Parent to Parent

Moms offer advice from the trenches on making child care work for you.

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How I coped with the first day of child care

I expected wailing. He shed no tears. I expected handholding. He broke free. I expected caution. He dashed around. For my son, Colin, separation anxiety is a myth. And that was hard for me to swallow. But I wondered: Was he ready? His first day without me answered that question. His teacher called: "He's crying. He needs you." My heart soared. "It's OK. Mommy's here." Eventually, his sobbing ceased. He wanted to play. And again, I was invisible. Lesson learned: Children are resilient. They bounce back. They move on. — Leah in South Euclid

How I cope with being away from my child, long after the first day

It has taken two months, but I am finally comfortable with my decision to put my son in child care. I still have times where I get down about it and, oddly, Thursday is my hardest day of the week. I've been at work for three days so far and I still have Friday to get through, so Thursday can be tough. But like I said, I finally feel solid about my decision. Going back to work just means that when I am not working, it's all about my son. — Erin in Cleveland Heights

How I made leaving before they wake up a little easier

We have this morning ritual: My children have little stuffed animals they picked out at the store. We call them "bed buddies." Every night, we put the bed buddies on their dressers. Then, in the morning, when they wake up, the bed buddies are tucked under their covers next to them. That means that mommy kissed them good morning before she left for work and said, "I love you." — a mom in Bay Village

How I know child care is right for my baby and for me

As the week my baby was to start child care approached, I began searching for evidence that my job, which I loved, wasn't worth going back to. I found out my college-aged niece was free two days a week. I enjoyed a summer of knowing my newborn was getting one-on-one care from a family member (and future doctor). By the time fall rolled around, my baby was 6 months old, crawling and, in my mind, ready for child care on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I dropped her off, happy to see her curiosity over her new playmates and surroundings. I was equally happy that I hadn't made a rash decision to quit my job altogether. I relish the two days a week I spend with adults and find it makes me a better, happier parent the five days I am with her. — Colleen in Avon

How I knew to pull my child out of a child-care situation

I had found a sitter who watched kids in her home and came highly recommended by neighbors. After three weeks, our son developed a bald spot on the back of his head from spending so much time on his back. We also noticed that when we arrived earlier than expected, the television in the room where our son was being "watched" was blaring and all of the kids were gathered around it while our son lay on the floor unattended. After our repeated instructions for his care were ignored, we decided it was time to pull him out. We now pay more for his care, but it is through a reputable center and he is flourishing. — Ellen in Cleveland

How I know I've found the right type of child care for my baby

I like to think of Ethan's child-care center as his "school." In addition to the things they teach, such as songs and letters, he's developing social skills by being around other children his age. He enjoys watching the older ones play and trying to imitate them. He's also learning to share, which he doesn't have to do at home as an only child. Being at his school gives him a wider range of experiences than I could give him at home all day. — Shelly in Westlake

How I know child care has been good for my child

My daughter has been in a child-care center since she was an infant. Now, she's in kindergarten through her center, and I am amazed at the things she knows at 5 years old. She has learned to share, take turns and play well in groups. Her ability to think logically amazes me. This I credit to the center, which teaches the children at a very young age to think through situations and find resolutions on their own. Her reading, writing and art skills are more advanced than mine were at her age, and I didn't attend a child-care center. — Michelle in Lakewood

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