Friday, August 09, 2013

Daycares are like dating - Trust your gut

I went back to work in January. Hannah started at her third daycare this week.

With the unfortunate news of the toddler who died at a home daycare with 27(!) kids in the GTA, a lot of parents are questioning how other parents could have left their children in the sketchy situation being described by media outlets.

I'm not here to judge anyone - a toddler has lost her life, parents have lost their daughter.

Growing up, my Mom had a gold star next to her name at my elementary school after making a stink about multiple things on multiple occasions. She was nice until she had a reason not to be. I am my Mother's Daughter.

As anyone who knows me in real life will attest to, I wear my heart on my sleeve - or more accurately my anger on my face (and in my voice, over the phone).

Hannah is the most precious gift I have ever been given, and she is the one thing in this world I am most passionate about. I'm a protective Mama Bear who growls if anyone tries to mess with my cub.

At the first daycare centre a variety of incidents occurred which left me feeling like Hannah was not properly supervised. She keeps to herself, and for the most part, is a pretty agreeable gal. As someone who spent her high school and university years teaching kids rec gymnastics and being a camp counsellor, I am well aware that the kids who don't cause any issues are less supervised. It's just the way it works -you can't be everywhere at once and your attention must be focused on those who jeopardise their safety and the safety of others. But Hannah couldn't speak and needed to be watched. There were supposed to be enough adults in the room that every infant was being watched at all times. Our gut told us to pull her, and Chris and I spent the next month working opposite shifts and taking care of her when we weren't at work. We were overtired, easily upset with each other - but we knew Hannah was safe.

Our second daycare was a home daycare connected to an agency. This woman gave us second-by-second reports when anything out of the ordinary occurred. However, our job life changed she could no longer meet our requirements for Hannah's care.

I'm really hoping third time is a charm. Hannah is now at a co-op daycare which means all the parents volunteer. They have an annual meeting where the parents make decisions about how the daycare is run. Whenever I call they happily tell me about Hannah waving goodbye to other parents, how she ate her cereal one piece at a time at morning snack, that she enjoyed water play outside with her friends. This evening when I picked her up they showed me photos of Hannah smiling and playing - they even had video! Not only is this daycare providing Hannah adequate care - but they are providing me support.

Growing up, I was very career-orientated. I have a university degree and TWO college diplomas. And every day I go to a job where I enjoy my tasks and have friends who happen to also be coworkers. But it still kills me that I can't spend every second of every day with Hannah.

Seeing photos and video of Hannah smiling and happily playing with other kids makes me feel better. It lets me access her day without disrupting it.

I knew this daycare would be different her first morning. After I spent about 30 minutes with Hannah in hopes of her settling in, the caregiver who is on the early morning shift told her, "Mommy has to go to work now. She loves you very much and she will come back to get you at the end of the day." Sometimes parents need to be reminded too that they will be reunited with their child and that the separation is only temporary. I was so thankful she tactfully kicked me out, or I may have witnessed the aforementioned one piece of cereal at a time morning snack.

I really hope other parents trust their guts when it comes to finding care for their little ones. Sometimes you try to brush off what your gut is telling you, or you keep dating a guy until someone better comes along. Daycare spots in Toronto are scarce, just like good guys in a dating draught. A good daycare match is like a good relationship - it starts off good and just keeps getting better. There is trust and accountability and transparency and respect. If there's not, it's not a good match.

Chris and I (and Hannah!) are living proof that finding a good daycare match isn't always easy, and some months we pay more in daycare fees than we do for rent. But Hannah is worth every penny - any child is.

© 2013 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I feel your pain, although I can only imagine it! I'm fortunate enough that my parents watch my kids BUT this winter I'll be sending my son to daycare a few days a week...and I'm so apprehensive! It's not that I can't "let go", it's because I'm already stressing about finding a decent, reputable daycare! It seems like every person I talk to has a different opinion on any of the daycares I mention! SO frustrating!

    1. It's hard to find the right one, and sometimes you have to wait to get in. And with all the horror stories out there I think it makes us parents even more worried than back in the day when my Mom sent me to an (unlicensed!) daycare. But the bonuses of being around other kids her own age is something I really can't provide the way daycare can. And my best friend who is a kindergarten teacher constantly reminds me her daycare experience will make going to school that much easier!

  2. So hard to ever really know, huh. I dread the day when I will have to take my baby to daycare, and trust that they will treat her the same way I would.


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