I just spent the last month agonizing over where my daughter would eventually go to daycare. I mean, I knew this motherhood thing was going to be filled with important decisions, but holy you-know-what, guys: parenthood is not for the weak of heart. In the end, though, I realized that a good majority of my worries weren't rational or necessary. That didn't stop me from asking the ridiculous questions every mom asks before she picks a daycare for her kid, though. Hey, don't blame me! Constantly worrying and taking care of another human being go hand-in-hand, my friends.
For the record, not every question I had about my daughter's daycare was ridiculous. After all, where she goes to daycare is where she spends the majority of her day. In fact, my daughter spends more time in daycare now than she does with her father and I. And that, of course, is part of the struggle of choosing a daycare for your child: the guilt. Feeling perpetually guilty took over and made me ask ridiculous questions that weren't going to impact my kid's happiness or safety when she was at daycare. But when I knew I was essentially giving up control of my child's day-to-day activities, it was difficult to let go without asking a few (read: many) questions first.
In the end, I had to throw away my silly list of micromanaging inquiries and go with my gut feeling on where my daughter will spend her days. Does she let go of my hand happily when we get there? Does she seem relaxed when I collect her at the end of the day? If the answer to those two questions is yes, that's a very good start.
"Do I Have To Choose?"
Choosing a daycare for my kid was the most unpleasant experience for me. Trusting someone else to take care of my baby was a giant leap of faith and, honestly, if I didn't know it was best for my child and best for my family, I wouldn't have picked a daycare at all.
"What's The Fever Threshold?"
Each state typically has a different threshold for how high a child's fever can get before they have to be sent home. Individual daycares have their own guidelines, too.
On the one hand, a low threshold means your kid might not pick up so many of the typical daycare sicknesses, but it also means you might have to leave work more often to pick up your sick kid.
"How Often Do You Sanitize Everything?"
It's not that ridiculous a question, until you realize that no matter how many times a day you sanitized a room, 10 toddlers is a germ fest waiting to happen. It's better to just douse the kid with sanitizer on your way out the door and, well, hope for the best.
"How Much Sugar Is In The Snacks?"
I cared a lot about what the daycare staff was feeding my daughter. Then another baby joined our family and, well, I was just happy she was eating whatever crackers or applesauce the staff was sending her way. Hell, I was even happier I didn't have to clean up afterwards!
"What's The Curriculum?"
This is a ridiculous question when your child is a 6-month-old baby and still intrigued by their toes. No, really, it is.
"Are There Any Mean Kids?"
My daughter is going to encounter mean kids (and mean adults, because adults are the worst) in her life, so it's a little unreasonable to require her daycare to "kick the mean kids out." Still, it's hard to send my baby into an environment that isn't 100 percent kind. After all, when she's home kindness and love and compassion is all she knows.
"Are There Any Big And Rough Kids?"
With a daughter who's barely cracked 20 pounds and nearing her second birthday, I'm quite aware that she's tiny. As a result, I'm a total helicopter parent when it comes to giant kids rough-housing around her. Probably not a great strategy for life in general, but when she's a 2-year-old toddler, does she really need to get pummeled by a big kid?
No. The answer, of course, is no. And never.
"What's Your Sickness Rate?"
That's not a thing, friends. Unfortunately, daycares just pass around colds and things like hand, foot, and mouth disease. Those easily transferrable viruses that kids pick up when they're in close proximity to other kids' snot are just unavoidable, in my experience. At least most people vaccinate for chicken pox these days, right?
(Seriously, parents: vaccinate your kids.)