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Starting Child Care in the Middle of the Pandemic

Starting Child Care in the Middle of the Pandemic

I’m a planner. My husband and I visited Bright Horizons® child care centers back in 2019 when I was just three months pregnant. We decided on one, and were set to start in June of 2020, when our son would be three months old. He was born at the end of February — right before the pandemic hit the U.S. in full force — and, needless to say, our plans changed.

When we went back to work (from home), caring for our son was manageable for a while. He napped on my chest while I wrote and answered emails; he joined my husband’s team meetings and hung out in his swing in our office. But it got increasingly hard to juggle. First came crawling. Then standing. And then cruising. All within a two-month span.

And then my practical husband said, “What happens when he starts walking?” We started to come to terms with the idea that we were going to need help — and that our son definitely needed more than we could give him during the day.

Luckily, we’d already chosen a center. They had reopened a few months earlier and there was a spot in their infant classroom.

When we reconnected with them, my number one question wasn’t about health and safety — because I knew Bright Horizons was taking every possible precaution. It was, “What if he doesn’t stop crying?” I could count the number of people who’d held him on two hands, and being left with anyone other than me or my husband would be a totally foreign experience. I was legitimately concerned that he would cry all day and we’d have to pick him up early.

I’ve never been happier to be wrong. On day one, he latched onto his teachers, and we got so many pictures of our happy, smiling boy in his classroom. That’s not to say his first day was perfect — he sobbed when another baby came over to him and started babbling (“Who is this other small human?!”), and he wasn’t too interested in his breakfast or lunch. But it was so much better than we expected.

Now, we’re one month in. He’s eating full meals (pretty sure he eats more at the center than he does at home), taking naps in the crib, and interacting with the other babies. And he’s gotten to explore so many things he wouldn’t have otherwise (kudos to his teachers for going all in with finger paint, messy foam, sticky paper, and so many other fun projects).

We thought we’d be on pins and needles every day, thinking about the “what ifs” of sending our baby to a child care center during the pandemic — but we’re not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still in the back of our minds, but we feel comfortable knowing that the center does such a good job of enforcing health and safety protocols and updating them as things continue to change.

Plus, amidst it all, they somehow manage to make things feel normal — and we could all use a little more of that right now!

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