Finding the Right Preschool for You

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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I’ve partnered with Kindercare to bring you this blog post. As always, thank you for supporting CNC and our family!

When Quinn was first born, I really thought I could do it all… and, boy, I tried. During those first few months, I experienced all of the usual new mom struggles, including plenty of sleepless nights and limited self-care. However, unlike a lot of new moms, I didn’t take any sort of maternity leave from my job, which, looking back, was definitely NOT a smart idea.

For some reason, I thought I could take care of a newborn while running Carrots ‘N’ Cake just as I had in the past. In fact, I didn’t even plan ahead with pre-written content prior to Quinn’s birth. I just figured I’d truck along with my usual responsibilities and take advantage of nap time. Holy cow, I was completely clueless about working from home with a newborn. If you’ve ever attempted to work while caring for a baby, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Nothing gets done. Nothing at all.

On top of my unrealistic expectations, I was also dealing with one of the worst flares of my life. After Quinn was born, my body went into full-on autoimmune freak-out mode. I could barely take care of myself – let alone a baby – and the stress of the blog and my financial responsibility to my family really started to weigh on me. Sleepless nights were a REAL thing for me, and it was not a happy time in my life at all. Eventually, something had to give.

Prior to this time, Mal and I had talked about finding some sort of childcare for Quinn at least a couple of days per week, so I could work without interruption. I was working at odd hours of the day and not really sleeping (at all), so finding help became more and more of a priority.

After a particularly rough weekend (both physically and mentally), my doctor gave me an ultimatum: Either be admitted to the hospital or start Remicade (an intravenous immunosuppressant drug for UC) the next day. Mal also gave me an ultimatum: Find some childcare for Quinn or… find some childcare for Quinn. 

As a new mom, I was nervous about someone new caring for my child. I also felt like a failure because I couldn’t manage work and a baby like I had hoped. Plus, the mom guilt… oh, the mom guilt. Even though I knew I wasn’t “choosing” work over my child, it sure felt like it at times. There were so many emotions that went along with finding the right childcare option for Quinn.

There were a number of key considerations we took to heart while finding the best childcare plan for our family. When Mal and I started to look at childcare options, we knew we wanted a “center.” Sure, there are plenty of in-home daycares that are wonderful and amazing, but we wanted a facility that we felt 100% comfortable with and aligned with our family’s values. This decision process also weighed very heavily on staff likeability and level of care provided. We wanted our son to be in the hands of people who were truly invested in his well-being, development, and growth.

Quinn has been a member of the Kindercare community since he was 6 months old, so there are a number of examples reflecting our gratitude and loyalty to this amazing childcare center that has evolved into our top choice for preschool programming as well. 

We’re acknowledged – usually with a warm greeting – every single time we enter or leave Kindercare. In fact, every time we encounter a staff member – whether they’re Quinn’s teacher or not – we’re acknowledged with a “hello” or “how are you doing?” Mal and I visited a few centers before deciding on Kindercare, and you’d be surprised how many staff members did not honor our presence. It didn’t make us feel at home, so we didn’t want Quinn to feel the same distance. Even from the very first time we visited Kindercare, we knew we entered a very special place and that friendliness is what ultimately sold us!

Quinn has made great strides with regard to his eating habits and pickiness. Our Kindercare provides breakfast, lunch, and snack food, so Quinn has expanded his taste buds a ton. Not having to pack his meals has also saved us a ton of time, wasted food, and stress. His teachers have told us that he’ll try new foods based on seeing the other kids eat them. I’m not sure this would have happened as much if we packed him only the foods we knew he’d eat.

A number of Quinn’s teachers have become our babysitters (and friends) outside of Kindercare. Mal and I don’t have family close by to rely on, so it’s nice to have Kindercare staff as part of our “village” nowadays. They help pick up the slack when we’re stuck in a rut and need help at home, which is valuable for our relationship and life in general!

Quinn’s teachers often share how they successfully deal with his tantrums at school – without judgment attached. If you’ve followed CNC for a little awhile now, you know he’s struggled with communication since he was a tiny baby. Kindercare’s teaching structure and staff fits Quinn’s learning and behavioral needs just right, and we’ve seen him continue to mature in both of these areas. They’ve also coached us as new parents to manage tantrums when he’s at home (or at the grocery store, or social outings, cue the list of all public places to feel embarrassed and out of sorts when your toddler throws a nutty).

