Q&A: Changing daycare providers

I'm out of the city today, so if anyone signs up for More Moxie today or tomorrow, you won't get the first assignment until I get back early Friday morning, but you will get it!

Libby writes:

"My son is 13 months old, and he's beenat the same in-home daycare since he was 6 months old (which is when I
went back to work).  He does very well there, and the babysitter is
a sweet, sweet mom of 3 other kids.  But there were some disadvantages
that made us decide that we should move him.  One is that it is really
out of my way to go to her house.  I lose about 80 mins a day driving
him to and from daycare, and my husband can never help with the drop off
and pickup.  She watches some neighborhood kids after school, and
we are not comfortable with the # of kids she is watching during those
hours.  She also has a 'special needs' son, who is becoming more of
a handful the older he gets.  And, overall my husband has never been
comfortable with him there.  He prefers the structure and organization
of a daycare center.  So we made the decision to move him in 2 months
to a really good daycare center closer to home.  

I've been a wreck ever since.  I
feel like I broke up with her, and I've been crying for 2 days.  I
know she really cares about my son, and it breaks my heart to move him.
 And I know that she really needs the money, so I feel like I'm causing
her stress – which I know shouldn't be my concern, but I can't help it.
 This is my first child, and I feel so torn up about taking him away
from the only caregiver he has known besides us.  I truly believe
that moving him is the right decision in the long run – my gut tells me
it's time for a change.  But, I never expected all the tears over
this transition.  I'm sure people have survived this type of move
before – am I crazy for being so broken up over this? "

You are sooooo not crazy for being broken up over this. Childcare is super-important. If you're not happy with your child's care it affects your whole life. And making a major change like this is stressful for everyone.

But it sounds like you've thought it through from all the angles, and moving is the right decision for you. This is probably a good age–15-month-olds tend to be very social, and he'll adapt quickly.

I hope she can find someone else to fill your son's spot to keep up her income. Even though you know it shouldn't be your first concern, it still makes you feel bad.

My kids' amazing nanny left on Thursday, so we're going through some grieving here, too. It hurts, to know that things will be different for your child and that they'll miss someone who loves them. And you'll miss her, too, because she shared your son with you.

Does anyone have any tips to help Libby with this? I'm not worried that her son will have trouble transitioning, but it sounds like she could use some words of encouragement.

0 thoughts on “Q&A: Changing daycare providers”

  1. Every time I have had to transition my kids from a childcare situation, or even educational, I have a hard time. I get very attached to people who love my kids. My oldest was in daycare from 6 months-15 months. When we moved, both me and her main teacher were in big time tears. My husband (and the baby) thought we were NUTS. I also felt better giving the teacher and the center nice gifts. But what helps me now is knowing that as hard as that first one was, a month later it was fine. Although, to be honest, my husband suggested considering different preschools (than the one we’ve used for the last 5 years with consecutive kids), and I did not want to even go there. There is just something special about people who care about our kids. You are not crazy.

  2. We moved a kid to a better situation, and yeah, it was hard. It helps to know that what you’re doing is the right thing for your family. Other things that helped: Telling our providers (it was a center) why we were leaving, to the extent that it wasn’t their fault: “We love you, but we’re frustrated by [the national daycare management company].” “We think [Lord High Introvert] would do better in a Montessori setting.”So “The commute is cutting into our time as a family” “We want a more structured setting as we ease toward preschool years” “We want him to be around more children his own age” might work for Libby.
    We also gave big fat gift cards to our providers when we left. Not sure if you can swing a parting bonus to your provider, but if you can . . .

  3. As a SAHM, I have no personal experience with this, but @Libby, (and I know you know this intellectually) you did the right thing FOR YOUR SON. Your are not responsible for your previous provider’s feelings, her income or her adjustment to not haveing your child around. You are responsible for YOUR CHILD ONLY. You did the right thing for HIM, which is FAR more important than being nice to / friends with / a customer of your previous provider. She will get over it — she runs a business and it’s happened before, I’m certain. Let her go and focus on the happiness of the new center!Good job making a tough decision that’s right for your kid. That’s what great moms do!!

