This is the Friday that I’ve been dreading since Olivia was born. It’s the last official day of my maternity leave. Though it’s April 4th and sending Olivia to daycare that I’ve truly had stuck in my head, it’s today that I’ve also not wanted to see. My plans for today include a lot of cuddling, playing, singing, and enjoying Olivia and my time together. I’m trying not to be sad about it, but it’s a hard time for me. I’m thankful to know that this will be less hard on her at this age than it is on me.
For the last week, we’ve been quite productive while also enjoying ourselves. We’ve taken a lot of walks outside, we’ve done a lot of playing on the playmat with new toys, and we’ve done a lot of singing and talking.
What I’m most proud of us for, though, are the daycare test days. I mentioned last week that the owner had called and suggested that I bring Olivia in for a couple of days this week before the true start date to give us both some time to adjust and to drop off some diapers. I didn’t know if I’d do it, since I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible, but I’m incredibly happy that I did. I wanted to reflect a little on why I’m so glad I did the daycare test days.
The benefits of easing into daycare
I decided last Friday after writing my blog post that I would in fact take Olivia to daycare two days this week for a couple of hours. Tuesday and Wednesday ended up being the best days in our schedule this week to head over and check things out. The owner said I could stay in the room or leave Olivia or do a little of both just to get to know the teachers and to see what the day to day activities are like.
Meeting the teachers ahead of time
When I got there on Tuesday, I saw the owner and she took me over to the baby room to meet the teachers. For our privacy and the privacy of the school, I won’t say the teachers’ names or the facility’s name on my blog. I walked in again (I’d been there in February to drop in for a few and had originally visited back in June of 2015) and remembered the two teachers. I had Olivia in the Tula, and they kind of went with the flow. They seemed very comfortable with having parents in the room. We talked a little bit about them, about Olivia, and about how things are going with Olivia. I wasn’t rushed to head off to work, and I had time to tear up and still listen and ask questions.
Learning the daycare procedures and daily requirements
After we talked for a little bit, one of the teachers showed me the refrigerator that is especially for breastmilk and where I will put Olivia’s bottles. She showed me how to label everything with the colored tape that she gave me. Everything of Olivia’s will be pink so they can visually see what belongs to her. I saw her cubby and her hook, and I was able to stock up her diapers and wipes in the proper location. I saw the clip board where I will sign her in on and write down the time for the bottles on. They showed me her crib and helped her get her crib sheet on. I looked around at all of the decorations on the walls and all the toys. She told me about the cleaning procedures for the toys based on whether they were soft toys or hard toys.
Seeing what goes on during the day
On Tuesday I stayed for an hour and a half before leaving her for two hours. During that time I got to see how they handle the different baby’s schedules, play time, meal time, changing time, etc. I also got to see them interact with Olivia as they will when she’s there for good. One of the teachers rocked her to sleep and transferred her to her crib, all while I stood by talking and watching. I got to see the different developmental stages of the different ages in that room, and I saw how they respond differently to those different needs.
Leaving her while knowing I’d be coming back soon
After she was asleep in her crib I left, knowing that I had lunch plans and would be back in to pick her up in two hours. When I left, I wasn’t leaving for an entire work day. I was just leaving for a little bit. If things went badly we could regroup and try again the next day. If things went well, I’d get a little peace of mind. I also didn’t have to think about returning to work after four months at the same time as thinking about leaving my baby. I could focus solely on leaving her and process those emotions. I cried. I actually spent a fair amount of time crying while I was talking to the teachers. They were unfazed. I guess they’re used to seeing that…
Practice taking a bottle from someone new
I left a bottle both days, because I wanted to see how Olivia would handle taking a bottle from someone besides Tim or my mom. She had never had any trouble in the past, but I had heard stories of babies protesting and not taking a bottle after starting daycare. She took her whole bottle both days of the test day, which was so good for me to hear. I know there still may be kinks along the way, but at least I head into Monday not fearing whether she is going to eat.
