She Says… Daycare. Sigh.

Daycare. Even the word makes my stomach tighten. As a child raised by a creative and loving mother who spent hours upon hours spending time with me and my siblings as we grew, I have always found it hard to believe that a daycare could possibly match that level of love and devotion and personal attention. And although I have a masters degree and value my career, I have always always wanted to stay at home with my kids.

But now that the decision is really, truly upon us, I think I’ve changed my mind. Well, I’m working on changing my mind. The reality is that Benjamin and I have chosen to live in a relatively expensive area (Boston). We love it here, and Benjamin has built a successful freelance business with a lot of local contacts, so we’re not really considering moving any time soon. We value a certain lifestyle, and that lifestyle costs money. And I make money. Not a ton, but more money than we would spend on daycare. Not to mention that my job covers our family health insurance and other benefits like a 401k (since Benjamin works for himself and doesn’t have access to these types of benefits). And beyond that, I feel that I have a lot of career interests that I would like to pursue someday, and a several year hiatus removing myself from the working world entirely would make it difficult to continue the momentum I have worked so hard to develop.

Although nothing is really set in stone yet, we are considering working a reduced schedule (I would work Tuesday – Friday, Benjamin would work Monday – Thursday), and we’ll [hopefully] find a wonderful daycare to care for our child three days a week. This is a very good compromise for all of us, I think. We are very fortunate to have the flexibility to reduce our schedules with our current jobs, and I have recently begun to think of all the positives of sending our little one to daycare. Socialization, learning, exposure to other languages and cultures, flexibility with schedules and habits, etc. But still, the idea of leaving my new baby in a stranger’s care just about breaks my heart.

I think that finding the perfect daycare will be the key to accepting and even enjoying this situation. So, even though I am only 15 weeks along, I started doing some Googling, thinking I would get first pick of the daycares in our area. And do you know what I found? THERE ARE ALREADY WAITING LISTS FOR NOVEMBER 2010 FOR INFANT DAYCARE! I thought the whole “putting your newborn baby on a waitlist for preschool” only happened in the movies. Apparently I am incredibly naive. Apparently lots of parents put their children on waiting lists for daycare and preschool BEFORE THEY ARE EVEN CONCEIVED. Ummm, are you kidding?! I think I’m going to hyperventilate.

If you have a child, did you put them in daycare? How did you find the “perfect” place? If you don’t yet have children, do you plan to use daycare? Did you EVER think you’d have to get on waiting lists before the little guy/gal is even conceived, let alone born?

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48 responses to “She Says… Daycare. Sigh.

  1. If you don’t already, you should read Katie over at http://marriageconfessions.com/. She has several posts on daycare… including one that talks about what are the most important things to them now that there son has been in daycare for a few months. I absolutely love, love, love her blog. 🙂

  2. I am writing this from work (taking a little break–eek!), so I feel your pain as a working mom. I always knew I would take this road, and while part-time would probably be the perfect situation for me, I am really proud of what I do both as a mother and as a professional, and I hope my daughter will someday appreciate having an example of a mom who did both.

    My daughter is in daycare three days a week. My job schedule is not flexible (I’m a teacher), but my husband’s is, so he is home with her Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was the perfect compromise for us. My heart hurts a little bit when I drop her off, but I have to tell you this: she loooooves daycare. She has little friends there (and she’s only 11 months old), and she loves playing with all of their toys. She has experienced all of the pros you listed, and I am really thankful for that. We got her on the waitlist about 7 months before she went into daycare (and she got in), but I remember having a similar panic when we started looking.

    We chose our daycare for three reasons:
    1.) It was five minutes from my workplace. If needed, I can swing over in the middle of the day, and that is very comforting.

    2.) I had a friend whose daughter had been at the same facility, and they were very happy. The recommendation weighed heavily in our decision.

    3.) I did a drop-in visit unannounced and was really happy with what I saw. Both teachers were sitting on the floor playing with the babies, and all of the kids were happy. I knew they didn’t know I was coming, so it was a pretty authentic picture of how days go there.

    Good luck!

  3. Ugh. I feel your pain! I am fortunate to have my mom close by, and she has offered to go down to part time in order to watch the baby two days a week…and then my husband’s schedule is flexible enough that he can commit to two days a week…so I was looking for coverage for one day.

    I went to my boss, and I am HOPING to be able to change my schedule so that I only work four days a week and I can be the one to be with her that 5th day, but in the event that I can’t…I have no idea what we are going to do.

