Familiarization with daycare
Sooner or later, the question arises for all parents whether and from when and also where the child should be looked after by others. There are many different models, institutions and times. Child minders, large daycare centers, daycare centers, kindergartens, daycare centers: What is the right thing for my child? And how long should I have child care? At what age should we start? And what times do we need? Can grandma or grandpa perhaps also take over the care? Or would I prefer to look after my child myself at home?
As you can see, there are really a lot of questions about outside care and in many aspects opinions differ greatly. Some of the discussions are very hurtful and insulting.
Ultimately, in my opinion, many factors play into such a decision that are not apparent from the outside. So it is always an individual decision that parents have to make anew for each child.
Factors influencing the decision about external care
I would like to mention here only briefly some possible factors, which can affect such a decision: financial situation, character of the child (straight regarding a later Fremdbetreuung), demands of the employer or also needs of the mummy (or the parents).
Consequently, there are many articles and even entire books devoted to this topic. Some books at least describe the topic of external care. Herbert Renz-Polster writes in his book "Menschenkinder" (you can find a review in the article Menschenkinder [book review]), for example, that it depends very much on the quality of the care, as well as on the relationship, the relationship with the educators.
What was important to us when choosing a daycare center
With my daughter, we decided to have her care in a daycare center after the age of one. I noticed that the ceiling was increasingly falling on my head at home, I was irritable and urgently needed more variety and at the same time more family time. I was able to work during the first year of my daughter's life, but only when my husband came home from work. This eventually put me under stress and made me unhappy.
When we chose the daycare center, various factors were important to us, such as meeting the children at eye level, encouraging them to "do things for themselves", i.e. including them in everyday life, as well as seeing the children in their needs. To mention just a few points here.
Settling in from the perspective of an educator
Elena von Wickelakrack is an educator herself and has written an article on the subject of the long period of acclimatization in a daycare center. In it, she describes her practical experience and also discusses the Berlin Model.
How the acclimation began
After we had finally found a place in a daycare center after many difficulties (that is not really easy here in Oldenburg at the moment), I was very happy that I already knew one of Mina's teachers. I could talk to her about my fears, my worries and my hopes.
Fortunately, at this facility, it was also not a problem that Mina was diapered with cloth diapers and offered potty excretion. The teachers were also open to babywearing.
So, at the beginning of August, we started the settling in process after the summer vacation at my son's kindergarten ended.
I packed Mina breakfast and a change of clothes, as well as diapers for her basket. We spent an hour together in her group. My daughter seemed open-minded and kept looking for toys. At the same time, she also kept checking on me and coming back to me. The next day actually went the same way.
After those two days, she unfortunately got sick, so we spent the rest of the week at home. So the next week we started all over again. Monday through Wednesday actually went very much like the days last week. Mina even went to the bathroom with other children, together with a kindergarten teacher. There she played with water without showing any interest in me.
Since this had worked so well, we decided to try a short separation the next day. It remained with the attempt. When I said goodbye, she began to cry a lot and could not be calmed down, so we broke off the separation and wanted to start all over again. So we spent another hour together at the facility.
Not much changed compared to the first days. Mina was open-minded and curious, but at the same time glad that I was there, which gave her security.
In the meantime, my daughter was briefly ill several times. She got her first little teeth, which tormented her a lot. After the hour in the nursery, she always fell asleep exhausted while nursing. Nevertheless, I noticed that she was happy there. That she was becoming more and more open-minded.
She also went more and more to the educators and got involved in playing.
After some time we tried another separation attempt, only briefly. Mina said goodbye and continued to play. When I came back after ten minutes, she was crying on the arm of one of the educators. It didn't sound desperate, but simply sad that I wasn't there. She allowed the educator to be close, so we discussed trying again the next day. The game repeated itself, only this time she cried directly.
So I was to be there again. I now took something to work on and read. I sat down with the group, but tried to work. Mina was very responsive to this in the first days and came to me a little less. However, when another tooth appeared, she was more clingy again and wanted to be with me a lot. This frustrated and annoyed me. I didn't feel like it anymore and was about to break off the acclimation.
A new strategy in the acclimatization
In October, the facility was closed for two weeks. I don't remember if that was before or after our second separation attempt, but it's not that relevant. Anyway, I had the feeling that she wasn't throwing the "free" time back in, as I'd heard others do more often. Rather, I felt that it was doing her good right now to process what had happened.
Later, in a conversation with the kindergarten teacher, we decided that my husband should take over the settling in. So he drove to the daycare early with Mina, where I picked her up after our hour together and my husband drove to work. That was really stressful! Especially since I had to take my son to kindergarten in the meantime.
We talked again and decided to try another separation. In the meantime, Mina also found it easier and easier to say goodbye to me at home when I went to work. She would consciously wave to me and then play with my son or my husband.
We were optimistic that it would work this time. Besides, by now I was at the end of my rope. By now it was also early November and the settling in process had been going on for almost three months.
When my husband brought her to the nursery, he said goodbye to our daughter. She was on the arm of a kindergarten teacher and waved goodbye to him. When I picked her up a short time later, she was engrossed in play. So it had finally worked! Without tears, with a lot of security and above all clarity from all of us.
My daughter senses insecurity immediately and then shows it. But now we were all clear, which helped her a lot.
How it went on
After the first separation attempt worked so well with my husband, it actually went on in exactly the same way. I always came after a short time in the first week that went like this. But we quickly realized that the separation was no longer a problem.
We increased the time in the nursery. This was also not a problem. Mina had finally arrived well. Sometimes there were tears when we said goodbye, but the educators assured us that she was quickly comforted and began to play. In most cases, she waved goodbye cheerfully.
Time continued to increase until after lunch and she was now supposed to sleep there as well. However, that was not my daughter's plan. I suspect that she sensed insecurity here again.
After we consulted again with a kindergarten teacher that we believed this would work and that Mina could sleep there, it finally worked out. She didn't want to sleep in the bed, but she slept in the carrier on her back.
How it is today and a little conclusion
In the meantime a little more time has passed and I can say that I am very happy that we gave Mina the time she needed. That this was possible from the facility. That I had no professional time pressure. It was the right way!
I see how my daughter looks forward to the nursery every day. How she takes her backpack and packs her favorite toys (which I secretly unpack again). How even on weekends or when she's sick, she's at the front door with her backpack and shoes and wants to go.
Saying goodbye is usually no problem and she waves to my husband with a laugh. When I pick her up after nap time she is usually eating and hugs me happily when I get there.
And me, I enjoy the time off. I'm getting back to work. I make my home visits almost exclusively in the mornings, so we now have significantly more family time, which is great for all of us.
All in all, the settling in process took about four and a half months and I was on the verge of giving up more than once in between because I thought it would never work, that she liked going there. But that wasn't the point at all. She just likes being with me. And now I have the feeling that we have gone a really good way, which overall felt right for all of us.
My daughter knows exactly what she wants and what she doesn't want. At first, she didn't want to go to daycare without me. With me, gladly. Because there she had variety and could play a lot and learn some new things. Bit by bit, she became more confident there, so that now it is no longer a problem without me.
And if something should be, I know that I can trust the educators 100% and they contact me.Image sources:
I picked out some of the images used for the article on unsplash.com. Here is a detailed listing with links:
- Article thumbnail
- Image of child stacking colorful blocks
- Image of child playing with fox tights
- Picture of child with yellow jacket and backpack
- Picture of stacked colorful blocks