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Recently, I took to Facebook posting that I should make a blog post about “a day in the life of a daycare provider” because there is no way that I could make up some of the things I see happening on a daily basis. I received quite a bit of comical reactions to my post and therefore, I was inspired to actually follow through with my writing prompt!
Preface- Because you have to understand where I’m coming from in order to comprehend the comedy behind it all:
I work as daycare teacher for the toddler age group of 18 to 24 months old. I am the late shift teacher, meaning that I work 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. My school is open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The teacher to child ratio for my classroom is one teacher to six toddlers, or two teachers to 12 toddlers. For those of you gasping at the amount of toddlers allowed in one classroom, you better buckle your seatbelts now because it will most definitely be a bumpy ride from this point on!
The start of the day is beautiful; I wake up to see that the sun is peaking through the clouds, I begin thinking of the lesson plan I created and what activities I will be involving my class in for the day, and I begin smiling because I know that the playdough activity I worked hard to develop is going to go perfectly and all my kids or “students” will enjoy participating. I get myself ready for the day; it’s a great day for learning and growing!
I get in my car to drive to work. “That’s funny,” I think to myself, “The sun is gone and it’s sprinkling now.” What this really means is that we are going to be cooped up inside all day long due to rain and muddy conditions. Okay, this is okay, I’ll just have to come up with another activity to pass the time. No big deal, right? But I am wrong… very, very wrong!
Because I am the late shift teacher, I don’t really get a chance to ease into my day. As soon as I get to work, my classroom is already at capacity and the ball keeps rolling from there.
When I walk into my classroom, what I see happening is comical yet terrifying. To my immediate left, Fight Club is taking place on the sacred ABCs carpet. I swear I hear one of my toddlers chanting and encouraging the fight, but I just can’t make out which kid he is actually rooting for because at this age, who understands a toddler anyway?
Next, there is oatmeal smeared all over the two tables, 12 blue mini-chairs, and my toddlers’ faces almost as if they figured they would be in charge of any “creative art” projects today.
Then, I see book club going on in the back corner, which seems innocent and makes me feel like the whole class isn’t completely lost. That is until one of the toddlers decides to chuck his book across the floor which leads more toddlers to throw more books because with this age group it’s monkey see, monkey do.
Finally, the horrific smell that slapped me in the face when I first entered the room is revealed to be someone’s poop diaper being changed on the diaper table that smelled so bad, I couldn’t help but to gag.
All 12 diapers have been changed and then some. Everyone’s faces and hands are cleansed of the oatmeal art residue, the tables and chairs have been scrubbed, and the room is picked up (for the most part). The day isn’t lost completely! We can still recover from this. It’s almost circle time which is their favorite thing to do. There is hope yet!
We got through circle time without a hitch! But the playdough activity… now that’s a different story.
The activity was supposed to be a group effort involving all the toddlers taking turns mixing the ingredients. What we got instead was toddler #1 trying to eat the mixing spoon, toddler #2 sneezing into the flour causing a puff of white to spread around the table, toddler #3 crying because flour is apparently scary when it’s floating around, and toddler #4 sticking her booger crusted finger into the layer of flour residue that is laying on top of the table. Toddler #5 is eating a bagel with cream cheese out of his shoe. I don’t know how that even got there. And when did we have bagels and cream cheese? Toddlers #6 through #12 are not even involved in the activity anymore and have resumed running around the classroom, emptying bins off the shelves, throwing toys, and screaming like banshees.
Oh, and someone has pooped again.
11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
This is lunch time, but I will spare you the details of this event because when 12 toddlers are hungry AND tired, no one wins. Let’s all just assume that at this point in the day, I have lost all hope at resurrecting any happiness.
The majority of the toddlers are asleep for nap time. There are a few who are still awake, but for this part of the day, I have to be strategic in my planning.
Toddler #7 can’t sleep next to toddler #2 because if one wakes up, he will wake up the other to play. Toddler #12 and toddler #8 have to sleep in closer proximity to each other or else I will have a screaming match taking place across the room as they try to communicate with one another despite my hundreds of attempts to get them to stay quiet. Toddler #5 can’t sleep anywhere near any of the doors because if he hears a door open, he will then wake up and it’s game over from there.
By 12:45 p.m., my assistant teacher has left for her one-hour lunch break which means that if something goes wrong with my nap mat placement strategy, we are all doomed.
My assistant teacher came back from her lunch break (against her better judgment) and I am now coming back from my break. This time of the day means the end of nap time. As I walk back into my classroom from my lunch, Ned Stark from Game of Thrones enters my mind reminding me to brace myself because winter is coming. Yes it is, Ned. Yes it is…
Everyone is awake, all 12 diapers have been changed for the third or fourth time already today (if you’re keeping count, we are up to 48 diapers being changed today so far). Everyone has had their afternoon snack, faces and hands have been washed, and now we are ready to go to the playground… except that it is still raining and that means no playground time. (Please send help, the teachers are NOT okay!)
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Another round of diapers has been completed.
Parents are picking up their children during this time. They take one look at me when they walk through the door and the person they saw in the morning is no longer the person they are currently standing in front of. My hair is in a lumpy, uneven pony tail now, my eyebrows that were filled in this morning are now uneven and blotchy due to all the sweating, and that brown spot they see on my shirt I’m pretty sure is paint but that’s questionable now. The parents ask me how my day was out of pity because I know they could answer that question for themselves by now.
Some of the parents thank me before leaving while making remarks like, “I don’t know how you do it all day with 12 toddlers!” I don’t know either, man. I really don’t know. I’m thankful to the few who show gratitude and appreciation for caring for their most prized possessions.
The day is over! All the toys have been washed, sanitized, and placed back into their perspective places. New trash bags are placed into the trash can and diaper pail. All of the kids are gone and it’s time to turn off the classroom lights. I survived the day!
Oh… and it was only Monday!
I hope you found some humor in this piece! If you haven’t worked in daycare before, please hug your child’s teacher(s) every once in awhile. And if you have worked or are currently working in childcare PLEASE share your stories in the comment section below! I would love to read other teachers’ experiences and perspectives! We are a special bunch of people; I applaud you all for getting up everyday!
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