Every season has a reason.

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Change.

Constant and continuous. I can’t explain how I feel except to say there is constant change in our lives.

We decided that the existing home daycare was not working because the lady is done at 5 pm. No exceptions. So I returned to my maddening search to find another suitable environment for my two little girls. Found another home daycare but this one has an ECE who is strict and all about routine. Far cry from where they came from- namely an amazingly loving lady who allowed for their personality to emerge and for them to set the pace of when they sleep and when they play. So we are transitioning and set to start tomorrow.

We were supposed to hire a live-in nanny. With our work hours (after-school care), it made sense. We found one. She was great. We gave our three weeks’ notice to their daycare and the same day in the evening I was texted by the nanny… she received another opportunity.

Wasn’t meant to be I guess.

I have accepted a small short-term assignment with my old work. We own two businesses and on top of it all, I am itching to have another baby. WHAT? I know, right. Well, my thinking is, if you are on a ride for your life, might as well do what you have to do so you don’t regret doing it- get me?

I have not blogged in ages and I miss it. I will have to do this again because it helps me verbalize my thoughts. I am sure other families out there are equally busy and I know that I am grateful for every millisecond of my life. I think I just need to do one thing routinely so that it can counterbalance the constant shift in circumstance and endless need for decisions.

I will start to exercise. I already pray incessantly. I will do something different that is both calming and healthy. I will give my man a hug. Hold my children a little tighter. I will do all these things…

…right after my nap.

Until next time,

Smartignani

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Perks of Parenting

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Here is the thing. The truth is being a parent is not all that bad. There is a silver lining to the sleepless nights, the irritating whining, the endless crying, the anxiety, the nasty poops and the interminable temper tantrums. I will not even mention the incessant screaming, embarrassing sounds and scents or the countless hours spent coaxing, rubbing, carrying, bouncing, singing, humming, gurgling, rasberrying, silly face making to appease/please/calm/restore/distract/heal/put to sleep/make’em laugh/discipline/show them you love them.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the silver lining. Ok. So here is a list of some silly things you get to do as a parent that you could not do before (at least in public):

1) Your cartoon movie collection has now exponentially increased and surprisingly you stocked it with some classic movies that we all know junior will not even understand yet (Transformers? Voltron? Pink Panther? Felix the Cat? really??)

2) You have come to terms with the difference between what “messy” looked like before you had kids and now. A toy here or there and a book lying around your nice living room (where you greet guests) is not messy at all. As opposed to pre-children when you would dust, clean, mop and vacuum. Now we are lucky if we don’t trip over the tiny wind up car left on the floor by the stairs… there it is, I was looking for you car.

3) You realize now that naps are not a luxury but a necessity…for you. Not the kids.

4) Farting in public is so much easier now that you can blame it on the children!

5) Spit-up does not smell very bad after a couple of hours. It has a natural baby-je-ne-se-quoi scent to it that makes people lean in closer and nuzzle you.

6) Baby powder ain’t just for kids… fun fun fun for the whole family! We find remnants of that stuff in every orifice of the house afterwards!

7)  You don’t really need to hang out with anyone you don’t want to hang out with for extended periods of time because junior is going to get hungry/tired/manic/restless/sleepy/gassy/thirsty/sick… you decide on the excuse because we all know that is exactly what it is.

8) You realize that your true friends are the ones who will love you and your kids even through the stage of TEETHING when your child turns into Dr. Jekyll.

9) Moms, you look at yourselves in the mirror and feel good about how thin you are compared to when you were pregnant… the little hanging fold of skin is superficial. Bio Oil makes it disappear, trust Dr. Oz!

10) You never appreciated being alone with your spouse/friends more than when you can drop the kids off at the grandparents/baby-sitters and go out finally… there is an adrenaline rush that occurs accompanied by feelings of euphoria for the temporary freedom. Seriously though, you love your kids but everyone needs a little break dude.

11) You have an excuse to get to Church a little late… and leave a little early… and eat those yummy sandwiches first.

12) You develop a new appreciation for left-over, pre-digested food and candy and juices of all kind. Everywhere you go, you seem to be finishing your child’s plate/drink/sandwich

13) You have made up the words to at least three nursery rhymes/Christmas Carols/Songs/Hymns… like seriously… who knows all the words to Frosty the Snowman?

14) You are getting to be a master at skipping pages in a long storybook without your child noticing…

15) you are memorizing by heart all the words to Dr. Seuss books

16) You are definitely checking the time every 15 minutes when you get close to bed-time and you are secretly planning what you will do in the two hours from 8 pm to 10 pm after the kids sleep. So many exciting things to do, shall I knit or take a bath or cook tomorrow’s meal or catch up on the last episode of Big Bang or just, oh look its already 10 pm and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

17) You most likely have your phone ringers off after a certain time as to not awake the kids so you really don’t talk on the phone much.