    Most daycares in our area won’t take infants younger than 18 months, and the one that does, does not have part-time rates…so I would have to pay full-time rates…which are…are you ready for this? $1000/MONTH!

    I think this is the most stressful part of pregnancy.

  4. Seriously? Crazy-town. This stresses me out just reading it. INSANE on the waiting lists. Sending you good luck for navigating this unexpected maze.

  5. Hi Kate – Ben sent me your link (he and I grew up together, his dad was my dentist for years, and I’m also a fellow Conn Coll grad). I’m now freaking out that there are waitlists for Nov 2010! I’ve been putting off the daycare hunt (my son will go in October), but this is a kick in the pants. My husband and I are in the same boat – I make too much $ to justify staying home, and we enjoy a certain lifestyle in Boston. It will be rough to leave the little guy at only 3 months old. Now, off to call those daycare centers….

  6. Oh, I feel your pain. I’m 35 weeks now, and still don’t have daycare 100% figured out. We’re in Atlanta, and intown where we live and work, it’s SO competitive. I put our name on some lists when I was literally 7 weeks pregnant, and still won’t get in to some of them. It’s insane. I would love to work part-time, and work for a company that would support it, but most day cares here won’t do part-time, so I’d still have to pay for f/t care. Which, for the record, is $1000-1400/month. GAH!

    Good luck figuring it all out!

  7. I don’t have kids yet, but I had always imagined myself as a mother who worked, until about 3 years ago, when I joined the workforce.

    My mom worked when I was a kid, but we owned a small business, so she could be flexible with her schedule…my brother and I never went to daycare…we did spend some afternoons at the family business though!

    Now that I know more about how much daycare costs (die) and know more about the workforce…I would consider staying home.

    Although, like you, we have a certain lifestyle that we like to live, and at this point my working is essential to that.

    Such a toss up! I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that I have it figured out by the time we decided to have kids!

  8. Casey, Thanks for the rec! I used to read Marriage Confessions, but it sort of fell off my radar. I do remember her post about her first day sending the little guy off though, and it was sad! I will definitely take a look at how she’s dealing with it all now.

    Laurie, THANK YOU! That was exactly what I needed to hear. I am so glad to hear that your daughter loves her daycare. That must make it so much easier to leave her there. Thank you, too, for the three suggestions about how you chose your daycare. They are excellent ideas, and I will be sure to ask for references and drop by unannounced before we decide on the final spot. Thanks again! Huge help!

    Nikol, You are very lucky to have the built-in nanny 🙂 My mom actually does that for my older sister, and I realize now what a HUGE burden that lifted for my sis. Good luck moving your schedule around, I can’t imagine paying full price for one day a week! That is crazy! Most of the places we’ve been looking at don’t have prices listed on their websites, so I’m not totally clear, but a few of them do, and we’re looking at $1500+ for 3-4 days. YIKES.

    suchagoodegg, I know, totally nutso, right? And here I called myself an overachiever. I got nothin’ on these forward-thinking mamas!

    JourneyChic, Hi! Yep, I guess it’s that time already… who would’ve thought you’d have to get such a head start on this crazy process? Good luck to you! Where do you live in Boston? Maybe we can compare notes!

    Sue, Good luck! I had NO idea how competitive these places are. You are so smart to get your little one on the lists so early. That seems totally crazy to me that they wouldn’t have reduced rates for part time. That is murder to have to pay full time rates for fewer days. YUCK.

    slowmiles, Let this be a lesson to you, I guess. Start early! What is this world coming to?

  9. I am wading through these very decisions and am torn as well. I am a professional and do love my job, but a large part of me wants to be able to stay home. Unfortunately, my job isn’t that flexible (lawyer) and while I have a part-time option, it seems like I’ll work just as much and just take a financial hit. I live in DC and there seems to be a shortage of newborn spots here too and run about $1500-$1800/month. ouch. A while back, I sent in a host of waitlist forms – complete with non-refundable checks – after making a bunch of in-person visits/tours. I think that daycare is a great option. I just don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on raising our daughter. good luck. these are difficult decisions.

