Basically Baby: The Daycare Decision
One of my most frequent google searches while pregnant was: daycare or nanny. The truth is, both options are amazing. This post is not going to provide a pros and cons list for both decisions because frankly, the world looks so different now, you really need to assess what is most comfortable for you and your family instead of relying on google searches. This post is only meant to share our experience with a daycare that has exceeded all of our expectations and put any new moms’ minds at ease, if they too are considering a daycare option for their child.
I grew up with a working mom. My mom was, and still is, an amazing realtor. Real estate typically allows you to make your own hours, which meant I never even noticed she had a job. She was always there to drop us off and pick us up from school. When we were very little, my sister and I would spend a few hours a day at our grandparents. My mother-in-law was a stay-at-home mom so Pete also did not have childhood experience with a nanny or daycare. Family childcare is such an idyllic situation. But, my husband and I live in NYC, many hours away from both sets of grandparents. And we both have full time jobs. So childcare was going to look different for us, and it was a point of anxiety for me from the very moment I found out I was pregnant. As a mom, I wanted that same family childcare situation that my sister and I were so lucky to have. I wanted my mom to be able to pick up my child from school, as she does for my sister’s children. But I also love the life we are building in NYC. Life is full of compromises. I needed to stop fantasizing about a world where our family could help out, and start figuring out what was going to work for us. Many of my NYC mom friends had a nanny.
Many of my mom friends from home had parents or in-laws close by. I was fully prepared to enter the NYC nanny search, but there was something bugging me about my child not being around other children. I also had this pre-conceived notion that daycares were like baby jails, or that there were always too many children, so your child was never prioritized.
I found out about Vivvi https://vivvi.com through either an e-mail or a literal piece of direct mail advertising announcing the opening of this brand new early education center literally 2 blocks from our apartment. I was 14 weeks pregnant with Madison and decided to go to the open house to check it out.
I remember the facility being so bright and colorful, full of natural light, with super high ceilings. There was sparkling water and charcuterie for the parents. Expecting moms and dads looked so happy and cute. All the new moms were dressing their baby bumps in that perfect downtown chic way. Vivvi also offered hours like no other daycare around. 7am to 7pm. Many reasons parents opt for a nanny over daycare is the sheer fact that they can’t get to daycare before it closes. I would have crippling anxiety if I was stuck at work looking at the clock, knowing my child’s daycare was about to close. With Vivvi being open 7am-7pm - you had that flexibility if work got crazy, there was traffic, or if you got out of work early and stopped for a glass of wine before pick up (more on that later)
I came back from the open house and told Pete we needed to get Madison into this place because it was everything. An application and a deposit of 3 months of tuition later, we were in. May 2020 was her start date.
And then COVID happened.
Vivvi shut down and reopened on Monday August 3. I remember saying to Pete, “no way will we be the first ones to send her back”. Even though the safety protocols, sanitizing procedures and COVID precautions were in place, I just didn’t want Madison to be student #1 post pandemic.
But - things change. We realized our lease on our current 1 bedroom apartment was ending in October. We had already paid 3 months of tuition over a year ago, we were nervous we weren’t going to find a 2 bedroom apartment within walking distance to Vivvi - we were in a use it or lose it situation, so - guess where Madison went on August 3rd? Vivvi.
Preparing for Vivvi was like preparing for the first day of school. I was always obsessed with preparing for the first day of school when I was a child. The trip to Staples. The fresh notebooks and pens. The trapper keeper and the color coded dividers. I lived for it. After months of quarantine, it felt good to have an organizational job. It felt like I was accomplishing something. And we were leaving the house. We had a place to go. We had a purpose.