  4. I understand your frustrations and we’re in the same situation ourselves. We want to move our daughter but I fear that the in home provider will take it hard and I feel bad for making her lose income. And our provider is really close! I dread doing this but I know it is going to be better for our daughter in the long run. Right now provider is watching 5 kids between 1 and 3 and has some after school kids some days. It makes me really nervous at times.I hope it helps to know that you aren’t crazy to be upset about this! Change is hard, but I bet you find your son adjusts better than you do! Which will then help you adjust. Like so many things, the child often manages the change better than the parents!
    What matters most is that you are doing the right thing for your son! And there is no reason why you can’t visit your in home provider every so often to say hello and see that everyone is okay. Good luck!

  5. Just went through the exact same thing. Couldn’t understand (okay, I guess I could) why I was so, so upset. Didn’t sleep for two weeks. In the end, what totally helped me was to do what one of the other posters had done. I had a long talk with the caregiver we were leaving. It/she made me feel so much better. She is super professional and first we talked about my boys (twins) and she reassured me how they would be fine. Then we talked about me and basically validated my feelings. Plus, as she said, ‘the boys will be fine. But you have to be fine. They have to know you feel fine.’ On the other hand, she mentioned to talk to my boys (they’re 17 months), and explain that mommy is stressed right now about this, but it’s NORMAL. Because they feel all this. Hope this helps. But I would really recommend catching your caregiver when you can have at least a nice uninterrupted 15 min. conversation.

  6. No real tips here from me, just another data point to say that you’re not crazy to be emotionally upset about this. We had J in daycare at a center from 11-14 months, and then moved him to a different center (closer to our house, better programs) when a spot opened up. His last day there was quite a teary affair for both me and the lead teacher in the room, and he’d only been there a few months! (And it was a big center, nothing like an in-home daycare.)But I also want to reiterate what MrsHaley said above: you have to do the right thing for your son, regardless of your concerns about the the provider. She’s a professional; this has undoubtedly happened to her before and it will happen again. It’s nothing personal, and you can lean on the “less driving, more family time” excuse as much as you want. If it helps, remind yourself that you’re opening up a spot in her program for some other family who might need it!

  7. We moved from a terrific family-like center to a national chain (due to a move to a new town) when my daughter was 13 months and it was HARD – more for me then her. He had the same teacher for the entire year she was at the first place (the teacher was an occasional evening babysitter) and I was very attached and comfortable leaving M with her. I wrote the teacher and the owner of the center letters of appreciation/recommendation and gave the teacher a nice gift when we moved. We still send cards with updates a couple of times a year.The national chain had great teachers but horrible management [sporadic schedules for the teachers, moving teachers from room to room without notice to parents & some pay/benefit issues], and we suffered through it for a while until our girl was old enough to move to another center we had visited and LOVED but only took kids 18-months and older. We notified the national chain about 2 months before we transitioned our daughter to the new place and wrote letters to the regional manager and the national chain headquarters why we were leaving (them, not the teachers). We also talked to her teacher to make it very clear it was the management and not her. We then gave her letters of appreciation/recommendation & a gift (and the awesome woman gave M a going-away party and bought her a cool backpack with her own money). This awesome teacher also, without being asked, wrote a detailed letter to the new center about M and her habits which made the transition much easier (although it made it very hard for us to leave her class). She still baby-sits for us on a regular basis, which is a nice way for her to keep up with M.
    So, she’s almost 3 and has had 2 transitions – one at 13 months and another at 22 months. Barring another move to a new city I hope this is it until Kindergarten. Both were harder on me then her but it helped to know in my gut we were doing the right thing for our girl and also to keep in touch with the old teacher.

