10 Things You Should Know About Sending Your Child to Daycare

 

Next week, school will start and many of you (including some friends I know!) will be sending your children to daycare or 'school' for the first time. Whether for a few days a week or full time, making the decision to send your child to daycare is not an easy one. We began sending Penelope when she was a mere 6 months old and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I look back on that first week and wonder how I got through it? In the months leading up to that first day, I wouldn't even allow myself to think about it, let alone accept it. But here I am, over a year later. We've made it through so far and I'm here to share a few things that I've learned with all of you first timers. 

1. You are going to cry. Probably a lot.

During the days leading up to her first week, I cried myself to sleep. I kept thinking to myself (and whining aloud to Shaun), what if she needs me and I'm not there? Not such an unreasonable thought. I cried each day any time I thought of this. When I finally brought her that first day, I put on a brave face until I handed my sweet baby over. And then the floodgates opened, and I cried. I cried the whole way to work and a few times in the bathroom stall throughout the day. The next day, it was a little less. And even less the day after that. Eventually, I stopped crying. I saw her happiness each morning as she was surrounded by loving caregivers in a safe and fun atmosphere with children her very own age. And my tears were replaced with smiles.

 

2. Remember that schedule you finally got her accustomed to? Yeah, that's going to change.

I wrote out Penelope's schedule in fun colored markers on bright white paper and proudly handed it over to her 'teacher'. I'm pretty sure that was deposited right into the garbage. Once your child is in daycare, they are a whole new plan that may follow the whole class or vary by group. Either way, you just have to accept it. Since P hated naps when she was younger, I realized that I should be excited for the professionals to get her on a new schedule!

3. She will learn to do things without you.

And it sucks. It sucks hard. I remember dropping Penelope off one morning and being told that she was crawling. Like, no big deal. She started crawling. I felt so devastated because I had yet to see her crawl. It made me sad. And made me realize that there will be things that I'll miss. I'm a full-time working Mom and that's just the reality of it. So I asked them not to tell me those things. As long as she was progressing...Great! But I wanted to pretend like seeing her crawl on a Saturday morning was the first time she did it. And so I did.

4. Your child will get sick.

I always read and hear about how 'daycare kids' get so sick all the time. Well, it's kind of true. Penelope certainly is not sick all the time, but P has had two rounds of Coxsackie and at times, a seemingly constant runny nose. We got through it. In a way, I'm glad that she is exposed to germs so she can build her immunities!

5. You will get sick. And maybe your husband too.

I've had 3 debilitating stomach bugs since P started daycare.
THREE.

 

6. The first time you see the center's number light up your phone screen, you will probably have a small heart attack that may take a few years off of your life.

The first time this happened, I was completely rattled. I saw the number and just panicked. It turned out that they were calling all of the parents with a reminder that the tuition payment deadline was approaching. So, yeah. Heart attack unnecessary.

7. She will make friends.

And really, what is cuter than that? Penelope has made friends in daycare and when I ask her if she is excited to go to school and play with her friends, her face lights up. Her teachers tell me that she and another girl played together every day last year and they'd wait for each other to wake up from naps. Does it get better than that? I want Penelope to be comfortable around kids all the time. I know it will make her a more patient child and someday, hopefully, a great big sister. I know she would not be getting that same interaction with kids her own age; learning to share, learning to play, learning to socialize; if she were at home with a nanny or even with me.

8. She will have fun.

After sending P to daycare for over a year, I would never take her out or look back and regret our decision to go from nanny to daycare. In fact, I can't imagine her being cooped up in our apartment, day after day, with me or with anyone else. At daycare, she has a big room to play in, special chairs for breakfast and lunch, and exciting, new toys to discover.

9. You'll wonder if you are doing everything wrong.

Isn't that the everyday life of being a parent? I second guess everything that I do as a mother. And at the end of the day, as long as I know my girl is happy and so, so loved, well, I feel like I've done my job. It might not be a perfect set-up, but what would be? 

10. You will be ok.

It won't always be easy. In fact, like so many other parts of parenthood, it's really, really $&@!-ing hard. I still cry some days when I have to leave her. Last week was especially taxing since P was teething and had a raging, blazing diaper rash. It broke my heart to have to bring her to someone else for the day and head off to work. I worried all day long. But knowing she was in excellent care and that she was happy every day at pick up got me through it. I think it's usually harder on Mom and Dad than on our little ones. So many days I hate being a working mom (many days I love it, too) and I can't help but wonder if I'm making the right choice for my sweet baby doll. When I see her happy smile, her little round belly and chubby cheeks, and those long yawns and eye rubs at the day's end, I can't help but feel as though I am. 

 

Flying with Baby

It's Baby Talk Tuesday and I've got a great guest post for you. My friend Carly is taking over TAA with some great tips about flying with a new baby.

{Am I alone in feeling anxiety over just thinking about this topic?}

Everyone, meet Carly and her adorable daughter, Ellie.