One of the to-do items was to pack 3-4 backup outfits for blowouts or spit up. I was so OCD about this I packed all outfits for week 1 in shades of yellow and wrote out a description of each look like I was dressing her for an award show. Note the “must wear bow” notation on the ziploc bag
I also got this bottle bag to keep her formula insulated. It can hold 2 bottles of wine as well - so you can use it for your weekend picnics in the park. Will link on the baby shop.
dual purpose baby bottle and wine bottle insulated bag
Matching outfits were a must. Although short lived. Vivvi requires you to bring your child in a “travel outfit” they change their outfit immediately upon arrival so that outside clothes never enter their sterile facility. So she wore this adorable white romper for about 5 minutes (will link on the baby shop) and even though I work from home I stayed in this white Reiss dress and Lele Sadoughi headband all day. Is there anything better than dressing up for the first day of school?
that first day of school photo shoot feeling that first day of school photo shoot feeling There are no strollers allowed at Vivvi. In the past you could bring your child in the stroller, leave the stroller there and use it to bring them home. Now, you can use the stroller to bring them, but you would have to wheel the empty stroller back home after you dropped them off. We live in a walk up so a stroller is a pain, so the Artipoppe carrier came to the rescue once again! Message me for a $50 off referral code, these are the best carriers. the artipoppe baby carrier i swear by the artipoppe baby carrier i swear by
Drop off wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t as devastating as I thought it would be. Mainly because there are so many health and safety steps, you’re not even thinking emotionally. We had to wear masks, they took Madison’s temperature before she could go in. You check her in on an ipad and click that she has no COVID symptoms. The teachers all wear masks. Only one set of parents can be in the check-in vestibule at a time so you don’t want to linger and make others wait. I just remember handing her off and walking out the door and being like - omg we did it. IMG_1477.jpg IMG_1488.jpg
The brightwheel app is probably the only thing that kept me sane that first day. You create an account for your child and Vivvi updates it all day. It’s like an instagram feed for your child. It’s genius and the captions, photos and videos the teachers upload are the best. They also message you every morning confirming time of drop off and pick up, last bottle feed, last solids, last diaper, it’s great.
Above: Images from the brightwheel app - it documents everything. Also these no-touch temperature checks at the front desk. Crazy this is the world we live in.
Below: each week I pack her solids for the week. I’ll send 2 pureed food jars per day. We use Beechnut organics - no I don’t make my own baby food so don’t @ me, Karen.
I brought a sleeve of diapers, A&D and a pack of wipes at the start of the week and they will message you on the app if you’re running low and you just bring more the next day.
Vivvi puts the food in disposable bowls, use disposable spoons to feed and wear gloves.
They also finger paint and she came home with her first piece of artwork. I nearly cried.
At the end of the day, daycare was the right decision for us. Yes, it was delayed, but I think I would have been ok sending her at 4 months old if they were open when she was supposed to start in May. Right now, the infant class maxes out at 8 infants. So far there are only 3 infants, including Madison. There are 5 teachers. That ratio is pretty outstanding.
The teachers who dedicate their lives to children are so passionate about your child’s development - you can see it in their eyes. For me, I absolutely love my child, she is everything. I just sometimes think I can’t educate her, or entertain her the same way these professionals can. I did a Q&A for the Vivvi newsletter a few weeks ago. One of the questions was what advice I’d give to parents considering out of home child care. My answer was to give it a try. I find that the morning and evenings when we are together with Madison, I’m more present with her. Pete will go running with her in the morning and she is always so smiley and happy to be outside. At night I cherish bath time and reading to her and seeing her scoot around in her walker making laps around the dining room table. But I’m also a person who thrives when there is structure and routine in place and I want to instill that same value in Madison. Getting up every morning, picking out our outfits, getting ready, walking to Vivvi and knowing that she is learning and developing with professional guidance, and meeting other children, that’s what validates my daycare decision.
And guess what - we’re not perfect parents, no one is. If we had a stressful day, or we want to celebrate something, we’ll get a cocktail before pick up, or get Madison early and make her join us for a martini. Life is short - make it fun.
If you are a new parent living in downtown Manhattan and have questions about Vivvi - please reach out and we would be happy to chat!