Is your little one starting daycare while you head back to school or work? Guest contributor Leeanne Ekland’s son is, and she’s sharing her experience in this article.
My partner and I started the parent journey much later than most. In our mid to late 40’s now, we know this is our one shot. I don’t want to miss anything but I am certainly not getting any younger. I need to get on with it. On my mind lately is how to balance restarting my career with caring for my now two year old son. If you’re an at-home mom or have been one you know that it is not as easy as it appears. Those little beings require every ounce of energy we can muster on most days. The thought of trying to do that and recreate myself and my career is a mountainous task. Finding part time daycare seems to be a good start to figuring this dilemma out. It’s a different kind of back to school, but it’s every bit as big as the first day of kindergarten.
Searching for the Right Daycare
When we found out we were pregnant we moved to the Olympic Village on False Creek, one of the newest neighbourhoods in Vancouver. It turns out that moving to this part of town was one of the best decisions we’ve made. There are a ton of new families and we’ve made lots of great new friends. And, of course, plenty of ‘mom-information’ to go around. It wasn’t long before I had the down-low on the three family daycares in the neighbourhood, plus the new Creekside Child Development Centre (it opened last year), a few stroller lengths from our front door. We got on the wait list at Creekside pronto as we were impressed with the programs, facilities and quality of teachers.
I visited the centre located on the third floor of the community centre to finalize the intake process. I had forms to fill out and wanted to have a tour of the facility and of course, meet the teachers and get a feel for the atmosphere. The centre is operated by the Developmental Disabilities Association. It welcomes children aged six months to five years of all abilities, and offers both daycare and preschool. The program manager Katharine Naughton was friendly, welcoming and clearly organized. Good vibes here so far.
Easing in with Gradual Entry
Katharine explained that in order to ensure a lasting positive experience for my son I would need to stay at the centre for a few hours for the first few days to help him adjust to his new environment. He will be attending two full days a week so the transition may a bit more challenging. She assured me there is no timeline as every child is different.
I am happy to report that it wasn’t long after we arrived at Creekside that my son jumped right in to play with the other kids. We often go to the open play gym that is held most days at the community centre so I think that helped. He’s normally a bit reserved at first so it was a relief to see this happen so soon after we arrived. Our first back to school experience was positive.
What to Look for in a Daycare Centre
Here are some key points to look for when choosing a daycare centre for your little ones, which we found at Creekside:
- Well organized and clean.
- Ample storage space for each child’s belongings.
- A large play room full of books, toys and art supplies to keep kids engaged.
- Comfortable nap space, with cots, favourite stuffies and blankets for each child.
- Age appropriate outdoor play spaces.
- Good communication with parents.
- Fully equipped kitchen and bathrooms with child-sized toilets.
- All teachers should be qualified in Early Childhood Education, and some should have training in working with infants and toddlers or special needs children. As well, they should have first aid certification.
- Friendly, happy staff who are responsive, caring and engaged in play with the children.
- Appropriate staffing levels so that teachers can take regular breaks.
- Professional development for the staff.
- Active, engaged and happy kids.
- Children get lots of outdoor time.
- Open-door policy for parents.
- Appropriate security so that no one wanders off.
- Ask about potty training and how bathroom breaks are handled.
- Find out about their behaviour and discipline policies.
- Find out who supplies what food. Children should have appropriate meal and snack times, and access to water or milk.
Getting Yourself Ready for Back to School or Back to Work
We are very happy with our choice of childcare centre, and its spectacular view of False Creek and downtown. I’m sure my son will love what he can see from the rooftop of this amazing facility as he enjoys watching the boats, airplanes and helicopters go by. Now that daycare is sorted, though, it’s time to turn the attention back to myself.
Even if you’re not the borderline insomniac that I am, shortchanging yourself in the sleep category with huge shift in routine at back to school time is bound to backfire. I have a bad habit of staying up late when I’ve gotten a few good nights rest under my belt but no more. I think I’ll spend the first month catching up on sleep while my little one is carving out a new existence for himself at daycare. No doubt I’ll need to tap into those banked hours sooner rather than later so I best be prepared.
As with any time that your child is starting school or heading back to school, it will be important for me to pay attention to how our son is responding to his new environment. We want his experience to be positive. We will want to stay on top of behavioural changes. Forming a good relationship with the program manager and teachers at Creekside will be key. If I’m missing my son it is reassuring to know that I can participate in the activities at the centre. And I will do my best to be grateful. We are confident that we have made the best choice for our son’s care.
Creekside Child Development Centre
1 Athletes Way, Vancouver, 604.872.5007
Leeanne Ekland is a mom of one, who’s on a mission to rediscover love, wellness, and neighbourhood happenings, and to have a ton of fun. She’s blogging about her experiences at leeanneekland.com. Having started the parenting experience much later than most, she offers a unique perspective on the challenges and all that is amazing about being a new mom over 40. At least – she does when she’s not napping, which is something she does often.