child care

“But which child care center should I choose?”: A Chat With a Millennial Child Care Expert

Adulting, Author: Mary Grace Donaldson

Millennial parents, there’s so many options for child care today. Especially if you’re a working parent, you’ll likely need to utilize at least one, maybe more, of those options.

But when there are so many options in front of you, what’s the best one for your family? We chatted with Regina Barone, owner of Tiny Toes Daycare of Rockland, New York, about some of the best child care options for millennial parents.

Why should you enroll your children in a child care program?
Many parents enroll their children in programs similar to mine because they want their children to be in a nurturing and learning environment while they’re at work, and need someone to care for their children.

What makes a day care center different than having a family member watch your child?
In my opinion, child care centers give children the opportunity of socialization with other children their age, and allows them to get used to being with others besides family members (which is helpful for kindergarten transition)Additionally, many daycares have programs that get children used to a school routine, which of course can be very beneficial.

What should you look for in a day care center?
Check to see if the center is state licensed. Find out their teacher qualifications and trainings. Ask questions, such as: do they offer a program? If yes, what is their philosophy, and does it match with what you are looking for?

Millennials are known for looking for discounts. How can you get the most bang for your buck in a child care center?
Looking for discounts, in any industry — including child care, is important. If you have someone who wants to watch your child (for free — for example, a grandmother) you can enroll your child part-time: either half days, or a few days a week. This way, it’s not the same cost of a full-time child. If you have more than one child, a sibling discount may be available.

What makes one day care center different from another?
The differences are all about the programs each day care center may offer. Some have more space (in terms of both outdoor or indoor) than others. But it’s important to look at what each individual teacher brings, if centers have special events, and how much family involvement comes into play.

What are the benefits of socializing a child from a young age?
I have seen that children who have been exposed at an earlier age definitely adapt more easily to both peers and adults, as opposed to children who start at a later age. This can affect their future academic careers. If children adapt well socially, the fact that they aren’t adapting socially isn’t distracting them in other areas.

How many hours per day should a child spend at day care?
It all depends on the parent’s work schedule. Most child care centers are open 11-12 hours every day. My suggestion is to drop-off and pick-up according to that time frame, giving yourself time to do home routines. For parents not working, but still wanting your child to have the experience of being around other children, the recommended time frame is seven hours (about the length of a school day).

What do millennial parents typically look for in a child care facility and in teachers?
As both a millennial parent and a day care provider, what seems to be consistent with what parents look for is caring and nurturing teachers who are stern when needed. They also value a clean and safe facility with a great program that not only offers academics, but play as well.


Regina Barone


Regina Barone holds an undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education from St. Thomas Aquinas College, and holds a Master’s degree in Literacy from The College of New Rochelle. She has worked in daycares for 15 years, and served as the Director of Tiny Toes Daycare of Rockland for seven years, before stepping into the role of owner for the past three years.


The One and Only

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Real Life Stories

Yes, I’m an only child. My existence as an only child was what led my parents to bite the bullet and bring a dog into our home when I was 11 years old. It also has contributed to my development into a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

You’ve probably heard a number of negative notions thrown around about only children. Spoiled. Entitled. Not too far off from the negative stereotypes surrounding millennials that we work so hard to fight. But the ones that are rarely discussed I sum up in three words: clingy, lonely and confused.

I experience a number of feelings (clingy, lonely and confused have all been part of my package, unfortunately) that come as a result of being the one and only — but they are compounded by the fact that I wasn’t supposed to be the one and only. My parents gave birth to another child who would have been three and a half years older than I am. Since my brother was born approximately three months premature in 1985, before the days of highly advanced life-saving incubator technology, he had no chance of survival and died in birth.

The technical term for a child who arrives following a deceased child is Replacement Child. But I never felt like a “replacement.” My parents bent over backwards to give me the best life they possibly could. One example that is appropriate today is that they never made my December birthday feel as though it was just “part of Christmas” — I always received separate birthday presents, and up until age 12, we never even put the tree up until my birthday had passed.

But those feelings of clinginess, loneliness and confusion that come as a result of living as the only child of two parents who lost their first child do not dissipate — even when the aforementioned child receives her heart’s desire.


My desire to please everyone around me — especially my parents — knows no bounds. In my mind, consciously or subconsciously, I was (and still am) all they have. I was their only hope to have a kid who made honor roll and earned lead roles in school plays. When I learned early on that I didn’t have an athletic bone in my body (isn’t it a wonder that I write, act and sing?), I stuck with soccer for years because I somehow decided that it was my responsibility that my dad didn’t have a boy to play sports with (oh, if only the me who hates the idea of gender roles could have a chat with middle school me…).

As a child, one of my greatest fears was “getting in trouble.” I never wanted to bring home less than my best on weekly spelling tests, and there was no room to just have an off day. I don’t even know how to “sneak” anything, let alone have tried. It was highly difficult for me to make friends, as I didn’t behave like a “normal” kid — I used big words and could talk someone’s ear off (clingy!) and came up with complicated games that my mom always understood, but other kids didn’t. And when the friends I did have fought with their younger siblings, I used to leave the room in tears, off on some diatribe about how that friend should be thankful for what she had.

Today the feelings of clinginess, loneliness and mostly, mass confusion manifest themselves differently, and yet in some ways the same. I love to talk about myself and my life – because as the only child, I had several opportunities to talk about myself. I am independent and have the need for a lot of personal space, but wonder what’s wrong if I’m home alone on a Saturday night. I think of everyone except myself in many situations because that’s the people-pleaser in me, but in other situations, I’m fast to only think about my own wants and needs…. and then, I beat myself up when I do.

