Friday, August 5, 2011


I spent two years trying to have a baby, and now I’m spending time trying to find someone to hire to take care of my baby. I can’t believe I’m doing this, and every time I think of actually leaving my baby girl at a daycare center, I get a little nauseous. But it is what it is. I’m going back to work when Alex is three months old, and there’s no going around it. And I’ve looked into nannies (too expensive, and I don’t know anyone personally that would do it that I would trust, so no) and au pairs (not too expensive, but unless I knew someone personally, I wouldn’t do it) and home day care centers (no – definitely not. Unless I knew someone personally who ran the daycare, I wouldn’t trust someone with a home daycare, I’ve heard way too many awful stories). So we’ve decided that a daycare center is the way to go. It took me a few months to come to this conclusion, and I’m definitely better than how I was awhile ago. About two months ago, I started doing research and saw some videos of a local daycare, and they were showing the fabulous shots of the infant room. All I saw was the row of cribs and I burst into tears, thinking it looks like an orphanage… So I’ve emotionally progressed beyond that point, but it’s still hard.

I finally started calling around to local daycares, and determined that although many places have spots available for February, the spots are limited and are filling up, so we definitely need to make a decision soon! So for the last two weeks, I’ve been touring daycares around my area during my lunch hour. Then I’m supposed to narrow it down to three places, and the hubs and I will take off an afternoon and go check out the three top places. He works an hour away from our home, and my commute is 7 minutes, so I definitely have an advantage for looking at all these places. Plus as he told me yesterday, “You know I don’t really like talking to people, and lots of babies make me nervous!” So for him to agree to go to three daycares is pretty good. When I first started this process, I thought he would want to go to the one that I picked, and that’s it! One nice thing is there’s a woman at work who is due three weeks after me, and she has a four-year old that has gone through daycare, so she has been going with me and asking good questions. Her boy is in a preschool that doesn’t accept infants, and she didn’t love the daycares that she used when he was younger, so she’s also looking. So it’s been nice to have her along for the tours. (Although if I have to hear again how getting pregnant must be in the water at your company or some other bullshit line, I might scream. She got pregnant with her new boyfriend accidentally, while on the pill…)

After going to five daycares, which are the only ones that aren’t too far out of my way (which isn’t saying too much - I really like my 7 minute commute) and take infants, I’ve narrowed it down to three.

Daycare A: Franchise of a national chain.
Cost: $260 per week
Infant room: In room until walking, and then will graduate to higher room. Some daycares have babies all the way up to 12-13 months together, so crawlers/walkers are going all over 6 weekers!
Ratio of teachers to infants: 1 teacher: 4 infants, up to 8 in the room.
Location: best location – on the way to work, no increase in commute.
Curriculum: Nationally set curriculum, teach baby sign language, structured days as kids get older. Most curriculum-based of the three.
Pros: Location; very professional company; curriculum-based education; very efficiently run company, which appeals to me as a business woman, not sure as a mom.
Cons: Smallest infant room (very small); rumors of high turnover of staff, but the infant teacher has been there 1 ½ years, and seems very good; don’t know anyone personally that uses center.

Daycare B: Church daycare.
Cost: $225 per week
Infant room: In room until crawling, and then will graduate to higher room until walking, and then will graduate to walking room.
Ratio of teachers to infants: 1 teacher: 3.5 infants, up to 7 in the room.
Location: good. Adds about 5-10 minutes to commute.
Curriculum: Teacher-set curriculum. For babies, no real curriculum, not very structured days. For older kids, have schedule, but doesn’t seem to be a main focus.
Pros: Not-for-profit, which is a huge decision-maker for the hubs, and I’m not sure (he believes that in not-for-profits, more money goes to the babies as they’re not trying to make money, which I can see his point, but isn’t always true); Church-based, which isn’t a huge deal as we’re not super religious, but I like the idea of kids being taught right from wrong from others outside of parents; Most home-like environment (the infant room reminded me of a big living room as opposed to a school); really liked the teacher, who has been there over five years; have very good recommendations from people I know, including people who have their babies there now.
Cons: Not a big focus on curriculum, so as kids get older may not learn as much as in other preschools; can’t really think of any others.

