The countdown

We’ve (almost mostly pretty certainly) finally decided when Javi will start daycare: next week! I am so ready to go back to work, an unpopular mommy blogger sentiment, certainly, but very true for me. Perhaps I’ll write an entire post on being this kind of mama, but for now let’s just say I’m relieved.

Then, because I’m a mama, I feel bad for being relieved, but hey.

I’ve been debating how best to go about this transition for weeks (um, ten of them – since he was born) and I’ve come up with some do’s (and don’t’s).

Don’t do what I did:

Spend every week of your maternity leave thinking about how things will work once he’s in daycare and end up never getting into any sort of a solid schedule.

Not swaddle because they won’t swaddle, if swaddling works, lest you end up with a baby who doesn’t nap worth a darn.

Alternate between counting down the days (in a good way) and counting down the days (in a guilt-ridden OHMYGOD way). Or do, but accept that the waffling is what it is.

Now, to get ready:

Say “screw it” to the idea that I can get my kid accustomed to anything in time for him to have an easy transition. He won’t. Nor will I. We’ll just get through it for the good of everyone’s mental health. In fact, I need to let go of the idea that I can do anything to ease any future frustration or drama. Transitions happen, and they suck, but I can’t avoid them. We just need to deal with them when they come, and be relieved we’re not dealing with them when we’re not.

Label all of his stuff. He needs at least one change of clothes (but I should label all of them, really), a couple of light blankets, bottles, bibs. I’m conflicted on whether to send cloth diapers when we’ve been too ____ to use them here at home, but I’ll go ahead and label them anyway. I need to find out whether they prefer I send formula mixed or not and whether I should take wipes and such.

Try valiantly to get him on a consistent schedule at least for the next week, if only for my own sanity. We’re not willing to make him miserable by stretching out his feeding times at this point, so he eats every 2 1/2 hours during the day, but we’ve been lax about naps so we’re in this spiral where he snacks and cat naps. It sucks for everyone, especially him, so today’s the “get it together” day.

I’m going to start him on a Thursday so we only have a couple of exhausting days before we get a break. That said, I’m also wondering whether he’d be better off if he got a full week in so he’d get used to the new regime, so I’m waiting to hear back from the daycare director about her recommendations. I’ll also be calling up my mama friends to ask them for advice. I’d love to hear from you guys about how you did the first week.


I’m doing my best to set aside guilt about the following: if I had the option, I would not want to stay at home with my son. I still love him, and I kind of wish I wished I could stay home, but I do not.

{This is obviously a good thing since I don’t have that option, but still… more on feeling like a biological failure later.}

What am I missing? Any tips you can offer for transitioning to daycare?


10 thoughts on “The countdown

  1. I don’t have any advice about daycare, since I stay at home with my daughter. But we’ve had a lot of transitions (including moving halfway across the world to a completely different culture/climate), and I have been surprised at how adaptable infants actually are. Javi will be fine: you’ll probably be the one with the hard time!

    Also: I love being at home, but it can be really hard and definitely isn’t for everyone. There is plenty of research suggesting children benefit from their mothers’ employment (at least when the mothers enjoy their work, as you seem to). Don’t listen to the traditionalists: most mothers in history worked, and those who could afford it had other people look after their children. Have you read Sarah Hrdy’s book Mother Nature on the subject? You might find it interesting, and validating of your experience.

    • @Grace, You’re the first to recommend that book, but I’m off to go find it! Thanks!

      Here’s what makes me feel better: I do not love being at home, even when it’s been relatively easy. You love being at home even when it’s hard. Maybe it’s the “even when” that tells you what you should be doing.

  2. I support a mama making whatever decision is best for her and her baby and in your case I think going back to work is definitely the right decision, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it!

    And good luck!

    • @Jesica, What if I’m the one making me feel bad? Everyone who knows me and cares about me agrees that my returning to work a couple of weeks earlier than I have to is best for everyone, and yet I still feel like I have to feel bad that I can’t wait to drop my son off with people who love babies for a few hours every day. I should just get over it.

