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Sprout | Daycare Delima

What we believe our needs to be:
  • Someone to care, love and tend to our child's needs
  • Licensed, CPR trained/certified, Infant care - top priority 
  • Ability to have a flexible schedule, will be willing to work around my husband's school calendar vs. full time/12 month schedule
  • A location that is easily accessed if any urgent need should arise (for any of the following: myself, my husband, my parents, my siblings)
  • Limited number of infants with appropriate child to adult ratios
  • Reasonable pricing, nothing that out way a salary
What we have considered:
  • In home daycare, someone to come to our house, nanny like
  • In home daycare, taking our child to some one's house
  • Commercial daycare center, that accept infants at age 2.5 to 3 months old
  • Locations
    • Close to home
    • Close to my work
    • Close to my husband's work/also close to my parent's/sister's house
    • In between my work and my husband work
    • Or just on the way to any of the places listed
What we have been told from others (including my dr):
  • Having the daycare close to home or in your home, if you forget something your drive time to return isn't long
  • Having the child in the car with your during your commute might be more stressful than you think, plus rush hour traffic is a mess as it is; safety of your child
  • In your home or in someone else's home can be more expensive but well worth it
  • Having someone come to your home eliminates the "forgot something" step + you don't have to take anything anywhere
  • Be aware of pets, smoking and other children when interviewing in home daycare units/people
What we have done so far to educate ourselves about options and where to find daycare options:
  • Asked people we know that have kids or are expecting what they plan to do
  • Look for resources that supply daycare options: newspaper, internet, neighborhood resources, etc...
  • I've created a spreadsheet to include options
  • I've gone to some of the suggested resources to start making contact with people that are daycare providers to see if our needs are something they can meet.
The best part about all of these thoughts and research is the fact that because my husband is a teacher and off for the 3 months in the summer during my maternity leave, we won't have to have our baby boy go to a sitter until he's about 2.5 to 3 months old.  It's really a blessing, but working out the details for when those days follow is challenging.  We'll get it together, just like being organized and overly prepared, you know?

As I know I have a lot of mothers that read my blog, would you have any suggestions on questions to ask sitters?  To ask daycare providers?  Is there anything that we should be thinking about that I haven't already listed above?

Are there any teachers that have the flexibility that we're looking for in a sitter?  Was it hard to find someone that would allow for that flexibility?

If you are a stay at home mom, when did you decide that staying home was going to be the best option for you and what costs did you take into account when thinking about the correct balance of salary vs. childcare?

If you are local to me or local to the area, would you have any suggestions for other options that I might not already be thinking about?

Thanks for your input.


Abi said…
Hi Jill, I think this is the first time I have posted on your blog. First, I am a teacher and have been very fortunate to take this year off with my little one. If I did not, I would have had to return to work when she was 5 months old (we had her in late June, so that time plus my FMLA time would have put us returning in December). I didn't realize how much I would want to be home with her until I had her. I think I would have been a complete mess to go back to work when she was 3 months old (or 2.5!!!!). However, when I reached the 5 month/6 month age, I thought that if I had to go back to work, it would have been much better. There was something that happened at the 4/5/6 month age.

At 6 months (but it got easier every month, so at 4 months it was easier than 2 months, etc.)...

Nursing was easy (that took 4 months for me). Now, I can see myself pumping for her during the day and not giving up nursing...but at 2.5 months? It would have been really, really hard.

She was lifting her head, rolling over, and doing other really strong things. If she was with someone watching her, I would have been much less worried because as a new infant, I wanted her to be held sooooo much and I thought that I'd be the only one who would hold and cuddle her as much as I thought she needed. That much holding and cuddling sets them up to have a much stronger foundation. They feel secure and they know that you are there for them. That was important to me. At 6 months, she just wanted a lot more time to play with toys and roll around on the floor.

Also, at 5/6 months she could make her wishes known! She could really let me know if she was tired, hungry, bored, etc., etc. I would want this because I wouldn't want her needs to be forgotten by someone else.

Sleep. So important and SOOO much better at 5/6 months than at 2.5/3 months. For me, especially. If I went back to work at 6 months, I wouldn't have been quite a zombie. At 2.5 months? Exhaustion.

At 6 months, I feel like I could go back to work and look forward to seeing her when I returned home but not be so desperately sad that I was leaving her.

Okay, so my advice is to take as much time as you can possibly take. Every extra week or month will make the transition easier for you because your baby will be older. Can you possibly take 4 months? or 5? If not, then that's the way it is, and, don't feel guilty about it! Feeling guilty is the worst thing because if you find a good care provider, your child will be fine and loved. My advice is more for your well being than your baby's. Your baby will be just fine.

