Wednesday was Brex's first day at the new daycare. Since it's near Jrex's lab, he drops off the baby in the morning, then I do the 5 pm pickup.
- Love. So far Brex seems to be enjoying the caretakers. They are all loving him. I felt like a celebrity yesterday with various teachers (not in his classroom) telling me he giggles for them. He waved at everyone as we walked out. We'll have to work on his royal wave...
- Conspiracy? Before beginning daycare back in January, he loved getting changed. We'd make noises at each other while I did it and he'd laugh. Then while at Ms. G's he started crying when I'd change him at home. I'm not sure what she/they do there, but none of the kids wiggle on the changing table. This morning, when I went to change him, he was happy about it again. Maybe it's me spinning a conspiracy theory, but I suspect that Ms. G was at least speaking to him very sternly.
- Knowing what happened during the day. They have a little book for each of the kids and record diaper changes, feedings and naps. At Ms. G's even if I asked, I only got a vague sense of what happened during the day. She did NOT welcome dropping in. She never said so, it's just if you asked about it, she got quiet and changed the subject and somehow you knew it would not be a good idea.
- Our social lives. There are two other couples we know with kids in the daycare and it's great to see them as we go in and out. One of them lives in the neighborhood. Once the weather cools off, we might go walking with the kids at the end of the day.
- Time. Jrex usually has to leave by 7:30 or 8 AM. It's really hard to lose that hour and a half with Brex. It means that instead of feeding him and then putting him on the floor to creep around and explore, I have to feed him, change him, dress him, pack breakfast/lunch and wave him out the door as Jrex drives off. Yesterday, I kept Brex home in the morning and drove him in close to 9 AM. It was nice to be with him, but meant I lost an hour and a half of work time with driving there and back twice. Not really a good option for long term.
- The commute. This is what I thought would be hard. Instead of walking 2 minutes and carrying him back in my arms, it feels so mechanical to strap him in and drive home. The irony is that for much of the spring, I picked him up with the stroller and then we went for a 45 minute walk. Same difference in terms of physical time together, but feels less 'wholistic' or something. (Also, to put my whining in perspective, it's a 15-minute drive each way.)
- Naps. Brex is in a class room where there's no solid wall between a toddler room on one side and the infant room on the other. None of the other rooms at the center have this set up. In between the two rooms is a shared kitchen and a shared changing area. The kids don't go back and forth, but the adults can. It means that there's ALWAYS noise. The first day he only slept for an hour at day care. When I picked him up, he was asleep within two minutes of our drive home. As I got him out of the car seat, rather than waking up when I opened the back door, he slept soundly even as I extracted the seatbelt from the fat fold in his neck. He barely woke as I carried him into the house and then was happy to fall asleep for two hours. Yesterday seemed better. He slept for two hours and managed our regular evening routine. As one of the daycare workers said, "The first couple weeks are hard, but after that, your baby will be able to sleep through ANYTHING." In the end, that's not a bad life skill to have.
- Food. Ms. G made homemade organic food for the kids. It was comforting to know that I could drop him off and she'd be giving him wonderful food. Now it's up to me to make the food for him and it's intimidating! What's appropriate, how much, etc. Fortunately, Jrex makes wonderful dinners and I just puree those and have baby food.
- Socially. Working from home it was nice to have my day bookended with people contact. In the mornings I'd sit with the kids for a while as Brex settled into being there. It meant checking the big kids shoes for rocks, having them help me put Brex's stuff away in drawers (they competed to help), trying to say hello to each one, especially the quiet ones (I'm married to one of them and he was rarely noticed in a group setting). At the end of the day there were a couple other parents who'd linger and chat. Ms. G did various group bonding events through the year. The new place wants the parents in and out. At the open house, they didn't have us introduce ourselves or do any group building exercises. I think I will sign up to be the room liaison since, if you see the problem, you get to help solve it, right?
I do know that a nanny would not work while I'm working from home, so I don't feel regretful about that. I'm 70% happy that I'm working. One of my new friends stays home with her son and I think I'd go stir crazy. Her husband has to travel for work and is gone most of the week; I don't think I could handle the lack of peer stimulation. Also, I can see that Brex is much more confident socially, more flexible and more advanced in terms of independence and sleep than her son (who is just two weeks older than Brex). In the end, I do think we're doing what works for our family, I'm just letting myself feel my sadness about it.