  3. Eh, don’t feel bad about it, I couldn’t be a stay at home mom either. I’ve been back to work now for a little over a month and I’m happy to be working again, even though I miss my baby during the day.

    I wouldn’t worry about the transition too much- it will be harder for you than for him. Also, I wouldn’t worry about getting on a schedule before you start daycare- at least at our daycare, they don’t have any kind of formal sleep schedule until the babies are older. Right now, they are just lucky to get my baby to sleep for any length of time! (she usually only sleeps a maximum of 2 hours total when she’s there, in 30 min increments). That’s another thing- be prepared for your baby to come home completely exhausted. We had to move our daughter’s bed time up almost immediately by nearly 2 hours because she couldn’t stay awake. As far as bottles- mine gets a bottle every 2 hours at daycare (4 bottles total). Good luck! It gets a lot easier after the first week or two.

  4. The transition will likely be easier than you expect. The anticipation is much worse.
    As for the schedule, I felt like you did, but we failed and I went back to work with the instructions of, he needs to sleep at least 3 hours a day, however you can get him to do that works for me. And as his sleep is still varying between 6-8 hours followed by a 1-3 hour stretch, he needs a bottle at different times every single day. You know what? The daycare doesn’t care that he isn’t on a schedule. He is, in my opinion, too young to be on much of a schedule anyway. They ask me each morning when he last ate, and they feed him accordingly. And he sleeps fine in day care. Little bugger took a 4 hour nap yesterday.
    I think it is always helpful to go into it knowing that your child is not the first baby they have seen to do x,y, or z, or need x, y, or z. They have probably seen it before and will see it again, and as I have found out seem to be much better at dealing with it than I am!
    And then enjoy being back to work. I do. I have some routine now in my own life that I have been missing. And I make sure to focus on baby when I get home. It works for me, and if you are missing work, I bet it works for you too!

  5. For what it’s worth, we made the choice for me to stay home, and I love being home with my daughter, but I do feel guilty that I’m no longer contributing any income. So really, I think there’s guilt no matter how you slice it. And it’s all self-imposed (my husband certainly doesn’t guilt-trip me for taking care of our kid instead of going to the office!). Although honestly, I think self-imposed guilt is the worst kind of guilt

  6. I really should not admit this but I felt so much relief when I read this post. There was a tiny part of me that was scared that you would end up staying home and leave me to be the ONLY (future) mom blogger on earth who works. lol yes, that is a ridiculous way to feel BUT I am happy to keep learning from all the steps you are taking! 🙂

    I’m so sorry about the guilt 😦 I hope that the next stage goes smoothly and you feel confidence about what you’ve chosen!

  7. I bring my little guy with me to the office, so the transition was super easy. It was still an adjustment though to be sure. My work flow has drastically changed and I don’t have as much “mess around on facebook” time as I did before.

    I did want to give you a few tips though since before my babies, I was the Lead Supervisor in an Infant Toddler program at a big name child care facility.

    #1 – Yes label everything! Usually initials are enough.
    #2 – The bottle will need to be premade usually. Label the bottles with the date the formula was made. If you don’t then usually the child care will.
    #3 – Check with your facility on the wipes, we required parent’s to bring everything.
    #4 – Starting on a Thursday is a brilliant idea!
    #5 – Send a cheap point & shoot in the diaper bag and ask them to take pictures if they get a chance. I loved doing this for our parents. Let’s be honest there will be times you miss something cute. It is nice to give the caregivers a way to document it for you.
    #6 – Most childcare’s will want to know when the last X was when you are dropping them off. Last Sleep, Last Bottle, Last Diaper. If you can make yourself a place where you write it down so it is easy to give them it would help your drop off.

  8. I don’t want to stay home either. It’s not in my nature and I know getting out and feeling productive out in the “real world”. I can be a better a mother by being away for a little while and interacting with other adults than I could being at home all day, frustrated, alone, and sad.

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