In My Shoes: Working in Day Care
By HAZAL OZGE
Want to deal with crying babies and changing diapers for a day? How about all week? Working at a daycare has its rewards, but it also has its headaches.
“There can be challenges such as kids fighting for a toy, crying, or not listening,” said Arzu Ozge, a caregiver. “We usually talk to them and explain what’s wrong and what’s right or sometimes give them a time out. Kids need to learn from their mistakes and think about what they did wrong.”
Most of the kids who come to the daycare are two to three years old. The daycare has a total of ten toddlers. They arrive at 8:00am, ready for breakfast.
“Their meals are different every day,” said Chemen Yumlu, a caregiver. “We try not to give them the same foods each day since kids need many different vitamins. For example, on Mondays they have waffles with blueberries and milk, and on Tuesdays they have cereal with milk and strawberries.”
After breakfast, it’s playtime. The toddlers have many options to choose from such as baby dolls, cars, legos, a kitchen set, and a doctor’s kit. After playtime comes the daily activities. Monday is music class, Tuesday and Friday are yoga class, Wednesday is coloring and painting, and Thursday is arts and crafts. If the weather is really nice, they go out in the backyard that has mini-slides, play houses, toy cars, and a sandbox. After that, it’s nap time.
“Nap time is the most difficult part of the day,” said Saniye Aybasti, another caregiver. “It is when the kids get really cranky because they need their sleep. We lay out mats that are used for napping and give them each a blanket and put on soft music. The music calms them down more and gets them to sleep. Some kids can still be energetic and not want to sleep. We give them at least 30 minutes, and if they don’t sleep, we take that kid to one of the other rooms so they can play quietly and not distract others or make noise.”
After a two hour nap, it’s snack time! Snack consists of fruits like blueberries, watermelon, pears, or apples, as well as pretzels or animal crackers. After snack time comes story time, then freeplay until parents come at 6:00pm. After all the kids leave, the caregivers clean up the area for the next day.
Dare care workers don’t just care for the kids, they also teach them social skills and even potty training.
“Not only do we give them love and good care, we also teach them how to behave,” said Aybasti. “We teach them how to ask for help instead of crying or screaming so that they can be behaved already when they start school.”
Toddlers often get sick with colds, fevers, and runny noses, so caregivers are at risk of getting sick as well.
“Me personally, I don’t get sick as much as I used to,” said Yumlu. “I have been taking care of kids for six years already, I am immune to their sicknesses.”
If kids throw up or have high fevers, their parents are called immediately for pick up.
“Yes, there have been kids who have thrown up,” said Ozge. “It is really messy. We clean up the area really well and change the kids’ clothes. We ask the parents for extra clothes in case of situations like these.”
There are several steps you need to go through in order to become a caregiver including a health check, background check, and 30 hours of training. The caregivers are retested every two years on new information and requirements as well as on the information they learned before.
Despite the hassles, the sweet moments make it worth it.
“There was this one little baby who was so young,” said Ozge. “She was six months, and we took care of her until she was one year old. She was so active for a baby; she started walking when she was only 11 months. We witnessed her first steps, started recording, and sent the videos to her parents to say ‘Oh look, your child is walking!’ Later on, she started talking, saying things like ‘hi,’ ‘mommy,’ ‘no,’ ‘yes.’ Just seeing children grow up makes me feel happy because we witness them grow in front of our eyes. I think that’s what’s special about being a caregiver, being able to know that you were a part of helping kids grow up.”