Lifestyle Changes: Making the decision to send our toddler to daycare

Lifestyle Changes: Making the decision to send our toddler to daycare

When I was pregnant with Margsy I abruptly stopped working. I had no choice really because I knew that the moment I hit 12 weeks I’d get my cerclage and then be put on long-term home bed rest. This was the plan. We knew about it and I had zero reservations about it. When she was born Mer and I discussed how we wanted to manage her childcare. We both felt comfortable with me staying at home full-time because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her and childcare can get extremely expensive.

In some respects I think we naively assumed that raising a kid was easier than it’s turned out to be. I’m not saying it’s unbearably hard but as Margsy ages we’re realizing that our current lifestyle (single child, one and done family) isn’t necessarily ideal when it comes to her social development and general socialization.

Margsy is a very fearful child. She does not do well when faced with new people and has shown very little interest in playing with other children. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy other children’s company but she’s far more inclined to play beside them than with them.

Way back in January we decided to sign her up for swimming lessons. It was really a win win, win situation for us because it would give her far more physical activity during the winter months (baby girl was off the charts weight wise until recently), hopefully expose her to other children to socialize and teach her how to swim which is such an incredibly important skill. Although she loves her lessons and it has helped train her to be more comfortable in water and helped get her to a more normal weight it really hasn’t provided any opportunities for socialization which we thought it would.

Mer and I had a really long discussion about Margsy’s social development last month. We both agreed that it might be time to find some sort of organized activity to help her develop autonomy, learn boundaries and hopefully interact with other children about her age. We searched and searched but apart from some sporadic playgroups that usually involve infants there really isn’t much available to a family with an 18-month toddler.

Enter the conversation about daycare.

At first, we were both very much resistant to the idea. Had you asked me my thoughts on sending her to daycare a year ago I would have told you it was absolutely out of the question. That’s not to say that I think daycare itself is a bad idea but I did believe that as her mom I could provide her with everything she needed socially, emotionally and physically. Sure, I’m able to provide her with a stable, safe and nurturing home but when it comes to stimulation, play and socialization I’m really falling short.

So, Mer and I have been interviewing daycare’s much to the displeasure of both sets of grandparents. We were both raised in a community that never outsourced their childcare beyond the walls of the home of a family member. So, when we informed them that Margsy would be enrolled in a daycare as soon as possible we were met with apprehension, anger and even harsh judgement. In this moment we realized that despite our fears and those of our family we need to put Margsy first and this is something she needs right now.

The reality is an 18 month of kiddo needs to play with other kids. They need to learn how to socialize with other children and find their own way and personality by exploring, playing and socializing in ways that I simply can’t provide for her.

All this to say, we’re currently in the process of interviewing various family daycare’s hoping to find one that is a perfect fit. So far, we’ve interviewed two and one appeared absolutely perfect but ultimately did not have a space for our kiddo.

In terms of our daycare want list we are pretty specific with regards to what we are looking for:

  1. A small family daycare with no more than 5-6 children so that Margs can still get the attention she requires and not be overwhelmed with the drastic change to her lifestyle
  2. A daycare that is willing to work with us to integrate her slowly into a daycare setting. Ideally we’d like to start with 2 hours per day and work our way up to 5 hours days, 4 days a week.
  3. With regards to facilities we’d like there to be a large fenced and secured backyard with ample space for baby girl to run around (She’s a climber and will try to climb a fence if you’re not watching)
  4. A large indoor play area that encourages creative projects (painting, drawing, building) in addition to creative play
  5. A daycare that is willing to work with us with regards to her current sleep issues. Margsy was not sleep trained and therefore requires a ton of assistance to fall asleep. Generally she needs to be rocked to sleep and feel you close by.

The first daycare we met with was an absolute bust. The woman although knowledgeable about child care and friendly appeared to offer “babysitting” instead of daycare services. What I mean by this is she approached each day with no expectations or plan and basically allowed the children to dictate what they wanted to do. Although she would likely have been extremely nurturing and sympathetic to our issues (sleep namely) I suspect that her home daycare environment would have simply recreated the situation we are dealing with at home.

The second daycare was perfect. The woman we met with had 5 children in her group varying in ages from 12 months to 4 years. The entire day was scheduled and planned and the children are exposed to creative play, dramatic play and artistic play which is exactly what we wanted. She was also extremely open to a step up plan to integrate Margsy and was willing to help start the sleep training process. Unfortunately our interview was scheduled after she had technically filled the last spot. We went regardless because we were hopeful that the spot would somehow open itself up again. She called today to confirm that the spot was in fact taken but did provide a few numbers of other local in house daycares that we are hopeful will fit the bill.