  10. I struggle with the same thing since I live in an equally expensive area. Daycare in SF would probably eat up one of my two monthly paychecks. Like you, I’m not sure it would even out to stay home – we’d have to sacrifice a lot – but oh, how I want to! I’ll think more about it if and when the time comes…nothing like procrastinating to make something go away, eh? 🙂

  11. Like I said on Twitter, we got Lu on the waiting list when I was 10 weeks along and I LOVE her daycare. I cannot afford to stay home (oh how I wish I could) but when I do think about staying home I get sad that she wouldn’t have daycare. SHE LOVES IT. She has about 50 words now but one of her first 20 words? “Daycare”

    When you’re looking for a daycare make sure that you feel comfortable there. There were 2 daycares that were cheaper and closer to home than the one we ended up choosing but I’m so glad we chose the one we did. Something about those daycares just didn’t feel right. Lu’s daycare did.

    I nursed Lu until she was a year old and guess who was there cheering me on? Her daycare teacher. Pumping for 8 months at work (and while traveling on business) requires a LOT of cheering!

    I also made all of Lu’s baby food from scratch. Guess who was cheering me on and giving me recipes? Lu’s daycare teacher.

    Lucy is WAY ahead in some skills than many of her contemporaries and I credit daycare. She’s been feeding herself with a fork since she was 13 months and that’s largely due to daycare. She incredibly social with kids-again daycare.

    Lucy is going to be our one and only and daycare provides the interaction with other kids that she NEEDS.

    The other nice thing about daycare? When you’re sick-YOU CAN REALLY BE SICK. SAHMs do not get that opportunity.

    As for who is raising your child? YOU ARE. You make all the important decisions and you tell daycare just how you want things done. If they don’t do it that way-THEN FIND ANOTHER DAYCARE.

    I found Lu’s first tooth, she laughed for me first, she smiled for me first, she rolled over for me first, she crawled for me first, she WALKED for me first. I got to experience MOST of her firsts. She knows who her Mommy and Daddy are and she saves the REALLY good stuff for us 🙂

    Daycare is hard but it gets easier and I think it can really be a great thing.

    Let me know if you have ANY questions!

    Chelsea

  12. Like you are planning, I dropped down to four days a week and my son is in daycare T-F. He LOVES it, and I feel like I have a decent balance between working and being a mom. It was hard to drop him off those first few weeks, and I still have days where I would like nothing more than to be home with him, but overall it is a great balance for our family and I think he really benefits from playing with his daycare friends. The biggest factor in my decision for where to take him – recommendations from other moms I trust! Their vote was so helpful in stearing in the right direction, both for what places to avoid and where to press harder. Good luck! I can’t believe you are already fighting waitlists!

  13. I just want to chime in here because this was an important topic for me and Kate, and I thank you all for your valuable comments. I am happy to hear of all the children that are benefiting from their daycare. I do think that is a big thing that a lot of people overlook. I also feel it’s important to me (and it is to Kate) that she continue with her career. She has had a lot of (expensive) education and has really worked hard to become valuable in her company. I don’t look down at SAHMs (new acronym for me, thanks Chelsea) at all, but I think for us, part of what makes Kate the person that she is, is the work she does. I know she isn’t even sure that she is in her dream job, but I think she is learning a lot about the direction she wants to go and I DO think our child(ren) will appreciate the balance of having working parents.

    Anyway, thanks for all your comments.

  14. We recently went through this same ordeal of finding a daycare. I also work in HR, and during layoffs last year, my hours were cut to 24/week.While not ideal $ wise, it was pretty nice to only work that much! When I got pregnant it was equally as nice, and thoughts of working PT with PT daycare sounded glorious. Now my hours are back up to 34/week. That kind of put a wrench in plans! My daycares around here require full time infant care, so that is what we’re going with. We were lucky to get in about a month ago for the end of August, but there are waiting lists around here too. One of d’s best friends is a daycare director, and she had so many insights on questions to ask that we would have NEVER thought of. Email if you would like more info! jenmartin2@hotmail.com

  15. We never did daycare. I always planned to return to work and I had a daycare picked out…but when the time came, I used up all of my sick days putting it off. I dropped Charlotte off with my mother for a few hours (again, putting it off) and bawled the whole timr, agonized over how much time I was missing, etc.

    So we decided that maybe working parenthood wasn’t for dysfunctional people like me and now I stay home. Money is tight and our lifestyle was drastically affected, but I’m building a home business that will help us out eventually.

    Mothers who can do daycare are so much stronger than me. I hope you find a daycare sans waiting list that works well for you!

  16. I work from home part time already and teach at the local college. I may have to give up teaching because day care would cost more than I make teaching! I really enjoy doing it, but I have no idea how to manage needing day care for 4-6 hours a week. They have an hourly day care on base here, but I don’t know if it’s nice. Plus, driving on base would add some serious time to my commute. And then I’ll have piles of papers to grade when I’m trying to take care of the baby and dog at home! So stressful!

