Seven Things That Make Being a Daycare Mom Easier
I’ve been a daycare mom for the better part of the last four years. My son started daycare at 10 weeks and my twin girls started at six months after spending a couple of months in my mom’s care. While there have been a few bumps in the road, it has mostly been a smooth process that we have been very happy with. Often, I’m asked how I manage to be a daycare mom. Because I’m never really sure what people mean by that question, most of the time I just laugh and say “I dunno … I just do it and try not to be a pain in the teacher’s butt.” However, after I removed my smart alec hat, I realized that there were actually a few tips I could pass on that would be helpful to moms waiting in the wings.
Talk about it :: Open communication is key. Let the daycare teachers and administrators know that they can come to you with comments, questions or concerns. Establish a preferred method of communication and use that as a first resort. It might be a little intimidating at first, but open, honest communication from the beginning will lead to lasting success. I want our teachers to feel like they can come to me with anything, even if it’s something I may not want to hear.
Inquiring moms want to know :: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I often ask if they’re eating, napping, or interacting well, and in turn, they ask me if we’ve had any issues or noticed the same trends at home. Since they spend so much more time awake at daycare than they do at home with me, I like to hear about their newest tricks and tendencies, good or bad.
Regulators :: While they will develop their own routine at daycare, and it is helpful to give them an idea of your child’s tendencies, try not to expect an exact replica of your home routine. Remember, it’s in their interest to get all of the children on a schedule in order to make things run smoothly! The more kids they can get on the same routine, the happier everyone is in that setting. My kids take amazing naps at daycare that I have not been able to replicate at home. I don’t know what magic they perform to make that happen, but I’m cool with trusting their process as long as the kids come home happy and well-rested.
Track it :: Very descriptive daily sheets for infants are a must. As a mom of an infant, you definitely want (and need!) to know what the numbers were for the day: how many bottles they drank, how much food they ate, how many dirty diapers were changed. Once they get to be over a year, those things become less necessary to complete the rest of the day once you get home. When they’re older, eating habits, big events and major highs and lows of the day are still important to know, and information sheets are helpful. However, how many diapers a two-year-old dirtied isn’t quite as do-or-die of information as it is for a three-month-old. Different places will have different policies on what information goes home every day, but you should be receiving some sort of written information every day at pickup.
Pictures, please! :: If they’re willing and you’re ok with it, ask for occasional photo updates. Our daycare provider sends us photos and videos a couple of times a week via text … and they always seem to send them exactly when I need a little pick-me-up. Some places have private password-protected Shutterfly albums so parents can see the fun things the kids get to do during school hours. It makes those days when you’re feeling like you’re missing out on fun with your little ones a little easier to bear.
Leave a spare :: Many places require this already, but keeping a spare set of utensils, sippy cups, bibs, sheets, and extra clothes at daycare saves a ton of time and brain power. Actually, I’d advise sending two sets of extra clothes. All three of my kids have had days where they have needed to change clothes three times.
Pack it :: If your program doesn’t have a built-in healthy meal program, finding easy and healthy options to send every day can be a challenge. Personally, I am awful about packing lunches the night before. So I’ve found some great go-to food options that allow me to throw their lunches together in a hurry every morning. Their lunches usually consist of some combination of the following: yogurt, oatmeal, bananas, cheese sticks, berries, deli turkey, frozen veggie patties, rice crusted fish nuggets or hidden veggie nuggets.
Policies will, of course, differ from daycare to daycare, which is why it’s important to find a place that suits your family’s needs. I hope these things help you navigate your way through the daycare mom world. When you’ve found the right place, you’ll know your children are loved and cared for, and that peace of mind makes the world of daycare momming a much better place to be.
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