So there’s that. This is what’s going on in TTBH right now. We’re actively searching for a daycare and given our current situation I’m not necessarily in a rush to place her immediately. Since I’m home with her anyway we’re going to continue looking until we find one that is just the right fit.

What are your experiences with daycare? How did you select one for your kiddo? Any tips?




  1. June 14, 2017 / 7:01 am

    I’m sorry to hear you got some judgemental responses, that is so tough! I hope you find the perfect place soon. Until recently I taught 3-6 year olds (and before that was an assistant in a toddler class) and watching the children’s social development was so interesting. Some 18 month olds had clear friends they loved playing with and talked about, but other children didn’t really start to play with others until they were 4. Parents were concerned when they saw their child playing alone on the playground, but that interest just comes later for some children. I’m sure the social interaction will be wonderful for Margs, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it if she doesnt’ play with others right away 🙂

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:47 pm

      Thank you so much Christina! It is worrisome although I know that it’s normal. I think exposing her to other kids will give her the option to play which is something I can’t provide her at home!

  2. June 14, 2017 / 7:39 am

    Good for you and your husband for making the best decision for your family, regardless of other’s opinions. There is no right or wrong when it comes to daycare as long as the intention is right. I’m a stay at home mom but completely understand why you would see it important for her to socialize and learn those skills, they are truly vital.

    • June 14, 2017 / 7:47 am

      I totally agree with if the intention is right.
      Hope you find a good one!

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:48 pm

      Absolutely. Putting her first is our priority regardless of what the fam thinks! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment and share your thoughts!

  3. June 14, 2017 / 8:11 am

    If you are worried about being sociable, please don’t be. At 18 months most children are very content at home with or without siblings.That is typical behaviour for children of this age. if she was 3 1/2 then it may be different. It’s interesting you are seeking a homely environment for her with very small groups. How about a mother and toddler group? That would allow her to explore with you by her side? If you want Day care or Nursery then this can only be your choice as you know your daughter and your family best.
    If you want my view, unless you need the care for work, then wait until she is 2 1/2 or 3. This is more than old enough to learn social skills without you there. Toddler groups are great for tinies as they expose children to others but many don’t even notice they are there! We enjoyed mother and baby singing at this age but my second went to nursery with me as I was working there!
    Good luck. I’m sure you will decide what is best for your family. Remember everyone will have a view but only you and your partner can decide.

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      We were actually part of a mom and tot group. We frequented off and on over the last year but often it’s unpredictable. There were some weeks that we’d be alone in a church basement playing with toys. If it were more predictable and I knew that at least a handful of kiddos would show up I’d make more of an effort.

  4. June 14, 2017 / 10:02 am

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and well written blog I loved it and look forward to more great content in the future! This atricle brought back sooooo many great memories of when my lil uns were actually little, thank you for that.

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment!

  5. June 14, 2017 / 10:24 am

    I completely understand what you are going through my wife and I chose daycare for both our children and we love it. However we had a lot of pressure to get a nanny or to do some other arrangement. I was honestly surprised by the amount of opinions we had to endure. There seems to be a strong stigma against daycare. In the end it is what we wanted for both our children and it has been great!

    Our daughter has learned so much and so much more quickly being at daycare. They were constantly surprising us with how fast she was moving through milestones. As new parents we just didn’t have any idea. By one they had the kids eating family style at a table serving themselves and open top cups. There is no way I thought she was ready for that, but she was. There are a million little things like that.

    From the socialization aspect I’m not sure how important it was for the first 2 years but I think it made a difference with our shy little lady. She had to learn how to be around other kids. How handle emotions around some of the bigger kids.

    Either way it’s your choice and don’t be concerned about what others think. THERe are great benefits to both staying homemade and daycare.

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:51 pm

      So much of this is dead on. I think a daycare setting challenges kiddos in ways parents simply can’t ya know?

      Thank you so so much for sharing. ALso, I sent you an email!

  6. June 14, 2017 / 10:32 am

    Great advise frim everyone. I also confirm the statements above. My one and only daughter was always happy alone. We attended lots of playgroups and activities . We had older kids come and play but it was not until she was 4 in junior kindergarten that she made life long friends with girls who are still her best friend today. She is now 22. She also keeps very few friends and is extremely loyal to those she has. Is also very comfortable I her own skin, confident in what she needs and wants a happy to be home by herself.

