All posts filed under “保育園 Hoikuen (Japanese Daycare)

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Onward to a New Journey

On March 21, Miyu graduated hoikuen. It was surreal. I was severely under dressed and that was a major lesson I learned—wear formal wear to all entrance and graduation ceremonies. Anyway, with everything that’s been going on lately, a big part of me is still not “in touch” with reality yet.

It was a bittersweet moment when she turned back with a sad face and waved goodbye to her school for the last time.

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“Valentime’s Day”

Miyu was telling me yesterday about how it’s Valentime’s Day tomorrow at her school and that she needs to buy chocolate. Well, since bringing snacks to school is against the rules, I opted to get her cards instead. At first I couldn’t find them at the Exchange and was really disappointed, but I lucked out and found them at another location. I ended up getting her 5 packs and some of them come with little sticker tattoos. Needless to say, little girl was thrilled! She spent roughly two hours writing cards to her classmates. I told her to make sure she doesn’t miss anyone or else they’ll be sad…and nobody wants to be sad on Valentime’s Day. 🙂

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Undokai 2019 Survivors

Today started out rough (as anticipated), but I have to say that despite my anxiety, I had a good time. I was really lucky that two of my English-speaking mom friends were there so I was really grateful about that because they helped to translate some things. Other than that, Miyu’s team won the relay race so she was over the moon. 🙂

I downloaded the footage and I’m hoping to edit and upload that sometime tomorrow. Goodnight! おやすみ!


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One more day ’til Undokai

It’s almost midnight now and I’m a bit angry and disappointed that I didn’t really get to relax today. When we got home, it was dinner, dishes, and laundry. My hands were aching and they’re still a bit stiff now. I was stressed out the whole day with the usual work-related things but on top of that, I was thinking about Saturday because it’s Miyu’s final Undokai event at her daycare. It’s been on my mind for a while and I’ve had a lot of anxiety about it because it’s a stressful event. First of all, it’s located at an elementary school a good 20 minute walk away from her actual daycare and because it’s in a residential area, there aren’t any paid parking lots nearby. Which means, we’d either have to walk or take a taxi. But it’s raining all weekend. Worse, Ken can’t even make it because the typhoon messed up his schedule and he has to make up the work on Saturday that he couldn’t do last Saturday when the typhoon hit. Which gives me massive anxiety just thinking about it. It would just be Miyu and me.

So but that’s the thing. When I focus on the negative parts, I forget about the good parts. Miyu has been practicing her little butt off for this event. She’s told me on numerous occasions that her friends are “counting on her.” She say’s she’s not excited and doesn’t want to go, but I can tell that she really is excited and really does want to go when she’s frolicking around the house practicing her dance moves.

I just can’t do that to her. I can’t not go because of my anxiety issues. It’s not just anxiety, it’s the enormous, traumatizing stress of the ever-present language barrier. Everything will be in Japanese. The program is in Japanese. I can’t read it. I can barely read the hiragana and katakana so I don’t really know what to expect. The event is from 0900 to 1230. There are numerous mini-events that require the parents to get involved. I’m planning to make vehement excuses about how I need to record my daughter so I’ll do it like last year—have one of the staff members take my place instead.

Anyway, I’m going to don my big girl panties and take my daughter to her school event. I’m going to use translation tools to decipher the program and write it down so that when I’m there in the loud gymnasium full of screaming kids, I’ll maybe know what’s going on. I’m not going to break Miyu’s heart all because I know I’m going to be frustrated and in silent-panic mode for 3 hours straight being in a chaotic environment. It’s just not fair to her.

Whatever happens, I’m going to try to make it work. Even if I can’t give my best, even if I will be in a bad mood from the morning, I hope my efforts will be enough and that whatever footage I’ll capture, I’ll cherish forever and my future self will be eternally grateful, LOL. Miyu might not understand the enormity of the pressure and stress this little event puts on me, but maybe in the future she’ll remember and she and I can laugh about it over coffee when her own children are running around her house.

Tomorrow night after work I’ll need to charge my camera batteries and think about the logistical aspects of actually getting to the venue and back home. For example, I don’t even know how to call for a taxi. FML. So I’ll have to get Ken involved for that. The old me would have thrown a fit and given him hell for not being able to attend, but the me now is focusing on Miyu and what I can do for her because she needs me and that’s what I’m here for. That’s what’s important—the present.

And the rest, all the little details that didn’t go exactly as I planned or hoped, doesn’t really matter now, does it?

Inhale, exhale.

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Everyday Hoikuen Items

As I was dropping Miyu off at school this morning, I had the urge to finally document all of the things that I bring with us. Hoikuen had been daunting for me at first, but now that we’re settled into a routine, things aren’t that bad. To give you an idea of the madness though, here is a list of things that I bring for her.

Inside her backpack

In the front flap:

Renrakucho (communication journal for parents and teachers). This journal needs to have a record of her temperature for every single morning, and who is picking her up and what time. In the photo below, it’s the yellow booklet in the middle. Inside, it’s just regular lined notebook paper.