Daycare C: Only location, for-profit.
Cost: $220 per week
Infant room: In room until crawling, and then will graduate to higher room until walking, and then will graduate to walking room.
Ratio of teachers to infants: 1 teacher: 4 infants, up to 8 in the room.
Location: furthest away. Adds about 20 minutes to commute.
Curriculum: They use a national curriculum that they purchase from a curriculum provider (not sure exactly, but this is my impression). Very structured. Teach baby sign language, and every class has Spanish lessons. Teach some using DVD’s – every classroom has a TV, which is a bit odd – different than any other daycares I toured. But they said the TV is on a program maximum an hour each day, the rest of the time it’s on music only.
Pros: I really liked the director, who seemed very good; it’s small but very structured, which appeals to me as I like the curriculum focus; I know one person who gave a glowing recommendation about this place.
Cons: Location, but that’s probably about it.

This is a hard decision. I think I’m leaning towards Daycare B or C, and it really depends on what things I want to focus on. No, the curriculum isn’t very important for my 3-month old when she first starts daycare, but what about my 3-year old? Won’t I want her to get more of an education at that age? I’m sure Daycare B won’t give her a bad education, but if I’m paying almost $1,000 per month, shouldn’t we get something more out of it than safety and well-being? I don’t know – I’m hoping hubs can help me decide, but he’s completely prejudiced about picking the church-based one, I don’t think he’ll listen to anything else. Do any of you have advice for other things I should be asking? Or things I should be considering other than the items above? This is so hard, and I feel like it’s such a big decision.

And I would really appreciate it if you would not question my decision to go back to work. I’m having a hard enough time with it myself… Thanks!


  1. I don't have any advice really, but I will say this...I worked in a big franchise-type daycare for a year right after college, in the infant rooms. While the babies don't get one-on-one attention and they do have to cry longer than they would at home, they are very well taken care of by experts. They are closely monitored and loved dearly. I loved those babies as though they were my own and I thought about them all weekend! So while I'm sure it's terrifying as a mom, on behalf of chain daycare providers I implore you to trust us. ; )

  2. Are you kidding me? NO ONE is going to question you going back to work. Whether you want to go back or have to go back, no one is judging babe. I can't be of much help here since I haven't done research on this topic, but b or c were sounding more ideal thn option a in terms of how you explained things. I hope you get more clarity after talking to hubs and asking more questions! Xoxo.

  3. Oh man, I have no advice to offer to you on the outside day care. I can tell you that throughout my undergrad and graduate school years, I worked for several families as a nanny, hired through craigslist. I charged 9-10 dollars per hour, and I loved those babies/toddlers to death. I didn't work exclusively for that family; I was one of 2 or 3 nannies (college aged) and we'd work our schedules for school based on each other and the babysitting need. For example, I was a Tuesday/Thursday gal. Plus, sincde they are college students, you can do major reference checks via professors, RAs, etc.

    For graduate school, I took classes in the evening, so I nannied from 8-4:30 M-F for 2 years. What happened when I was sick? Luckily I never was, and if I had a cold, it was ususally because the baby got me sick (ha!) or even the baby-flu one time, so the two of us were sick together.

    I know this is a long post, but if you live in a large city with colleges and universities, there are many many poor college students looking for work who are loving, responsible, and hard working. If the price is right for you and hubs, you might want to post a craigslist add and do some interviewing just to see what's out there.

    Sorry to go on and on; I just thought I'd pipe in with some personal experience outside the day care center world.

  4. Are there other families like yours at any of the centers? So begins your child's social life determining your social life... You really don't want to spend Saturday mornings at birthday parties where the parents are d-bags.

  5. I am fortunate enough to work from home and have someone come in to watch my little pumpkin. However, I have to find a new person since my current sitter is going to start a new job. Day care is so hard/expensive! As much as I would love to be a SAHM, we just can't do it right now. People shouldn't judge because you have to go back to work. You gotta do what's best for your little family.

    Good luck with your final day care decision. I'm sure your baby will be very well taken of!

  6. We went through the same problems! I'm going back to work next week...ugh, where did the five months go. While we ended up going with an in-home (a friend also takes her twins there), the center that we wait-listed at we chose because: a) the teachers in the room seemed genuine b) more developed curriculum--even for babies. As teachers, we know that the more structure the caretakers are given, the less chance they are just "winging it" because they answer to someone and c) location.
    Obviously, we didn't choose it but that's what made it stand out from the others.