  8. My daughter went to the same daycare center from 4-20 months. It was near my workplace, but far from home, and after over one year of commuting with her, I was done. Like you, I was glad to have my husband be able to help more with daycare stuff, but also was unprepared for how sad I would be in the final weeks/days.It helped for me to have a long chat with her teacher (this was to be scheduled anyway as some kind of annual parent/teacher meeting) about my daughter, her likes and dislikes, the teacher’s deeper understanding of her emerging personality. I took notes and still look back on them with amazement–many of my daughter’s interests have changed (she’s three now), but some of the teacher’s other comments are still spot on.
    As I’m a crafty person, I made something for the classroom and gave gifts to the teachers as well. We also took a bunch of photos of my daughter, the teacher and friends.
    About six months later we ended up moving away from the area so before we left, I stopped in at the center to say goodbye. This was weird–great for my sense of closure, but really strange to see that my daughter had already lost all of her memories of the place.

  9. We’ve had a lot of turnover in child care since my son was born (14 months), due to our gypsy lifestyle (outside of our control), rather than a problem with any babysitter. In fact, we’ve had four sitters for him now, including my mom. We’ve also bounced back and forth between houses, and I’ve gone from not working to working to not working. I know every child reacts differently, but my son has done beautifully with all the changes. Every time we find a new sitter/ child care situation, I have a panic attack, but he’s always fine.I think what might help *you* to feel better is to know that your child will be okay, that you’re making the best decision for your whole family, and within a week, your son will be adjusted to the new situation. Once you see him adjusted and happy, and feel the convenience of the new situation for yourself and your husband, you will know you did the right thing, and the feelings that you have now will fade (I’m guessing). Transitions are hard; sometimes they’re hard for our children, sometimes for us. In my experience, the thing that helped us in our transitions was always always maintaining his schedule. So no matter where we are or who is watching him, he has the same routine, always.

  10. We did the exact same thing – our son was at an in-home day care from 4 months to 15 months. I spent an extra hour and a half in the car and went way out of my way to take him there. When it was clear he needed a little more structure, we moved him to a child care center. I too felt guilty for moving him, but in the end, I was so relieved I did it. It took a few weeks of adjusting, but soon he was happy and learning so much that I knew I had made the right choice. Add that to the fact that we gained more family time as a result of less driving (and my husband could do the dropping off – yay), and we were better off as a result. I am sorry you feel like you’re “breaking up with” your previous provider, but rest assured this too shall pass.It’s terrible how much guilt we pile on ourselves as mommies, huh??? (I’m just so thankful for the Moxie community members for serving as sounding boards when we need help… which is why I’m emailing Moxie right now to ask for help from y’all on my own stinky situation at home!)

  11. Perhaps writing your current caregiver a really great reference would make you feel better about that side of things?

  12. I think your feelings are completely logical and justified. Change is difficult anyway, and on top of that, this is someone who helped care for your child from an early age. I think as parents, we often develop very strong emotional ties to those who helped care for our child during infancy, whether those people were babysitters or pediatricians.Your feelings of loss may stay with you for awhile, and that’s okay. BUT, it also sounds like you’re doing what’s best for your child. And, if your sitter has been in the business for awhile, she has dealt with the situation before and hopefully handles these transitions professionally, without taking them personally.
    Is there a special gift that you could give her to show her how much she has meant to you? Or maybe just a really nice note? Perhaps you’d like to make a gift in her honor to a local charity? Showing her how special she is to you may help you gain some closure.

  13. Thanks for the kind words of advice. Good to know we will all survive. I think it will work out in the long run – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I get attached to the people who care for my son!

  14. Libby, I found the move from one daycare situation (in-home, around the same age as your son) to another (center, within walking distance from our house) incredibly stressful. But, unlike your situation, we were having real philosophical differences with our in-home sitter.Even so, it was difficult to leave there and start our son at the new center. He has difficulty with transitions, but I’m sure that we fretted about it far more than he did.
    Change is freakin’ hard!!

