We had never planned to put Lukas in daycare and definitely not a dayhome. I wanted to work my way around it for as long as possible by swapping my shifts at work with my co-workers for their weekend and evening shifts, utilizing family wherever possible and maybe hiring a babysitter for a few hours once in a blue moon if need be. About 2 months into my return from mat leave I realized this method was definitely not going to work for long so I enrolled Lukas in a daycare starting in January. The reason I didn’t start sooner is because I had already taken most of December off work as vacation time since I’m a Christmas fanatic and wanted to spend as much time as possible soaking up the magic and festivities with my little guy this year. If he was in daycare that would defeat the purpose, and they don’t let you put daycare on hold for a month while you keep your kid home to frolic in the joy of the holiday season. I paid the application fee as well as the required deposit to ensure a spot and we were all set for daycare to commence 6 months from now, super!
Well life had other plans. Swapping shifts became super stressful, family became unreliable and finding a babysitter during the day was impossible. We were thrown into a fast and furious rush to find part time childcare in 3 short days. I first tried every daycare in our area. If I could get him into one for the couple of months before December that might work! All of the daycares I could get a hold of either had a 2 year wait list or only full time positions available. Three days passed super fast and next thing we knew it was Tuesday and we still had no childcare for Wednesday morning. I made a post on the Moms of Windermere Facebook page, “Looking for childcare for tomorrow morning’, and within minutes comments started pouring in with helpful suggestions and offers. One stood out to me in particular because I had just ran into the mom that suggested it the day before and she had a good vibe about her. I contacted the dayhome right away.
I have to admit that initially I had imagined a dayhome would mean Lukas would be just sitting in someones home while they went about their day taking care of their own children, doing housework, watching tv, etc. It would probably be run by someone who didn’t necessarily want to care for other children but wanted to be able to stay at home with their own and this was the answer.
The dayhome was open to helping us out by taking Lukas bright and early the next morning and made time for us to swing by and see her place and meet her beforehand that evening. We are extremely fortunate that this dayhome just happened to have a spot available due to another child going to preschool in the fall. We had another appointment to meet with a daycare (full time) that evening too but I didn’t even bother going and canceled it because I had a bad feeling about it right from initial contact. Bonnie’s dayhome gave us all the good feels and we left there that evening after meeting her feeling even a little bit excited about this big step we were about to take.
Wednesday morning my husband drove as we sat in silence for the 10 minutes to the dayhome. I wished the drive was longer so that I could spend more time with Lukas. My mommy mind was running wild with “what ifs”. The worst of course was “what if this is the last time I would see him”. I imagined him opening the window, pushing out the screen, falling the 3 foot drop to the ground beneath and taking off down the street, getting hit by a car or eaten by a pack of wild hungry rabbits. I should mention again that I work in a pediatric emergency so at any single point in time I can come up with twenty things that COULD or MIGHT happen in any given scenario and alot of them are way out there. I should also mention that I have never seen a child come in that has been eaten (or even roughed up) by a pack of wild hungry rabbits.
I wasn’t going to go to the door with my husband when we got there. I didn’t want to see the look on my baby’s face when they ripped him from my loving arms and slammed the door while he screamed for his momma. In my struggle to make sure that he had everything he needed for the day and that I got all my kisses in I somehow ended up at the front step with them. The door was open and the most warm and caring face was standing there waiting to welcome him. The dayhome was sparkling clean ready for the fun and adventures the day would bring. Lukas seemed a little cautious at first but at the same time curious enough about the toys Bonnie was leading him to for us to slip away out the door. I had my first report on his progress 4 minutes down the road. He had grabbed a teddy bear and hopped up onto Bonnie’s lap for a cuddle, all smiles!
The rest of the day I watched the dayhome’s private Facebook page, refreshing it every 5 minutes, watching for updates. My heart squealed every time she posted about what was going on. Lukas was right in there with the other little humans, playing, exploring and discovering. It was like watching wild animals in their natural habitat without interruption. This was beyond what we had hoped for! There was only one point, around noon, that I was convinced (since there hadn’t been an update in an hour) tragedy had struck and no one wanted me to know. Just then an update popped up! I was able to confirm that Lukas was indeed still there, alive and happily munching on his quesadilla and watermelon.
When the clock struck 3pm my husband and I both raced out of work to pick up our little guy. Although happy to see us Lukas was more excited to show us all the toys and activities and run back to playing with his new friends. That morning we had dropped off a baby and 9 hours later it seemed we were picking up a big boy! It was such a huge step for him to be spending the day away from us and I was so proud to see him becoming such a social little dragonfly out there livin life!
We’ve been going to Bonnie’s dayhome now for over a month and I have absolutely no regrets other than why we didn’t just go this route in the first place. It would have saved a lot of hassle and stress. I’ve noticed that after picking Lukas up at the end of my work day he’s so happy and content and he shows me what he’s learned that day by tackling a new task when we get home. I’ve even started picking up more shifts at work because I know he’s happy and safe and loved where he is.
So if you’re going back to work soon and you’re worried about leaving your little one with someone just remember that your not alone. I’m sure every mom that goes back to work has a story to tell you. There are a lot of amazing childcare providers out there in daycares and dayhomes alike that will knock your socks off and make this a truly enjoyable (yes, ENJOYABLE) experience. I highly recommend getting referrals from other moms that you trust, look for someone with experience (not just with their own kids), ask questions regarding certifications (CPR, etc.), daily activities, discipline protocol and other important information before handing over the most important little person in your world. It wont be long until your driving away from that daycare or dayhome, wind in your hair, music up, on your way to the mall because you took the day off to go shopping, kid free!