I cannot stand situations in which I have to share my food, or someone orders shared appetizers in a restaurant (I just want my own!) And for the life of me, I still do not understand why siblings fight with each other and then five minutes later can talk as though nothing happened!

I also perpetually find myself on the search for surrogate “siblings,” even as an adult. My extended family is beyond important to me, and interaction with my cousins is always a priority. I spoil the life out of my cousin’s son, who I actually refer to as my nephew. And a number of my friends feel like family members. I don’t trust easily, but when I do, I do it fully… because the people I truly trust are the people who make me feel like I think the love between siblings is supposed to feel.


But there is one big plus of my only child life – even as an only child following the death of a baby. The love of my parents is never in question. As I mentioned in our collaborative piece on why millennials live at home, one of my favorite parts of living at home is that my parents are always around to understand me. We have grown to know each other differently than we did when I was a child, even though they taught me how to behave as an adult from a very young age.

While my parents were highly protective of me as their one and only, I can look back and understand their reasoning and their emotions. And today, in those moments when I just don’t want to behave like an adult, I have a place I can go where I know that’s completely acceptable… and I can emerge from that place when I’m ready to rejoin adulthood (because my parents will be the first to tell me that I can’t stay in that place forever).

One thing I’ve learned from this only child life: I should thank my parents every single day for all they have given me as their one and only.

The Tale of a Real Life Superwoman

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Real Life Stories

I know what you’re thinking. Another millennial female claiming that her mother is her best friend and the best person in the world. Well, yes, I am claiming that, but give me a second here.

My mother is Superwoman.

I don’t say that lightly. If you know me, you know I don’t say a lot of things lightly. If I say mom-4something I mean it. And I mean it when I say that my mother is wonder woman.

I grew up in a house where two out of the four of us were confined to wheelchairs. My father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and my brother was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. My mother automatically became their caregiver.

Not only was she caring for her husband – the love of her life — but she had to watch him suffer. She had to watch him get weaker and weaker. She had to watch the disease take his life.

But no, it doesn’t stop there.

My mother has to continue to watch her son — her little boy — fight a different disease every day. She’s had to watch him stop playing baseball, the sport he continues to love. Or not be invited places because they aren’t handicap accessible. Or watch him go from being able to feed himself to needing someone to not only feed him, but to move his hand on top of the wheelchair control so he could move it.

Wait, no, it doesn’t stop there either.

Throughout all this, my mother served as their primary caregiver. From dressing to cooking to cleaning she’s done it all. Even the gross stuff that no one wants to talk about, like helping them go to the bathroom — yes, all bathroom functions — blowing noses, bathing, taking care when they’re sick; she’s done it all. Do you know how hard it is to care for someone who’s confined to a wheelchair when that person is sick with a stomach virus? My mother’s been there, done that…and never thought twice about it.

My mother is the most selfless person you may ever meet.

She’s put her own wants, needs and life to the side to care for others. She dedicated her life to caring for my father when he was alive, no matter how sick he got. She never left his side. Why? He was the love of her life, and she would do anything for him.

mom-2It’s been almost seven years since my father’s passing, and my mother’s caregiving role is still as strong as ever. My brother’s disease has progressed, and unfortunately he cannot do much on his own anymore. She has to plan her days around him. If there’s snow outside, they can’t go out because you can imagine how well a wheelchair can do on ice. If it’s too hot and humid outside, they can’t go out because it’s difficult for my brother to breathe. My brother cannot be left home alone, making him and my mother almost inseparable.

It doesn’t just stop there, though. Does my brother call for my mother three times a night because he needs to be moved and he can’t do it himself? Yes, that happens, and that happens quite often. Does my mother need to allot at least an hour of her morning to getting my brother awake, to the bathroom, dressed, and out of bed? Yes – in fact, an hour is being generous.

On top of all of this, for much of my upbringing, yes, I had two parents, but in a way, I didn’t. My mother had to serve the role of both parents.

My father was diagnosed when I was just six years old. By the time I was in middle school, he was in a wheelchair and not driving. My mother was the one who brought us to school, play dates, after school activities, dance rehearsal and so much more. She acted as strong as two parents when I sobbed after a dance competition in which I didn’t score the highest. She was the parent at my brother’s and my parent-teacher conferences. She was the one who had to do everything alone.

There’s a lot behind the scenes that people don’t realize my mother took care of. She had to figure out our finances and make sure that we never went over our budget. She had to figure out how to send her college-age daughter (yes, yours truly) off to college while knowing that her husband was not doing well. She had to figure out health insurance and school disability services for her disabled son. She’s had to go to bat to ensure that her son was getting everything he needed.

And she never hesitated to do any of these things, ever.

Want to know the crazy part in all this? mom-3My mother still has the time and energy to be my best friend. We still binge watch cheesy Hallmark movies and spend our weekends out shopping with each other. She’ll crawl into my bed in the morning or at night just to talk about everything. Sometimes, she’ll even surprise me with Dunkin in the morning. And yes, I live at home – and I hope you understand why after reading all this.

My mother was a caregiver and still is a caregiver, and yet, she is one 0f the funniest, and funnest people you’ll ever meet. Despite how difficult our life is — and hers especially — she doesn’t let it get her down. She’s the first to always remind me of all the blessings that I have, and everything I should be grateful for. She’s the one who pushed her own emotions to the side when my father passed and focused on my brother and me to make sure we were okay. She’s the first to remind us of the happy memories of my father. She’s the person who reminds us to focus on the good. She’s the greatest person I know.

My mother is Superwoman. There’s no other way of putting it.

To learn more about Multiple Sclerosis, please click here. To learn more about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, please click here.