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:52 pm

      This is so nice to hear 🙂

  7. June 14, 2017 / 10:43 am

    Way back when, I was also one of those parents that thought Mom staying home with the kids was The Best and Only Way to do it. And then I became a single parent (I won’t bore you with the details. Today.) All my kids have done wonderfully in daycare, between the friends they make, the structure, the words and ideas they learn, and my favorite part – peer pressure to potty-train.

    I prefer licensed home daycares, both for the greatly decreased cost and for the more relaxed, home-y feel. The lady I use now has a wonderful blend of providing structure but respecting the kids’ independence. For example, one of her rules is that the kids WILL treat each other with respect, no exceptions. But for after-lunch naptime, they don’t have to take a nap but they do have to be quiet for those kids that are taking naps. My son just sleeps (or doesn’t sleep) whenever and wherever he wants; just last night when I went to pick him up he was sleeping on the floor in the middle of the play area with a blanket over him.

    Overall, I just go with my gut – how do I feel about this place and this person? What does the dynamic with the kids feel like?

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:53 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me! We’re opting for a home daycare for the exact same reasons. It just feels more personalized I guess!

  8. June 14, 2017 / 11:46 am

    That’s too bad that the place you thought was perfect was full – I think it’s harder to find a home daycare with scheduled days as opposed to those big school like ones.
    We put M in daycare for some of the same reasons – I was working at home on my thesis and did need some time, my mom offered to watch him some times but we felt that scheduled time with other children would be best. We really like the lady he sees, he’s only there 2 days a week, she only has 3-4 other children a day and is flexible in terms of drop off and pick up times.
    Good luck – it’s hard to find that perfect fit – but you are right that it will likely be good for her.

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:54 pm

      This is basically exactly what we are looking for. Ideally we’ll send her 2 days a week from 9-3 or something similar.

  9. June 14, 2017 / 12:08 pm

    Just FYI, it’s entirely normal and healthy for an 18-month-old to be a “loner”! Parallel play is the norm until kids reach 2 1/2 or 3 years old, and fear of strangers typically reaches its peak at 2 years old. So don’t panic! Margs is doing just fine in her social development right now. This isn’t to say she shouldn’t go to daycare — if that’s what your family wants/needs, then do it! — just don’t think that she NEEDS to become more social right now. 🙂

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:55 pm

      I’m so glad that the fear of strangers thing is normal!!! When you’re an outsider looking in it seems like all the other kids are super friendly and unafraid. Then, in comes my kid who pitches a fit around new people!

  10. June 14, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    Great post, I think you’re doing the right thing as I’m an only child and was glad of friends and cousins to play with. We chose our daycare by reputation, the best one locally that also offered full days when I needed them (I was finishing up a teaching qualification so some days I had to stay later). I’d advise anyone to go visit with your child and see what vibes you get from carers and the environment there 🙂 x

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:56 pm

      Thanks Anna!

      We’ve been visiting and interviewing with the workers to see if it’s a good fit too!

  11. June 14, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    Oh man, so you guys couldn’t get her in to that daycare. It sounded promising though. Maybe next time but I do like the guidelines that you set out and what you expect from the day care. My daughter was essentially raised the same way for the first two years of her life with me being a stay at home mom. Now she is a blossoming four year old about to be starting up school who is a social butterfly. In fact she is too much of a social butterfly, I’m talking anyone and everyone that looks in her direction, but thats a whole different story.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts to see if you find her a babysitter.

    Jessica |

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:57 pm

      Thanks for stopping by!!!! We’re hoping to find something for our little soon!

  12. kiwinadian
    June 14, 2017 / 1:21 pm

    This is definitely a post I could have written myself, except I had no choice but to return to work when my son was 12 months old. Our decision to send him to daycare instead of hiring a nanny or having family care for him ultimately came down to the social aspect as well. We wanted him to learn structure as well as be engaged in a way that we weren’t able to do at home. We also wanted him to learn how to behave around other kids since he was the kind of infant who would get upset any time another child came near him or made a noise louder than he thought was appropriate. We are also likely going to be a one and done family too so socialization has been huge for us with him considering we both work full time and don’t have endless hours to go to mom and toddler groups. It was the best decision we could have made. He is now thriving at daycare and i think is much more advanced in a lot of ways than he would be if he was at home with me all day long. There are a lot of positives to daycare and I think you’re making a good choice and have very reasonable parameters that you’re following to find the right now. Our son didn’t actually start playing WITH other kids until he was about 21 months old, so it might take Margsy a bit of time, but she will get there. Good for you guys for doing what you feel is best for your own family and not be swayed by what others think is best!

