I have been back to work full-time since Theo was ten weeks old. At first my mom watched him every day for a month while we scrambled to find daycare. He came so early and with me on prior bed rest we didn't have anyone lined up by the time he was born. Through a family friend's recommendation we found the most perfect at-home daycare lady ever. She was laid back but organized, and loved the kids with all of her heart, especially Theo. At four months he was nineteen pounds and she carried him so frequently throughout the day she ended up needing PHYSICAL THERAPY on her arm three times a week in addition to every day icing. To me? That is some serious dedication.
She would drop him off at our house and pick him up if needed. She'd send us home with extra soup or veggies from the garden. She offered to meet us at the ER close to midnight when Theo was ten months old and was tested for Kawasaki Disease. Ms. D would wash his clothes and beloved blankie for us, and clip his nails when they got sourly neglected by his parents. On days I was held up at work she'd sit Theo down at their dinner table and he'd eat with them like he was part of the family, which he clearly was. We were truly blessed to have found her and for Theo to be in such wonderful care. Going to work every day was hard but I never EVER had to worry about his safety or happiness while he was with her.
Eventually when he started talking he'd ask for her over the weekend. Heaven forbid I took a few days off--I got boring really quick and he was itching to go back. If he saw a van that resembled hers in a parking lot he'd squeal for her and wonder why she didn't magically appear. I honestly took all of this as a huge compliment because we found someone to watch him that loved him as much as we did. It never hurt my feelings to have him lunge into her arms when we walked in the house, or accidentally call me by her name after I picked him up. He's a mama's boy through and through so I've never questioned his preference as I've always been The Chosen One. But it made every day so much easier knowing he loved it at her house so much.
Well, she retired the beginning of June (almost two years to the DAY that Theo started there) and we had the huge job of finding ANOTHER day care facility. Insert panic and emotional eating. This time, I felt like it was a million times harder since Theo has memory and thoughts and opinions and I was heartbroken for him that he wouldn't see his friends or Ms. D anymore. Plus! She set the bar so high! I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I made myself sick over the thought of finding someone new. Horrid scenarios played out in my overactive brain and I worried about Theo's safety and security. I was assured by many that he'd adjust way better than I would, and I believed that seeing as Theo gets over things in a fraction of a second as opposed to me who holds a world record for Just Not Letting It Go.
We came by our current provider through word of mouth yet again and she's great. Less expensive (always a plus but really, having to put a BUDGET on your child's care is the most awful thing to figure out because can ANYone be paid enough? No.) and closer to the house which was huge for me considering how long it took me to get to and from our old place. She's calm and gentle and the other kids she watches are great, which was another concern of mine because what if the kids were bullies? Or rude and obnoxious? We didn't want Theo around to be influenced like that but thankfully it's a non-issue. We like her and Theo is happy. Big. Sigh. Of. Relief.
Clearly, there are many things that are rough about being a working mom, but I'd have to say finding daycare is one of the hardest. Not only does it have to work for the parents, but the kid has to enjoy the environment as well. Plus it helps if the daycare lady likes your kid too! Sigh. Does it ever get easier? It's always going to be something isn't it?
This parenting thing, man. It sure is something else.
Since this topic has been consuming me lately, I also wrote about how to find a great daycare over at Work It, Mom! Pop on over and let me know about YOUR tips.