155: Daycare Hell

by | Aug 27, 2020 | Mama Thursday

Welcome Mamma Crew, to another busy, chaotic, challenging, exciting and a beautiful day of an older mom like you.

So, if you heard last week’s episode, you know about some of our family’s horror stories about nannies. And today, I’m going to be talking to you about our experiences we have had with nannies. We decided that this next time, that instead of hiring a nanny to come to our home to take care of our kids, we would try daycare, okay? And so, we asked around, we did a lot of research (there were not a lot of options in this town, it is a very small town in northern Michigan.) So, we were kind of limited.

Additionally, those people that came highly recommended have long waiting lists. So, the one place that came very well recommended but did not have a waiting list was a local sort of professional daycare, I guess. I don’t know what you call them. It’s where you take your kid to a building that looks somewhat like a kindergarten school. And we toured it, looked fabulous, lots of people. So, our thought was if there are more people, if somebody’s doing something wrong, somebody’s likely to intervene. Correct? And we also thought, well, they would be exposed to other things, they would be exposed to other children (or it was not the good thing). And we also developed a level of comfort with everyone that we spoke with and so we started our experience at this particular professional daycare.

In the meantime, we put the girls on the waiting list at other home daycare’s. The idea was we would hedge our bets, we would have more than one option out there. 

Not Happy at Daycare!

first daycare, the professional daycare. They actually attended a professional daycare for two weeks for a variety of reasons. Number one, whenever we were there to pick them up, they were in baby jail (which is basically this metallic crib thing) and the girls didn’t look unkempt. They didn’t look like their diaper had not been changed on a regular basis. Nothing like that, except that they were always in baby prison. You know, behind these metal bars and whenever we try to take the kids to daycare, the kids would cry. They didn’t want to go. They were talking but their communication was, oh, it wasn’t very articulate. You know, they couldn’t really express what was going on but we knew they didn’t wanna be there. And so, we decided, okay, as soon as something else opens up, we’ll give somebody else a try. Which is what we did.

They were, maybe, in that professional daycare for about two weeks. And then we moved them to an in-home daycare. Now, this daycare was highly, highly sought after, okay? And part of the reason that I was able to cut in the list (Sheldon Cooper would probably make me go back to the back of list), was because I knew the owner. We have been living in this small town for a while now and I have gotten to know some people and one of the people that I have gotten to know was this specific owner of this business. And so, I felt just absolutely thrilled that we had gotten in. She was next door, quite literally, to an elementary school and she was really a peach, she had two other helpers. I mean everything sounded perfect.

Bribing Andy to Cooperate at Daycare!

Now I have to be honest with you and tell you my girls were very well taken cared of there, but we ran into philosophical differences. What do I mean by that? The girls were happy to attend this specific daycare, but my girls had struggled with weight issues since they were born. They were preemies, their breast milk had to be reinforced because Andy, more than Emmy, would lose weight very rapidly. Emmy was kind of a rolly polly, she would lose weight rapidly but not as rapidly as Andy. Andy, you could just… it was just immediate.

So, one of the things that we did is we allow them to continue drinking in bottles. Yup. All the way up until age four. Despite what the pediatricians say, the dentist says, we allowed it, what can I tell you, it was our choice. And one of the things we found out is the kids still ate solid food very well, but the reinforced bottles of milk really help keep their weight stable. Now my girls were never where they needed to be weight-wise up until, I think the first time I heard they were in the right weight (or an appropriate weight) for their age was when they turned eleven. Up until then, they were always underweight.

And I mean we saw nutritionists, I really tried hard to feed them healthy food, but really, it was just a struggle, especially when they were very young. So, I would pack the girls their lunches, I would pack the girls their bottles and they always came back full of food, okay? Full of the food that I was packing for them, full of the milk bottles that I was packing for them. I could not quite understand what was going on. Now when I say full, they were using some of the milk (in all fairness) but not all of it, okay?

My Adorable Little Emmy was NOT having it!

My girls couldn’t tolerate regular cow’s milk so they have to drink soy milk. So, you couldn’t easily replace that (not to mention the fact that soy milk is so expensive or at least it was back then). So, I was seeing some of it used, let’s say that I pack four bottles per girl and maybe one of the bottles would come back empty. And I was really shocked by that because my girls really drank more like eight bottles a day! So, I was really kinda surprised!

When I ask the daycare provider what was going on, she always tells me, “Well they really enjoy eating the food that we make them here.” And I would constantly ask, “Well okay, that’s fine but are you feeding them nutritious meals?” and the answer was always, “Yes. Of course, we are, you know, I took all of these early childhood development courses. We are required by the state to do all of these things… yadda, yadda, yadda! Everything’s good”. 

But despite the fact that the girls were happy going to that daycare, their weight started to plummet! Down, down it went. So, what was going on? By then, both girls were talking (Emmy a lot more clearly than Andy), and one of the things I found out was that the daycare provider was not giving them the bottles! What she was doing was, she was taking the milk out of the bottles and putting them in glasses. So, my girls were not used to that and they didn’t want it. They would drink some of it, they would leave most of it. And then I started asking them, “Okay, so what exactly are you eating when you’re there?”, “Ramen noodles”. Yes, I was spending hours making nutritious lunches, balanced lunches and snacks so that they could eat ramen noodles. Top ramen. Maruchan noodles.

They Are Eating This Instead of The Nutritious Snacks That I Made!

Now I have to tell you that ever since that daycare, the girls have developed a taste for ramen. And I do let them have it once in a while. But this was what they were eating on a regular basis at daycare and I was not happy about that! So, I spoke to the owner and I said, “Hey! We’re having a problem here. There seems to be some misunderstanding. The girls are not getting the milk that they normally would drink at home and both the pediatrician and I are concerned because they are losing weight.”

