The Ten Commandments of Starting Daycare

February 16, 2011

Erika is a wife, mom and author of the [another!] mommy blog, Cole Train of Thought. She has a three year old son, a one year old daughter and a stay at home husband. She hasn’t yet found anything that covers the grey completely, but blogging helps. And she’s completely willing to admit that the three year old calls the shots. . .always.

When Diana asked for guest bloggers, I jumped. I love Hormonal Imbalances. I love it because Diana always manages to say what I’m thinking; especially when I don’t want to say it. Having been a SAHM for over 2 years, I’ve recently gone back to work, and I’ve really appreciated living the SAHM-life vicariously though Diana.

And, yes. I miss it. But I suppose that’s a case of greener grass. And a story for another day.

Tomorrow, we start daycare. My three year old son, Cole and one year old daughter, Matilda, will start their transition from in-the-home-care by attending a day care center two days a week. And Bill, my husband, is just pouring positivity all over the place by thinking my sweet babies will transition easily from the one-of-a-kind care only a mother can give. Okay, the care of a mommy . . .and since I’ve been working. . .the care of a stay at home daddy (Right? Am I the luckiest ever?!?).

I’m an educated woman. I get it. I know my children really need interaction with other children. And because we don’t have a ton of opportunity in my area for playgroups, daycare will be perfect. It will be days filled with other kids, pulling hair and grabbing toys, swapping germs, and 20-minute activities that have been established by people with degrees in things like “Living Sanely with Two-Year Olds and Still Managing to Shower Daily”. Degrees in things that I clearly know nothing about.

So I have decided to trust my inner mommy-ness, to get it together, and hop on the daycare bandwagon. And in preparation, I have created my 10 Commandments to Starting Daycare.

A first-timer’s 10 Commandments to Starting Daycare

I – Thy will not be fooled to think the morning will go as planned. This is for everyone’s benefit. I will, however, try my hardest to control every part of the morning. I will make breakfast. I will feed them. I will choose their clothes. I will dress them. I will pack every. single. item. that I could possibly think they might need. And then I’ll label it. Twice.

II – Thy will not wear mascara. Enough said.

III – Thy will not compare myself to the staff or the staff to me. This is two-fold. Firstly, I won’t compare because they can’t take the place of the mommy (repeat until you believe it, repeat, repeat). But more importantly, I won’t compare myself to them in the way they’re able (and actually prefer) to surround themselves with gaggles of small children and somehow don’t lose their minds. Because I only have two. And most days? It requires wine.

IV – Thy will try really, really hard not to bathe them immediately after coming home. But I can’t promise anything.

V – Thy will not decorate my office in arts and crafts from daycare. At least not immediately. No, that’s a lie. I probably will. Starting the day after tomorrow.

VI– Thy will not hover. You know that scene in Finding Nemo, where the dad is telling the stingray-teacher all of Nemo’s idiosyncrasies? And the stingray-teacher is trying to get away, and Nemo is totally embarrassed and really the dad just looks like this insane control-freak-panicky-anxiety-prone-parent? Yeah. I’m not like that at all.

VII– Thy will not phone the daycare unless it is an emergency. Although, wouldn’t it be nice if they had a live webcam on their website like some of those doggy daycare places do? Hmmm. . .maybe they have a suggestion box.

VIII – Thy will try to be better about keeping to their new schedule. Naptimes, bedtimes, lunchtimes need to be in sync with their everyday schedule; and no longer with mine.

IX – Thy won’t take it personally when they love school, as they inevitably will. Of course they’re going to love it. We researched and chose a place that is perfect for them. And who wouldn’t love playing with friends all day with a bunch of new toys, and something new to smear every 20 minutes? Their love of school has nothing to do with my success as their first teacher. I need to remember this.

X – Thy will not feel guilty for going back to work. If I ruled the world, I would be a SAHM forever but that’s not our reality. I have been very fortunate to have been able to stay home while I could, and now I need to embrace my life as a working mom and not look back. Daycare is a baby step. But the rest truly comes from realizing that I need to be the best parent I can be and I can’t focus on being a great parent while I’m wrestling with unnecessary guilt. End. Of. Story. And daycare is fantastic. It’ll be a ton of fun for them, while allowing me to focus on my contribution as a working adult.

Ahhhh. . .say it with me. . .a working adult. I might just get used to the sound of that.


  • Manda

    February 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Great post! I was a working mom from the beginning and I remember that “first day” like it was yesterday. The kids always do much better then us moms. I think it’s so much harder on us. Good luck to you! Kind of funny, it took me about a year and a half to get used to (now) being a SAHM. I was so terrified I couldn’t do it.

  • Mandy

    February 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    This is so great! Thanks for sharing. Love it

  • Erika

    February 17, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Thanks, Alexia!
    I don’t think there’s any way I could handle preschool if I didn’t ease in this way. But you should have heard him tell me all about ‘music class’…”and ah drums mom, and ah bells, and ah dancing.” Can you imagine having music class for more than 10 minutes at home?!? Good grief!

  • Alexia

    February 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Damn! After reading this I needed a glass of wine. Don’t think I’m strong enough for daycare let alone preschool in two years! Love this list though…

  • kim

    February 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Loved this! As a fromer day care worker and a teacher, let me tell you this: Yes, label twice 🙂 go ahead and tell them everything, and I’d totally bathe them when I got home! While drinking wine. Good luck, I think you’ve got this!

    1. Erika

      February 17, 2011 at 7:30 am

      Oh Kim! Today is day #2 and wine is in order. And I totally scrubbed them down. And called my husband to see if he would brush their teeth mid-day…just ’cause.

  • Allison

    February 16, 2011 at 8:43 am

    This was very funny and way too true. Good luck!

  • TheNextMartha

    February 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I’d have to make it 11. Thy shall eat as many cookies as it takes to get through transition. Good luck!

    1. Erika

      February 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      Oh my gosh! Completely did that. . . except gave the 3 year old more cookies than myself.

  • Gina

    February 16, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Oh I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing. Hoping their first day goes well for all of you.

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