  15. I find it hard every time my daughter moves ROOMS at the same day care center, so I can certainly see why changing day cares would be stressful. What helps me is to write a nice thank you card with a gift card in it for the teachers she is leaving. And we use the day care teachers for babysitting sometimes, so we often arrange a babysitting date for after the change. I pretend these things are to help my daughter adjust, but really, she has adjusted just fine to all the moves. I guess I should admit that it helps me adjust.For what its worth, I think some of my angst about the moves is related to the fact that they are concrete evidence that my daughter is growing up.

  16. I keep thinking about the part of the OP’s question where she said: “Overall my husband has never been comfortable with him there.” Wow… While I don’t know exactly what that means for the OP, I do know that if my DH expressed that kind of concern, we’d be finding a new child care provider ASAP. It’s like a bell that cannot be un-rung and I’d always be wondering. I offer this take on it as part of the rationale for why I think the OP has made the right gut-level decision despite her tears.It is normal to feel a sense of loss about such an important change. There is something special about “first times” in life in general, and if this babysitter was the first person the OP left her little baby with during the day then that symbolically means something. So I say mourn the loss. It’s ok to feel sad. But know that you made the right call.
    I also echo @SydneyGirl’s suggestion to provide a stellar reference. You know, if I were looking on Craig’s List for childcare and saw an ad placed on behalf of a great babysitter by a family who needed new care closer to home, I would be all over that!

  17. I could have written this post a few months ago. We switched my son at 16 months from the daycare he had been in since he was 6 months. He’s now in a great center closer to home.I stressed and felt sad and guilty about the transition but he did absolutely fine. And his caregiver filled his spot in less than a week. Childcare is odd in that it is such an intimate relationship but is first and foremost a business arrangement. Your caregiver understands that. Just give her as much notice as is required in your contract (ours was 1 month) and you have nothing to worry about.
    You will be amazed how much more time you have once you are spending less time in the car. Not to mention that all that driving is dangerous and expensive. The first couple of weeks might be rough but he’s going to do just fine and so are you.

  18. I am living this situation right now. My 2 1/2 year old has been with an in-home provider since birth and we are doing a trial run at a preschool “camp” right now in the hopes that we can send him to the preschool in the fall. His first week in the new setting went great and then oddly enough he has been crying when I leave him this week. It may be a delayed reaction to the change and I hope it will be short-lived.We have major philisophical differences with the home provider, and concern over the number of children there. We also have concern about our child’s interactions with one of her children who is special needs. I’m not sure why I’ve been feeling guilty about leaving her since I know it’s for the best. Good to know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

  19. I hate change. Don’t do well with it but I will just pipe in to say that fact that you are so sad to leave the current day care situation means that you picked a great place for your son for the time period he was there.Also, I know how I feel about change and while you know deep down that the current place isn’t the right fit anymore at least it is a known entity so it is natural to be reluctant to leave it. The new place will be great and while this part of the situation isn’t comfortable as others mentioned in about 1 month you won’t be able to imagine anything else than the new place.
    Good luck. You sound like a great mom and a very caring person.

  20. I think it makes sense that Libby is so stressed over the transition: we have to love the people who love our children; otherwise, we’d never be able to leave our children with them. We have to trust them and because we share our children with them, we share ourselves with them. So, for Libby to say she feels like she’s breaking up? Makes perfect sense to me.I agree with a previous commenter that she should give herself permission to mourn the loss and I agree with others that in a few weeks, things will feel much different.
    Best of luck!

  21. My daughter had to say good-bye to two caregivers, once at 7 months old and once at 13 months. The first time the in-home provider broke up with us. In a letter. That she didn’t even hand to us but put in our child’s diaper bag. I can’t tell you how devastating it was for us, brand new parents, to be dumped like that (she didn’t want to keep my daughter because we asked too many questions which made her feel we didn’t trust her). The second time the state shut down the (again, highly recommended and experienced in-home) day care provider due to an incident with her 15 year old son that wasn’t related to the daycare. Both times things ended very abruptly and it made it so hard for me to process the loss of such a big part of my child’s life. I know my two situations are totally different from @Libby’s situation, I’m just sharing them because I feel that sitting down and talking with the other party is extremely important and as is giving proper notice and transition time. Like others have said- these people have loved and nurtured your son, of course it’s going to be emotional to change that part of his life, regardless of the circumstances.And also like others said- it almost always ends up being harder on the parent than it is on the child. Good luck!

