Friday, August 20, 2010

The Great Daycare Debacle: Part 1 (of who knows how many)

Noah started at his second new daycare on August 2nd. That’s two daycares in three months. This is a lesson in listening to your instincts, in following your gut, in paying attention to your “mama” radar. It’s true...when you give birth you also grow an antenna on your head that is on full-alert mode 24/7. It flashes green or red depending on the circumstances and is a constant buzz in your ear. I didn’t listen to that buzz and I wish I had.

I got my job back on May 9th with a start date of June 7th. We had one month to figure out childcare for Noah. One month in a city where daycare wait lists are two years long, decent nannies are hard to find, and lord help you if you don’t have Grandma living nearby to come watch your kids. Nothing like a little fire under your ass, am I right? But let’s back up a week, shall we? Before I went to my meeting with my former employer I started looking into childcare. I knew I would be working SOMEWHERE, I just didn’t know it would happen so fast. I found our first daycare provider on Craigslist. I know some people think Craigslist is populated by serial killers but I have had great luck with it as a resource. Why not give it a shot for childcare too?

Her ad was well-written and linked to the well-designed website she had built for her business. She was a young, seemingly energetic woman who was just starting out in the in-home daycare business (warning no. 1). She had a background in elementary education and art. She had a young, infant son who looked cute and well-cared for. Her home was a mile from our house and a mile from the train I would need to take to work. She was taking two infants and two toddlers in addition to her son. She had one toddler spot left. This is me thinking “Score!”. I called right away and set up an appointment for the following afternoon, May 8th.

I walked into her townhome and right away noticed that it wasn’t in the best shape (warning no. 2). She had told me over the phone that it was a rental but had permission from her landlord to run her daycare out of the space. Perhaps I am too forgiving because then she told me her townhome was for sale and they may need to relocate come March. I forged on. She took me to the dedicated play space set up for the kids...it looked cute and well-appointed with toys and activities, if a little on the small side for a couple active toddlers and three babies. She was sweet and reminded me of one of my good friends. On a personality level, we clicked pretty quickly and fell into an easy conversation. Her rates were affordable and she would be feeding the kids two meals and all snacks. She said there was a deposit if we wanted the spot and warned that she had a couple more appointments set up with parents for the toddler spot so I should let her know right away if we wanted it. She wasn’t taking kids until July 1st at the earliest because she hadn’t gotten her DCFS license yet (warning no. 3). I told her I had an interview the next day and would let her know.

I went home and told Tim that I liked it, it would be fine (warning no. 4), we should secure the spot. We decided to wait until after my meeting with my former employer before deciding what to do. The next day I went to my meeting and got my job back with a start date one month away. And then I went home and panicked. I knew we would never find anything we could afford in such a short period of time and that we should take the in-home spot. But I didn’t feel 100% confident that the in-home was the right place for Noah (warning no. 5). To be honest, I didn’t know what it was, I couldn’t identify the feeling I was experiencing. I chalked it up to being terrified about someone else taking care of Noah in my absence and needing to adjust to the idea of working again. In hindsight, it wasn’t going back to work or the fear of change that was really nagging at me.

I called her the following Monday and asked to drop off the deposit and contract. We secured our spot at the in-home daycare with a start date of June 21st. My first day of work was June 7th so my sister took one for the team and stayed with us to help take care of Noah for those two weeks. We love her for it. I was waiting for the wave of relief to wash over me. I got my old job back in a matter of a week, we found a daycare solution for Noah that seemed perfect (on paper), and things should have been falling into place. That wave of relief never came.

To be continued...

8 comments:

maggie said...

Argh! Stressing me out! More please!

Madame Queen said...

I had one of those too. Why don't we learn to listen to our instincts. I think that's one of the hardest things about becoming a mother -- learning to trust ourselves!

kyooty said...

Cliff hangers!!! ACK!!

Shelly Overlook said...

I know the end to the story (well, some of it), but still I can't wait to read more.

Isn't Mother Radar amazing??

k said...

Oh, the radar.

I have found that my internal gut/radar/super sleuth ability has become crazily fine tuned since becoming a mother. I think it's the need to protect that upped its ability.

bessie.viola said...

I've got a little bit of the heart-in-throat thing going on over here... But I know that this will have a happy ending. That Mom Radar is one powerful thing, isn't it?

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

One of our good family friends runs an in-home daycare. I asked her what sorts of questions I should ask and what I should look for in an in-home daycare setting. Her response? Three words: Trust your gut. That's all she told me. She said, we'd know when we found a great place for our child ... and if we weren't sure, then we needed to keep on looking. It saddens me to think your transition back to work wasn't a smooth one ... and it had nothing to do with your job!

Hillary said...

Oh daycare ... once you find the right spot, it can be such a blessing, but the finding of it is such a horrible task. Our first daycare closed unexpected while I was pregnant last year, giving us just a week to find a new spot for The Boy. Luckily, we found a good one.

Eager to hear more ... and hoping everything is working out for you now.