Busting Baby Out of Club Fed

Beach walkI witnessed something incredible this week. Within just a few seconds on the beach, I saw my kiddo’s disposition completely relax.

My kiddo has always been easy-going, but from that first time we walked onto the beach in Aruba, sat together in the sand and started to play, her whole being lit up like never before. She willfully surrendered her pacifier, dutifully donned a hat and happily poured sand from her bucket over our legs. I think I even saw her shoulders drop a half inch—then again, that could be the razz-berry mudslide playing tricks on me.

It never occurred to me that my kiddo could use a vacation from her life.

Just as much as my husband and I have our daily grind of work, I’ve never thought of daycare as a daily grind. Spending a day painting and drawing mediocre masterpieces, talking a walk to the park, listening to story time and napping sounds like the least stressful way to spend a day. But actually thinking about it, daycare is a little bit like jail—albeit a club fed. There are rules about when you eat, when you read, when you play and what you play, when you clean up, when you walk in a line and when you nap. My kiddo is practically serving a 10-hour sentence, 260 days a year!

Add on top of that the morning routine to get off to “jail” and the nightly routine of eating, bathing then bed, and the toddler life is far from glamorous. No wonder my kiddo needed this vacation. And a vacation she got. We let her:

  • stay up two hours later than usual
  • fall asleep watching cartoons
  • completely feed herself (many meals) no matter how messy
  • explore all the new things to see with us several arm lengths away

And while we may regret this freewheeling style when we get back to Boston and return to our home habits, it will have been worth it. I wouldn’t trade seeing my kiddo walk hand in hand with my husband down to the ocean at sunset for anything—not even for a few stress-free meals or temper tantrum-free days.