    We luckily don’t need me to work, we live in the middle of nowhere, but I’m not sure if I’ll like being a SAHM. We shall see!

  17. jones, I know, the cost is pretty outrageous here too — sounds about the same. It is certainly a difficult decision. I know what you mean about not wanting to feel like you’re missing out on your child’s development! But I also know what you mean about probably still working the same amount of hours even if you’re “part time”. Oh, so many things to think about.

    BethT, You can procrastinate now, but start looking earlier than I did! Learn from my mistake 🙂

    Chelsea, Thank you, thank you, thank you. I totally appreciate hearing Lucy’s story, and I am SO HAPPY FOR YOU that it turned out the way it did. I am in awe that you were able to nurse her for so long and make her food (as I hope to do too, provided I can get my arse in gear and get organized) while still sending her to daycare. You give me such hope! So wonderful to hear from you.

    Janelle, Yay! Another vote for daycare! I’m so glad to hear that you feel like 4 days a week was a good compromise for you. I think it will be for us too (whether it’s 4 or 3, we’re not sure yet). I wish I knew more moms in the area to ask about daycares… surprisingly none of my friends who have had babies have needed daycare. I’ve looked on a few discussion boards and Boston-based websites, but was surprised to find very few firsthand reviews. Maybe there is a market for this info!

    Jen, Your blog was actually the main reason I even started thinking about daycare in the first place, so THANK YOU! It really hadn’t even crossed my mind until you wrote that post abotu questions to ask. Then of course I began to realize that now is NOT early, now is almost LATE and I’d better get on it. I’m so glad you found one that works for you. Since you’re a few weeks ahead of me, I’ll be anxious to see how daycare goes for you.

    Sarah, I think you definitely made the right choice for your family — as evidenced by the beautiful words and pictures on your blog every day. Dysfunctional or not, I think everyone has to decide what works for them. And I’m sure I won’t know what works for us until we try it out. Which is yet another thing that makes it so frustrating that you have to start looking so early… I’m not even sure what I want yet!

    Kara, I know, there are SO many factors. In some respects I feel like you are lucky that you can justify staying home, but on another level you may feel like you’ve lost something that you really enjoyed. It’s so tough!

  18. Kate, not only am I offended that you responded to everyone else’s comments except MINE, but you also said something about sending “her” to daycare. Do you know something I don’t know?

  19. Benjamin, Hahaha, you already KNOW what I would say in response to your comment. And I can’t believe I wrote “her” — Freudian slip! Definitely do not know anything you don’t know, and don’t know why I said that. Ooops 🙂

    P.S. Where did I write “her”?

  20. Woops, I misread your response to Chelsea and when you said send “her” to daycare I thought you were referring to our baby. You weren’t. Nevermind.

  21. I hyperventilate even thinking about this.

    We’ve already started talking about what we’ll do, and the plan is for me to take Sept- Dec off (maternity leave) then transition to part time. This way, I still get to be involved in my career, but also be at home with the baby.

    I plan on working 15-20 hours a week and I’m lucky that I will only have to spend one day in the office & my mom is more than happy to watch the baby that day.

    I feel incredibly lucky– now we just have to go to a financial planner to figure out how to live on less money. We’ll be making at least $20k less a year…

  22. I am only an aunt, not a mom, but I can tell you that my niece and nephew both benefited from daycare. They loved being around the other kids and I think it also made the time with Mom & Dad all the more special. Where are you guys again? The person my brother and sister-in-law use is fabulous and is in Melrose. (She’s like family to them.) If that is close enough, I’d be happy to put you in touch with my brother and sis-in-law.

  23. I was like you,, my mom stayed home with us kiddos and I never thought I’d do anything different. We aren’t in a financial position for me to stay home so daycare it is. I was sickened to think someone else was raising MY kid, but you’ll find those someone elses become family. They love your kid nearly as much as you do and sacrifice for them daily. No matter what you choose, you will doubt yourself because we mothers are good at that, but it will all work out!

