By: Jenna Stewart
The Daycare Dilemma 

Daycare is basically college for children under the age of five. The cost will make you want to (die) cry and the prep work is so time consuming that it could function as a full-time job.  My mind is literally blown every day when I make it through drop-off and get to my desk on time. And by on time, I mean give or take 10 minutes, because let’s be real here. It is a huge accomplishment. We all deserve a medal… or wine…. I usually reward myself with coffee.  A lot of coffee, and sometimes, ok all of the time, a bagel. This baby weight is here to stay, I should just get used to it.

A typical (HA) morning in our house and probably every house across the country with working parents, a toddler, baby, and small dog (ok, the dog is optional, but we have one) goes likes this.

My little 6-month bundle of poop sweet, sweet, joy wakes up at 5:30AM hangry. No that is not a typo; he is literally hungry and oh so angry that he has not already been placed on my boob. It’s like he forgot that he already ate at 1:30, 3:45 and 4:30AM …I feed him quickly and manage to quiet him down long enough to take a quick shower. Most of the time I don’t even have time to wash my hair. Parents should come to terms with the fact that their children will bathe more frequently than they do. Dry shampoo, second to Spanx, is the best investment I’ve ever made. Get some. Now.

By 6:15AM I am downstairs preparing bottles and lunch for Riley. The requirements provided by daycare make me feel like I am prepping lunch for the president, not my toddler, who literally would eat yogurt for every meal.

This comes directly from our handbook: Parents are expected to provide a healthy lunch and two snacks per day. These should be appropriate portions that are adequate and nutritious. Please pack 7-8 food choices per day.

Wait. I thought I only had to pack two snacks? Is she having six things for lunch?  My child’s lunchbox could literally feed an entire classroom and sometimes I’m pretty sure it does. This is what went into the lunchbox today:


  • A yogurt (duh)
  • Apple sauce pouch
  • Pizza (two slices)
  • Raisins
  • Nut clusters (cashew, almonds, and pumpkin seeds- NO PEANUTS ALLOWED)
  • Blackberries
  • Banana
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Cheese stick
  • Cheese and crackers (the kid likes cheese, just like her momma)
  • A cookie (just one, we’re trying to be nutritious remember)
  • And a fruit snack (Yes, I am the mom that gives fruit snacks, and no they aren’t organic)

What did I have for lunch today? Coffee. Oh, and soup from the bakery next door. Who has time to pack more than one lunch? Not me. I bet all of the daycare teachers are laughing at us as they snack on leftovers from the kids’ lunches in the break room.  I mean, just imagine the choices they have. It’s probably similar to an all you can eat buffet. A free one!

Bottle prep mostly happens at night. You have to rinse and sterilize each piece. I’m not going to lie, it sucks. Morning prep is painless, all that is left is to fill the appropriate amount of bottles and relabel anything that has disappeared during the cleaning process. If you want to save yourself five minutes, you can buy these awesome bottle labels.  They save time and sanity when your sharpie dies or suddenly disappears from the junk drawer.

Other daycare items that need to be packed and kept stocked on a regular basis: diapers, swim diapers, wipes, sheets, blankets, pacifiers, and clean clothes. If your kid(s) are anything like mine, you are likely getting plastic grocery bags filled with clothes covered in poop and urine on a daily basis. Unless you want them to be labeled as the smelly kid, or walk around half naked for the remainder of the day, pack extras. Lots of extras.

6:45-7:45AM is a blur of activity that includes Riley kicking her crib when she is ready to get up, breakfast, diapering of both kids, struggling to get them into clothes, jackets, shoes, and car seats. In the process, bodily fluids (spit-up, poop, pee, or snot) usually end up on my clothes, leaving me no choice but to go upstairs and change. Because honestly, who wants to look at someone with shit on their shirt during an office meeting? You’re welcome.

By the time we make it into the car between 8:00 and 8:15AM (8:30 on bad days), I’ve usually slammed my funny bone into at least one baby gate and been seriously tempted to throw everything I’m carrying down the stairs, with the exception of the baby of course. Getting everyone and everything into the car is a win. But it is just the battle, not the war.

Our car ride can be my favorite time of day. Both kids are strapped in one place and I can relax. On good mornings we sing songs and Riley makes Bode giggle in the back seat. On bad mornings, Riley screams the whole way that she wants to watch Elmo and continuously tells me that she doesn’t like this car, school, or me. Singing “This Old Man” for the millionth time sounds really appealing on those particular days.

Once the kids are both settled in their classrooms, cubbies filled with necessities, lunches and bottles put in their places and coats hung on hooks, I make my way back to the car. I feel 100 pounds lighter (wishful thinking), completely exhausted, and in desperate need of a drink. But, it’s only 8:45AM, so, coffee will do.

PS. Thank you to the amazing people who take care of my sweet cherubs. Knowing they are happy and safe all day, while I’m at work, is an amazing feeling.