18) You recognize now how vital daycare is…no matter the cost… we will stop eating if it means 8 hours of peace and quiet!

19) You find yourself wondering the weirdest things before you go to sleep like why is the alphabet song is the same tune as twinkle, twinkle little star and who invented Sophie the Giraffe and why on earth you didn’t…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

20) After a crappy day doing whatever it is you do, NOTHING and I mean NOTHING is better than getting a huge, sloppy, wet kiss from your kids or a genuine smile from your infant.

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If that’s not the silver lining, I don’t know what is!!

Until next time,

Smartignani

Choosing a Daycare- helpful advice for residents in Ontario, Canada

imagesI graduated from Early Childhood Education and I went on to Teacher’s College. I worked in several different daycares and since then, I have accumulated some knowledge in this area. So here is my list to help you when searching for the right place to leave your child.

Before I begin, I want to remind you that this is a very serious decision and it is often underscored or underestimated. Just think you are leaving your child at this other place for majority of the day. The daycare will be the main caregiver because their hours will outlast yours. So when you decide to hand your child over, you must know that this is a commitment of at least three years. Think of all the changes that take place in our life cycle between the ages of one and three; everything from potty training to emergence of self and cognitive pre-speech development. Most parents need to start thinking about childcare even before the child turns three months. For the really good places, there is usually at least one year waiting list. Start early in your research because this is one of the most important decisions that will affect your child’s earliest development and shape their formative years.

I am splitting this article in three distinct sections: Preparation, Processes and Payments.

 Section 1: Preparation

You will undoubtedly do a considerable amount of research in order to find the right daycare. Equip yourself with basic knowledge about what you are looking for and educate yourself with questions to further decipher whether it is a good fit. Ask yourself:

1)      Will I need full-time or part-time care?

2)       Do I want to send my baby or babies to someone’s home instead of a big centre?

3)       Do I need to see routines and activity plans?

4)      Am I looking for a formal setting with a licensed outdoor/indoor space?

5)       Is it more important for the daycare to be close to my home or work grandparent’s home?

6)      Is it important that the daycare has insurance coverage?

 Section 2: Processes

Please know that there are laws that govern childcare but they are not as extensive as the laws that govern the public school system. These laws are encapsulated in the Day Nursery Act (DNA) and you can access all the minimal conditions for licensing online. Inspectors ONLY inspect daycares that apply for licenses through the government. There are many daycares operating without a license and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Just like everything else, there are positives and negatives to a home daycare versus a formal childcare centres. However, the main three differences are the ratio of caregivers to children, the price and obviously the environment. I will split the next few questions you should ask while touring a potential childcare in two- Formal versus Informal (home daycares).

 Formal Childcare Centre:

1)      Are all the caregivers Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECE)?

2)      Is your outdoor space inspected annually or every 5 years?

3)      How often do you sanitize toys? (should be at least four times a week in infant room and twice a week in toddler room)

 Informal Daycare:

1)      What is your ratio? (Should be one adult to five full-time children- if there are two adults there should STILL only be five children because laws stipulate that it is the ratio set for the SPACE not the number of caregivers, many use this as a loophole but it really is not meant to be misinterpreted)

2)      Is there a separate dedicated space for food preparation? Naps? Toilet training? Outdoor play? Indoor play?

3)      What is the qualification of the caregiver?

4)      What happens when they are sick and unable to care for your child?

5)      Do they allow the children to watch TV? (that should be a “no no”)

6)      Do they accept cash discounts? Offer receipts?

*Please note that childcare payments are tax deductible.  (Do your math, because discounts gained on cash payments may not outweigh the benefit of the tax deduction)

All Daycares (observations and questions):

1)      What is their stance on discipline? On Soothers?  On Christian Holidays like Christmas and Easter? (You will need to continue whatever they teach at daycare to maintain consistency and ensure optimal results so you better be on board)

2)      How do they potty train the children? (In the potty or on the toilet or both)

3)      Do they take the kids outside every day? When do they NOT go outside? (Research shows that infants and toddlers should NOT be outside for longer than 15 minutes at a time in below zero weather. It is not good for their tiny frames no matter how covered up they are!)

4)      Are they able to keep a daily journal to keep you apprised of bowel movements, eating patterns, general behaviour and newly acquired skills and developmental milestones?

5)      Are they able to take photos throughout the day for you so you can keep them for memories?

6)      Can you log in and access the childcare surveillance equipment to “check-up” on your child? (I have mixed feelings about this because if you can log-in, imagine all the sick hackers out there that can also hijack the system and watch your child).

7)      How do they reinforce self-esteem and confidence? How do they teach children to be independent without being too detached?