  22. I feel that changes like this are often more difficult for the parent than for the child.Children are so resilient.
    If you feel certain (and it sounds like you are) that you made the best choice, then just give it some time to settle in.
    Once your child (and you) have transitioned–you will feel more confident in your decision. Not to mention the time you gain with your child by not having to drive 80 extra minute!s

  23. Wow. I have been going through this myself. Moving my daughter from a home based situation far away to a nearby non-profit daycare. We start the new place next week. I am really torn up about it. Full of anxiety and worried about hurting the feelings of our former provider. So thanks once again Moxie and everyone else here for answering my questions without me even writing them.

  24. I recently “broke up” with a caregiver I had only used for one month and a half, for a few hours a week, and still I felt a weirdly high level of stress and guilt about doing so. Given that there was really no rational basis for this, since the relationship had been so short, I came up with some theories about what all this emotion was about. I think there’s a psychological need we have as mothers to believe that the caregiver is deeply attached to our child, almost like a mother would be, and thus we feel more guilt about breaking that bond than is probably justifiable in some situations. In my situation at least, I am pretty confident that I felt worse for my caregiver than the caregiver felt for herself. Also, given the intimacy of the childcare relationship, and the need to believe that there are real emotions there, not just commercial relationships, it seems somehow inappropriate and insulting to treat it like a commercial relationship, thus the guilt. Again, in my situation at least, I think that feeling didn’t have a lot of rational basis, but I think that is part of why I felt so bad, even though by any objective measure the caregiver had done quite well for herself, as I had prepaid for a month I wasn’t going to use and this is a neighborhood with high demand for child care. Her services won’t go wanting. But I still am putting off arranging a time to pick up my daughter’s things, because of this weirdly intense guilt. Interesting to see it’s universal.

  25. Transitions are always hard, even when you’re transitioning to something better. That’s true in every situation. Be easy with yourself — it sounds like you’ve made a strong decision.

  26. Incredible montag of images, as regular. Who wouldn’t be commencing to obtain while in the mood for fall along with the amazing climate here these days?!Thanks as usually for that inspiration.

  27. I am going thru a very similar situation at this time. My daughter has been with her home-day- care provider since she was 20 months old. Now she is 3 1/2. I was extremely happy with the day care provider. I thought my daughter would stay there until she was ready for Kindergarten. Most of the children there were between the ages of 2-5, which was fine with me. About a month ago I found that that the day care provider accepted a 3 month old infant. I was devastated. Thinking how she will be able to teach my daughter and the other toddlers while taking care of an infant. She usually has about 5-6 children at a time. After two weeks I made the decision to move my daughter to a place where she will be with her own age group. This decision has been so very difficult. I feel horrible; I cannot stop thinking about it. My daughter has started her new school and she loves it. But I feel so guilty. I felt like the woman was my family member. I truly had a great relationship with her. I have feeling for her, isn’t that little strange? I hope this guilt will go away soon. I find myself crying about this almost every day. I gave her a very nice Christmas gift, also a nice good- bye gift. I wrote a thoughtful note to her and great letter of recommendation. What makes matters worse is that I could not bear to tell her that my daughter will start new school. I did not want to hurt her feelings at all. So now I’m thorn even more for not telling her the truth. My plan is to tell her in a month or two, telling her that I want my daughter to be with the same age group. I really hate to hurt her feelings. She has been nothing but great to me and my family. I am pretty upset and feeling guilty about this situation. Upset about her taking the infant in, upset about taking my daughter out, upset about lying to this person.

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