The daycare hunt, part II

4 Mar

This 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 inclined.

After not having a particularly certain feeling toward any of the four daycares we toured, I started to panic a little. Daycare is easily one of the most important decisions a new parent can make. Knowing how hard it will be to leave my newborn, I desperately wanted to find an option I was not only comfortable with – but excited about!

I looked at this process in the same way as I look at finding a new house or choosing a college. It’s that feeling. That feeling of just knowing immediately that something is right. We were looking for that and hadn’t found it yet. And once I made my peace with that, I realized that that feeling was worth more to me than any other factor and any price.

Since I had exhausted most of the available daycare center options in the area, we decided our next move would be to further explore the home daycare option. I Googled “home daycare, OURTOWN” and got a listing of providers in the area. I searched their proximity to our house and ordered them from closest to furthest. The first one I called, the one closest to our house, was Sue.

Sue was so kind on the phone. She just started rattling off all of the information I could possibly need to know, without my having to really ask. The first big plus for her was the fact that although she is licensed for six kids, she said she never has more than three at a time. Right now she has kids at ages 3, 2, and 1. The three year old will be moving on to preschool in the fall though, and the 2 and 1-year-olds will be turning 3 and 2, respectively, thus creating a space for Turtle as the only baby.

She told me all about how loving the environment is, how she keeps in touch with everyone she has ever taken care of and how she has made wonderful friendships with the parents. She told me about all the activities she does with them, and how she likes to teach them letters, colors, shapes and numbers. She has a fenced in backyard, a dog, her husband is a mailman in the neighborhood so always nearby, they have a son who is grown and married, neither of them smoke or drink and they’ve both had background checks. She said she completely understands what this process is like and that we should feel free to ask her ANYTHING.

I got a really good feeling from her on the phone so I set up a Friday afternoon visit for DH and myself to stop by. She lives about three minutes by car from our house, right on the water. Her house is quite small but the view from her kitchen and deck is spectacular. There were no kids there when we visited as they had all gone home for the day, and she had already turned her house back into a home (ie put away the pack n’ plays, high chairs, toys, etc.). Her home was very neat and clean and calming, which we really liked.

She sat us down at her kitchen table and proceeded to show us her daycare license, her degree in early childhood education (another huge plus), her recommendations, her holiday schedule, and even her dog’s license and rabies vaccination. Her fridge was plastered with pictures of the kids she currently cares for and has cared for in the past. She showed them to us like a proud grandmother. She’s tiny, in her late 50s/early 60s, extremely sweet and kind and she just put us at ease immediately. Unlike the other home daycare provider, every child at Sue’s has his or her own crib, high chair, car seat, pack n’ play etc. Everything gets washed once/week. She also provides a detailed note re: feedings, bathroom, etc. at the end of every day.

We walked out of there, and we just knew. Now as it turns out, Sue is just as expensive as our most expensive daycare option. But suddenly, that didn’t matter to us anymore. Knowing Turtle would be getting loving, individualized care from such a wonderful woman was worth any price to us! I called one of her references over the weekend and the woman could not have raved about Sue any more. She said she would trust Sue with her life. She even used the phrase “gift from god.” Sold and sold.

I was off the following Monday so I brought Sue’s paperwork back to reserve our spot and got to see her in action with the kids. She was so easy, patient and loving with all of them. It wasn’t forced just because I was there. I saw her kiss the baby’s forehead without thinking anything of it and swooned a little bit. She told me about how the baby was in a “diaper race” at the mall over the weekend and how she and her neighbor went to see him. He came in third and she was so thrilled about that! I just loved how she was clearly so involved in their lives, even after work hours.

Sue said she was surprised how quickly we had chosen. I told her, when you know, you know. And with her, we were certain.

So that’s that! Turtle’s space is reserved at Sue’s and I could not feel better about the decision. As soon as that was done, I felt a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders. It made me excited for a time when he is out of the hospital and well and at home and life will have resumed as normal. I cannot wait for that time.

Many of you requested my daycare questions so I’m just going to paste them here for everyone. I have two different sets of questions for daycare centers vs. home daycares.

Daycare center questions

Hi there. I’m currently pregnant and looking for information about your infant daycare program. Is there someone there I can talk to about that?
What are the fees for full time enrollment?
How do I reserve a space for my infant? Is there a deadline?
My infant will have some time in the hospital after birth and we don’t know how long he will be in the hospital. Is there any flexibility in the start day?
What is the infant to provider ratio?
Are there personal cribs for each infant?
Are the infants in a separate room?
When can I drop off and pick up?
Is there a fee for picking up late?
Do you close during public school vacation weeks?

Home daycare questions

Hi there. I’m currently pregnant and looking for information about your daycare program. Is now an okay time to talk?
Do you accept infants age 12 weeks or older? Do you have space in September for a new infant? How many infants do you care for at once?
What is the cost for full time enrollment for an infant? Do I pay when my child is ill or we’re on vacation?
How do I reserve a space for my infant? Is there a deadline?
My infant will have some time in the hospital after birth and we don’t know how long he will be in the hospital. Is there any flexibility in the start day?
What are the drop off/pick up times? Is there a fee for picking up late?
Do you close for school vacation weeks?
Would my infant have his own crib or space at the daycare? How often are sheets laundered?
Are infants separate from other children?
How long have you been providing daycare? Are you licensed and accredited?
What is the caregiver to child ratio? Do you have assistants to help you?
Do you have storage for breast milk?
Do you have pets?
Do you do daily communication sheets?

Daycare question resources:

http://www.ahdaycare.com/daycare_checklist.htm

http://www.babycenter.com/0_home-daycare-provider-interview-sheet_1452147.bc

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5 Responses to “The daycare hunt, part II”

  1. sams March 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Yay for finding a daycare provider so quickly! You’ve inspired me to get back at it and find one for our babies. It’s such a daunting task that I’ve been putting it off (well, I was sick too).

  2. chon March 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I was lucky where I live there is not a huge wait and all if a sudden I needed care in a week. Thankfully a mum from my mothers group started working and I trusted her. We have a mix of older and younger carers and they love Molly. It makes going to work a lot easier. Good work!

  3. Courtney March 4, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Yes, when you know, you KNOW! We felt the same way once we met the people we’d be leaving Matthew with. I wanted to pay my deposit on the spot, but they wouldn’t let me because they wanted me to check out other places to be sure. I went back the next day!

    Childcare is hard. I put much more effort into finding the right childcare provider than a pediatrician. We always said finding a new pediatrician would be easy, but not so with daycare. We ended up finding a new pediatrician and it was easy. Had we needed a new daycare, it would have been very hard to find one!

    So glad this is sorted out!

  4. Amy Skins March 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    I had very much the same feelings/experiences when searching for childcare both times, but *especially* after Clara was born. We were hiring a nanny (which is economically advantageous, or at least break even, for two kids in my area), and while I had interviewed several people who were “okay,” I didn’t feel like anybody was THE ONE. And then we met Maggie. And basically from about 5 minutes into the phone interview before even meeting in person, I knew she was it. When you know, you know.

    I’m so glad this weight is off your shoulders.

  5. Aplatanada March 11, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    What a relief for you! I’m so glad you found the right person. We are struggling with this issue right now, big time. With 2 infants it’s so much harder to find spots- affordable ones- at a place we feel comfortable with. I’ve given up on the dream place at the point, and just want to make sure I don’t have guilt associated with our choice.

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