The daycare hunt, part I

27 Feb

We started looking for a daycare option for Turtle fairly early – during the fourth month of pregnancy. I had heard they book up early, especially for infants, and I wanted to have the option to choose between different programs, not have to settle for whatever was available.

Going in, price was obviously a huge concern and factor. But we also wanted a place that was clean, organized, and where we felt the care he would be given would be loving and individualized. I was open to both daycare centers and home daycares. I figured the daycare centers would be more structured and perhaps more reliable, while the home daycares would be more loving and perhaps more affordable.

I started by calling a bunch of local daycare centers. I had a list of questions which I’m happy to share with anyone who is starting this process. The idea was to get a sense of their program and especially, their availability, hours, and cost. I also called one home daycare provider who had been recommended by a friend of a neighbor. Once I gathered all this information, I narrowed down the list to the daycares we wanted to tour.

We started with four daycares: three centers and one home. We had a high-priced center option, a mid-priced one, and a low-priced one. The home daycare was affordable and I figured I’d know immediately whether I was even comfortable with the home option by touring this recommended one. I’ll admit at this point, I was a bit biased toward going with a daycare center vs. a home daycare, because it seemed more organized and cleanly.

DH and I both took a morning off and went on the tours. First we saw the mid-priced center. I didn’t mind it but DH got a weird, nervous vibe from the staff and felt it wasn’t as clean as we would have hoped. Next we saw the high-priced one and DH felt much better. It was far more organized and they were obsessive about cleanliness. The babies were working on a little art project with paint brushes and vanilla during our tour. I liked this center but, aside from the top of the budget price, I had my reservations.

We then saw the low-priced center, which we both absolutely abhorred from the minute we walked in. They were feeding the babies delivery pizza for lunch with canned green beans. To tell the truth, this completely turned us off. The rooms were small and babies sometimes have to share cribs. They also couldn’t guarantee a space for him and wouldn’t be able to tell us if space was even available until JULY – a month after he was born! This was automatically off the list, although it was conveniently located near home and extremely affordable.

Finally we saw the home daycare. It was… okay. The provider was alone with about six kids and seemed a bit stressed. Her house was big and was jam packed with toys and activities everywhere the eye could see. It almost looked like a daycare center in a way but I found it overwhelming. It didn’t scream cleanliness either and the woman seemed a little “rough around the edges.” Not unkind but not overly warm and welcoming either.

We left this day of touring not really feeling comfortable with any of the options. We had it narrowed down to the high-priced center and the home daycare. The center was not conveniently located and was expensive. It was very clean and organized, but I felt it was clean to the point of hospital-like sterility. They had florescent lighting in there that could not be dimmed for nap time. It was also open-plan, so the babies were in the same space as the loud and rambunctious toddlers. Something about this rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like he’d be spending so much of his early weeks and months in a sterile, hectic, florescent hospital setting and didn’t want that to continue in his day-to-day care.

Yet the home daycare wasn’t clean enough. And while it was conveniently located and affordable, we still didn’t feel he’d be receiving the warm, loving care we were hoping for. I decided to check a few references for the home daycare while also calling a few others. I talked to the friend of the neighbor who had recommended the home daycare and she was very honest in saying that she felt like the provider took on more kids than she should have and that she felt her daughters didn’t exactly receive the most attentive or individualized care as a result. That was kind of all I needed to hear to decide that the home daycare wasn’t right for us either.

So back the drawing board I went…


8 Responses to “The daycare hunt, part I”

  1. Kristin February 28, 2013 at 4:30 am #

    I would love to see your questions!

    • Shelley February 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      Kristin – Shoot me an email and I’ll send them over!

  2. Esperanza February 28, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    Finding day cares are so hard. We toured a bunch of places for Isa and I didn’t love any of them. We were lucky we didn’t have to find one until after she was 2 when there were a lot more choices. Finding care under 2 is so hard. I hope you found something that felt right.

  3. sams February 28, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    We’ve toured three center-type daycares. The first one was wonderful but the price was out of our budget. The second one was a complete disaster – I couldn’t believe people actually sent their kids there. The third one was wonderful too and closer to our price range. We plan to check out a few in-home daycares too but I haven’t been feeling well enough so we’ve been putting it off. But I recommend, if you don’t have this question on your list, to ask each place about their emergency evacuation protocol. The second center we toured was allowed up to 12 infants but they only had ONE emergency evacuation crib! The woman told me they would put all 12 infants in one crib to get them out of the center. I was shocked! They would end up with babies on top of babies in that scenario and suffocation immediately popped into my mind. AND their emergency evacuation crib was stuffed full of crap – backpacks, pillows, etc. It wasn’t even ready for an emergency. Talk about a huge, glaring red flag! The other two centers we toured and two to three emergency evacuation cribs that were empty and ready at a moment’s notice.

    • sams February 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

      *had two to three emergency evacuation cribs
      (not ‘and two to three emergency evacuation cribs’)

  4. alloallo March 4, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    I’d love to see the questions too, will try to email you now…

  5. Aplatanada March 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    I’d love to see your questions, too! We are on the (short) wait list at one that we feel okay about, but I’m not thrilled. Having to pay for two has really limited what we can even look at!


  1. The daycare hunt, part II | tales from the waiting room - March 4, 2013

    […] is the second and final installment of the story of our hunt for a daycare for Turtle. You can read part I here, if you’re so […]

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