Finding a caregiver who meets the family’s expectations.
When our son reached one and a half years of age, my wife and I decided it was time. Time to give him an opportunity to socialize on a regular basis with other toddlers, let him build some confidence by being away from mom and dad, and time to free up some hours for ourselves.
But although we felt good about the decision to enrol our little one in a childcare program, finding the right place wasn’t easy. There were many practical factors to consider, such as work schedules and location. At the same time, we wanted to find an environment in which our son would feel at home and would thrive.
It really is an important decision, we realized, because the childcare provider(s) who would spend so much time with our child would become very influential in his young life. Childcare is not just about filling time so parents can do other things. Whatever childcare provider we chose would inevitably become both a teacher and a friend to our son. We knew it was crucial to find someone who would interact with our son in a way we would approve of.
We went to several places and spoke to several providers hoping to find a place for our son to go to part time. It proved difficult. Some spots were full, others were too far away, and others just didn’t feel right. We didn’t want a place where we knew there were too many other children, or a place where the person in charge wasn’t on the same page as us when it came to activities or nutrition.
But just as we were about to throw our arms up in the air, discouraged, things fell nicely into place. We were fortunate to find a place nearby, on recommendation, which both my wife and I felt really good about. The childcare provider was a young lady who seemed to really connect with our son. She had a nice area for the kids to play and learn, seemed very hands-on, and most importantly for us, seemed very compassionate with the children.
It was exciting for all of us, even though we knew that adjusting to the change would take awhile. In fact, the first couple of days were really hard – our son might as well have been going off to college. Our childcare provider was kind enough to phone us regularly to put our minds at rest, and we raced eagerly to the phone every time it rang.
There were tears, of course, at drop-off – not just from our son – and anxious moments waiting for the call to come pick him up. But each day, no matter how hard drop-off was for the whole family, our son came home with a big smile on his face, taking great pride in showing us his newest finger paintings or crafts.
Before long he began to look forward to his visits there, and drop off and pick up became stress-free and routine. During the day, our son got used to interacting with other children, while having his mind enriched by games, activities, and the exploration of a world outside of home.
Today, our son eagerly gets ready for his car ride to childcare, and comes home with lots of energy and excitement in his eyes. And my wife and I are happy, too. We know he is in good hands and is being filled up with new concepts each day. Every day he comes home with a written summary of his visit – crafts, meals, books and naps – and although he can’t understand all the words, he sits by mom attentively as she reads the page aloud for all of us to hear.
We keep all his reports, and put his art, which we date, up where we can see it. My son will often point to one of his newest creations and say, “Daddy.” “Wow, that’s wonderful,” I reply, immediately seeing the pride and confidence nurtured in his being. And I know then we made the right choice for him.