They care for kids while parents work, wipe noses, enforce rules and make everyone share. Day care center workers make parents' lives easier, but what should parents do if they want a good relationship with their childcare providers?
In a world where parents can't always be the ones taking care of their little ones, its normal to wonder things like how to handle drop-off tears, what kids should wear to day care each day and how to let teachers and staff know just how valued they are.
Yahoo Life spoke with day care workers to find out what they wish the parents coming into their centers knew about the childcare process.
1. Don't worry about drop-off
Parents of day care-going kids are no stranger to tantrums and tears at morning drop-off, but Haley Paige, head of curriculum development at the childcare center at the Haven Collection, says it's a pretty common occurrence.
"Try not to worry if the drop-off is difficult," Paige tells Yahoo Life. "Of course, they'd rather stay with you, and yes, sometimes, they don't want to be at day care, but more often than not, the tears are over within minutes, and they're off to play with their friends."
Paige says if separation anxiety or high emotions continue to be an issue, your childcare provider will most-likely have a conversation with you about it. Otherwise, try not to fret, and let kids work it out on their own.
2. It's important to say "no" sometimes
Many parents avoid saying "no" to their children at home as a way to avoid temper tantrums and meltdowns, but that's not always helpful, especially in the long-run. A Boston-based day care worker with more than 20 years of experience, who prefers to remain anonymous due to her employment, tells Yahoo Life it's helpful for childcare employees if your kid has experience being told "no," and dealing with it.
"Learning to deal with disappointment is an important life skill," she shares. "They may cry, fuss or throw a tantrum, but they will live."
3. Day care workers can't force kids to nap
As much as you'd like your child to come home from day care with a nap under their belt, sometimes that's just not going to happen. Yes, it might be annoying, but that's just one of the challenges that comes along with kids — especially in a day care setting when they are away from their home and their own bed.
"We know it's a bummer when your child skips a nap, but we can't force them to sleep," says Paige. "On those days, we will give them all the snuggles and relaxing space to rest their body to encourage them to take a nap ... then maybe, just maybe, they'll go to bed early."
4. Dress your kids appropriately
In addition to playing inside at a day care center, many take the children outside to play in the sun and get some fresh air. As a result, your kid may get dirty. Whether they come home covered in mud, markers or paint, send kids ready for the day in clothes that can easily be tossed in the washing machine.
"Please do not send them in wearing a nice outfit," says the Boston-based day care worker. "There's no stopping them from playing and having fun with their friends and they will get dirty."
5. Keep kids home if they're sick ... seriously
If your kid is sick, keep them home. Especially during these times of the coronavirus pandemic and flu season, it's more important than ever to take precautions for everyone's safety, especially that of your day care staff.
"It doesn't matter where or from who your child sick," says the Boston-based day care worker. "If they are sick, keep them home and stop asking me who got them sick — it could have been a shopping cart, gymnastics class or anywhere else."
6. You still have to pay, even if you go on vacation
Just like you get vacation pay through your employer, the employees at a day care center need to be paid if you go on vacation. Think of it as if you were to send your kid to private school: You'd still pay the tuition, even if you took them out for a week of vacation.
"You must pay for your vacation, should you choose to go on a week other than mine," the Boston-based worker shares. "I give my vacation dates to parents a year in advance and state on the sheet that this is the policy."
7. Day care is group care
As much as you want your child to receive individualized attention at day care, it's important to remember there are other kids for staff to take care of as well.
"I cannot spend 20 minutes rocking them to sleep with lullabies, nor can I spoon-feed your 2 year old that just 'likes it that way,'" says the Boston-based employee. "They will learn lifelong self-help skills and be a stronger person by attending group care."
8. Even day care workers get tired
It's impossible to speak for all day care workers, but most did not enter this profession on a whim, and actually have a passion for taking care of children.end. "Kids can be hard and some days are harder than others," says Paige. "Just like there are days your kiddo has you wiped out, we feel that way sometimes, too."
"So, if our buns are lopsided and we're out of breath at pick-up," she adds, "just know we did our best today, and tomorrow we will do even better — maybe with an extra coffee."
9. Most day care workers love their jobs ... and your kids
It's impossible to speak for all daycare workers, but most did not enter this profession on a whim, and actually have a passion for taking care of children.
"We work every day to nurture your kiddos and give them the tools to thrive," says Paige. "It is nice to hear from families that what we're doing is making a difference in their lives. It's why we do what we do."
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