Beating the Day Care Blues

There’s hardly a working family I know that exists without day care.

The finding, the vetting, applying, the paying, and getting the routine of it is a lot of work. I live in a city with no female relatives. My Mother has passed on, my Sister lives a state away and her kids are grown ups. I have only one close girlfriend who has children in full-time daycare. My co-workers with kids all survive family life and work life because of day care.


There are several challenges around day care and starting day care and sometimes the transition is hard and can be very emotional. Do you have the day care blues? You’re not alone. Here’s some ways to get through it.


Practice Your Daycare Routine
Practice makes perfect right? The best advice another mom gave me for transitioning from maternity leave to daycare and going back to work was to start going to day care early before you needed to. Not everyone can do this or can afford to do this but it does help. Putting your baby in day care early gives you the opportunity to get out and process your emotions about it without having to go from first dropoff right to the office. Essentially, you get to be emotional and cry in private. You also hopefully get some time to yourself. For me, I used the time to take an online course, file the mail that piled up, do some yoga, and organize my work clothes, which included finding out what still would fit. Practicing the day care routine also helped me learn how much he would eat away from me and gave me time to practice my pumping routine. I keep a freezer stash at daycare just in case but now I’ve got it down to a science calculating how much he’ll need during a regular day care/work day. Everyone I’ve mentioned practicing daycare and starting it early, always says “why didn’t I think of this!” so now I’m passing that on to you.


Remember It’s Ok to Feel Mixed Emotions
You’ll miss your baby. You’ll feel guilty when you don’t miss your baby. You’ll feel guilty about thinking about your baby when you should be working. You’ll feel guilty about feeling guilty. 
That’s only a smidge of the emotions you can experience when the day care blues hit. It’s not necessarily the most natural thing in the world to hand your baby over to someone you’re not related to and leave them for the day. I’ve seen moms worry if their baby will still know them when they spend the bulk of the day with a caregiver. It’s natural to feel that way and frankly – you’re allowed to feel any way you want, as long as you’re still in control of your emotions at the end of the day. If you feel the highs and lows and waves of feelings getting the better of you, talk to the people in your support system and maybe even your doctor if your emotions start to feel unnatural to you.


Double Up. On Everything. 
The trunk of my car quickly became a mini utility closet, once I started doing day care. Having spares of just about everything has been a lifesaver. I keep a spare pack of diapers, baby onesie, blanket, pacifier, wet wipes, water bottle, and changing pad in the trunk. There have been days when I show up at daycare and oops they are out of diapers and forgot to tell me – no problem, it’s in the trunk! A fellow mom on a stroller walk date forgot a blanket – no problem, got one in the trunk! Once, I forgot the diaper bag entirely on an outing – no problem, got spares of everything in the trunk! You get the idea. Make it easy on yourself and you’ll be able to easily forgive yourself for anything you’ve forgotten if you have a ready spare. And just go ahead and forgive yourself anyway.


Talk It Out 
Don’t tough it out completely. Talk about what you’re going through. Talk to other Moms. Talk to your coworkers. Don’t keep it bottled up inside. Talk to your partner and to your trusted support system. If you’re brave enough, you can seek out an online group for moms or parents and vent your feelings there — or search the group for their comments and advice on the subject. Any kind of solidarity can feel like a life raft in times of steep transition like this. 

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