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      I was nodding my head the entire time I was reading your comment. Socialization is so so important especially when the little is an only child! Thank you for sharing!

  13. June 14, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    As you know from my blog, we just went through this process (and had an almost identical list of needs/wants as you). It can be really emotionally hard as well as practically hard to find daycare whom you trust. It so good that you are able to take the time to look for one you really love. Good luck!

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:59 pm

      Yup sure do. So happy that you found a place you are comfortable with! This process is really not easy.

  14. June 14, 2017 / 7:35 pm

    We are a one and done family as well. M has always had to be in daycare. Both of us work outside the home but to be honest my husband’s income and the cost of our daycare is probably a wash. My husband would have stayed home with M but we both agreed for the sake of our marriage it would be better for him to work, barring any huge financial set backs. M loves it. They do the STEM activities daily and she has ton of friends. None of them will be going to kindergarten with her this fall so that’s a bummer. I do remember the age/stage your daughter is in and I think it is called parallel play and completely normal. Kids with more exposure through childcare or older and younger sibilings may not go through parallel play for as long as an only child but it is definitely a stage in socialization. M has flourished and she has surprised me in how much she takes daycare in stride and how stubborn she is at home (maybe similar to the attention Margs needs to go to sleep), it is like two different worlds. I didn’t realize how capable she could be until her teachers told me. An example would be lunch. They sit in their chairs with all the age appropriate utensils. Patiently waiting to be served lunch. Afterwards M and the other kids would put their hand up when they were finished and had to wait to be dismissed. Then they put their dishes in the bin and… wiped down their spot!! At age 2. I was letting her get away with just walking away from the table when she was finished and considered it a win if I didn’t have to constantly remind her to sit right! I admire you putting Margs needs first especially with it being controversial with the families. Plus you can always take her out. No regrets. One of the things my mommy friends and I agree on with childcare is that our time with our kids can be spent bonding and not just moving from one moment to the next when the kids go through a difficult stage. You can be more nurturing without feeling guilty because there are those days/weeks that sometimes you just feel like the bad guy, saying no all the time, not having enough time during the day, etc.

    Sorry for the ramble.

    • June 15, 2017 / 3:01 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I think you’re right – toddlers are capable of far more than we think they are. In our house it’s often easier for Mom or Dad to do xyz because the fall out if she does it herself might include a mess and whatnot. I admire that daycares work on building that sense of autonomy in littles it’s just so so vital.

  15. June 15, 2017 / 7:59 am

    It is always hard when the peanut gallery becomes not so supportive of your parenting decision, but you are the only one who knows what is ultimately best for your child. I do agree with the above comments, parallel play is perfectly normal at 18 years and stranger danger will only get worse, not better right now. My son has been in day care since he was 6 weeks old and now that he is 4 1/2 he really could use a break from it. I feel bad he doesn’t get the summer break I did as a child to just play and sleep in. However, my husband and I both have to work so we make do as we can. We have used both in home style and large corporate style day cares and both have pluses and minuses. From our experience here in the US (it may be different where you are) the in home situations are less strictly organized and allow more room for individuality, focus mostly on social behavior and is more play and fun based. The corporate places are much more strict, have a daily schedule down to the hour, are more educationally based and force the kids into certain molds. Again, pluses and minuses to both. We just switched our kid to in home to give him a break as his last year before kindergarten starts.

    • June 15, 2017 / 3:03 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing. Crossing my fingers that you’ll get at least a few days this summer to spend with that kiddo during the work week so he gets a break from daycare.

      Home daycares are pretty similar here. As far as I understand each employee can have up to 6 children with only 2 kiddos under the age of 18 months. Most of the ones we’ve researched have 1 employee and between 4-5 kiddos and like you said they tend to be a little more flexible.

  16. June 22, 2017 / 5:38 am

    Such a shame the daycare you wanted is full. I hope you manage to find the perfect setting for your daughter soon. We sent our eldest to play school when he was 2 and a half, it has really helped him to learn how to socialise with other children and he has developed loads in the last 18 months xx #blogcrush

    • June 22, 2017 / 6:33 am

      Hi Wendy! Thank you so so much for stopping by! We’re hoping to find a daycare that fits with our needs soon! Also, thank you so much for making me a #blogcrush. <3

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