 

Carly and I played soccer and swam together in middle school and high school and just reconnected over the last 6 months when we found out that we were both expecting baby girls in early 2013. Carly was my daily go-to-girl for all questions, pregnancy ponderings and anxiety-laden labor worries. She really helped get me through everything, including which bunting to purchase (we coincidentally picked out the same one!), what to pack for the hospital, and even down to the nitty gritty bodily issues that non-pregnant ladies just don't {want to} know about. Now that we're both on the 'Mom' side, we continue to chat almost daily about our gorgeous girls and how we're handling life as new Moms. So without further ado, here's Carly!

 

Since booking our flight to Florida several months ago, I've been worried and dreading flying/traveling with our four month old daughter, Ellie. The logistics seemed daunting and I had no idea what to expect. Here is our story and some additional tips on flying with an infant.

 

Book wisely. If you're traveling domestically within the U.S., babies fly free until they're two. They just sit in your lap. Just be sure to give the airline a head's up when you book your flight. If your baby is on a regular sleep schedule, book your flight during nap or sleep time. Booking tickets is also your first chance to optimize seating. We opted to shell out an extra $40 each for bulkhead seating and the extra legroom and early departure off the plane was worth every penny.


Keep your stroller with you, but check everything else. They’ll give you luggage tags at the gate, and you just leave it outside the door of the plane. It was waiting for us as soon as we de-planed both times.  It was really nice to be able to stroll around the airport effortlessly as well as store the diaper bag/hubby’s laptop underneath it. 

Side note: TSA requires that you break down strollers and remove the baby from the carrier when going through security. Yes, it's a hassle, yes people will stare at you as you struggle, but it is so nice to have on hand.

 

We made 2 very important purchases:

A stroller cover. The last thing we wanted was any dents/scrapes on it from poor handling. This also made our stroller easily identifiable amongst the other strollers.

A car seat bag. This helped store our gate-checked car seat in, that way they wouldn't get ripped or dirty while being stowed underneath the plane. They can also be used for larger child safety seats later on in life too.

 

Roll with Back-Up: Don't go overboard, but have extra essentials on hand (pacifiers, diapers, wipes, burp cloths, change of clothes). You might even want to pack an extra shirt for yourself.  Also, it helped that I dressed Ellie in layers, because the temperature kept changing.  We were flying to South Florida, so tons of old people on the flight complaining it was “freezing.” Ask a flight attendant which lavatory has the changing table so you'll know when you need it. If at all possible (depending on the length of the flight), change the baby immediately before and after the flight and avoid the in-flight change if you can.

Smooth Landing and Take-Off: To ease ear pressure you can nurse, give a bottle, or offer a pacifier. If they're asleep (like Ellie was at take off), let them keep snoozing.

 

In-flight Dining: Measure out extra formula for babies. Once through security, purchase a big bottle of water (I just asked the clerk for the un-refrigerated water).

In-Flight Entertainment: In our case, the roar of the jet engine lulled our little angel right to sleep. When she woke up, she loved to just look around, play with a few small toys, look out the window and especially loved watching some of the infant apps we downloaded to the iPad (starting her young I know). 

Clear for Take-Off: If you have any hesitations about your child's health (ear infection, fever), check with your doctor before flying. We actually made a pit stop at the pediatrician 3 hours prior to take off because Ellie was pulling at her right ear for 2 days. Turns out, in the words of the doctor  “congratulations, she found her ears.”  Better safe than sorry doc! That $20 co-pay was worth it for my peace of mind.


After all that, we were finally on our way and Ellie was perfect. She slept for 75% of it and the remainder we fed or entertained her!

 

A few packing essentials which I found INVALUABLE!

Zip lock bags. Lots of them. The big gallon ones. Babies make messes. Unfortunately though, when you’re on the road/in the air, there isn’t always somewhere to dispose of dirty diapers, soiled clothes and whatever else the little nuggets get into. We were especially grateful for these when Ellie decided to have a diaper explosion while going through the security line at EWR!

Bath Time. We have been doing a nightly bath routine ever since we brought Miss Ellie home from the hospital. She loves it and to her, it means bedtime is just around the corner. She’s too little for a regular bath so we were recommended this baby tub by a friend. It worked great! It packed away nicely and inflated up to a perfect little tub for her! We also saw some people on the beach with the very same one using it as a mini swimming pool for their babies.

White noise. Ellie is used to sleeping with white noisebut we didn't want to schlep our heavy noise machine along on our trip. We just downloaded it on our iProducts and played it in the bedroom. Worked like a charm.

Diapers.com I can’t say enough good things about this site. Order whatever you need to your destination!  We ordered a box of diapers, wipes, and formula. That way, we didn’t have to carry everything on the flight with us or take up room in our suitcases. This also avoids trekking to a grocery store as soon as you land. Bonus: Delivery is FREE, and the box always magically arrives the next morning.

Lastly, the most important tip I have learned for traveling with an infant…. 