Quinn has really come out of his shell socially. He tends to be kind of shy, but, in recent months, we’ve seen his socialization skills and self-confidence really sky rocket. At his recent birthday party, Mal and I watched Quinn introduce his school friends to his gym friends who didn’t know each another. Quinn will now walk right up to a new adult and start chatting with them like he’s known them forever, which he would have never done in the past. These skills are so important as he dives into a significant life phase, preparing for Kindergarten. With another year of Kindercare under his belt (he’s in Pre-Kindergarten right now), there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be 110% ready to move forward on time.

It is a tremendous relief knowing we’ve made the right preschool choice for Quinn. From the core values and curriculum, to teachers and teaching philosophy, Kindercare is truly top notch. In addition to the instances mentioned above, Kindercare offers all sorts of activities that further enrich Quinn’s development – from art projects and reading activities, to physical fitness and science discovery sessions. There’s always something new and exciting happening at Kindercare.

We all recognize that parenting is a full-time job in it’s own right, and it can sometimes feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve your personal and professional goals. Where you send your child to preschool is an important decision for your family and there are unique considerations for everyone involved.

I hope my personal experience and insight can help you in some way as you navigate your childcare options and ultimately choose who will have a hand in helping you on your parenting journey.

Question of the Day

What are some of the key factors you considered when picking childcare or preschool for your little one? 

 

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9 Comments

  1. That picture of little toddler Quinn at the top is so cute! 🙂
    Thank you for opening up about your struggles with balancing motherhood and your career. I just returned to work part time after being a SAHM for a little over 3 years, and its difficult to not feel guilty about putting my kids in childcare even though I KNOW it’s the best thing for me AND them. When I have some time to be with grownups and focus on something besides motherhood for 8 hours a few days a week, it makes me a better and more engaged mom during the time that I am with my kids!
    As for preschool, I agree that it’s so important to find a center whose methods and philosophy fit with both your values and your kids’ personalities. My oldest is at a neighborhood church preschool and my youngest is currently watched by a family member but will join her when he is old enough for the toddler program. I largely chose it because I felt like it offered a very similar, very intentional and developmentally appropriate curriculum as the larger chain centers (I checked out both KinderCare and Bright Horizons) but at about half the cost. I think I just got lucky though, as most of the smaller preschools I checked out were not as impressive. I do have to make lunches though, which is a bummer! If the cost difference wasn’t SO huge, I would have chosen KinderCare or Bright Horizons just for the bonus of the food!!

  2. Thank you for sharing! I had so much mom guilt when I returned to work 11 weeks post-partum. But we were very particular in choosing our daycare and LOVE where our daughter goes. She has developed so much and is incredibly adaptable, which I attribute to being in a loving and supportive daycare. She also gets to do activities and adventures that I would never think of doing if I stayed at home with her. I go to work and help support our family financially, and I cherish the time I have with her. I know our daycare providers love her and treat her so well. It’s really the best possible outcome to a situation that can be very stressful and guilt inducing.

  3. I feel the mom guilt too! But in all honesty I feel like working makes me a better Mom. When we were looking for childcare: cost, hours, location and overall feel were our top priorities. We wanted close to home vs. close to the office because we telecommute for work sometimes and when one of us is sick we don’t want to drive all the way to work to drop off the kids. Hours were also important – at our current daycare we can drop off and pick up at any time from 7am-6pm without being charged extra which is great! And over all feel, the rooms were bright, clean and the teachers were friendly.

  4. Small world- my daughter is at the same KinderCare as Quinn and I think they’ve even been in the same class at times, though Q is a bit older than she is. I’ve seen you and Mal at pick up but it seems weird to say, “hey stranger! I read your blog!” But anyways, I love KinderCare too. We started there 4 years ago with our oldest and it’s only gotten better.

  5. We had nannies for the first 2 years- just 12 hours a week ski could have some me time. We are heading off to a preschool 3 mornings a week next year and walkability to our house was a huge factor. So happy we got the last spot- preschool waitlists in Boston are totally insane! :O

  6. We live in Florida and my babe has been going to Kindercare since she was 11 weeks old! I agree with all your sentiments. The director and staff at my Kindercare are just amazing. I am a school counselor and am off over the summers. I usually pull my girl for the summer from school but have decided to put her back in 2 days a week. Today was her first day back. When I went to take her out of her carseat and told her we were going to school, she said “Yay!!!!’ Glad I am not the only mama who loves Kindercare!

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