more car seats.
10. Pack at night!
If the teachers tell you that one baby needs a change of clothes and the other needs more diapers, pull those suckers out and have them by the door as soon as you get home. Reload their bags with pacifiers, loveys as soon as you get home. That way you are ready to go and haven’t given yourself time to forget who needs what the next day and your mind is freed up to think about more important things- like which reality TV show you will watch after the babies go night-night. You will almost surely forget by the time you are running out the door the next morning that you were supposed to bring diapers and a change of clothes. Forgetting these things (especially as a matter of routine) will get you labeled as THAT MOM. THAT MOM who can’t even remember that her baby needs more diapers!!! THAT MOM whose child is running around in Pull Ups and an oversized t-shirt because she can’t remember to bring her precious baby a change of clothes. See No. 4. Day care teachers and directors don’t forget if you’re THAT MOM!
Overall, we are having a great experience with day care so far. The babies really love their teachers and they have already made friends. Now all we have to worry about is keeping me from becoming THAT MOM for the next 18 years. No Pressure.
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