I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of Monkey attending crèche (aka Kindergarden or pre-school)…
Firstly – I feel horribly guilty for going back to work (you can read my top 10 tips on returning to work here) and for not being there all the time. I rationalize with myself that I have a good paying job and that we couldn’t survive without my salary – but I am also well aware that I actually enjoy my job and I enjoy coming to work to socialize with adults and feel useful (outside of the home!) – and these thoughts makes me feel even more guilty! I try to make sure that my time with her is quality time as we have so little of it during the week. I hate the thought that I will miss out on important milestones (first step, etc etc)
Secondly, I worry that she is taking a pretty serious knock to her immune system with all those children (and THEIR germs) around her. In fact, she has had 2 semi-serious illnesses since she started (fevers, vomiting & diarrhea are not for the fainthearted!). Lets just say that you really feel like you reached a whole new level of parenthood when you have vomit in your hair, shirt, down your back, etc… and you have to get into the shower holding Monkey in your arms, in order to get you both clean enough to even consider using a towel! (Lets just say that my washing machine has never worked as hard!)
I worry that she doesn’t get the attention that she needs – that she might be crying in her crib during naptime and nobody comes to see that she is ok. She is definitely not getting the same attention that she would if she was at home with me all day – BUT I reckon that the folks at the crèche probably have more patience than I do… so this is probably not a bad thing.
I want to know, but not really, if they change her nappies regularly, apply diaper rash cream and keep her clean – or it is just a quick change out of necessity. Because she always seems to come home with dried food and dried snot on her face… so the first few minutes at home are always spent cleaning her. (PS – I know that they change her regularly(ish) as she definitely gets one diaper change a morning with them…I can tell because the diapers we give to crèche look slightly different to the ones we keep at home).
They are closed at the most inconvenient times! This past week – they phoned at 6pm to say that they would be closed the following day due to a social strike… or they extend a Thursday holiday to include a Friday (bridge) to make a long weekend. In these instances, I am so lucky that HIM is at home during the day and that he can be there – but it means that he normally survives on next to zero sleep those days in order to be Daddy Day Care (He works nights – so only gets to bed in the early hours of the morning). And don’t get me started on the holiday closures… forcing parents worldwide to either take holiday at the same time (if they have enough and if they can) or to search for alternative solutions (nanny’s, babysitters, parents, etc)
On the other side – since she has been attending crèche – she has become far more comfortable with tummy time and actually plays and wriggles around quite happily in this position. (In the beginning, she used to cry when we put her on her tummy… and of course, being first time parents who hate to see/hear their Monkey cry – we would pick her up and not “force” her). At crèche – there is no time for *babying* (excuse the pun)… so she has pretty much learned to live with it and now actually enjoys it!
She has also become a little bit more self-entertaining. Now this could be because she is growing up or because at crèche is “forced” to play by herself without her parents being the primary source of entertainment. This means that I can finally get 10minutes to start supper, etc etc while she happily plays in her playpen, highchair or bouncer (obviously in the same area as me so that I can still watch or chat with her).
Essentially, our crèche started her introduction to solid foods… so she eats lunch with them each day. Therefore, by the time we started bringing a spoon near her, she was already well-versed in the baby bird routine (mouth open wide and swallow… and repeat). In the beginning I was quite disappointed as she would only eat the food prepared by them, HIM or pre-made bottled food and not mine. But thankfully she grew out of that and happily wolfs down my own concoctions as well now (but refused the pre-made bottled stuff… go figure!).
Our crèche definitely has more experience with children than HIM and I do. I often feel like such an idiot as I am not sure if what I am doing is right and I second guess every decision that I make relating to her and her well-being (with HIM and I asking each other “Are you sure?”). So I rely on our Pre-Natal group mums, my mom, google, etc to give me advice on things, where I feel like they have seen it all already and know what to do.
I honestly believe that exposure to other children will make her a more social little human (hopefully). The earlier she learns that the world doesn’t revolve around her – the better it is for her. Now, don’t get me wrong … OUR world definitely revolves around her – but we don’t want her to realize this too early! We want her to learn to interact with others in a kindly manner but also to learn to stick up for herself when needed.
(I am also hoping that they will have a hand in teaching potty training… fingers crossed!)
And finally – we don’t really have much other choice – without having a family support system close by – we need to accept that she will be attending crèche whether we like it or not. We are just fortunate enough that we could find one so close to our house, recommended by an acquaintance and that she seems relatively happy there (I say “relatively” because I have no idea … but she smiles when I drop her off (mostly) and seems happy when HIM fetches her… we just don’t know what happens for the 5hours in between!)