"Do Your Kids Get Sick a Lot?" and other questions about daycare

5.23.2019


As a mom who works a traditional office job outside of the home where I don't get school breaks like teachers do or other people who work various jobs in the school system, one unexpected trigger point for me the last couple of years has been the start and end of the semester, when moms are posting their kids' first and last day pictures. Whether it's kindergarten, preschool, or parents' day out programs, it's a reminder of the fact that our year is not broken up in such noticeable sections.

I have never taken a "last day" picture, because there has been no last day. 

There is no "first day" picture because nothing is ever starting. 

It's just always the same, every day, all year. And that's our routine, and most days it's fine; but I'm just being honest: I've realized that seeing these pictures is a trigger for me that makes me feel kind of sad. So that's where I've been for the last couple of weeks, as summer starts for everyone else, but our world continues on. (I wrote a 12-minute memoir post about this last year if you're interested.)

So this "summer," our kids will just keep going to daycare every day like they always do. The reason I've written so much the past 4 years about being a working mom and about daycare is because when I was a new mom with a brand-new baby, I knew I was going back to work and putting R in daycare. I wanted to find other moms who were doing the same, and I had the worst time finding anything on the internet that was in any way positive or comforting about daycare. Literally, I just googled "daycare," and I went through the first 6 pages of links without finding a single thing that wasn't either a horror story or a sponsored ad for a local daycare. I did find this gem of a title: "Is daycare bad for your kids versus parenting?" Because I guess if your kids are in daycare you cease to be a parent. There's also this title: "Sorry, working moms, daycare is bad for your kid." I actually tried to read this one but couldn't because it was making me enraged. Google "daycare good or bad" and see how long it takes to find an article saying good. They are ALL bad.

I've written posts about why we chose a traditional daycare setting over something in someone's home and why we like it, so I won't go into that here, but I did want to answer a few general questions about daycare that people seem to have, now that we've been doing this for almost 4 years. Because I'm super extremely VERY MUCH A LOT passionate about spreading the daycare and working mom love on the internet. I want someone in my situation to be searching for comfort and positivity and to find it so they hopefully feel a little bit better and not just like someone is beating them down with the weight of shame and guilt.

I got a few questions when I polled my Instagram followers, and I'm adding a few in of my own that I think people often wonder about daycare and working mom life. Feel free to let me know in the comments (or email me) if you have other questions! I am truly an open book and would love to chat about our experience.

Do your kids get sick a lot?

It's just a fact that children are tiny carriers of germs, and it's a fact that going to daycare means being exposed to all the things. It's hard to say what "a lot" is, because I have nothing else to compare to, but yes, I'd probably say that my kids seem to be sicker more often than kids of my friends who either stay at home or go to an in-home daycare. For example, my friend stays at home, and her son got sick with a cold-type thing for the first time just before he turned one. One! There's no way. My kids get colds all the time, random fevers, R got hand/foot/mouth, and I'm sure it's coming from other kids at daycare. Unfortunately that is a downside, and you can't so much avoid it.

I will say this, though: I do think it depends somewhat on the child, because the first 2 years of R's life, she was definitely sick more often than J was.

Do you do parent/teacher conferences?

Yes! Our daycare has the opportunity to sit down with the teacher one-on-one for a half hour or so and have a parent/teacher conference twice a year. I never did it with R's teachers until she was 3 or so, just because I never felt like there was much to say. I talk to them a lot during dropoff and pickup, so I feel informed overall. But once she started getting a bit older, it was good to talk to her teacher more about how she's doing developmentally compared to other kids her age, how she's playing, and all of that stuff.

How do you make friends with other daycare families?

I think the answer to this is going to be different depending on what your daycare is like. For me, I'm not friends with any other daycare families, and we've been going there 4 years! Our daycare is large, and it's in an area where people can be working or living all over the downtown area, so people really don't linger during dropoff and pickup. I do see the same people in the hallway each day, but everyone is rushing in and rushing out. Our daycare doesn't do any outside activities or events other than a Thanksgiving meal, but I'm sitting with my kids and focused on them and not chatting with anyone else. R also hasn't (until now) really been old enough to have friend birthday parties, so that hasn't been something I've explored.

