So this week it has been my turn to go through the ups and downs of ‘daycare dilemmas’. By this, I mean ‘that’ feeling of unexplainable Mummy guilt, as you leave your child at daycare and drive away with the image of her crying in your head. You know deep down, that she will be fine, but for some reason, your heart invades the space where your brain is meant to be, and makes you feel as though you are the worst Mother in the world.
For the past year, Ella has been cared for by her Grandmothers whilst Daniel and I have been at work. We have been incredibly blessed to have the support of our Mums who have wanted to help care for Ella, the first Grandchild on both sides of our family. As my workload has increased, and with the prospect of growing our family, we knew that Daycare was something that we should consider. This was our first dilemma – making the decision to enrol her in daycare. Where would she go? When would she get in? Could we find a centre where we would feel comfortable? Luckily, a great friend of mine had done some thorough research into local day care centres, and after being on the waiting list for a year, we were lucky enough to gain a place at the same centre as her child. I had initially only wanted one day, however apon being offered a place, I was informed that they had a two day minimum. This was our second dilemma – do we take the place, or keep waiting for one day at another centre? We decided to take the place.
The time then rolled around for us to start orientation. In my job as a Deputy Principal I am responsible for coordinating our Prep transition program. Over three days, we work with our children and prospective parents to support and educate them about the ins and outs of transitioning to Primary School. This includes helping the parents come to terms with their feelings, both positive and negative. I give endless advice to help ease their anxiety and comfort them. You would think that I could take my own advice when it came to the time for leaving Ella in daycare. This was my third dilemma – staying sane and rational when ‘those’ guilty thoughts crept in. I was so surprised how wound up I was after her first day in orientation. I found myself feeling so guilty that I cried and cried that night at home. I knew that my feelings were normal, however I couldn’t find that voice of reason to help me feel at ease and calm my own anxiety.
Needless to say, that these feelings grew fainter over the last week as she went to the centre a few times. The people who work there are just beautiful and seem to really love their work with the children. Ella struggles in the beginning when I leave, but calms down and enjoys her time throughout the day. I know that this will get better as she gets used to the new routine, gets to know the teachers and students at daycare.
As a teacher, it has brought a whole new perspective to the transition process. I can sympathise and empathise with parents as they hand their children over to people that they don’t know. I do know, however how much I love my job, and how much I try to help our parents understand that we will take care of their children like they are our own. I know that Ella’s teachers at daycare feel the same way, and just need to remind myself of this when I am handing over my own daughter to them.
I know in the end, everything will be fine. It will just take a little time.