Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thoughts on daycare

Cloth diapers vs. disposable, breast milk vs. formula, attachment parenting vs. scheduling... If it wasn't enough to make big decisions for your own life, parenthood means being responsible for making big decisions for another very little person as well.  And one of the biggest for most mothers (although this applies to dads as well, just not on the same scale) is whether to stay home or to return to work.  And if you do decide to go back to work, you have to think about daycare.

For better or for worse, staying home was not a realistic option for me.  Daniel is in grad school and in order for us to maintain a certain standard of living (ie. not having to live in the EasyMac box our dinner just came out of), I need to go back to work.  Plus I like my job and my coworkers, and I would feel like I was leaving them in the lurch if I quit.  Also, we live in an economic climate when anyone can be laid off at any point for any reason through no fault of their own and finding another job can take months or years, and I feel like it's irresponsible to try to raise a family without having two separate incomes.  Reasonable can people disagree, but having a "backup salary" is a bit of financial security I don't think I'd be willing to live without.

So that solved one parenthood dilemma but raised a second - what to do about daycare.

Neither Daniel or I went to daycare as children so neither of us has any personal knowledge of what is good and/or bad about being a kid in daycare.  It seems like in the '90s there were all these studies showing that sending your kid to daycare was a sure fire way to turn him or her into a serial killer, but the pendulum has now swung back the other way and daycare is just fine as long as you don't pick the one run by the iPhone factory in China.

But it's still hard.  It's really really really hard to think about leaving my tiny 8-week-old baby with a stranger. It's hard to think about returning to work after not sleeping for 2 straight months and trying to figure out how our lives will change to meet the baby's needs.  While I don't think being a stay at home mom is easy, I do think that there are a lot of aspects of it that are easier than being a working mom.  And I don't want my baby to become a serial killer.  Part of the reason I stopped going to visit daycare centers after July (in addition to spending my time organizing the move) is that, no matter now nice and wonderful each center seemed, I always left feeling sad and overwhelmed about the decision to "give my baby away" for part of the day.

Anyway... from the very beginning, I've felt more comfortable with the idea of the baby going to a daycare center rather than an in-home daycare.  I have coworkers and friends who LOVE LOVE LOVE their in-home daycare providers and advocate that as 100% the way to go, but I still like the idea of a center better both because there would be more oversight for teachers and because you don't have to worry about a back-up plan if the teacher gets sick/has a family emergency/etc.  On the other side, in-home care tends to be cheaper and more flexible than a center.

So far I've visited 6 centers and applied for 4 waiting lists (one center was unacceptable and one only takes applications in March).  Infant care is competitive so it's recommended you be on something like 10 (!!!) waiting lists, so I'm still looking.  I'm planning to go to one more center on Thursday, but I do want to step out of my comfort zone and explore what's out there for in-home care, too.  The problem that I've run into so far on cites like Care.com and Craigslist is that the only people who are advertising are people looking for kids to watch NOW, and people who won't be looking for kids to watch until March (when I want care) aren't advertising so I can't find them.

So... my plan is to visit this final center and then just peruse Care.com and Craigslist regularly and keep my ears open for recommendations for in-home providers to try to round out my 10.  I'm going to call the centers I've already applied to in November to see where we are on the waiting list, and if NOTHING looks like it will pan out, then I'll make my in-home care search more active again.  I feel like this plan balances my need to feel like I have some control over the future without dragging myself through emotional hell by visiting a million more day care providers.  


I'm not sure I accomplished anything by typing all that out, but it's been on my mind a lot lately, and I needed a blog topic for day, so there you have it.

Because this post was so un-funny, I give you My Dog: The Paradox.  If you haven't seen it yet, it's totally hilarious (but crude and contains bad language, FYI).




  1. I've used both -- a daycare center in Ohio and a home daycare here in Wyoming. I absolutely love(d) both experiences. There are pros and cons with each, but it's the providers who make the difference. You gotta really trust them and get that good gut/mommy feeling about them. Good luck finding care, it's tough. But it sounds like you have a great plan.

  2. As you are probably learning, there are no right or wrong answers in deciding child care - only that you are comfortable. Actually that pretty much sums up raising children - lots of choices - and not many of them right or wrong - just different!! ;-)
    Both my son's were in in-home daycare - by someone from our church.
    They both were nursed - no jarred baby food - I used a food grinder for their baby food - both wore cloth diapers (although my husband was home part time with the youngest son and he used disposables . . . m uch to my displeasure! ) They both went to the same co-op preschool - same grade, middle and high schools. Both played musical instruments, both played soccer (group sport) and then one played golf and the other tennis. They were seemingly raised pretty much the same and they are as different as is possible!
    It is such a wonderful experience! And that wasn't meant to be a joke! It is wonderful - at each stage you wish they would stay that age . . . and then they grow / change and that stage is your favorite. It keeps getting better!

  3. Thanks. I'm *hoping* that I'm setting myself up to choose between several good options in the end. The hard thing is that I don't think I even *know*what my parenting philosophy is yet. I will say, I went and visited one
    BAD center and it was obvious from the minute I walked in the door, so I'm not toooo concerned about making a truly bad decision. I guess in the worst case scenario I don't see eye to eye with the provider I choose, I can always move the baby somewhere else, and I'll have a better idea what I'm looking for.

  4. Thanks for the vote of confidence. As much as I sometimes (often) worry about things, I'm actually really really excited about the journey of parenthood and discovering who this new little person inside me will be.

  5. I don't have children yet but my husband and I have talked about child care already. We would both need to be working if we had a child so child care would be a must for us. Neither of us attended any sort of child care as children either so we don't know much about them. I will just have to make sure I check over their policies well so I feel comfortable leaving my child there.