  24. Taryn M. Peine

    My friends and I have this discussion all the time, and for those that have children, the hardest part about this decision, regardless of which way they decide to go, is other people’s judgments. Other moms can be BRUTAL. I think the most important thing is to make an educated decision and have confidence and pride in your decision. Either way, your baby is going to have two totally loving parents, and that’s what’s important. If you decide to work, don’t let the moms who would never dream of daycare and can’t wait to tell you so make you feel guilty. And if you decide to stay home, don’t let working moms who ask you how you could give up your career make you feel bad. I think it’s probably easier said than done 😉

  25. Probably the most interesting discussion I’ve seen on this blog! And this blog is super interesting daily anyways!

    I had mom who stayed home, 2 grandmas that stayed home, and figured I’d stay home. I mean, who would be there to take the lunch to my kids if they forgot it?! Then reality sunk in. My husband told me I was NOT ALLOWED to stay home. What the heck?! I was offended and angered but then I realized he was right. It is not about the money, but about the fact that with my job, I just have too many years of experience and I have a masters degree (meaning I cost too much and am un-hireable thanks to requirements by my state forcing me to get my masters). I do love my job and would love to take “child-care leave” for 10 years if they’d hold a position for me; guess I’m just lucky they will hold a position for me for 2 years. So I will soak in those 2 years and then pray I can find someone normal to look after my toddler.

    GOOD LUCK with your search!

  26. Kate, I know you have gotten tons of feedback and advise (which is all fabulous) but I too wanted to offer my thoughts. Daycare was our only real option (and will continue to be even with the twins) so I started the search super early.
    Just so you know, it was my experience, people put their names on all the waiting lists possible for several reasons – needing to ensure that they have at least one daycare option available, wanting to have the choice down the road, wanting the ability to go to the “best day” care in town, and so forth. And, people drop off the waiting list and never call and take their names off. You know, some go with family members, nannies, another center, in-home daycare, stay home, or whatever other available option and don’t bother calling and taking their names off the list because the deposit is non-refundable anyway! So, don’t fret at lists quite yet.

    We work downtown and commute between 30-45 min everyday. We wanted a place near work – within walking distance or 5 min driving for several reasons – spend the most amount of time with the baby in the car in the morning (something about dropping off at 8 instead of 7:15 and picking up at 5:15 instead of 6), being able to visit whenever I wanted, being able to nurse the baby or go and visit with her during lunch, and if, god-forbid, anything happened to her we could be there in a split second to respond. Never has that happened, but I love know she is right there…two blocks away.

    Things to think about when searching and putting money down – Ask people who they’ve used, who their friends used, the names of the directors, the teachers, get as much information from people you trust. If you get good feedback make sure to communicate to the director, “oh so and so went here and loved it, or I’ve heard great things about you from the followinig people.” I think random, unannounced, visits at different times of the day to see what a typical day could look like, is so important. Take note of the rest of daycare, not just the infant room. As you narrow it down, be in somewhat frequent contact. Always speak to the teachers, the director, the staff – be very friendly and make sure they know your name, your face and when your baby is due. Everytime we went – we communicated how important it was that the baby be close to us at work and that having her at an in-home or daycare by our house was our last resort. Really, the best advise that I can give next is being bold. I brought my daughter up to the daycare when she was born – about 8 weeks old when I had about 8 weeks left in maternity leave and said, “Hi, remember me, we placed our daughter on the waiting list and we’ll we’ve had her and we’re starting to prepare for going back to work and we really want to come to this daycare. I just wanted to see how things are looking – if it looks like she will be able to join your daycare.” And, let me tell you, they took her. They moved an infant to the 1 year old classroom in Dec and we started in Jan. She’s been there ever since and I plan on bringing the twins there when I go back to work.

    You and Ben will find the PERFECT place with the PERFECT set up for you and your family. It all works out 🙂

    Joanna

  27. I am also finding this to be a most interesting topic on our blog. (Thanks Kate!)

    Christy, while I did not tell Kate she was not allowed to stay home, I think I implied it and I think she ultimately agreed that it was best. I am lucky to have built a successful business and we probably could afford for her to stop working but it would be a hit for sure, and it would sort of sadden me to see Kate stop working in the capacity she is at now. Plus, to be completely honest, I think she is on a career path with a potentially higher earning potential than me, so I think it’s smart for her to continue working.

    I am sort of surprised that most of the moms we know our age have stopped working. I also realize that it is probably going to be very hard (for Kate especially) to go back to work, both emotionally and from a scheduling standpoint. The other night we were talking about how our routine of prepping for the next day will change after a baby and it did make me a little anxious, but I know we’ll adapt.

    I’m not trying to start a debate and I know every couple and family is different, but I guess it is just one issue that, for us, I feel very strongly about. And fortunately we seem to be in the same boat.

