Change,  Parenting

Starting Daycare, and This Little Boy’s New “Normal”

Its been a wild few weeks, Harry. We’re becoming daycare pro’s: I’m back at work, and you’ve just turned one.

This is the new normal.

I feel  lucky I could spend the whole year off  with you. It was a wonderful bubble to exist in, but now I return to reality. For you? This particular reality is all new.

Harry poses as he leaves the house for the day
Harry is all ready for his first day of daycare, despite having no idea where were are going or what his day holds in store.

The Bad

Starting daycare has so far fit perfectly with the expectations I held. The only shocker has been just exactly HOW sick we would all get upon your initiation. We’d been told to prepare for the next few years of runny noses and illnesses, but let me tell you!

I believe your first day of daycare, a trial day, fell on a Tuesday. By Friday night, you and I were both puking.

By Sunday, every member of our household had fallen prey to this mysterious gastro-type bug. I thought your and mine’s affliction originated from some questionable egg-rolls eaten cold from the fridge. My suspicions were rendered invalid once your Dad came down with the same symptoms (I was trying to give daycare the benefit of the doubt, clearly to no avail). On top of that, once feeling better, our symptoms have evolved into what I assume to be a common cold.

I’m going to be a little bit more specific, since this affliction of the commonly recognized virus does not feel “common” in any way. I’ve just now decided to term it a “Daycare super-cold”. The snot, sputum, sinus pressure, and dreaded “eye-booger” involvement continue to make us all just a little bit miserable three weeks after bringing “patient zero” (You) home. This is a step up from the full-on miserable of last week at the very least.

Of the five days of daycare scheduled so far, you have already missed one. This is ironic, since that place is where it originated from in the first place.

The Good

It hasn’t been all bad, though. You have come home with new skills since starting daycare, my two favourites being the adorable off-tempo head bobbing dance style you picked up on your first day, and the neck-encompassing full-body-embracing hugs that I have never been able to slow you down enough to give in the past. Those two endearing-as-hell qualities are enough to make me overlook the latest: a high-pitched shriek.

You haven’t cried yet at drop off, you are getting full naps, and eating every item we can think of to pack in your lunch (we’ve increased the amount with each day, and that bag has not come home with leftovers yet). I revel in the opportunity I have to sleep with abandon after night shifts, which is so different from the other sort of “night shifts” I’ve been taking with you in the last year.

Webcam Please?

It is a complex position to be in, though. This is the first thing you’ve been involved in completely separate from me. Grandparents and babysitters give me all the details of your day, send me pictures and reports. They attend to you in settings I can picture, with toys and activities I’m familiar with.

At daycare, I can’t picture the rhythm, the activities, and while the girls that work there give a summary, they record the objective stuff like body functions, and how much you eat. I only get the “meat and potatoes” of your day. The “spices and sauces” are neglected.

I want to see your participation with the other kids at drop off, watch you examine and eat your snack alongside your comrades, feel your temper grow short as exhaustion creeps before nap time.

Are you any more aggressive than the other kids?

Do you eat that lunch with full cooperation, or do the providers need to encourage you?

Do you accept an impending nap with good humour or voice your reluctance as you so often do at home?

This is the beginning of you functioning as an individual in the world, separate from me. I am enjoying it, and recognize this small bit of independence as a step towards your future achievement.

It’s a big step for you though, and I know your tears when I re-appear demonstrate your need for me. I hope that this change does not make you doubt your place at the centre of my world. Your secure attachment is important to me, and I hope that  we are able to “fill your bucket” enough during our time together at home to make up for the fact that there are numerous hours in a week where your well-being falls upon new friends, rather than familiar ones.

The Affiliate Section:

Delightfully, with starting daycare there were a few things we needed to acquire, giving me the opportunity engage in some online shopping I’m going to share…

Mabel’s Labels

Only once we got home that first day and unpacked everything, did I realize we were missing: a cup, a shirt, AND a bib. We ordered name tags from a site called “Mabel’s Labels”. They happen to be Canadian, AND have free shipping. The labels are customizable, and have a number of themes to choose from. We went with a daycare package that included waterproof labels for your shoes, dishes, clothes, and bag. I’ve been impressed so far, namely that the labels I put on cutlery and containers have so far been through the dishwasher a half dozen times and still look newly applied.

Harry's name tags and stickers

In the hope that someone other than Harry reads this at some point, this is where I disclose that I have actually followed up with Mabel’s Labels, and have been provided with an affiliate link to their website. This means that if a purchase is made from the link  provided, a commission from that makes its way to me. While I invite you to use the link, if adverse, I do still recommend you check them out through alternative methods. I will re-state: FREE SHIPPING!

Mabel’s Labels Link : http://shrsl.com/vw5q

Breakfast spread
Harry digging into his breakfast. I slapped a “Mabel’s Label” onto the bowl just before serving, I don’t anticipate it will stick to the silicone long-term, but I’m curious now how long it will last. The stickers have been on the cup and cutlery for about three weeks and look newly applied.

Yumbox

The other new purchase I’m enjoying is your lunchbox. By the time your lunch had been packed and unpacked after that first day, there were SIX separate tiny-portioned containers that had to be opened, rinsed, and washed. To limit fiddling around, I looked into bento-style containers, and invested in a “Yumbox” (followed by a $4 cooler bag to put it all in!).

It has not yet leaked on us, is compact, and is aesthetically “two thumbs-up”. The bottom of each sub-section is illustrated with a food group, and ours in particular has a New York theme, an “ode” to our trip there last November. The only drawback I find is that it isn’t microwaveable, though few bento boxes are. We added a silicone muffin liner which can be lifted out and the contents heated in the microwave.

Photo of Harry's packed and labelled lunch
Harrys beautiful spread, made especially for the purpose of taking this photo! The next day we just filled every slot with Cheerio’s and sent him on his way.

I laugh, because packing a baby lunch is still a novelty- I have great fun packing a variety of colourfully arranged and nicely cut food. Im sure once that excitement wears off, the content-quality will begin to decrease markedly. I wonder if a daycare worker can look at a child’s lunch and know right away based on whats provided how long they have been attending daycare for?

If you are curious, I have attached another affiliate link in the image below to Amazon Canada, where you can find a few different “Yumbox” styles listed.


It’s a wonderful world out there Harrison, and this step is one of many that are headed our way. I hope we can continue to face it with happiness, humour, and not too many daycare-aquired illnesses.

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