  7. I was exactly where you are when I had to start looking for daycare for Aidan! Oddly, I had the exact same reaction, too, about the row of cribs in the infant room. I chose the equivalent of your option B, except mine is on the way to work. It's a faith based center (and like you, we aren't extremely religious, but I love that he'll be exposed to it from the start like I wasn't). I think ours is technically a chain, but not in the Starbucks sense. I think it's more that the curriculum they use is standardized among a group of daycares based in this church.

    I think you'll find some relief once you settle on one. Pop in unannounced from time to time and just wander into the infant room to see how things are going. Aidan's room has 12 babies and 3-4 caregivers depending on the day. As one of your previous commenters mentioned, even though it's a 1:4 ratio, these people really do love my kid. I can just tell. They get really excited when he reaches a milestone and they are genuinely sad when he's not feeling well or there's an issue. One of them even added me on FB so she could see the pictures I post of him. :)

    I'm going to be honest, that first few days dropping her off is going to be BRUTAL. However, and just keep reminding yourself of this, it will get easier. It's an adjustment for her as much as it is for you, but it's good for both of you!!! Don't let the peanut gallery make you feel guilty for working. There's nothing wrong with being a working mom, you just have to figure out the system that works for you, your peanut and your family! (In fact, I read a study the other day that said that children of working mothers tend to excel socially and in terms of overall flexibility because they're more likely to have been exposed to lots of different people and situations, and they learn to be flexible and adaptable. And I've already seen that with Aidan. (I'm not knocking SAHM's, either, not at all. That is an amazing blessing, but it's not feasible for our family either.)

    Sorry for the stupidly long comment. Feel free to email me (amberlyn at gmail dot com) if you need to vent or scream or have questions you think are silly. I was there just a few months ago and I remember like it was yesterday! You'll rock it though. After those first few days it's a piece of cake.

  8. My one advice is picture yourself dropping your child off at each center and how you would feel doing it. This thought helped me make my decision. I wanted to leave knowing my son was in the best hands, was happy and that I ultimately trusted them. Also the length of time the teachers had been there was important to me. I wanted Liam to not get comfortable with a teacher and then have to switch multiple times. Best of luck making a decision. It is hard but go with what makes you feel comfortable.

  9. I worked at a church daycare for 10 years before leaving and starting home daycare.

    I think home daycare is the best if it's someone you can trust, but I know that's not easy. Especially if you don't know anyone who does it, or know anyone who knows someone, ya know?

    I wish I could watch her!!! :)

  10. I know how hard it is to think of taking your little girl to daycare. I cried many a tear on the subject. For me it came down to the fact that I wanted my child to form relationships with her care givers and enjoy being at there. My final 2 were a curriculum based national chain and a daycare that wasn't as curriculum focused but had a more stable staff and spent much more time holding the babies and being down on the floor with them. It really helped me to spend an hour in each of them just observing what happened in there. For me the curriculum turned out not to be as important. I figure what they get out of daycare mostly is the social education. The one I chose does have some organized curriculum, just not as much as the national chain. I guess this is my long way of saying that I would probably opt for B. GL with your decision!

  11. I would prob. go with #1 or #2 because of the TV issue with the #3. They are saying TV is ONLY on for one hour, but for babies - one whole hour of TV is a lot! American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any TV for children under 2, even what is marketed as educational programs are not good for their brain development.
    I know it is such a difficult decision, I had to go back to work when my baby was 8 weeks old and that that was really hard but as a PP mentioned your daughter will benefit from lots of social interactions she will be exposed to, and that is a tremendous benefit! Best of luck with your decision!

  12. Just a quick thought... I'm a 6th grade language arts teacher, and all the new research is pointing to linking reading issues to an academic preschool (versus play based) environment. While it affects boys more, leaving kids to learn through play and not scheduled lessons helps, especially if the child is in a supportive home environment. Preschools that teach academics are best suited for kids with no support at home, since they'll need catching up. I don't see that as a problem for your baby!

    They all sound like great options, so you should be happy with any. Good luck!

  13. I have no advice, sorry! It is interesting to read about these things. It must be hard to decide the best thing. I'm sure you will find the perfect place! Good luck! :)

  14. I have 2 sons that both started daycare at 14 weeks. It was so hard and I felt so guilty. But not-working is not an option. My boys are now 13m and 3 and they LOVE going to "school"! It is such a great experience for them. They learn social skills and do projects/activities that they wouldn't get to do at home. (a 13m with paint - not in my house!) They learn how to follow structure and work with others. It's really been a great experience for us. They go to a franchise of a large regional/national chain. It's just a few minutes from our home and I work from home so it has worked out well all around. It will be hard at first but you'll get through it. And your daughter will have lots of fun. But she will always know who mommy is and she'll be so excited to see you every afternoon!

