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Why David isn’t going back to Daycare

Normality has started creeping back into everyone’s family life. The only difference for us is that our daily life won’t be as it used to be. 

After a bit of back and forth – during which, at first, it seemed as if David’s daycare wouldn’t be reopening anytime soon, shortly after followed by us hearing it was going back to normal after all – we decided to cancel his spot altogether.

After 12 weeks of having a small child at home at all times and feeling like neither of us ever had enough time to work. 

Why?

We are feeling that the conditions post-Covid are just a little too intense. I do believe all childcare facilities are trying hard to make the best of the new circumstances and that all child care workers are going to care as best as they can for every child. But I can’t send mine back to a place that is so different all of a sudden. 

The kids won’t be allowed to sit next to or across from each other at the table anymore. Playtime has a lot of restrictions. All workers have to wear masks and gloves and keep physical contact with the children to a minimum – this also means no picking up or hugging kids when they are crying. 

Just days after the announcement I’d already heard mothers share how traumatic this felt to the kids. 

Of course, some facilities have more opportunities to create a fairly good experience due to having a lower number of kids or more space, especially outside. That’s also why we had considered switching to the English speaking Montessori daycare in Larnaca. But they won’t take new kids on until September. 

What’s going to happen in September?

In Cyprus, just like elsewhere, I assume, rumor has it that there will be a second Corona wave. It’s not unlikely since we’ve had the first tourists coming back recently. A second lockdown is bound to happen – probably in the fall. 

Even though it feels absurd to make life plans taking possible lockdowns into consideration, I also don’t want to be left without childcare for the rest of the year. 

What are we doing instead?

We’ve decided to hire a housekeeper/nanny who will be living with us permanently. We’ll start seeing the first potential applicants in the next couple of days.

Back when David was still a baby, we had an au-pair living with us for a year, which worked really well for us overall. 

Pros and cons

Because David gets to see other kids most days anyway, he’s excited about the new living concept. That is to say, he actually doesn’t want to go back to daycare. It happened pretty frequently that he’d cry in the mornings and get somewhat agitated or stirred up from being there. In fact, his moods have improved a lot since lockdown.

We are all experiencing less stress. No alarm clock disrupting our peaceful sleep in the mornings, no breakfast in a hurry, or leaving the house stressed when we’re a few minutes late. Once in a while, when we stay up a little later than usual, I’m not worried about it anymore because I know David can just sleep in a little longer in the morning. 

But certainly, life without daycare has its downsides. One aspect that I’m pondering a lot: David had been learning Greek for two years (the only one in our family), which won’t continue as of now. Instead, he’s suddenly speaking English a lot more and actually quite well, but I’m not aware how much Greek he’s retained at this point. 

“Unfortunately”, the friends he’s seeing regularly are all German or Russian. We don’t have any contact with Cypriot people that have kids in David’s age group. 

I probably just have to accept the fact that as foreigners we won’t ever start speaking Greek properly. Which isn’t a problem in itself as English is absolutely sufficient to get around. And maybe David will learn it later on or along the way. 

First, I had a few reservations about being able to have enough activities for David to be entertained at home, despite having a nanny helping out. I’m definitely not the handicraft queen as you know, and I’m also a little lost on things to do when we’re inside. 

But during the lockdown, I realised how it’s not a big deal after all. David has tons of ideas for playing (the majority involving cars), and we have also done a lot of painting and playing with playdough. I’m convinced that David will show and tell us directly what it is that he wants to learn and do in the moment, and we’ll be able to cater to that.  

What we’re thrilled about

We are definitely excited about the decision and curious about what the next weeks and months will reveal. Everything seems liberating and more in tune with our rhythm. To be honest, the whole daycare system never felt truly aligned to us anyway. 

This year is intense. We are rethinking many things, trying new stuff, and are reorganising our lives. It’s challenging. But it is also a real gift. 

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