Yesterday, we had to make a difficult decision. After going back and forth, we have decided to pull our son from daycare for the fall. Read more about why we won’t be returning to daycare just yet.
Our First Experience as Daycare Parents
Two years ago, we began our first experience as daycare parents. When the girls were little, my Mom and Dad watched them. There’s a seven year age gap between our middle and youngest. My Mom has been through breast cancer, and my parents are older now. As much as they would love to help us, they just can’t do it anymore. I was able to take a year of unpaid maternity leave when we had our son, and he started daycare at 15 months. The first couple of weeks were AWFUL. He cried at drop-off every day, and I cried all the way to school. I honestly wanted to quit. However, we use my health-care benefits and with never-ending student loan payments, it just wasn’t an option for us.
So we stuck it out, and things got better. He grew to love his teachers like family. As a daycare mom, I don’t know which scenario is worse – your child reaching for you as you leave or your child reaching for someone else as you leave. I will admit it – As happy as I was with the daycare, I was always a little jealous that he spent the majority of his day in the care of others.
The Silver Lining to Teaching From Home
When COVID-19 hit mid-March, the daycare closed just as our schools did. Teaching from home was HARD, but I enjoyed having more time with my three kids. You see as a teacher, you hear the phrase, “It must be so nice to have the whole summer off” ALL . THE . TIME. What people don’t understand is how many things you miss for your own children during the school year. You rely on other parents to send you pictures from the Halloween Parade, parties, and band concerts. There is no flexibility in teaching and getting a sub is tough these days. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. I learned that there are parts of the slower life style that I didn’t mind.
The New Normal for Returning to Daycare
When we went into the Green Phase, daycare re-opened in May. Just reading the guidelines for this new normal made me uncomfortable. Drop-offs would be at the building door instead of walking children to their classrooms, temperature checks upon arrival, teachers wearing masks, and social distancing in the classroom. I teach kindergarten, and I cannot wrap my head around social distancing five and six year-olds. I can’t even imagine trying to do so with two and three year-olds. I expressed my concerns to the owner, and told her that he would not be returning to daycare until I had to go back to teaching in the building.
She told us that provided we pay the full monthly payment over the summer, he would have a spot for the fall. I understand she has a business to run, and she does a wonderful job at it. We were so torn on what to do in this situation. We paid for one month even though he was not attending, but we made the decision to pull him. Most importantly, we do not feel comfortable sending him as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase. When I saw the report about 17 children from a Dallas daycare testing positive, it broke my heart. If I sent him back and he got sick, I would never forgive myself. Also, we simply can’t justify the cost of paying for a spot when we aren’t sending him at all right now.
Like most school districts, the district I teach in is still working hard on a plan for the safe return of students and staff. I am anxiously awaiting to find out whether or not we will be back in the building. The uncertainty is probably the hardest part. People often ask if I want to go back to the classroom. I miss teaching in my classroom more than anything, and I absolutely want to go back – as long as it if safe! If cases continue to skyrocket, then I am not comfortable returning. I also worry about getting sick myself or potentially bringing something home to my family.
Trusting my Gut & in God
If we are heading back to the classroom, my husband and I don’t have a plan for child care. We will have to cross that bridge when we come to it. My mom raised me to always trust my gut and trust in God. As much as I love teaching and my students, I decided that I need to put my family first. I’m praying we made the right decision not returning to daycare right now.
If you are a teacher-mom in the same boat, I’d love to hear from you.
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