This is my daughter on her first day at daycare last October. She is so excited isn’t she? This day was the day that my little girl started on a road to independence, even if it was for a short time once per week. It was a big day for me too as we had rarely been separated since she was born. I knew that she would probably find it hard at first and then love it. I was right.
This first day, Olivia skipped into the room where her carers took her by the hand and began showing her how to decorate cupcakes. She barely noticed when I said goodbye. I picked her up early that day and everyone was relieved that she had a positive experience. In the meantime, I spent most of the day worrying (needlessly) about her when I could have been spending that time with my baby (who had never had one on one attention before that day – ever!).
The next week was the same but by the third week she was beginning to show signs of distress. As the weeks passed, I would have conversations with her carers about how she was coping (not well) which made me wonder whether I was doing the right thing. They reassured me that she would adapt but I was having trouble coming to terms with the amount of stress she was feeling. I contacted a couple of friends in the childcare industry and gave myself a deadline. If she didn’t start to enjoy it by this day, I would pull her out and begin again. This was one of the most stressful periods of my parenting life.
If she was so distressed, why didn’t I pull her straight away? We were lucky to get that place. The wait list is two years in most child care centres in the inner west of Sydney. The media is calling it a child care crisis. You take what you can get. The centre was a short walk away from my house, it was right next door from the primary school I plan to take her to. The carers were very caring and professional. I wanted this to work.
She did adapt. It took an extra day of attendance and moving up to another age group for her to adapt but she did. Now when I take her in the morning she runs off without glancing back at me. She brings home works of art that she makes and proudly tells me about the games she plays and what this teacher said and that teacher said.
The carers genuinely seem to show love and affection for all of the children. They give them cuddles and kisses. They are patient and kind (with both the parents and the kids).
Tonight, our daycare had a disco for the kids. Olivia won a prize for her Minnie Mouse costume which she proudly wore home. She danced like a little madam and surprised me when she knew Gangnam style! She was at ease with all of the children which would have been a real challenge for her six months ago. I was really proud of her and how she has grown.
I am really grateful for the fact that my child is able to attend such a wonderful child care centre. I am lucky that we can afford to send her there and that I am able to spend time at home with my youngest. I am grateful for the quality time my baby has had with me and how this has helped with her own development. Daycare not only benefits my daughter who attends, but also myself (yay! free time!) and my other daughter.
I am grateful for the child care rebate that allows so many children attend child care in Australia because it makes it marginally more affordable for women to return to the workplace and contribute to society. It also allows the mums who choose to stay at home to have a break in a life which is full of go go go. I do hope that more quality child care places become available so that families are not placed under financial strain which can eventuate if other child care options have to be explored.
This post is part of my weekly Grateful series which is linked in with Bron’s 52 Weeks of Grateful over at Kidspot. I would love to hear about your own experiences with child care. If you care to share, please comment below!