sending a toddler back to daycare after quarantine

9 months and 22 days without daycare. That’s how long My husband and I were working from home full-time while watching our son full-time. Not a single person other than us watched him within those 9 months. We were at a point where we functioned like a well oiled machine, it was even fun at times. But our son started to get closer to 2 years old and it become more challenging. He was older, curious and more capable and we just couldn’t keep up. 

We didn’t want to send him to daycare just yet but it was becoming dangerous for him to be partially watched by us. And even with all the activities we planned, sensory exhaustion and ordering every Montessori friendly toy on amazon we still came up short on what we thought he needed. I had mom guilt because I was on the computer working and watching my child but I also had mom guilt for considering sending him out into the world during a global pandemic. Ultimately the pros outweighed the cons. We consulted with his pediatrician, family, the CDC guidelines, disinfectant websites, the internet! No one had one right answer but we knew for our family, it was time.

Despite all my research and preparation I still had no idea what to expect. I’m a first time mom, our son didn’t own school supplies or clothes that weren’t pajamas at this point and, he had grown pretty attached to us. We became his entire world over those 9 months. Not only was I worried about coronavirus but I was worried about how he’d adjust with the transition. 

Ultimately we took a leap of faith, I ordered the top things I thought I needed for daycare (list below). We had conversations with him and adjusted his nap schedule to the daycares to prepare him for the new environment. Here is how it went: 

week 1: We decided to start with half days to help ease him into it and let him take his favorite dinosaur. That way he would nap at home and and have time to adjust.

day 1

Half-Day – We both cried. Well not exactly. it was hard on the both of us. He cried when I handed him off, he didn’t want to let go of our embrace and was hysterical when the daycare tried to take his temperature. It was pretty intense. His teachers were sweet, patient and communicative. Within five minutes they sent photos of him, no longer crying and exploring the new environment. At pick up he instantly started to cry the minute he saw me. I will admit, I questioned my decision at this point. 

day 2

Half-Day – This time he cried the minute we arrived while he was still in the carseat! He was more aware now and knew where he was and that he was going in alone. He actually tried to run away this time. I wanted to turn right around and go home but I knew it was in his interest to be there.  Again, five minutes in I received photos of him reading and adjusting – just fine. 

day 3

Half-Day – He didn’t cry once we arrived. It was more familiar to him and he walked in on his own. He still cried while the daycare took his temperature but it was subtle, more like he was filing a complaint. At this point the teacher told us he was doing really well and she thought a full day would be good for him. We agreed.

day 4

First-full Day – Still weary of the temperature but comprehensive. It almost felt like he knew he would have a better time at daycare than he would staying with us. I felt relief and comfort and started to know that we had made the right decision. The teacher reported back later in the day that he napped all on his own and that he was doing great. Again with more photos of him having a good time. 

week 2: Since he did so well with week one we agreed to full days for the full week.

There were no tears! He was still hesitant when entering daycare but cheerful. It was evident that he had grown familiar with the place. At the very least he was comfortable there.  Later in the week he got to the point where when we drove up, he’d look out of the car window and say “School”. He’d then lean over his carseat to give his father a kiss, hop out of the car with me, fully cooperative with the thermometer gun.  He now walks into the building looks back at me to blow a kiss and waves goodbye.

To any parents out there having this same internal conversation I wish you a smooth transition. When the time is right for your family, you will know!

and if you’re wondering! here is a list of the things I picked up to get ready for the first day of daycare:

note: the gift cards are for the teachers!

I put time and energy towards researching what’s best for my family. I share the products I use and love in hopes of sparing someone else the fatigue that comes with decision making. Some of my posts may include affiliate links. In other words, after you click a link, I may earn some coffee ☕️ and 🍷  money. I promise to use it as fuel to write more ❤️ .

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