This photo was taken at the hoiken on April 3rd, right when Miyu started. The left sheet is actually her time card.  The time card is something I’ll discuss in a future post about hoikuen in general. As of right now, October 2nd, that particular time card is no longer used. 

Attendance booklet (I don’t know what this is called, will come back to this later). In the photo, it’s the blue and green booklet. When you open it, it’s basically a calendar where the teacher or child puts stickers on each day of attendance.

Monthly dues and fees (¥7,500~¥8,000) – This is separate from the monthly cost of attendance. These fees pay for extra classes that we have Miyu enrolled in like English and Gymnastics. There’s more but I can’t remember at this moment, go figure. I didn’t bold this item because this is not an everyday item. This is only for the beginning of the month. For her particular hoikuen, it’s a yellow bubble type of envelope with a ziplock closure at the top.

Insurance paper and ¥100 fee for her upcoming field day. Again, this is not an everyday item but I thought I would include this anyway. We placed the ¥100 yen inside an envelope.

In the main compartment:

Extra (normal) clothes: 4 shirts, 3 pants, 3 panties, 2 socks (I forgot to add another one). Usually, I can only fit three of each item.

I usually separate her extra clothes into outfits that are then placed into a thin plastic bag like the one pictured on the left underneath the clothes. When I don’t have time to organize, I just grab clean clothes and throw them into her backpack. The extra clothes are placed into her cubby drawer which I will explain in another post.

One set of extra gym clothes for that day (shirt + shorts). Gym clothes = uniform underneath skirt and blazer.

Extra gym clothes

The extra set of gym clothes go inside a drawstring bag.

Cutlery for lunchtime.

The face towel gets folded into the small plastic container and everything is placed inside a drawstring bag. The container is useful because after the face towel is used, it’s usually wet and dirty, so the container keeps the other items from getting soiled. I leave the cutlery in her backpack which is stored in her cubby.

Face towel for lunchtime messes. This is usually soaked in water so that it’s easier to clean dirty faces.

Toothbrush + cup – Note there is NO toothpaste. This is kept in a drawstring bag and is hung along with the hand towel.

I check every now and then at the quality of her toothbrush. Once the bristles start to look worn down, I just go ahead and replace the toothbrush. 

  • Hand towel with a loop for drying hands after washing. These towels must have the holder loop so that they can be hung (along with the cup and toothbrush) on the mobile pegs typically located near the sink.

These towels are nice to have in her classroom because using a cloth towel as opposed to paper towels is better for the environment. Not only that but by bringing their own towels, it’s more hygienic. 

PegsJust for reference: There are two pegs in the photo to the left. The round one is used for hanging their outerwear. The long rectangular one is used for the hand towels and toothbrush set. I will touch upon these again in a future generalized post. 

Handkerchief – They place these inside the back pocket of their shorts.

We got Miyu two different kinds of handkerchiefs to see which one we like better. The bigger, thinner ones are nice because they’re less bulky in the pocket. The downside is they don’t absorb much sweat. The smaller one on the right is nice because it absorbs sweat but for some reason they’re easy to tear. If you click on the photo to see the larger version, you’ll notice the Sophia handkerchief is falling apart at the bottom. Next time what I’ll do is buy a whole pack of these and then immediately trim off the tags so they won’t get pulled on and tear the fabric.

  • Hat for outside. This is brightly colored and they’re standard for both hoikuen and yochien. They’re brightly colored so that when the children walk to a park or wherever they’re going, they can be seen easily by cars and other pedestrians. I’m guessing it also makes it easier for their teachers to keep an eye on them.
  • Small shower towel (like the kind that you would normally put in a bathroom to dry your hands with). Yes, when they’re practicing for field day or just playing too much and sweat a lot, they end up taking a quick shower in their classroom. During the summer, her school actually had little kiddie pools that they would put out on the large balcony. I had to bring a bathing suit, a cap, and a towel for her every single day. After they were finished, they would shower. I’m glad summer’s over. 🙂
  • Pajamas for the week – This is kept in the classroom throughout the week. This item is placed inside her backpack on Friday afternoon after nap time.

In a separate bag

I got tired of finding large plastic bags so I finally found this multi-purpose, reusable bag.

  • Futon cover – These have corner garters to make sure they stay in place atop the futon mattress.
  • Towel blanket
  • Whatever extra (normal) clothes I could not fit in the backpack
  • Waterbottle (always with mugicha or roasted barley tea) I usually have Miyu carry this, but sometimes I’ll just throw it in here or carry it myself.

Today, or last night rather, I forgot to write her name on the bag holding her shower towel. And then, as I was stowing away her backpack and other things in her classroom, I saw that there was a place to put aprons. Her class cooks sometimes and parents are required to provide their child an apron, a mask (like the kind that you use when you’re sick), and a bandana to keep hair away from the face and from falling into things. I was confused because Ken had told me that they’ll be cooking every Friday. *Shrugs* Anyway, when I dropped Miyu off this morning, I asked her teacher if they were cooking today and luckily she said “ashita,” which means tomorrow.

Photos and cost of each item coming soon!