Dear Fellow Daycare Moms and Dads,
Hey there. How’s your day? Have you recovered from the insanity that is morning dropoff? Are you checking the radar, praying for no rain at pickup time since, when it storms right at 5:00 p.m., the parking lot resembles a battleground? Perhaps, like me, you’re checking the live video feed for the 13th time today, making sure your toddler is napping/eating/not acting like a fool.
For many of us working parents, daycare is our best option. If you have a traditional day job, there’s a certain sense of stability in knowing that certified caregivers are available to watch your kid from sun up to sun down (or, in our case, 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.). Unlike a nanny or a babysitter, the daycare can’t call in sick or decide to let you know at 7:00 a.m. she’s decided to break up with her boyfriend and move to the beach, putting you in quite the childcare predicament.
Now, as we all know, in the beginning, adjusting to daycare is tough on us parents and our loving babes. When I put my first child in daycare (after her grandmother kept her for nine months), I cried every morning when I dropped her off and sobbed so hard on my drive to work that my co-workers thought I might be involved in some kind of domestic dispute. After a couple of months, that subsided as I got to know her teachers and became comfortable with her daily activities and surroundings.
Next, her little sister started daycare. I cried the first day, then was good.
And yesterday, I became a parent with three kids in daycare. I didn’t shed a tear, mostly because I made my husband drop them off.
Speaking of drop-offs, I have a request. When you see a mom or dad struggling with nap mats, lunch bags, and show-and-tell items while lugging a carseat and chasing a toddler or two, PLEASE hold the door. There have been many times where another parent makes eye contact with me as I’m dropping artwork and yelling at my two year old to get out of the road, and as I’m maybe five steps from the door, that parent lets the door shut without holding it open. I’m not gonna lie, nothing makes me angrier at 7:00 a.m.
I understand, we all have a lot on our plates. Perhaps you’re distracted, thinking about the grueling work day ahead. Or maybe you’re feeling that dreaded working parent guilt and you’re not paying attention. Hey, I get it. But please be aware. And be kind. Help out a fellow parent in distress.
Also, we all need to remember the importance of being patient. I’ve heard another mom sigh and tap her foot, checking her watch, as I struggle to sign in multiple kids at the front desk. Lady, I know you’re in a hurry. But so am I. And I’m moving as quickly as I possibly can.
Same goes for pickup time. Please don’t feel the need to make gestures in the drive-thru lane as I wrestle my kids into the car so you can pass through. I know you’re in a hurry. And again, I am too. Chill out. I’ve accepted that pickups and drop-offs are going to take some time, and trying to rush my kids doesn’t do any good and makes me even more stressed than I am already.
Other than dealing with the pandemonium that is the parking lot, another big daycare challenge is the money. Good lord, it’s expensive. But in my case, there is no alternative, so we have to suck it up and make it happen. I’m not trying to wish away time or anything, but I might have a countdown going for when my oldest, who is three, starts kindergarten, and our bank account will be a little thicker.
Then, when all three of them are in school, we’ll probably feel like we won the dang lottery.
But, despite the money, the biting incidents, and the 3,290,972 pieces of artwork that I can’t seem to throw away, I know we’re lucky to have our girls in such an awesome environment. Their teachers have become my friends, and I trust them with my kids wholeheartedly.
What do you think, fellow daycare parents? Despite the chaos, it’s pretty cool, right? Our kids are learning. Growing. Making friends. I tell my husband all the time they are learning way more at daycare than I could ever teach them by staying home. They have structure, and I still have my professional life. For the most part, it’s a win-win.
So, let’s take a moment to thank all of the daycare workers out there. I don’t know how they do what they do. I say all the time it takes a special person to work with kids, especially the poor souls in the two-year-old room (seriously, what a circus). And, fellow daycare parents, let’s not forget in the midst of the chaos how much we appreciate these amazing individuals who are shaping our kids. That’s a pretty big job when you think about it. So don’t forget to thank them every once in awhile. And maybe bring them a coffee or a Target gift card, just because.
Oh, and again . . . PLEASE hold the door.
Overwhelmed Mom of Three