8)      How do they teach children speech? Reading? Writing? Cognition? Self-feeding? Self-dressing?

9)      Is the space neat, age-appropriate, stimulating? Are there clear sightlines for the caregivers to see the children at all times?

10)   What are the policies on Disease control? Lice and other Contagions?

Payment:

1)      Always get a sibling discount if you have more than one child. What is the discount if you pay upfront for the entire year?

2)      Always ask how much it will cost if your child is unable to attend or is sick or has appointments? How much is it if you are late to pick up? Which stat holidays do they open/close? Will you pay if you book a vacation?

3)      Read the contract carefully, like anything else, this is a major investment but instead of money on the line, it is your own precious flesh and blood.

Just so you know, home daycares range from $750 to $1000 per month while formal childcare centres range from $1000 to $1500 a month for infants – be weary of the overly expensive centres that have a “unique” rationale for being too expensive. Honestly, not worth your time because children learn fast and more if the caregiver is loving and attentive than if the daycare is made of gold and gimmicks.

E-mail me if you have questions I have not covered – sylviamartignani@gmail.com

Until next time,

@Smartignani

 


Stop the madness!

I blinked and before you know it my little baby is turning ONE! What?! Whoa!

And…and…and…I am back to work full-time while she gets dropped off by daddy to daycare- I know right. INSANE!

We also took off for 11 days to Europe and left here with family (see earlier blog for context). How was it you ask? AWFUL!

Ok. I really loved being with my hubby and I love Europe but the constant feeling of melancholy and sadness stemming from missing her was unbearable. Half way through the cruise I felt a sudden and strange urge to abandon ship and swim across the Mediterranean to the sandy, polluted shores of Lake Ontario just to see and hold my baby girl. It was INSANE how much I missed her. I missed her scent, her voice, her expressions, her movements, her eyes, her smile, her drool, her farts and even poopy diapers. I missed it all. I kept texting home to see if she learned to walk or talk or giggle or stand unassisted. I was like a mad woman and it must have seemed to my family as if I don’t trust them but in truth, I was just feeling God awful for leaving. So how was my trip? How about you answer that!

I got back and I imagined a reunion with Chariot of fire playing in the background, slow mo running towards each other (well she crawls, I run) and she is finally saying “mama” and meaning me (she calls everything mama some days). Reality: She was napping. I waited by her crib. She opened her eyes. Smiled and tried to go back to sleep. I carried her out of the crib and kissed her until she started screaming. My husband gave her hugs and kisses as well. We go downstairs and I could swear she crawled from me to him and back almost 50 times. Laughing each way. It was better than I imagined. Magical. Almost made me want to leave her again just to relive it- almost but not quite!

Back to the madness happening right now. She still only has two teeth. It’s almost like she just got lazy and decided two were enough. She speed crawls as if she’s in an Olympic event except my daughter likes to produce extremely unfeminine grunting noises as she moves. So attractive. She also says uh-oh like it’s nobody’s business. She drops something “Uh-oh”, she is about to drop something “uh-oh”, she loses a toy “uh-oh”, she looks at her daddy’s laptop and “uh-oh”. The other day she fell over as she was trying to stand and… you guessed it- “Uh-oh”. So cute! I love it.

I am missing out on her development because I went back to work and I hate it. My husband wakes up in the morning and feeds her breakfast then takes her to daycare. He wrote me an e-mail telling me that she learned to no uh-uh (no) through pursed lips when he tried to feed her an unfavourable cereal. That made me laugh and cry. I laughed because I could just see her trying to push daddy’s buttons and I cried because I wasn’t there taking 15 million photos and a video as well. I know that going back to work was a necessary decision and that most likely I will try for another child and go on mat leave again but this sucks.

High points: I enjoy waking up in the morning and wearing my grown-up clothes with real accessories and dangly earrings and everything! I even wear perfume and heels! Dude…how cool is that?

Low point: I really envy the daycare provider for Julia because she gets to do the full-time job I desperately vie for!

So the verdict: live another day ad enjoy the remaining hours of the day with my baby girl after I pick her up from daycare. Two points here: one, I LOVE the smile on her face when she sees me and two, she makes it so much fun to leave work because I really look forward to picking her up.

I love my co-workers and they have been so sweet and caring. They each sense my struggle to be back at work. They ask if I am ok and they ask me about Julia. It’s like I’m a recovering addict and they’re trying to support me in quitting the habit. I guess in a way I am addicted to her. I am just glad that she is content and well-cared for while I contribute to society!

Next blog– a one year old’s birthday party (dream or disaster) STAY TUNED!

By the way, Nice in France- GORGEOUS! I really hope we go there again one day to vacation and not just as a port of call!

Good night,

SMartignani

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