Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, it happened. My first day with children in the classroom went as I should have expected, but wasn’t prepared for. Ridiculously busy, and overwhelming. With that said I still returned the next day (barely) and it was much better. I had an emotional breakdown (as if I need help these days with all the hormones) and cried and couldn’t sleep from midnight to 2am. I wanted to walk in yesterday morning and quit. I didn’t, and once I got there, I really enjoyed my day.
I keep telling myself and the other staff each day will continue to get better. The reality is I’ve never opened a center before. We have all new staff and we are all trying to meet and get to know every child at the same exact time. Typically you have one, maybe two, new children enter an already established classroom with other children and teachers who know the typical “routines” (or at the very least where to find things like burp cloths, bibs, etc).
Tuesday was a day of meeting basic needs, learning as fast as possible the classroom and about all the different children. We were comforting crying parents as they left knowing we had not one clue about their child. They knew we would be learning as much as possible over the next few days to ensure not only everyone’s needs we’re met but eventually we could actually give each child more than that. All around the day felt crappy as far as quality of care was concerned but I’m well aware this is normal for the first day with 7 brand new babies you are trying to get to know and bond with all at the same time. What was the hardest was seeing the parent’s faces who stayed with their child most of the day. You could tell they thought, “how the hell is my child going to be taken care of? Every child is crying and teachers are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. At least they each have a baby in their arms while doing it” (Ok maybe that’s how I felt)
Like I said, yesterday went better and each day will continue in that direction. I’ve been labeled “the mother hen” by two coworkers who are new to the field. There are some staff recently out of college and stressed out about remembering details from the weeks of training and I’m enjoying watching them throw education to the wind as reality sinks in. I can’t remember how many times I told them the goal is to get a clean diaper on the child. If you miss one of licensing 20 steps (like washing the child’s hands 3 times during the diaper change, HA!) it’s not the end of the world. Keep the goal in mind and if it’s been achieved (dirty diaper in trash, clean diaper on, everyone back to learning) It’s been a success!
Sometimes it’s challenging having the most experience. While I’m trying to learn and follow the children’s cues and “general routines” a million questions are being asked of me. I have been surprised at how receptive a few individuals have been when I’ve given them constructive criticism about the way they “redirect” or speak to the children. They’ve been appreciative and even showed interest in wanting to move with me to the 3rd infant classroom that’s opening in a few weeks. Not up to me who moves with me but our program director is amazing and has been open to all feedback as she makes upcoming decisions.
Now for the record, not everyone has no experience. There is another staff member with 9 years experience and a few others with other ranges of experience and two who have worked for this organization at other locations before. They are very helpful especially for helping us learn how to fill out all the children’s and licensing required paperwork on a daily basis.
I also want to clarify I do follow licensing laws etc. I see the reasons behind most of it but when it comes down to certain tasks the product is more important than the process in these cases. I agree with my program director. The 3 most important tasks are feeding an infant the correct milk/solids, (sleep tracking) making sure they are breathing during sleep, and (transition tracking) make sure you always know where every child is at every moment. So if they go outside or leave for the day be sure it’s written down. Those three things have to do with life or death scenarios. In contrast forgetting to wash you or the child’s hands in the diapering or food prep plan is not going to bring irreparable harm the child.
Today and tomorrow I’ll be spending some time one on one with a child again. It is my last two days as a nanny. I’m going to miss it. As of today I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to group care and bring my baby. With that said, I did fill out an application and my baby is on the wait list for the center I’m working at. It was weird going through that process and definitely made things real.
I think I’m going to want to be a nanny after the baby is here but I’m taking things a day at a time. I’m well aware this is all new and will definitely improve as time goes on. We’ll all feel more comfortable soon, begin working more smoothly together and get to know the children individually. Only time will tell but once I’m there I do enjoy it.
For now I’d love the hormones to kick it down a notch because crying all evening and through the night is not fun. Especially when what makes you start is something ridiculous and a few seconds later you can’t even remember why you’re crying.
Thanks for the thoughts and prayers everyone. I’ll keep you updated and appreciate each and every one of you.