  15. A big decision to make! Sounds like you can't really go wrong, though. Good luck!!

  16. Hi!

    I went through a similar process (got upset about the row of cribs too...). I chose something similar to your option C. I'm quite happy with it 5 months later but the first few weeks were quite difficult. You'll make it and life will just keep going on and on!

  17. I've had my 4 year old in a day care center since she was 12 weeks. In my 20's I NEVER thought I would have MY kids in daycare. But you know sh>t works out how it does and I have to work.

    I went with a center daycare for many of the same reasons you are choosing.

    Over all the child care has been a good experience for us. We have a reasonably priced center, at my work(most people don't get that)with caring teachers. 1:4 ratio is pretty standard.

    Both of my kids really enjoy the interaction with other kids, the different toys, the semi-structure of the day etc.

    Curriculum can be difficult for pre-school children. They really learn from playing. That said, I am amazed at the stuff my daughter has learned.

    I feel like as long as you have a nurturing loving safe teacher then she will be fine. Yes, it may not be you, but she will know you are her mama and I think it is always good for kids to have lots of caring people around them. :)

  18. You may want to look at things just for now and then investigate other options in the future? With him being so young, although curriculum will be important, it's going to be more important in a little bit of time.

    With so many good options, I'm sure that you'll find the best fit possible.

    As for going back to's ok if you have to. I know that you know that. Doesn't mean that it doesn't completely suck though, does it?

  19. There is absolutely ZERO judgement from me about returning to work because I am in the same boat. I wish we could afford for me to stay home, but at the same time, I'm okay with going back to work because I can continue to have adult conversation. You are totally right though, it is extremely hard to try to find a daycare for a child that isn't even born yet. I just keep thinking, "She's not even here yet, and I'm already a horrible mother for putting her in a daycare!" I think we are leaning towards a church daycare. Something about them just seems safer or something. Best of luck, girl!!

  20. AHHHH!!! DAY CARE! I am with you! I so do not want to go back to work..but I think I might just have to:( Daycare is so expensive. I have to admit..this subject really freaks me out right I zoned out after the first option!! I am so sorry!

  21. Ah! I am in thought about this too- can you imagine the drama of all this and not knowing when your baby is coming. Thanks for letting me read your thoughts, I guess we should be looking already.

  22. I worked as an au-pair in the US for a year when I was 18yrs myself. Three kids under 6, lot of responsibility for sure but I loved it and it was really hard to leave the family. Everyone was crying.. anyways, I can't give any advice here, but it's great that you can visit these three and get a feel for them. Hopefully you'll know after you have seen them.

  23. Aww...this is such a hard decision to make and you are still going to have to be drug kicking and screaming away from the baby the first day. lol. That's just how it works. But if you can, you may want to inquire which facilities have closed circuit cameras. The facility my son goes to for afterschool care has cameras in every room and you can log onto their secure site and watch your baby from the internet ALl DAY if you want to. It's a peace of mind that you can't put a pricetag on. Do you have Kids R Kids in your area?

  24. oy, this is such a hard decision. B or C both sound like great options, but that extra addition on your commute is a huge thing. It's all about optimization when you're a new mom adjusting to things. GL making this tough decision.

  25. Oooh, they all sound good. You're lucky to have such excellent choices. I have to agree that the TV thing sounds bad. But I would have no clue otherwise, except to go with your gut on it. I agree that a daycare center is far better than the other options.

  26. Pediatrician, daycare, preschool... all these things... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Breathe and the right one will make itself known to you and YEAH for viability lovely lady!!!

  27. I'm so happy for you that you are to the point of thinking about daycare - amazing! From reading your descriptions, I'd lean toward B or C as well. I hope your husband gives you some good help in figuring it out.

    Happy belated 24 weeks btw! *cheer*

  28. I try to avoid giving unsolicited advice, so I'll just say this: I have a Master's in Birth to Three, did observations and practicums and reports on childcare center quality, and worked in childcare for almost two years, so if you have any specific questions you'd like to ask about things to look for, feel free to make an obnoxiously long comment on my blog :)