Transitions and More on Daycare

Today is Laurel's last day at her current daycare. We stumbled upon this place at just the right time, as we were going through another period of transition when M and I both started new jobs and we were getting used to the whole two working parent thing.

I really went back and forth about the decision to move her. She cried a lot during the first couple of months when she was in the baby room, but when they started her in the young toddler room, everything in our lives seemed to settle a bit. She started napping once a day, weaned easily from breastfeeding, slept through the night (amen!), stopped spitting up constantly, and got her molars so she could eat more regular food. She loves the coloring and songs and playground and the other kids. I watched her for a few minutes today, standing around with two other little girls comparing shoes, dresses and jewelry. She looked so independent, standing there "chatting" with her friends, and I thought about every woman who came up to me when I had her strapped to me in the Moby when she was an infant.

"Savor this time. It goes so fast," they always said.

Now I know what they mean. Sometimes, in the moments when you are explaining patiently for the 97,000th time why you cannot stop driving the car to pour more juice, time seems at a standstill. But here we are, getting ready to take another leap.

We've decided to move Laurel to a daycare center in our neighborhood, so that we can share the drop-off/pick-up duties. It's also cheaper, and the care seems comparable. I'm not super picky about daycare. I looked at a bunch of them and my personal preference is small, privately owned centers over chains. From what I observed, there is far less staff turnover at the small centers. I like places where you bring your own food - I'm not wild about starting her on a school lunch diet of tots and chicken fingers and mac & cheese, which seems to be what they serve. (HFCS. Empty calories. Nothing green on the plate. Ew.) I considered home based care which would save us a LOT of money, but Laurel is way too social, and loves being surrounded by a lot of kids, especially kids who are older than her. I will consider this option when I need something part-time, but for 40-50 hours a week, I think she likes being in a large group. Not all kids are like this, and you can spot them right away at daycares...they are the teary-eyed ones clinging to the teacher's leg or crying in a corner.

Sometimes I think parents obsess way too much about daycare - it's a frequent topic at the playground, but maybe we just lucked out on our first pick. I hope the second one turns out just as well.

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