Before I could go back to work, I had to find reliable daycare.
I started my search early. Real early. Probably too early. Almost every place I called told me to call back in a few months to see if they would actually have a spot available in October.
Then I let my search slide. Maybe I wouldn’t go back to work, I thought. When it came to choosing a daycare, I may have even tried to sabotage things a little. If I didn’t have a daycare situation, I couldn’t go back to work. Although I knew in the back of my mind, I needed to go back to work. We couldn’t afford otherwise.
All of sudden, Owen was four weeks old and I still didn’t have a daycare lined up.
I started the daycare search again, this time with a renewed urgency. I needed to find a place, and soon.
I was looking into both daycare facilities and people who watched children out of their home. The individuals who watched children out of the home were less expensive, on the wholesale, than daycare facilities.
However, I felt, for some reason, more comfortable with daycare. For most people, it’s quite the opposite. They like the homey, warm atmosphere of a home-run “daycare”. I liked the facilities because they seem more professional, more capable, more experienced.
Weeks passed and I still hadn’t found someone or someplace to watch Owen. By this time, most daycare facilities didn’t have openings anymore, but the home day operators didn’t know if they’d still have an opening come October. I was starting to get freaked.
Then one day I lucked out. I called The Little Red School House in Fort Wright, Kentucky. The Little Red had been recommended to me before, but only a few of the locations took infants, and the ones that did had a long waiting list. On a whim, I called the Fort Wright location again. The director told me that they actually did have an opening. I told her I’d be right there to check it out. I threw down the phone, jumped in the shower, and was at The Little Red within the hour.
As soon as I walked in the front door, I immediately knew this was where Owen would probably go.
I hadn’t even seen the infant room yet! The director was so incredibly nice, and everyone I ran into on the way to the infant room actually smiled and said hi. A far cry from other daycare facilities I had visited, where sullen workers shuffled around, practically ignoring their surroundings. It was also clean, and separated into different “rooms” like a school. A lot of the daycares I had looked at were one big room separated by partitions and extremely loud. I always wondered how the heck Owen would ever get a nap.
I went in the infant room and was very impressed. All the people who enter the infant room have to take off their shoes or wear shoe covers. The head of the infant room has been at The Little Red for about 12 years, and has been taking care of infants for 17 (although the woman doesn’t look a day older than 30.) Both she and the other caregiver were very open, kind, and knowledgable. They let me watch and answered all my questions–no matter how strange they might have been.
I signed up that day for a spot, and I’ve been happy ever since. That doesn’t mean I don’t spend too much time there in the mornings when I drop Owen off, because I do. I also rush there every evening to pick him up. Sometimes, when I walk into the room in the evening, I get this feeling of panic if I don’t immediately spot Owen. Oftentimes, I hate putting on my shoe covers because I just want to run to Owen and hug and kiss on him.
Even though I try, I don’t think the guilt of leaving Owen will ever vanish.
I feel guilty in myriad ways–I feel guilty for leaving Owen, I feel bad for sometimes leaving a crying baby with The Little Red caregivers, I feel bad for sometimes secretly wanting to go to work and leave my crying baby with someone else to take care of him for a few hours. I know this guilt is irrational and uncalled for, but
I don’t think it will ever completely vanish. I can just be happy that I feel completely comfortable leaving him in capable, caring hands.
7 thoughts on “Choosing a Daycare Situation”
I think your story shows that sometimes, things just work themselves out. Of course, you have to take action–you can’t just wait and hope. But you do what you can, and then wait and hope.
Also, I think the guilt of leaving your child with anyone for large chunks of time is normal. I feel guilty leaving Cassie each morning, even though she’s with her own daddy! Maybe it’s biology, or cultural norms–whatever it is, I feel like I, as the mommy, should be the primary caregiver. But whenever I feel bad about it, I remind myself that I’m doing whatever I can to provide the best life for her. That’s what matters.
My neighbor watches our kids. When Jonah was 2 years old, he used to go there 4 days a week. I remember one day my sitter told me she had Jonah in the car and they drove past my house. Jonah told my sitter, “Look mommy, there’s Cara’s house.” Talk about guilt!
But, really I’m very lucky to have a great babysitter. Jonah and Zoe both love going to her house. And that’s all that matters. They’re happy and I’m happy.
It's really hard to find the balance in life. You just have to try.
I like how you mentioned that walking in the door of the daycare was when you knew it was the right place. I’m going to be starting a job in a few weeks, so I need to find a good daycare to take care of my daughter. Perhaps it would be a good idea to visit a few places in person to see if anything feels right.
I really like how you talked about knowing right away that the infant care facility was the right one. It’s really important to look for a friendly facility who gives you the welcome you talked about. Finding an infant care center where people are happy will likely rub off on your child, so I think that is a really important thing we should look for in a facility for our baby! Thanks for the help!
These are some great pieces of advice, especially the fact that you chose the daycare with friendly staff. After all, anyone who is going to drop their child off at a daycare, especially an infant, wants to know that they’ll be taken care of. This is kind of hard if the workers are always sullen and refuse to acknowledge your presence.
Thanks for bringing to my attention that you felt daycare facilities felt more professional and experienced. I’m going to be starting my new job in a couple of weeks, so I’m going to be extremely busy with work. My wife is still going strong at her job as well, so there will likely be several hours a day where neither of us are home to take care of our son. We want him to be looked after, so maybe we can find a daycare facility since they seem more professional and can provide the care our son needs.