Our childcare situation: Winter update
February 24, 2016
I know you were all dying to know what we do with LB all day.
once mobility was achieved, productivity took a nosedive.
Over several months, we’ve tried nannies, sitters, and daycare. Some were ok, some were most decidedly not.
We haven’t tried in-home daycare yet, we’re considering a few, but I’ve gotta tell ya, none of them have felt quite right. The smaller size overall seems like a good thing, especially during this period when every possible disease is being shared across several different age groups. Truly, I didn’t expect this ambivalence to apply to everyone, our hope was we’d find the right place and it’d feel right. But the closest we’ve gotten is the brand-name daycare.
What we like about it
LB loves it. I’m not talking about any low level of interest or joy, here, it’s an intense level of happiness. Ze was all about this place: new toys? YES. new infant sized furniture? YES. new people? YES! The first day was the total opposite of what we braced for: instead of a scared, nervous or even indifferent child, LB went all in. Pulled up a seat at the table, sat down and helped hirself to some food, grinning at a brand new carer like they were best friends. (IN YOUR FACE, well meaning but totally annoying father who lectured me about separation anxiety.)
Subsequent drop-offs were the same for weeks: a mad cackle and dash-crawl to hir brand new teachers, or pull up a chair at the snack bar and never leave. Ze would see me at pick-up, and go right back to playing with hir carer because Mom, it’s bubbles time, just hang on, ok? Again, nothing like the picture of separation anxiety I’d slightly dreaded.
The carers seem to be fond of hir, despite hir well known defiance and horrible diaper changing etiquette.
PiC is the designated primary person to contact and they always try to contact him first. Any time they call me, they apologize and explain that they did try him first but couldn’t reach him.
What’s not awesome
The place is a damn viral incubator. It’s to be expected that kids will share germs but because this is a larger facility, there are that many more multiples of infectious disease vectors. You guys. SO MANY GERMS.
Ze has been sick at least half hir enrolled time, and sick enough to be sent home. Which means we’re paying a full month’s fees for half a month’s care, plus taking time away from work to care for LB myself. Well, both of us. PiC and I have started splitting the sick days. The first couple of times, I just took care of hir myself because we were frazzled by the surprise at-home days and it was easiest for me to just be home with hir.
We settled into a better routine once we got a handle on it. He does pick-up and drop-off, and I cover the mornings so he can work, and he comes home early to take over in the afternoon so I can work.
They don’t provide meals so I have to pack a lunch for school days. We split that too: I do lunches and he does bottles. It’s one more task for our evening routine, and I don’t love having to remember yet another thing.
$$$$: It’s really expensive. It’s been budgeted for since before ze was born but MAN it’s still a lot of money.
Status: Holding pattern
We have regular email updates from the daycare center but PiC also reports back. His latest update left me feeling a little less enamoured with hir current group. (We’ve nicknamed all the kids for their anonymity.)
PiC: Patient Zero’s transferred to a different group now, so it just leaves a handful of the older kids. LB loved watching the infants but I get the feeling that they need lots of staff time so the older kids aren’t getting much attention anymore. They’re kind of just left to entertain themselves.
Me: Who’s left?
PiC: Bruiser isn’t always the first and last kid there anymore, but he still always looks like he’s on the verge of tears.
Me: Bruiser’s so cute. But so sad. And looks like the model for Hitler’s Youth: perfect blonde, blue eyes, built like a tank.
PiC: Yeah, he looks like he has a destiny. He has an older brother.
PiC: I think Bruiser could take his brother.
Me: Cruiser, then.
PiC: Yeah. Precious Moments Puppy is still there. Also always looks on the verge of tears but I think he’s just channeling the atmosphere. It’s a shame that Vale of Tears isn’t there anymore.
Me: Why? She cried all the time. She made LB sympathy cry. She was the saddest of them all.
PiC: Yeah but she was like the walking emotional outlet for the entire group. She was The Giver, feeling all the feelings, so the rest of them could be happy.
Me: That’s true. Also messed up. Also it sounds like they’ve turned into the room of infinite sadness.
PiC: Sort of, yeah. It makes me feel like there’s pressure on LB. Whenever ze’s sick, they’re like, “Where’s our LB? Ze is so quiet and detached!” And I’m like, shit, lady, LB can’t carry the happiness for a whole group! That’s so much pressure!
Me: I dunno. Builds character.
We’re looking into other daycare options, mainly because of the cost, but now also in case the group composition changes so much that LB isn’t having the time of hir life anymore. We have totally reasonable standards, yes.
The thing is, I’m not comfortable with the in-home set-ups that I’ve seen so far. They *sound* nice, some are bilingual, they’re all much smaller and theoretically more hands on. But I’m just not comfortable with the feeling that there’s not as much accountability.
Facilities have standard regulations and background checks they’re expected to present, whereas the in-home daycares where I don’t know anyone and don’t necessarily do those things makes me nervous. Particularly in the case of more family-style care groups – how do I just trust that no one in the family is a predator? How do I trust that if they do harm LB in ways that aren’t immediately obvious, they won’t just cover it up? It’s not that I think larger facilities are infallible, but there are more controls in place, and I don’t feel awkward saying: do you have background checks for all employees?
I’m not sure what the answer is yet, but this has worked for now. We may just suck it up and keep paying the price for the peace of mind. Well, we will for now while we keep looking.