One day you’re at home enjoying braless freedom in front of the TV with your little one, and the next day you’re back packing lunches and running out the door with a handful of Cheetos for breakfast.
Your maternity leave is officially over.
Mine came to an end this past October, and despite having childcare set up and a weeklong transition phase under my belt, I overlooked one massive factor in preparing myself to go back to work. I didn’t simplify my life. The day I went back I was also selling my car, planning Layla’s first birthday and I was in the first weeks of my second pregnancy.
Fast forward three weeks and there I am in the parking lot of Layla’s daycare bent over the steering wheel sobbing into my sleeve because the daycare lost her new boots. But it wasn’t just about the boots. It was everything. I had come to my breaking point. I would like to say that things got better from there, but if anything, they got much worse (more details on this in a later post). If I could say anything to myself back then, I would say simplify. Don’t take on anything else. Daycare will be enough to deal with.
I didn’t just have to cope with missing Layla during the day, I had to cope with someone else taking care of her, with diaper rashes, extreme sickness, overly tired cranky fits and all those other wonderful things that go hand in hand with the first few months of daycare life.
So I’ve made a quick list of tips I would love to give to past Angela to help ease those daycare blues.
* Label everything: bottles, hats, boots, backpacks, whatever you send with your child, make sure their name is on it. Understandably, it would be difficult for the staff to remember whose child had the Winnie the Pooh soother. And this way, new boots won’t go missing.
* Talk to other parents: This is a huge one. Whether it’s the parents bringing their child to the same daycare, or parents you find on Facebook. Ask them about the issues they’ve had. I find that daycare is the one baby-raising topic you can’t get enough advice about.
* Ask for a list: Over the next few months there are heaps of items you’ll be schlepping to and from the daycare. Each day I bring a change of clothes for Layla, soothers, bottles of milk and her lunch bag. And each Friday I’m usually bringing home her art projects and blankets to wash. It’s beneficial to have a list of things you’ll need right off the bat.
* Keep yourself informed: Take a look on the walls of the daycare. Amongst the art projects and pictures, there are usually important notices for parents. Recently I noticed one mentioning two cases of pink eye in one of the other programs. Taking a few minutes to talk to the staff helps as well.
* Get a daily report: We usually get a daily report emailed to us. It mentions when Layla ate, what she ate, when her diapers were changed, what type of disposition she had and so on. This helps us for when we get home because we can take a better stab at why she’s cranky.
* Have a backup plan: Recently Layla’s daycare had a flood and we had no other childcare set up so I had to miss work. Thankfully the daycare was only closed for one day.
There’s a lot of positives about having your child in daycare as well, but I’ll save those for another post.