Between COVID And Kids Being Kids, How Much Care Will Be In My Daycare?
By Vanessa Magic
PHOTO © KookkaiFoto/Twenty20
Jun 29, 2020
I have so many questions about my son’s care during COVID-19.
I received the email from my daycare that they’ll be taking the necessary steps to reopen, but I'm finding it hard to know whether sending my son back to daycare is the right thing to do. I live in Ontario and with no clear direction from the government, it feels like they think childcare is just a business.
My son’s well-being shouldn’t be handled with the same approach as a hair salon or food truck. My son is at daycare looking for support and guidance, and how can I expect him to have it if my daycare doesn’t either.
This young mom's partner is an essential worker, and now she's pregnant again after recently miscarrying. Read her story here.
Will he have what he needs? Will the teachers have what they need? Will it be safe? I know my daycare is trying to come up with answers, but it’s a big job trying to ease the worries of so many parents. Parents like me, who have now become full-time caregivers, teachers and playmates. And beyond my increased parental duties, I am also supposed to have enough energy to work, connect with my husband and friends, exercise and deal with the added anxieties of the ongoing global pandemic and the increased awareness of racism.
"It seems like an unreal expectation that now [my son’s daycare teachers] will also be tasked with constant cleaning, disinfecting, learning new safety protocols and keeping their personal protection equipment unscathed by tiny sticky hands."
I feel concerned about the amount of added stress that will be put on my son’s daycare teachers. They already do so much for him — they teach him the skills he needs to get ready for kindergarten, they monitor his milestones and they make sure he’s engaged and well cared for in the day. It seems like an unreal expectation that now they will also be tasked with constant cleaning, disinfecting, learning new safety protocols and keeping their personal protection equipment unscathed by tiny sticky hands. Not to mention helping kids through a time when they’ve had little to no contact with other kids, trying to avoid getting sick themselves and physically distancing preschoolers. How do you physically distance three- and four-year-old kids?
I know my daycare will have to do daily screenings and temperature checks. But kids get sick and have fevers all the time. I worry I’ll get a call from daycare to say my son has a fever, and when I arrive to pick him up, I’ll find him waiting in the mandatory isolation room, with his teacher. Then we'll have to immediately go to a COVID-19 testing centre, get more temperature checks, pulse checks and a large swab up his nose.
I can’t imagine how traumatic that would be for him.
Then — after waiting 24 to 72 hours to get our results online — if he is cleared, there’s no real guidance about bringing him back. My doctor’s office hasn’t reopened yet, so if he has a fever from some other illness, we would have to go to the hospital, which is beyond anxiety inducing.
I also worry about the limited class restrictions that are to be implemented. My son’s daycare class had 22 kids and three teachers, and now that will be capped at 10, including the teachers. How will they choose who should have those spots? Will they be choosing kids whose parents have full time jobs, or kids who live in households without “at-risk” family members, or kids whose parents have no other options — or will it just be by lottery?
In the midst of a pandemic, this mom is surprised by how little she misses. Read how and why she's enjoying all the extra family time here.
I know my son misses his friends, he can’t really connect with them through Zoom the way he did in person. Kids just aren’t going to get to be the kids they used to be. Already he’s unable to use playgrounds, splash pads and will be limited to the people in his bubble.
"How do you physically distance three- and four-year-old kids?"
I know if my son goes back to daycare there will be fewer toys, fewer hugs and more separation. My son is not going to want to wash his hands every three seconds. Or like being constantly asked how he’s feeling. And he certainly will find it challenging wearing a mask or a face shield for a full day, especially outside in the summer.
When I ask him if he wants to go back to daycare he says no. He says, “I want to see my friends, Mama, but I don’t want to wear a mask.” How could I not feel undecided about where my child will go when work starts again, and if he’ll be OK? But how can I work if I don’t have childcare? And if daycare is not an option, what options do I have?
I am overwhelmed trying to navigate what the right thing to do will be.
Before COVID-19, I was used to having time in the day to focus on working a full-time job, providing for my family and planning for our future. And although I am so thankful for all the time I get to spend with my son, it would be nice to have a tiny break.
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