However, I have two friends with kids in daycare who have an experience that's different from mine. Their daycares are smaller and more intimate. There are a few events at the daycare throughout the year, and my friends are actually friends with some of the other daycare parents as a result. So I think largely this depends on the size of your daycare and also your interest in making friends. I think if I really made an effort to talk to other moms I see in the mornings I might be able to build a relationship over time, but honestly I just haven't done so.

What do your kids learn that surprises you?

I think this has been one of the best things about having my kids in daycare. They have both learned so much from their teachers and friends. They do flashcards in Spanish, and one day R came home counting to 5 in Spanish! A few weeks ago they learned about honey bees, and while we were driving home we passed some flowers, and R started talking to me about how the bees pollinate plants. Like, okay???? They really learn so much, and it's fun to see.

Of course, they also learn things I'm not thrilled about from friends in the class. Nothing major at this point, but I do realize she's more and more aware of things as she gets older, and I unfortunately can't control what another parent says or does with their kids that influences how that child acts or talks around my kids. It does scare me, I won't lie. But I just have to put my trust in Jesus and remind myself that he is in ultimate control, and that all I can control is that I do my best to raise her well. I always talk to R about her day, what she learned, and I ask her if anything made her happy and if anything made her sad. I hope we can build a relationship of trust as she gets older to talk about anything she may have questions about!

Do you feel like your kids are being raised at daycare?

This is a huge one. I feel like most articles I read about the negatives of daycare include the fact that kids are being "raised" at daycare and not by their parents. My honest opinion is that this statement is completely ridiculous. When we first put R in daycare and I was talking to Jordan about this very thing, he said something that's stuck with me ever since. I don't know if he even remembers saying this, but he told me, "When they're at daycare, they're basically in a holding pattern." He's big into airplanes, and what he meant was that sometimes an airplane gets put in a holding pattern when there's a big line of planes waiting to land, and the plane just has to keep circling the destination city until they're given the go-ahead. The dictionary literally calls it "a state of no progress."

Now, of course kids progress at daycare. I just talked in the question above about how much they learn during the day, and sometimes it's not going to be all good. But I've always felt (and still feel) that the idea of a kid being raised at daycare by the teachers is only true in as much as the parent is or isn't connecting with their child during the hours they are at home.

Every weekday I get basically 1 hour with my kids in the morning and up to 3 hours in the evening depending on when they go to bed. So that's 4 hours a day, which is about half or even less than half of the time the daycare teachers spend with them. (Super depressing if I think too much about it, so I won't.) I won't deny that the teachers are with them for a longer period, but that absolutely does not have to mean that they are influencing my kids more than I am or that they are raising them.

At the end of the day (literally at the end of the day when I pick them up), J gets the biggest smile and sprints right for me. R yells "Mama!" and immediately says, "Do you want to come see what I made today?" I'm their mom at the end of it all. I'm the one they want to see, the one they want to show things too, the one they go home with. Yes, the daycare teachers talk to the kids about not interrupting, about playing nice with friends, about standing quietly in line, about not throwing toys, and that's necessary and great. But it's a holding pattern. 

Jordan and I are the ones who discipline. We are the ones saying prayers at night and not letting them be disrespectful to us or to each other. We are the ones setting boundaries on snacks, enforcing that they say please and thank you. And we are the ones talking to them about what goes on during their day at daycare.

I think a child could be considered to be raised at daycare if they weren't having much interaction with their actual parent in those outside hours. But if we are talking about a parent who cares about their kids, loves their kids, and spends some intentional time with the kids in those hours (however little it may be for various reasons), I absolutely disagree with anyone who claims that the child is being raised at daycare.

Do your kids get scratched/bit a lot?

Well, mostly no, because my kids are doing the biting and scratching. I'm not kidding! This has been an ongoing VERY STRESSFUL "phase" ever since R turned 9 months and became a cannibal. I was hoping since my first child was a violent friend, my second wouldn't do this to me, but in fact just yesterday J got moved up to the next class "due to the excessive aggression." I asked his new teacher if compared to other kids his age his aggression seemed normal, and she admitted that he was "above average." Sooooo, that's a no. ANYWAY. To answer the question: yes and no. What do you consider "a lot"?