Patience... lots of it. Air and car travel, changes of scenery and new sleeping arrangements can be unsettling and confusing for routine-loving babies like mine. Accept ahead of time that your journey may not go exactly as planned, that it may take a little longer for baby to fall asleep, and that even the calmest baby might be a little upset and fussy. If you accept from the outset that little hiccups and delays are bound to happen, you’ll be all the more able to cope with them and take them in your stride, making a happier experience for everyone. Traveling with a baby definitely has its crazy moments, but it can be wonderful and exciting for both you and them. I found that the handful of things I was most worried about (chaotic flights; screaming on the plane, stink eyes from other passengers)...didn’t actually happen. Overall, I've found traveling with a baby to be easier than I had expected, which was a nice surprise! Ellie (and mommy) can’t wait for our next adventure!

 

 

Whew...doesn't Carly make it sound easy and even...fun?! It definitely gives me the courage to pack up Little Miss P for vacation. Luckily our annual Aruba trip has been postponed until the Fall, so I don't have to worry about it just yet, but I'm definitely going to be taking Carly's tips into account when prepping for that vacation! Thanks so much to Carly and Ellie for joining us today!

What are your baby traveling tips?

Do you have any baby travel tales {the good and the bad}?

Baby Must-Haves, Part I

As a new mom, I've found that having the right baby gear that makes my life easier is pertinent to my survival. We received so many gifts at my surprise baby shower, but it's not until baby is actually here that you realized what you need and what you don't. I've rounded up my absolute favorite items thus far. Whlie I could make a list that goes on and on, these are really the key items that I use all the time and really do make life easier for Sweet P and me (and Shaun too!). As time goes on and Penelope changes, I'll continuously update what we're using and loving (and maybe what we've found we don't need too).

 

clockwise from top left:

aden + anais swaddle blankets: I am obsessed with these. Nice and lightweight, these are perfectly large for swaddling, as a stroller blanket, or even to put down over the diaper mat for extra comfort for P. Oh and it doesn't hurt that they are dern cute too.

boppy pillow: I couldn't live without this for nursing. It came to the hospital with us and never left my side since. It's also great for propping her up during smiley playtime in the mornings now that she is bigger. Oh and I also recommend an extra slipcover!

dr. brown's all-in-one gift set: This has everything you will need for bottle feeding, including plenty of bottles, brushes, steam baggies, pacifiers and more. Seriously. Get it. I didn't need anything outside of this for bottle feeding, and I was totally confused by what I'd need before baby arrived. This was a life-saver!

fisher-price rock 'n play: We opted to use this in lieu of a bassinet and Penelope slept like a rock in it every night for 3 months. It takes up minimal space and is incredibly portable for weekend getaways or napping at the grandparents' houses.

aveeno baby soothing relief moisture cream: Penelope had/has incredibly dry skin and this is the only lotion I've found to get the job done. She would scratch at her snake-skin chest any chance she could get. After a few days of liberal application, her skin is soft as a baby's bottom and no more scratching.

eric carle chime set: My mom bought these for Penelope and hanged them from her car seat bar. As soon as she could see them, Pen would simply sit and smile at them, melting my heart in the process. She especially loves the elephant.

gerber short sleeve bodysuits: I always put one of these on Penelope under her outfits or sleepers to keep her warm. They are super lightweight and if it's warm, she can just hang out in one of these. I love having lots on hand as they dirty very quickly.

vera bradley ditty bag: I already told you about how much I love this, but it bears repeating. This bag is so great for corraling dirty clothes while looking pretty, and goes right in the wash with soiled clothes. Score one for Mom. (Note: this was also a free gift when I purchased Pen's diaper bag/carry-all, so check into that if you're in the market for a new bag!)

skip hop pronoto changing station: I love love love this thing! It's a nice big mat with plenty of space for Pen to relax and get changed. It has large pockets that hold 5-6 diapers, a tube of Desitin and a package of wipes. I also leave a receiving blanket folded up in it to lay over the vinyl part for a cozy surface for Penny's bare behind. I can also squeeze in an extra clean outfit. The whole thing wraps up and can clip onto the stroller or my purse, eliminating the need for a full diaper bag if we are just running out somewhere for a little while. I can't say enough about how much I heart this thing. Who woulda thunk it...

chicco cortina keyfit travel system: An amazing car seat and stroller combo. It's lightweight yet durable and so easy to use (my favorite part). No sweating, pulling, lugging or getting stuck. The car seat clips right into a base in the car and then fits right into the stroller. Once she outgrows this car seat, the stroller can also just be used as a regular stroller. It's genius, I tell ya. Oh and I absolutely adore the gorgeous blue Azura color.

 

So those are the products we're loving for baby these days.

What are your go-to baby products?

What products surprised you in what you loved or didn't love? 

I never thought a diaper changing mat would get me all giddy!

 

p.s.: these are products that I really use and love. No perks or product placement here, just sharing what works for our family!