”Well,” the owner tells me, “Here’s the thing I don’t believe that a child should drink from a bottle at this age. I don’t think there’s any reason why a child past the age of one should drink milk from a bottle.” I can appreciate that. I’ve known some moms that feel that way and feel very strongly about it. And I respect the fact that they’ve made that choice for their family, for their kids. It didn’t work for us, okay? We have preemies, they were developmentally delayed up until, I’m gonna say, about the age of five. They were still having sub-developmental problems and weight was a serious, serious challenge for us.

So, it’s not okay for a daycare provider to randomly decide, on behalf of your family, that your children shouldn’t drink from bottles. Number one: she never asked me why I continue to give them the bottles. Number two: it had a health impact on my kids. Number three: it wasn’t her place to make that decision! Number four: if she had such a strong feeling about it and had created this rule about it, and was going to be imposing it on other people’s children, on other people’s families, she should have told us about this from the beginning.

A Crib is NOT a Substitution for Play!

So she agreed, after I explained the situation, to go ahead and let the girls have their bottles. Except she didn’t. She told me she would. When I asked her every day, she said she did! The milk was missing from the bottles. So, I could have been led to believe that she had indeed done what we had agreed she was going to do. But fortunately for me, the girls were speaking by then and they were able to tell me that, that was not the case. They were still drinking from the cups (and they were getting like, you know, those little tiny cups that you get at a dentist’s office or doctor’s office, these tiny little cups), they were getting something like that, once or twice a day. So, as a result, we decided that daycare wasn’t going to work for us.

Baby Prison!

The first daycare, the problem was the baby prison, not enough activity for the kids. I mean, I can understand them  when the kids are young and the kids are busy, there is an inclination to want to do that with them. You know, to put them in a pen of some sort because you can keep them more constrained and you don’t have to worry about what they’re getting themselves into. And I have done that with both of my girls when they were very young, not so much to put them in a pen but limited the space where they can go to. For safety reasons, sometimes I needed to take my grading home and I needed to grade and I needed to be able to keep an eye on them. So, I limited their play space but that’s different than having them in a limited space all day. For all the time that they were with me and they were in daycare for four to five hours a day.

I was a college professor so what I did was I would have them stay in daycare while I was in class and then I would take all my work home. Yes, it was challenging to do all the grading and all the prep with two little toddlers (and one that is extremely busy, my little Andy). But after my experiences with nannies, this seemed like a better option and my experiences with daycare didn’t change my attitude toward this.

The other thing was, I really didn’t appreciate that somebody else was imposing their beliefs on our family. Number one: because they did have an impact on my daughters’ health and number two: because families make decisions based on what they believe, what they need, what they feel is in the best interest of their children. We have the right to make those decisions. Someone else shouldn’t be imposing their beliefs on our family. And interestingly enough, around this time, I had a student in my class who often made her living by being a nanny. Now she was a staunch democrat, and the children that she took care of, the family were staunch republicans. She never said anything to the parents about her political beliefs but she made absolutely every effort to expose the kids to her beliefs to counteract or counterbalance the family’s belief. Now I have to be honest with you, I’m registered independent. I voted both democrat and I voted republican.

The Kind of Daycare I Imagined!

But once again, back to what I just said a few minutes ago. Parents have the right to teach their children what they feel is important. And I’m not just talking about politics. I’m talking about religion, manners, work ethic, everything that makes us a family and other people should not decide for us on what our children should be taught, what the children should learn. 

So, daycare just didn’t really work for us. We did try the professional daycare again when the girls were older. Not really for the sake of daycare but we would take them once or twice a week for a couple of hours just so that the girls would have other friends. They would be more socialized, up until the point where they enter pre-school. Then we stopped altogether because then they made friends in school, then we made friends with their families and so that socialization component was taken care of.

But the other thing that I didn’t like about these daycare settings was they were exposed to a lot of illnesses. I was shocked, though I understood, that many parents take their kids to daycare when the kids are sick, and I understand this because parents need to work. But our kids were preemies and their immune system struggled through those first initial years. They got a lot better after they were about four, but in the early years, exposure to anything, they caught it like that, okay?

The Hell of American Daycare

Now, yes, I know that kids get sick until their immune system gets stronger but kids that are premature sometimes struggle. They have those kinds of challenges, you know, where their immune system just doesn’t tolerate exposure as well. Most preemies do eventually catch up, usually around the age of four or five and that is exactly what happened with our girls. Andy struggled with her speech issue up until about the age of six and then after that, she’s been pretty much fine. She has a little bit of a lisp but nothing that creates a problem for her to communicate. We understand her very well, strangers understand her and in fact, she has a vibrant TikTok community, lots of friends. So not a problem anymore, at all.

But those early years again, they were a challenge and they were not made easier by our experiences with professional daycare’s or in-home care (I think it’s what they call them). So, we had to go back to nannies because of the daycare challenges. And that is an episode for next week when I share with you, Nanny Hell, part two. In the meantime…

If you share an imperfect journey to motherhood, please subscribe to our blog, podcasts, or YouTube channel. For links and resources please visit our website. Till next time, Toddles!

Dr B.

I began my journey into motherhood at the age of 40 when I became a mother of twins! Today I am a mother of 4! Being an older mom might be a growing trend, but we are still a minority with our own unique blessings and challenges. Join me in this journey! To contact me directly, email me at oldermoms@entrepreneurialdreamers.com