You see all these news stories about some kid coming home from daycare covered in 50 bite marks and being sent to the ER. It's not that I don't believe this happened, and I don't want to be insensitive, but I'm just trying to picture the scenario that would cause something like this, and I don't understand. This is the extreme, not the norm (and I'm still confused about what type of situation would cause this).

Yes, it's a room full of toddlers, and yes, they get into it with each other. There are scratches. My kids have come home with bite marks, sometimes more than one. Sometimes it wasn't noticed by anyone, and we discover it on their upper back during bath time. Maybe I'm the minority on this, but it honestly doesn't bother me. Let me repeat: they are toddlers.

I love our daycare. I think the teachers do a wonderful job. I think watching 8+ toddlers all day sounds incredibly stressful, and also toddlers are freaking fast. I've watched R bite a friend while she was standing right in front of me (the friend took her blueberries, if you're interested), and it happened so quick I couldn't stop it.

Obviously it's not okay to hurt people. Biting/scratching/hair pulling/pushing are not okay. These are behaviors we need to work on and eliminate. But it's normal for their age (at least for J's age right now), and it happens. I've been on the side of the parent of the kid who is doing the biting and scratching, and it's not fun. I feel horrible that some other parent has a kid with a scratch on their face or a bite mark on their arm from my kid. So when my kid gets bit or scratched, I guess I just have a different perspective. (Happy to chat about this with anyone who is interested! I have read so many things about biting, and we've tried so much also, so I feel like I know way more about it than I ever wanted to.)

Do the kids go outside?

Yes! Each class has 2 blocks of time to either go outside or go in the gym to play. They go outside whenever possible, but depending on weather they go to the gym. They have scooter toys, balls, and I've seen them get that giant parachute thing out that I totally remember loving to play with when I was in elementary school! In the summer, they do water play outside once a week with hoses and water tables.

I'll end with an easy one:

Do you pack food?

All daycares are different. Our daycare provides breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack, so I don't have to bring anything! When R was little, it was really, really hard for me to not have control over what she was eating, so I brought her a lunch from home. But I didn't do that with J because I didn't have that same problem ;) I'll be honest and say that I don't always love the food options, specifically the snack. It does follow government standards, but it's just not always what I would choose. That's taken me some getting used to giving up control in that area, although if I did need/want to bring my own stuff, of course I could!

Those are all the questions I have for today. I'll do a part 2 post if there are more! Feel free to leave a comment or email me :)

In closing, I'm going to share my favorite article ever on the subject of daycare. I've shared it before on the blog, but I need to highlight it again because it's just that good.

May So Far

5.21.2019


I published a blog post on April 7 in which I talked about trying to sell a chair on Facebook marketplace and having a terrible time. I'm happy to report that only over a month and a half later I finally found someone to follow through on buying the thing, and it's no longer sitting in our entryway blocking our front door. Literally you couldn't open to door all the way because of the giant chair. 

The lady who messaged me about it that afternoon was "very interested" (her words) and pleaded with me to hold the chair until that evening until her husband could come to pick it up. I wanted to tell her that the chair hadn't been claimed in almost 60 days, and I wasn't too worried. She texted me to say her husband was on the way to my house, and then an hour passed and he hadn't shown up, and I was mildly panicking because hello, I'd given a complete stranger the real address of my actual house and what if he's a serial killer or some kind of crazy person. Thankfully, when he finally showed up he was a tad crazy but only in the way of old people who think you have all day to chat about life. He recognized our last name, and it turns out he knew Jordan's grandpa back in the day and got to talking all about it. I should have been more surprised, but that's just Oklahoma for you.

But we got rid of the chair! I only had to slash the price 5 times, wait almost 2 months, and get stood up by a handful of flaky Facebook people to get my $30 cash. Really I should have just put it on the side of the road, but $30 is $30, am I right?

