Someone messaged me telling me they read my blog and were now thinking of starting their own blog to vent… hmm. That wasn’t my intention when creating the blog haha. I was hoping that yall would be able to relate to some developmental milestones of my son who is nearing 16 months in a few days… Or it would be a platform where new moms or other single moms(/parents) can discuss their struggles and strategies to overcoming them. Nonetheless, writing is a good coping mechanism if you get nothing else from the blog.
Anyway, Buddha started daycare this past week, today is his third day. Yesterday he went for the longest stretch from 8am-4pm. He definitely looked concerned the first day only having seen this woman twice before in his life, but he really enjoyed the activities and children. When I dropped him off today he even smiled at her and reached out to her, like uhh excuse me! I am so so so relieved. From the past two days, I am confident in her caretaking because he came home sans diaper rash, hoarseness and clean. + she has so many fun activities for the kids.
Here’s how we chose her (besides her being around the corner, that was just coincidental and a blessing, honestly). I took my friend Megan with me to go meet the sitter since she has a better sense of discernment (at times skepticism, which is really useful in this situation) and has a daughter two months younger than my son and we’ve been in constant contact since our pregnancies coincided.
My sitter has 2 kids herself one that is 3 and the other is a month older than my son. When we visited she was doing an activity with her oldest on phonics with clay. The second time I visited after the kids have left, her husband was there and he was doing an educational activity with their son too that made me more confident since both parents are invested in the development of their children. It’s a lifestyle not just a job she wanted to take on. She mentioned that she had intentions of starting a center in the future and that shows her commitment to learning the ins and out of childcare. She told us about her curriculum: seasons and phonics, without our reminder. She was very genuine about her intentions to create a healthy environment for the kids.
I have put him in daycares before one a home at 6-months and one a licensed child care facility at 9-months, he was there less than a week each time because of various reasons that I’ll touch on in the lists below (THEY WERE TERRIBLE BOTH TIMES). What do I look for?
First, I check DFPS:
I’m looking for infractions (incidents) and the severity of them and if I can live with them or not. An example of one I can live with is, if a staff member didn’t submit their diploma or the parents didn’t update the immunization records.
Stuff that won’t fly: cruel disciplining (I’ve found a caretaker putting soiled clothes in the kids face to shame them for wetting themselves, that’s evil and IMAGINE what they do when an inspector ISN’T present), safety hazards, caretaking neglect (a child was left on their own for 3 minutes, that’s a long time in baby time).
Obviously use your best judgment. You’ll know based on the initial phone call if you and the facility vibe with one another. Here are some questions to ask over the phone:
- Ask what items are provided. (formula, diapers, meals?)
- Do they provide meals?
- How many kids do they currently have and their ages?
- Kid to teacher ratio, there is a state regulated amount. Don’t quote me but I’m sure it’s 4:1 for newborns (I think that’s crazy) and 5:1 for toddlers (may be a little more doable because they are a bit more independent and can play by themselves and with others).
- What are the enrollment fees? When do they expect payments: every month or weekly?
- Do they have an app (she uses Brightwheel and updates every diaper change, feeding, and activities – I get at least 7 updates per day) or camera where you can see your child?
Now, you need to go visit and check on these:
- Cleanliness, check corners (yes, I’ve seen daycares that don’t mop all the way to the corners and you see a swath of dirt sitting right there – new meaning to cutting corners , huh?) – Ask to see the kitchen if they provide meals.
- Wear and tear on the playground and toys
- Childproofing, are there closets open? (I’ve gone to a daycare where all the toddlers were walking through the facility and their supply closet was open and there were items thrown all over and it was a fall hazard + the kids could pull something that would fall on them)
- Diaper changing area. is it clean? is it organized? can they access all the kids’ items while being in arm’s reach of your child?
- If you’re visiting the center while class is in session… are the teachers able to manage the kids they already have?
- Teachers – are they gentle – will still enforce boundaries? do they align with your parenting style? do they have confidence in their abilities?
- What experience do the teachers have? do they have goals of expanding or staying in the field? (commitment is huge, if they are not in it because they love helping the kids develop then I would reconsider)
- Ask them how they handle nap times, drop-ins, early pickups, late drop offs, and disciplining?
- If the caretaker is not a POC, do they give you good vibes? I went to watch Get Out while I was pregnant and it changed my perspective about having a Black son (even if he’s mixed with more ingredients than your granny’s gumbo, I do worry about racism as a woman of color myself and understanding his father’s perspectives as a Black man). Anyways, we went to visit a white lady at the recommendation of a high school acquaintance with a white son & she looked like she’d steal my child. It’s not funny, but really she was creepy.
After putting your child in daycare, I observe my child’s behavior and physical appearance at the end of the day. Here is what I look for:
- How is their temper? Are they smiling and laughing or are they disconcerted?
- Are their clothes dirty? Are they dirty? (DIRTY DIRTY, normal dirt is OK, they’re babies) I’ve had him come home and had some food on his face and it ate up his skin, so that was there probably the WHOLE day.
- Did they feed them the food / snacks / milk you brought? (The center lied and told me they made a bottle before I got there, of formula, but it was breast milk when I told them she told me she denied it. – I mentioned it to the teachers the next day and they denied it too. They lied about his food intake when confronted, RED FLAG — I think all nursing/pumping moms can vouch that they know the difference in taste and appearance of their breast milk from formula)
Both the places I went to were in Houston and it was hard to find somewhere near my workplace that was in my budget because I worked in the Galleria. Then the other hindrance was that I live inside a little pocket with different hoods around me (Antoine & 43rd off of 290 and 610) so it was hard to find a facility that aligned with my caretaking standards because YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
I don’t believe that you have to have a million dollar facility and make organic foods and have to stick to curriculum but I want you to be reflective and honest. I took my baby to a daycare on Antoine in between De Soto and Little York literally across the street from apartments where my high school boyfriend got robbed and jumped. So, I know what I’m dealing with geography-wise, but they had an opening and it was my first week of work and my mom bowed out from the show. I had a recommendation for that specific place and I had seen her baby (18-months) SO happy when she would pick him up from her FB stories.
I put my son in there at 9 months and MAN it was terrible. There were roaches, the floors were dirty, my baby was left unattended, my baby came home hoarse from screaming, he had to have been traumatized. He was there for 3 days. The last day he was there my best friend took him out because she went for a visit (they didn’t ID her, until she prompted them to) and she Facetimed me and he was filthy. & her slick ass was like ‘baby, why are you so dirty’ 😝 in front of the teachers. DEAD. I responded, I gave them two change of clothes, he came home dirty the other day. & of course I knew I could talk out my neck because she was picking him up 😂 I would have been mute and dumb if he had to stay the rest of the day. She took all his items and we never went back.
Thank goodness our family could pull through and take care of him/ I could take days off so things like that wouldn’t happen again but DAM! Ultimately, I lost my last job to inadequate childcare, which is super frustrating since you HAD a job, you just can’t make it.
Be careful of who you let take care of your kids, be diligent about your research, be patient, give yourself plenty of time and for the love of your baby make sure you trust them! Make sure YOU trust them because it does a lot for your child psychologically to know that you are handing them off with confidence instead of ‘oh, i hope we make it through the day.’ Of course as a single mother, I know I KNOW how hard financial struggles can force you to go to work and not feeling like you have a choice I KNOW, but give yourself plenty of time and buffer room so you don’t make hasty decisions, like me.
I hope this helps.
What has been your experience with daycare?