Initially, I didn't think I could take this much time home with her but then we sat down and really crunched the numbers. I am working part time taking care of two other children when they get off of school and this was just enough extra $ to make it work for us. I was even asked to watch a child full time, which would have made it even easier for us (I declined because I wanted to work the minimum amount possible). Because I am a teacher, a full year made sense, but honestly, I could see myself having returned to work when she was 5/6 months if my situation were different.
Abi said…
That said, I LOVE staying home. Next year, my husband (also a teacher) plans to take a year off (and continue to do the after school child care). I wish I could make my situation permanent. But, alas, we also had many IF treatments to get pregnant and if we want to try again, we both will have to return to work to save up enough money to do so.

This year (and next year) are NOT years of luxury. That is a real consideration, in my opinion. I think the right decision for you is whatever makes you and your husband (and baby) feel the best. If we were going to spend two years of living on such a tight income and be very unhappy, then staying home would not have been the right option for us. I think the happiness of your family is what is most important. I know I've gone on and on in this, but I feel so importantly that a child needs a happy and loving home, not a super stressed out one. So, of course, make the decision that is best for you.

Hope this helps, if not, it helped me to write it because I hadn't really thought out my own opinion on this before now!
Melissa said…
Hi, delurking to add a few ideas/comments. Just started reading your blog from Busted Babymaker. I have 2 girls in daycare. One is 3 and the other 5 months. I personally like having them close to work. If one gets sick or has a dr appointment, I'm there in a flash. Home is 30 minutes away so I don't feel comforatable with them so far away. Plus with my 3 year old, I get to spend time with her on the commute. We talk, sing songs, and laugh together. My 5 month old uses this time to take a snooze. I've been back at work for 2 months and she is never really fussy in the car (ever baby is different however). The daycare they go to is a private school/church so they have a flexible schedule for teachers. If you pay a registration fee by March 1st, then your child is guaranteed a spot in August. Maybe that is something you could look into. I've only had my 3 year old in daycare so I can't say anything about staying home or having an at home sitter but I'm sure it's nice. Oh, also I pack everything up the night before and triple check that I have all 4 bags before leaving the house (purse, pump, bottle bag, and ice chest for pumped milk). Knock on wood, I haven't forgotten anything yet.
Abi said…
Oh! Plus, the longer you can take off, the more your body can heal and return to it's new "normal."
Sarah said…
I'm lucky enough to be able to take Joss to my mom every day. And she even watches the daughter of one of my friends, so Joss even has a playmate. (It's our perfect situation! we lucked out)


Have your husband talk to other parents at school. I have quite a few teacher friends who take their kids to the same woman, who likes having the school schedule, and is very flexible when it comes to days off, etc.

Those other moms/dads are a great resource for good childcare.
Amber said…
I just went through this, it's nerve-racking! (sp?)

My first suggestion is to contact your local county or state government to find out who does child care licensing. That entity should be able to point you to CREDIBLE child care facilities. The borough I live in provided me with a list of centers and home-based child care that had infant openings, while telling me that they couldn't "recommend" anyone and it was my job to interview the caregivers.

You already hit the big ones. Caregiver to child ratio, things like smoke detectors and safe toys/outdoor play areas if applicable. How often do they sanitize the toys? Is there a dedicated diaper-changing area, and is it sanitized after EVERY diaper change? Is there hand sanitizer around, and/or is hand-washing a priority? Do they sanitize bottles after each use?

Do they have a daily routine or do they take your cues on what you want baby's routine to look like? Is there a spiritual component to their care? If so (or if not) does that match what you're looking for?

MOST of all, you will have a gut feeling when you visit each of these places. You'll just know which ones are okay and which ones aren't right for you. Trust yourself! I ended up with a large daycare center that is church-based and situated less than 5 minutes from my work. Aidan and I use the 30 minute commute to babble back and forth at one another!

I actually have a great PDF checklist for this purpose. I can email it to you, if you like. Just drop me a line. :) amberlyn(at)gmail(dot)com.
Alyson said…
You know that I didn't want to return to my job because I traveled too much but there were other opportunities that I could have taken and chose not to. There are positives and negatives to both staying at home and working but finding the right balance is key in whatever you decide to do. It took me awhile to make my decision. I know now that it was the right decision for our family. Good luck, its definitely hard and a little stressful trying to find any kind of childcare.

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