Question: how lame should I feel that the most exciting thing that's happened in my life in the last 2 weeks since I've blogged is selling a chair on the internet? Never mind, don't answer that. I'm living the American dream, people! Try not to be jealous.

May has been super busy so far. On the 11th, Jordan and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary! We took the kids on our annual IHOP anniversary meal. We've gone every year since our first anniversary, and it's become a fun tradition. Trying to take a good family selfie has also become a fun tradition haha! ;)

The next weekend, Jordan's brother and my sister each had college graduation stuff, so we took a kid and split up. R and I went to Texas, and Jordan stayed in Oklahoma with J. Friday my sister graduated, and Saturday I helped host a bridal shower for my cousin's fiance! 

We've also just been outside a lot. Last year's back deck project nearly destroyed our marriage, and I'm sort of not kidding. BUT! We've been having a lot of fun out there this year so far! I got a $7 kiddie pool at Big Lots, we have a water table my in-laws bought us, and we have a miniature slide/swing Little Tikes playset that I found on the side of the road. Backyard fun for all!

I know I've bemoaned the fact that my kids will not for the life of me play with any kind of sensory bin longer than .87 seconds, but I came up with a genius idea that they have actually been loving. I have one of those giant bottles of Gerber baby soap that someone gave us as a baby shower gift. I give them some rags and turn on the water hose, and they "clean things"! They LOVE it.

Speaking of the back deck, we've had bad luck with gazebo-type things to block the sun, so this year we are trying out this sun shade. So far it's been great! Of course, we will see if it holds up under a freak storm (the last two ruined our gazebos!), but it's really helped keep it shady when we are out there playing in the middle of the day AND much much much cheaper, so if it does get ruined we aren't out a ton of money.

I'm currently in the process of planning our first family vacation! We are just going somewhere within driving distance for a long weekend, but I'm really excited. We haven't gone anywhere as a family of 4 other than to Texas and back for the weekend. And while it is a 3-hour drive one way, we do that so often it doesn't even feel like a trip anymore honestly. This time we might get crazy and drive 5+ hours! ;)

Not to end abruptly, but that's all I have for now, and also I want to get to bed. Hope you all have a great week!

I talk about socks in this post, so that's happening

5.09.2019

*pictures from playing outside after getting home from work/daycare last week. I try to be chill about them getting dirty, and it works only sometimes ;)

I got my race pictures from the Oklahoma City 1/2 marathon from two weekends ago, and there were only four of them, all at the finish line, and all of them had a girl about my age directly blocking my face. Now that I see the photos I remember her... there was basically no one else crossing the finish except the two of us, and she came sprinting right past me at an angle, and I remember feeling like she was kind of in my way. But the joke is on her, because I used my superior stalking skills and looked up her finishing time from her bib number. Don't judge me. She is beating me in the finisher photo, but I technically according to chip time beat her by 6 seconds to come in ahead of her in our age group. Obviously this is an important life event, thank you for asking.

I finally dragged myself to the gym on Wednesday. I love running, but after a race I always lose all motivation and don't do anything for at least a week if not more. I'm one of those runners who likes to have a goal I'm working toward or a race on a calendar to keep me going. Otherwise why not snooze that 4:40am alarm? Well, I'll tell you why. Because last week while I wasn't going to the gym I was at the grocery store buying a lot of ice cream. To be exact: two pints of that Halo Top stuff that pretends to be ice cream but is not and then one pint of Blue Bell mint chip and a 1/2 gallon of Moose Tracks. Moose Tracks is kind of an amazing ice cream flavor. Soon I'll have to roll myself to the gym, it's fine. 

I'm still so excited about finishing under 2 hours in my 1/2 marathon! Not only am I shocked by the time, I can't believe how great I felt during the race! This wasn't a PR, but it honestly might have been one of my best races ever. I kept looking at my pace on my watch and thinking, "Slow down a little; you're going to burn out." I swear I kept trying to slow down, but I just couldn't! I kept expecting to hit a wall, and while Miles 10 and 11 were the toughest mentally, I never felt like I couldn't keep going or needed to stop and walk. I never used the bathroom, I never walked, and I felt really great mostly the whole time! I don't know what happened. It's very confusing, but I'm not complaining.

