I feel like picking a daycare is a little bit like the college search these days, and me and my wife are currently in the process of being overwhelmed by the options, styles, curriculum, and endless reviews. I mean my wife and I are about take more time off of work to go on our third scheduled tour of a daycare facility, this process is literally showing parallels to touring college campuses. It is amazing how many there are too, within I’d say a 2 mile radius there must be close to 10 different daycares. Each of them so different yet so similar and none of which our daughter will even remember. I think finding a daycare is another one of those instances where parents overthink and overanalyze every minute detail until they drive themselves crazy. It’s understandable though, especially at this age where your beautiful child is still so sensitive and still needs lots of love and attention so how do you know the place you choose will provide that while still teaching those life building skills that are so important as they transition from infant to toddler? Is there even a right choice? Should I choose a Montessori school? Should I choose the same daycare her playdate friend goes to? What age should we put her in daycare? Is the more expensive place worth it? The questions along with the anxiety they bring never end.
My wife and I have been blessed and fortunate enough to have a nanny take care of our daughter but we are at the point where she is 14 months old and as she begins to walk and be more vocal we want her to start to build those socialization skills that only a daycare setting can provide. We have decided that around age 2 we want to have her in daycare. My honest opinion is that I could not personally imagine leaving her at daycare before that age and let me clearly state there is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving your child earlier, it’s the reality we live in, people need to go back to work and in this country we are not given enough time off to be with our newborns so whatever works for people is what they have to do and those kids that go to daycare earlier are probably a little bit more advanced at this stage than those that do not so it absolutely has its benefits. For me however, I think a baby is too fragile and delicate and it would break my heart leaving them with someone else so early, it would be very hard to build that trust. My heart will break either way, but I think at age 2 we can feel more comfortable in her being able to share, and play, and communicate better with those around her and she can also transition a little bit easier and really enjoy being around other kids. With all that being said it still doesn’t make it any easier to decide where to send her.
The reality is daycare as well as schools are the type of places you know which are good and which are not. Displeasures with institutions are loudly displayed for everyone to see and word of mouth spreads like wildfire. They are also the types of places where when you walk in you can tell from the people working there and the kids that attend whether or not they are right for you. It’s similar to the college search right? You don’t ever really know which one will be the best for you or which one will benefit you in the long run but you just get a feeling when you walk on and tour the campus. Your gut tells you “This is the place for you and your child”. The more places we see the more we are starting to realize that crunching numbers and comparing styles will never beat a gut feeling, there have already been places where we walked around and received somewhat negative energy while there have been others where we walked in and the karma was great and you could tell the employees genuinely cared and the kids looked happy and engaged.
In conclusion my advice is do the work and the comparing and the talking with neighborhood friends if it makes you feel comfortable with the process but when it comes to a final decision go with your gut and trust the process. Put together questions that mesh with your schedule, needs, and wants and couple those answers with the feel and observations you make while touring a daycare. You will know which one is best for you and your child; you’ve done a great job preparing them so trust your parenting and your decision making!