As soon as we made the decision to move to Regina, I started the painstaking process of calling daycares. I focused first on centres, because Jon and I were both initially so freaked out by the prospect of entrusting our precious babe to a complete stranger in a home. So I looked online, used sites other moms and friends from Regina recommended, called countless places, talked to directors and staff and got on every wait list I could, extending beyond just the area of the city we hoped to live in. My options were already limited: most centres would only take babies 18 months and older, and like most people, I was returning to work at a year (figure that one out!?). I was told so many times that the lists were long, some hundreds of names ahead of mine and others several years in length (I guess I could always stay on them for a future baby!). I was told the chances of getting my girl in were slim. And they were right, because I have only ever heard from one centre with an available spot! Maybe the trick is to start searching as soon as your baby arrives in this world, cause it’s not like you have enough going on then;)
So I went to Plan B: looking at dayhomes. After speaking to seasoned working mommas, I learned that a dayhome might be a better fit for our little one! And they were cheaper!! And there were actual spots available!!!
We lucked out and found one pretty quickly, after only a few interviews. In August I took Lily Rose for weekly trials. Each time she did well, and neither of us cried…at first! In September Lily started full time and the daymom even said our girl was the best eater and sleeper there! She communicated well with me, reassured me during the day that our babe was happy and doing well in her care:) Then our short-lived luck ran out: Not even three weeks after starting Lily full time, this seemingly reliable daymom started telling us she was sick, and day after day she couldn’t take LR. I do believe she had medical issues to deal with, but she dropped the ball on communicating with the parents of the babies in her care. It took weeks for her to tell us her plans going forward, and even longer to give us any kind of refund or Lily’s things. Meanwhile we would have scrambled to get daycare most days, but luckily my Dad more than rose to the challenge and cared for his granddaughter for over a month until we found a new spot. After talking to friends and coworkers, and interviewing three more dayhome providers, we chose a new place. It was run by two women, one of whom lived almost across the street! It was so near and there were two daymoms running this one, awesome:) We felt lucky once again!!
Things started out well, with my Dad taking LR over for successful trials at the end of October. But when she started full time in November, things didn’t go so well. Lily would cry on the way to daycare, cry the minute we picked her up, be clingy and crying most of the evening. Our smiley, silly babe was a whiny, upset mess most days. I got myself so stressed about how she was adjusting that I obsessively messaged the daymoms during the day to check in, but I was always told Lily was either cranky or she was sick and we needed to come get her. It was a month of being told my daughter wasn’t napping well, was hardly eating, she screamed when the other kids touched her, she wasn’t bonding with either of the daymoms. We kept waiting for the day we picked up LR and they happily said she did well, or even just OK. But it never happened. The daymom who was almost as cranky as my teething tot said they would give it a few more weeks, see if things improved. But they were never going to give it more than a month, which I thought wasn’t long enough for a babe to get used to a new people, new surroundings and a new routine.
There was a lot conspiring against little Lily Rose at this time: cutting molars, fighting colds, and and she’d gotten too used to being home with Grandpa, doing things on her own schedule. And this new dayhome had major structure. For a 14 month old who just wanted to play and explore, it was too much. It wasn’t her age though they told me, it her was personality! Jon was frustrated with these women early on, feeling like they weren’t stepping up and doing what they said they would. We knew something wasn’t right there, whether it was the structure, the timing of the transition, a kid she didn’t like or the daymoms themselves. They danced around the issue for days, but finally they said she wasn’t a good fit for their dayhome, and I finally listened to Jon, my momma-instinct and our child’s response to the situation, and agreed: We were done!
The kicker came when I picked Lillers up from what would be her last day; the other daymom tried to be all sweet about things not working out, meanwhile insulting me and my girl in the process. She asked if Lily was ever around other kids, or in any activities!? Um, yeah, lots! Well, she doesn’t seem to like other kids, she said. That’s weird cause she seems to like kids when we do playdates, go to activities and birthday parties! (She likes kids lady, just not the ones here!) Miss Passive Aggressive went on to suggest we start Preschool at age 3, not wait till 4, because this transition had been so hard already on Lily. Seriously, I thought, that’s years away!! The daymom finished the unwanted advice with: Lily Rose is just so clingy, I wouldn’t get pregnant with a second baby anytime soon. OUCH!!! At the time, I didn’t respond to the remark, because I couldn’t believe anyone (except maybe my own mother) would dare tell me when I should think about having a second child. I wish I had answered with some witty, bitchy comeback, I wish I had told the chick to shove it. But I kept it classy (ok not really, I was just plain speechless!), and instead I later vented to every friend and family member I have. Yes I knew Lily was clingy, but she’d been happy before at a dayhome, so I refused to think that she couldn’t be her happy self again someday, given the right fit. We just needed to find it…and fast!
Enter Ayesha, and our third dayhome. We had actually interviewed Ayesha earlier, but went with stupid cranky pants and passive-aggressive almost across the street instead. At the time it seemed like the best choice. Geez hindsight is a bitch;) I called Ayesha and we were lucky that she hadn’t yet filled the spot and could get us in for December. Jon’s parents helped out by taking Lily a for a few days until we could start, so again: Thank Gawwwd for Grandparents!!!
Even though Ayesha was a bit weary at first, after hearing that Lily had had a hard time at the last dayhome, she chose to fore-go a lengthy trial period, and started her full time almost immediately. We all thought for sure Lily would cry with her. But her first month there, Lily didn’t cry once. Ayesha said she’d never had a new baby who didn’t cry in the first month (#winning)! Then in the second month, Ayesha said Lily Rose was not only not crying, but was always smiling. And just like that, our girl was back 🙂
LR has been going to Ayesha for almost three months now. I was scared to say it was a success and jinx it. But I know we’ve found our fit. Things could always change in the future, but for now, Lily goes to daycare happy, and comes home happy. Ayesha hasn’t once called to say she is sick and we need to pick her up (knock on wood!). She deals with things so confidently, and calmly. The way Lily smiles at Ayesha in the morning and waves goodbye to her in the afternoon warms my heart.
Yes Lily still has days when she is cranky at night, wants to eat the second she enters the door, or is tired so friggin early. While she is slow and wants to do it all herself, Ayesha says she eats well in the day. Now I don’t know how healthy everything she eats is, but that is not something that keeps me up at night. She doesn’t nap great all the time there I’m told, and I think Lily would likely prefer two naps over the one Ayesha does. But she usually sleeps great each night and naps longer on weekends, so I choose my battles. What’s most important to us is that our girl is safe, happy and as healthy as possible.
Going into it, I had no idea that the search for a daycare would be such a difficult experience. I had no idea it would be accompanied by such frustration, stress and so many tears for me and our babe. But I know we aren’t alone in this. We got so much valuable advice from parents who have been there, done that. It’s another stage of parenthood that is just that: a stage. The hard times don’t last forever (hopefully!) and things do get better (thankfully!!). And there were bright spots even: the outpouring of support from family and friends; the beauty of seeing Granparents care for and bond with Lily Rose in between daycares; the experience of growing as parents through this process; Jon and I becoming even stronger as a couple by putting on a united front to find the right fit for our girl. So in the end, after two failed attempts, we found a reliable dayhome where our girl thrives, and is back to being our smiley, silly Lily ❤