After being on hold for months, Becoming finally came in at the library. I've heard really good things and am excited to read it. I don't agree with her politically, but I think the book will be interesting. I've heard from other working moms that they enjoyed hearing her talk about being a working mom and juggling career, marriage, and kids.

Very unrelated: let's talk about socks. Has anyone heard of Bombas? Someone mentioned it on the comments of a blog post I read recently, and a few other people commented and said how much they loved theirs, and then I posted about it on my blog Facebook page, and a few people over there commented that they have Bombas and love them! So that sold me and I bought a few pairs. Guys, their no-show socks are legit. I'm about to order a second pair because I keep taking mine directly out of the dryer to wear again. There are no-slip pads in the heel so they don't slip down! I wore them all day to work and didn't have to mess with them once! I bought Jordan a pair of work socks, and he loves his too. They aren't the cheapest socks, but they give a pair for each pair you buy, and the quality is noticeable. ALSO, this is not a reason to shop somewhere, but I was impressed with the packaging!   Anyway, all that to say, if you want to try them out, use my referral code and get 25% off! I wish I had a code when I bought mine.

Sorry this post is so random. I wanted to pop on and say something, and I had no plan at all, so I guess when I'm typing away I ramble on about race times and books and socks. Probably teenage me would be horrified at what I've become, but really I'm okay with it. Who doesn't love a new pair of socks??? I'm buying Jordan a few more Bombas for his Father's Day present. <-- Jordan, pretend you didn't see that if you're reading this! ;)

Last thing: Speaking of gifts, I told Jordan that for a combined Mother's Day and 8th anniversary gift I want two of these rings with each of the kids' names on it. I ordered them yesterday, and I'm really excited about it. I've wanted one of these for a couple of years but never wanted to spend the money, but I'm doing it this year! We are the worst about getting each other gifts and going on dates, so I figure all the years of not doing much has added up.

Did you ask for anything for Mother's Day? Or, buy yourself something? ;) 
Have you tried Bombas socks?

Happy Friday, friends!

Weekend: Strawberry Picking + 1/2 Marathon

4.29.2019


We had such a full and fun weekend! 

Saturday morning we got the kids up and headed to a local farm for a ladybug release in the strawberry patch, and then we picked some strawberries! The kids had a great time and were actually pretty well behaved. The only meltdowns happened when we were trying to get them in the car to leave. We were there for about an hour and a half, and honestly it went entirely too fast. It was a gorgeous day, and I enjoyed myself so much. It gave me just a taste of what family outings might be like in the future as the kids get older.
My parents drove up from Texas on Saturday afternoon, and we enjoyed having some time with them. They of course wanted to see the kids, and we also went downtown to the OKC arts festival. But the real reason they came was to cheer me on for my 12th half marathon Sunday morning!
The OKC Memorial Marathon is one of my favorite races. The whole city gets into it, and I know a bunch of people who run it. It's extremely well organized, and there is a ton of crowd support along the course since it winds through a bunch of neighborhoods. This was my 4th time to run the half, and I've also done the full marathon and the 5k! One of these years I'll get a relay team together. 
I set a few goals for the race, and my biggest goal was to run it under 2 hours. I didn't think it would be possible, just because I didn't think I'd trained to run it that fast, but somehow I ended up finishing in 1:57! I'm still a little bit in shock. That's not my fastest half marathon time, but it is the fastest I've run since getting pregnant with R over 4 years ago!

As I was running the last tenth of a mile toward the finish I heard my dad and Jordan yelling for me. I turned to try and look, but I was already past them and so close to the end that I didn't want to slow down or turn around. After I finished, I met up with my parents and Jordan and the kids. J honestly just looked confused, but R was so excited to see me and gave me the biggest hug. Jordan told me that she was actually the first person to see me and pointed me out to everyone else. I love that she can watch me run, and I'm excited for us to be able to run together one day!
Overall it was a great weekend filled with family and fresh strawberries and running. Not sure what else could have made it any better!
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