One of the hardest things I had to do as a new parent was leave my child in daycare.

My partner and I both work full time, and so do our parents, so a childcare facility was our only option.

I think every mom, and some dads, have that moment where they consider putting their career on hiatus to stay home with the kids. But most families on Long Island need the two incomes.

I was excited for my son’s first day in childcare, then I saw the welcome sign on the classroom door. That’s all it took to make me cry in front of everyone. I trusted the facility to care for my precious baby boy, but eight hours apart from him was nerve-racking. I was so distracted that I barely got work done that day.

As time went on, it got easier. I loved watching him bond with his teachers, and I was amazed at how he was thriving. I thought I would be able to keep my emotions in check when I dropped off my daughter, but the first day for my second baby made me cry too.

Fortunately, we live in an area that has many great child care centers to choose from. Having been involved in mom networking groups on social media, I figured to write about five programs I hear about a lot. These appear in no particular order. I also tried to vary the list by including private, public and nonprofit organizations.

I gathered my information from the childcare centers themselves, as well as some of the parents who use them.

If you have a favorite childcare center you want to mention, please do so in comments and tell us why.

Habitots Child Care

703 Patchogue-Yaphank Rd., Medford 

(631) 345-3200

Habitots cares for kids as young as 6 weeks. What parents seem to love is how accommodating they are to parents’ work schedules. They offer part-time or full-time care for all ages. They even have before school and after school care. The Habitots staffers follow a curriculum year-round, but understand each child learns differently, so they follow the child’s lead. They offer water play in the summer on the playground and even have a huge carnival for the kids and parents to close out the year.

Abigail Bottoms Preschool

450 Waverly Ave, Patchogue

(631) 447-0044

Parents in the area really rave about Abigail bottoms. The director is always on site and knows all the parents and kids that attend. They offer half-day programs starting at 2 years old, but you can also go for open play on certain days for a small fee. It’s great that you get to see your kids play in the facility before actually enrolling. They also have a village square, which allows the children to use their imagination while playing in different, village-style settings, such as a diner, market or firehouse.

Patchogue YMCA Preschool

255 West Main Street, Patchogue

(631) 891-1800

The YMCA offers full and half day programs starting at 2 years old. They really understand that a lot of parents have jobs that don’t close for snow days so they keep their snow days to a minimum.  What moms also love about them is that they have a very low staff turnover rate. The teachers that were there when your child started at two, are still there when your kid graduates to start kindergarten. They have a really unique two story indoor jungle gym that the kids get to play on during the day or they can play outside on the playground.

Tutor Time of East Patchogue

655 Montauk Highway, East Patchogue

(631) 475-7239

Tutor Time offers full time programs that start as early as 6 weeks. Having to put your child in daycare that young can be stressful but they make sure they take extra steps to prevent spreading germs. They have a gym with a trained physical fitness instructor so the kids get to run around, even on rainy days. Being able to move around outside of the classroom makes it fun and exciting for the kids. It also keep them really active.

Universal Pre-K

241 South Ocean Avenue, Patchogue

(631) 687-6350

Any child that turns 4 before Dec. 1 can qualify for free Universal Pre-K through two of the three school districts in the greaterpatchogue.com coverage area. (Bayport-Blue Point does not have a program.) Here we’ll talk about Patchogue-Medford’s five days a week, half day program, which has some of the nicest teachers around. The kids learn about all subjects they start in kindergarten like math, reading and science. They even get to do some exploration projects like touching the inside of a pumpkin.

It’s great for them to get comfortable in a school before they start kindergarten.

Click here to learn about South Country’s Universal Pre-k program.


Photo by Tiffany Rivera