Thursday, June 15, 2017

Why We Decided to Start Morning Out

The girls have been going to Morning Out for a few weeks -- 3 to be exact. I take them on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and they are there from 9:30 - 1:30. We all cried pretty hard the first day, but it has gotten better. I've been getting great "reports" from their teacher when I pick them up about how well they've played, and they seem to be getting more comfortable being there because they wave and say "hi" to everyone who walks by.

These little instances make my heart so happy and also help me reassure myself that this new adventure is good for them and will be beneficial for all of us in the weeks and months ahead. I'd like to share the reasons we decided to send Molly and Maddie to Morning out -- primarily socializing/development and time for me. I'd also like to share some recommendations on what to look for when you are considering a program. I was pretty thorough and asked an annoying number of questions (typical) during our search, but I think it paid off. When we send our kiddos somewhere for several hours each week, or more if they go to full-time daycare, we want to feel very comfortable and confident that they're in the best place possible to learn and be cared for when we're not there.

We decided to start looking into Morning Out programs last fall when the girls were almost 18 months. They were becoming very active, curious, and more social around other kids, and it was also becoming more and more difficult for me to get things done around the house, get my small amount of work done, and make time to do some fun activities as well. 

Our main goal with Morning Out is giving the girls a chance to be around other kids and become comfortable in an environment other than our house. They've been home full-time with me, Josh, and/or my parents their whole lives. I was afraid they were missing out on socializing and making friends and developing more speech and listening skills. I also wanted them to have a little structure so they are ready for some new activities like dance or soccer, or just story time at the library -- all of which have been pretty chaotic when we've gone because the girls just want to do their own thing. So far, I think they are getting those things, and they're getting to play with new toys, go outside with their classmates, and do some fun art projects. 

The other main purpose in looking into Morning Out programs was to give me some extended periods of time do, well, whatever I need to do. Cleaning, work, and errands are always at the top of the priority list, but I also wanted some time to just sit and read for a bit or run into one of my favorite stores and stay for longer than five minutes. It has become increasingly difficult to do a lot of things because the girls always want to be with us, which I love, but I started feeling like I wasn't giving them the best of me because I was always thinking about my To Do List. Not okay.

So, those feelings are what got us looking. Now, what exactly were we looking for? Here are the things we considered priorities in making this big decision:
  1. Reputation. Not in a fancy or snooty way, but which programs got great recommendations and reviews for being nurturing, fun, and challenging for the kiddos. I keep thinking about the episode of Modern Family when Mitch and Cam are interviewing at preschools for Lilly. Anyone seen that one?? I looked to my Moms of Multiples group because I trust their judgment and many have "been there done that" with these things. Find a friend or family member that has first-hand knowledge of the program.
  2. Location. I didn't want to drive 30 or 40 minutes to take the girls to school. I loved the idea of going somewhere close to home, and hopefully meeting friends who will eventually be in preschool and elementary school with our girls. That much driving also defeated my purpose of making the most of my time to be productive. I'd probably just stop and shop along the way!!
  3. Where to buy their backpacks and lunch boxes. Kidding...kind's a tough choice.
Once we narrowed our choices down to 2, I was able to talk to the directors of each program and ask questions about curriculum, safety, class sizes, tuition, etc. We got on a waiting list for each (be prepared for a waiting list of  at least 6 months) and then I set up a tour at our first choice. I'm SO glad I did that tour because it answered so many questions and made me so excited for Molly and Maddie to have some fun new adventures. If you have the opportunity, try to visit maybe your top two or three choices. It would have been so hard to make the decision just based on a phone call.

We were on a waiting list from October - April. I called about once a month to check in and make sure they knew we wanted to start this summer. Most programs run like the school year and may or may not have a summer session, so ask about that. It's a little more laid back where we are, which I think is perfect to get the little ladies acclimated to everything. 

My biggest advice, whether you're like us going Morning Out, looking for full-time daycare, or maybe even school options, is to choose the place you're most comfortable leaving your littles. Knowing they're in good hands makes my time to myself worthwhile because I can actually focus rather than worry about them the whole time. 

I'm working on a list of "gear" that has been helpful as we've gotten started. I'm a rookie so it's taken a few weeks to figure out what the girls actually need. Stay tuned for that soon! 

If you're local and want some info about the various places we looked into, send me a message on Instagram. I'd be very happy to share! 

Toddler Trail Mix -- check my Instagram for recipe! @thespilledmilkmom

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