Daycare Blues, or Analysis Paralysis Again

I am completely thrown by this situation, more so than anything that's come down the pike. Every day I revisit the current situation, and I'm sure I've considered every angle a dozen times. I'm coming closer to a decision, but I've also set a new record for spreadsheets, charts, pre-dawn reviews and pow-wows.

Miriam's first two weeks were a bit rough, we had her there for half-days and she was already crying when I arrived to pick her up every day. Three hours was about her max, then she'd start asking for me, which would devolve into crying on a caregiver's lap. Fortunately the daycare has a great caregiver ratio and she's always in someone's arms when I arrive.

She didn't -- and doesn't -- seem to hate it there, she even seems sorry to say goodbye. But lately on random days she's been saying No Ana, no kids, and on Monday when I pulled up to drop her off, she started crying hard immediately, even though we'd talked about going to Ana's the night before and that morning. She kept saying No Ana as I handed her over to, well, Ana. After which I called R. in tears, convinced that the decision to put her in daycare for socialization was the stupidest thing I had yet come up with. In life. But when I arrived she was playing in a circle with all the kids, had slept for two hours, which seemed great for a first nap there, and was in good spirits as she toddled over to me. No tears, just a bright smile and Uppy-up.

And we already see changes in her behavior, she says hi to every kid she sees as thought they are bound to be friends, and she's playing with hers toys differently, suddenly she's interested in blocks, Mega-blocks, Quartos, soft blocks, whatever, she wants to stack them, not just knock them over. Is she learning this at daycare, as Mana suspects?

The more complicated factor is that I am realizing I want more than one weekday/week with MZ. I went to the market on Monday, and it was Toddler Foods, everyone had one. And I realized that I could easily get errands done with her, and that she actually really likes being with me even if I don't have a carefully planned kid-oriented outing for her.

Our situation is complicated because MZ is cared for by grandparents two days/week. I wouldn't change this, I think it's great that she gets this opportunity to bond with them. However, I find myself resenting any time I don't get with her, perhaps overly aware of how much she's changing and what a truly great age this is, this mobile, verbal Land Before Two.

So for a minute there I decided I should put her in sharecare one day/week and keep her with me 2 days/week. Then I awoke in the predawn hours wondering if I was crazy to give up a daycare I looked long and hard for and have such a good feeling about. Her daycare seems to provide such a range of activities and opportunities for friendships, which seem more plausible with each passing day.

The thing is, I know it's hard for a child to get used to one day/week of something. If it were 4-5 days, I would know I'd chosen precisely the right provider. But maybe sharecare is easier on her for one day/week than adjusting to a group situation? ie, less different from being cared for by family? And then there's Auntie S who would really like a day with her, too.

I've come to realize, in the predawn hours, that it boils down to a selfish decision about how many days I want to be with her rather than a work imperative or which environment is truly best for her. She's going to be off to school in no time, and that will be good for both of us. So I'll work another year longer on the other end... we'll figure that part out. And we know kids in a range of care provider environments and they're all thriving. Big daycares, small places, nannies, grandparents, SAHMs, and all incredibly happy little toddlers. I'm even getting my head around the idea that MZ could get used to one day/week of daycare, if we start with these two days for a while and she gets accustomed to Ana's.

Now I just have to see if the daycare will go for it...


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