Meeting other parents
Wednesday we took her earlier so that Tim could meet the teachers. When we got there it was during a busy drop off time, so we got to see other parents of the babies that are in Olivia’s room. There were several of them in there hanging out and talking to the teachers and saying goodbye to their babies. It was very relaxed and not rushed, and I could tell that they were very comfortable leaving their babies at the school. Knowing that other parents are happy with the place that they are leaving their children eased my mind a little bit, as I don’t think they’d be spending time hanging out and chatting with each other and the teachers if they weren’t comfortable there.
When we were leaving and I was still wiping tears away, another mom who had seen us walking down the hall stopped me in the parking lot and told me that it gets easier. She told me that they love the kids so much there and that though it gets easier there are still days that are hard. She removed her sunglasses and wiped a tear away and said that leaving her son still made her cry on occasion but that he loves it there and there are days he doesn’t want to leave when she comes to get him.
Giving my girl a chance to nap at daycare
I wanted to see what her naps would be like. I know that napping at daycare is hard because there’s noise and lights that babies aren’t used to. Olivia napped for 25 minutes the first day and took a 40 minute nap the second day. I’m not saying things are going to go perfectly next week when she’s there much longer, but at least she’s had a chance to dip her big toe into the big changes that are coming.
Seeing what kind of feedback I get during the day
I was told that I would get a daily report and a picture and that I was allowed to call and check in whenever I wanted. Now that I’ve gotten two daily reports and know what they will entail it makes me happy to file that away in my mind. I’ll be informed of when she goes to sleep, when she wakes up, what time they changed her diaper and what was in it, and what all went on during the day as far as the curriculum is concerned. I also enjoyed getting pictures already and seeing that she was having fun while I wasn’t there.
I also called one time to see how easy it was to get in touch with someone. When we left on Wednesday she was falling asleep, and I wanted to know if she had actually slept, so an hour and a half after I left, I called and asked if she had napped. That’s when they told me that she had actually slept for about 40 minutes. That gave me a lot of peace of mind, too. I had called and was transferred to her classroom and her teacher answered and told me. When I got back to pick her up that day I asked the teacher genuinely how much is too much, and she said it’s really okay to call whenever. I don’t plan on bombarding them, but I’ll call a couple of times each day during the first few weeks. I even asked when bad times to call were to make sure I don’t bother them during busy times.
Generally feeling better about going back to work
I have been absolutely dreading April 4th. Since Olivia was born I have cried about sending her to daycare. I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. I questioned my choices and second guessed myself hundreds of times. Monday is still going to be hard, but already feeling a sense of comfort with the location, the teachers, the other parents, and the other babies will help ease my mind so much and help me be able to enjoy these last few days. It will also help me make it through that first day back to work knowing that she has done well in the couple of test days that I took her.
I know it will still be incredibly hard. I know there will be bad days. I’m not seeing the world through rose colored glasses now, but I am much more at peace with my choice knowing that I’m leaving her in good hands in a place where she will be well taken care of. The transition will take us both some time, but I’m glad to have gone through this process to know that it truly will be okay.
If I can say that I’m looking forward to anything right now it’s the time I get to pick her up on Monday. I want to see how she’s going to do for a full day. I got great reports both days this week, but I know it could be different once she’s there for a full day.
We’re going to make it through this; please just be thinking about us both during this transition time. I love my girl, and she loves her mommy. I just hope that she knows how much I love her and how I’m doing this for her future when I’m not with her all day anymore.
Did you do daycare test days? Do you have any tips on making the transition easier for me or for Olivia?
I wanted to add that I wrote this post for moms who plan to return to work and are considering doing a couple of trial days at daycare before your return. I would wholeheartedly recommend that you do it for your own peace of mind; I believe there’s a chance it helped Olivia, but I know that it was mostly beneficial for me in knowing that it will all work out.
If you found this useful as a working mom or mom returning to the workforce, would you pin this image so other moms can find this too? We’re all in this together, and I’d love to encourage other moms during a difficult time.