I realize it has been a while since I wrote another post but residency interviews have begun and things are busy again! Choosing interview dates, booking flights, car rentals, hotels as well as finishing up clinical clerkships and maintaining a home can be a bit time consuming. Make sure to stop by for the interview trail posts coming up soon!
So back to where we left off. In the previous post, I mentioned 2 different child care options that worked for us in the beginning of medical school. Both were centered around H’s grandparents taking care of him. I also mentioned the pros for each option, if they’re available for you. Check out the post right here: Childcare, part I.
3. Traditional daycare ‘A’:
When we first moved to Lubbock, we were clueless. I moved here just 3 days before my first day of med school. And when school started, that was it. Any hopes of exploring the city and meeting people outside of school were crushed. There was simply no time. H was now about 1 year old, and we needed a quick solution for child care. We decided that it was time to enroll him in a daycare. But we made a huge mistake. Can I repeat, a HUGE mistake? Our biggest slip up was that we did not ask around first. We didn’t inquire about the best daycares from the point of view of fellow Lubbockittes (citizens of Lubbock). It’s hard to find out these things as a newcomer, but one thing we learned for sure is to get reviews by WORD OF MOUTH. Unfortunately, we chose a daycare solely based on location, and visited it for just a few minutes prior to enrollment.
Here’s what happened and what you should look out for:
H got sick. All the time! As soon as he was over one illness, he caught something else the next day. Now, we know that whenever you have a bunch of little kids all together in one small area, the chances of spreading viruses and bacteria and all sorts of gross things increase exponentially. But this was way too frequent. I would also notice that when H came home, his fingernails were dirty. And some days I would notice that his face had not been washed.
If you ever visit a daycare, make sure you pay attention to the kiddos as much as you focus on the facility. If you see a bunch of kids running around with snot running down their nose, RUN. Seriously, RUN. And don’t even DARE to look back. Children put everything in their mouth, and when they share toys, they share other things as well.
When you first enter the daycare, make sure you note the smell. Neutral smell is good. Citrus or Ocean breeze is great. But if there’s even the faint smell of urine, again, RUN. In all seriousness, my biggest advice is to always stick around to check the hand washing procedures that are followed with diaper changes. Make sure you actually see it!
Another issue we had was the quantity of toys in the room. It may seem silly, but it really does make a difference. It’s hard to reason with a 1 year old to share. Heck, it’s still hard to do that with a 3 year old! I’ve found that when there are not enough toys, kids become more angry, violent, and selfish. The opposite of what we would like to teach. Whenever a friend came over our house to play, H would not play nice- and I would feel my heart sink lower in my chest whenever I saw him do that.
For us, that was the final straw. It seemed like all the nightmares I imagined day care would be were actually all true. We finally withdrew H from the daycare and were faced once again with the challenge of finding child care all over again.
4. Traditional daycare ‘B’:
Not all daycares are created equally. I was very hesitant to put H back into daycare. However, this time I talked with trustworthy attending physicians and residents about where they took their children. After asking around, I found out the name of a daycare that many of the physicians used. And let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed! Yay!
First, the children looked clean and neat. No dirty faces, noses, or hands. I visited the facility in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The place smelled great throughout the day. I witnessed the staff disinfecting toys, chairs and tables. I witnessed proper hand washing, diaper changes and disposal. This translated into less illnesses, less sick days, and less doctor visits.
Second, the staff members were awesome. Most of them were young college students and graduates who were fun, very active and energetic. Their vibe rubbed onto the children and H was so excited to go to “school” every morning. It was very educational as well. You may have probably read many new “studies” that are circulating around the internet showing that early schooling is not beneficial for kids. Although I have not delved deeper into those research, I find it hard to believe that some early education is harmful. H’s new daycare incorporated a curriculum based on age, and he would come home singing the alphabet and his numbers. The best part of daycare was all the activities H participated in. Activities that I would not have the time to do with him. In the summer, he went swimming DAILY! He absolutely loved it. In the colder months, H enjoyed exploring the turf room. He also had gymnastics lessons, music and movement, and plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. He would always come home with plenty of artwork and crafts. And he would sing the new songs he learned on the car ride back home. It was my favorite part of the day.
Our experience with this daycare made us realize daycare was not bad at all! H loved being with other children, and this was the best option for him to interact with kids. He no longer had to chase after kids in the supermarket or stop and point whenever he saw other kids in the park. Also, there was always something new to do, and I felt that he was able to unleash his energy into positive creativity and imaginative play with friends his age.
In my opinion, daycare is a great option for kiddos 2 and a half or closer to 3 years old. This may seem odd to some, but I felt that it was the best time for H. He was better able to grasp the concept of rules, interact well with other children and learn educational material.
I’ve definitely learned that contrary to popular belief, daycare is not a horrible option. It’s best to ask around before enrolling and to visit the facility more than once.
Again, not all daycares are created equally. Find the one that makes your child ecstatic in the morning and makes your family happy. Our new daycare is three times as expensive as the previous one. But there is no better investment than that for your child.
Let me know your experiences with daycare in the comments below!