    But, yes, I think finding a daycare will be a challenge, but I am sure it will ease our minds greatly once we do. I just didn’t realize it had to be so soon.

  28. This is a big decision so get ready. I will say that after having my first baby, my entire plan went out the window and I decided to stay home full time. I am a nurse and planned on working a few shifts a month, but could not bring myself to do it. We chose to forgo the extra money to make that possible. I am so happy I made that decision. Six years later and after having another child I now work part time and it is great to get back into my profession, but I wouldn’t take back that time I had to focus completely on my kids.

    I am not at all against working, it just didn’t fit for me with a newborn. I am just trying to be honest here because I know you want every honest view points.

    Be prepared for this to be an ongoing decision. It is obvious that you already love your baby so much, you won’t even believe the overwhelming feelings you have after birth!!

    All of that to say- do what feels right for you and your family. You will know what to do when the time comes!

  29. Personally, my plan is to be a SAHM and to homeschool, but that is mostly because I am a military brat and I know how difficult it was moving from school to school. My husband and I move a lot because of the army. I know I went to 3 schools for 3rd grade alone. I am workin on furthering my nursing degree mostly to help out when DH retires from the army because he wants to go into politics and if he does that, somebody will need to keep us afloat :). I’m in my 2ww so I don’t know when we will have kidslol.

  30. Hey, have you thought about in-home daycare?

    I know you sacrifice the socialization and other benefits of group daycare, but it might work out better. My in-laws hired a child education student for the four days they needed childcare and it worked brilliantly. It’s more expensive, of course, but if you’re going part-time like you are, it might actually be a pretty close tie.

  31. Because I feel really strongly about supporting moms who “do both,” I am going to chime in one more time and second the post above:

    My daughter is 11 months old, I work full-time, and she has NEVER had a drop of formula or store-bought food. In the same way that I try really hard to support parents’ choices on feeding, childcare, and nursing vs. formula, I hate it when people imply that going to work means giving up nursing and things like making the baby’s food. (I didn’t see anybody here do that, I just know that I got it when I told people my hopes, and I’m guessing you will, too.) Working might make it more challenging to do these things, but you can do it if that’s what you want to do. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t, and that’s okay, too, just don’t let other people tell you the way it has to go (which I’m sure you won’t!)

    The Milk Memos is a really great book about working and nursing. I didn’t like it the first time I read it, but as I went back to work, I found a lot of the passages really helpful.

  32. Kate, you won’t have to worry about leaving your child with strangers, because they won’t BE strangers. You’ll get to know and trust those carers.

    I’ve thought about this issue a lot. At the moment, while it is all hypothetical, I would love to stay home for a year or two. In reality, I don’t think that will happen. I have a higher earning capacity than my husband (and in the next 5 to 10 years it will become significantly higher). Once upon a time we talked about me working and him staying home (which made me feel a bit jealous, I have to admit) but the issue at the moment is that both our careers are at a transition point… we both face the choice of commiting fully to long hours and hard work as well as really exciting opportunities, or letting our careers take a back seat and missing out on some opportunities that we really want and have been working towards for many (many) years. If we choose to advance our careers it will be nearly impossible for us to work part-time. Our careers, although different, are similarly inflexible!
    The ideal solution would be to get some help from my mum – she’d love to do it! – but unfortunately both our families live overseas.
    So, it will always be financially most sensible for me to go back to work. At the moment my plan (if all of this TTC stuff is successful!) is to have one child now, go back to work, get the experience and qualifications and promotion I need, and then hopefully (if my ovaries agree!) take time off to have one or two more at a time when I am more senior and therefore more able to dictate my own working hours.

    Kate and Benjamin, it has to be an individual decision. Your plan sounds like a great one. EVERY family is different, EVERY child is different, and you’ll figure out what workds best for you.

    Good luck with those waiting lists!

  33. Stef, That sounds like a perfect plan. I know what you mean about learning to live on less $$$, it’s going to be a big adjustment! I am considering taking some unpaid time after my maternity leave runs out and we’re going to have to really look at finances to make sure that’s an option.

    Laura, Thank you for the recommendation! We are in Somerville, which is actually quite close to Melrose. We are looking to stay as close as possible to home, just in case I need to drop the baby off at daycare before I go to work if Benjamin can’t, because I walk to work. But obviously that depends on if we can find what we’re looking for close to home! I will shoot you an email if we’d like to get in touch with that person. Thanks again.

    Kara, Thank you! I’m sure you are totally right. I could beat myself up over ANY decision I make at this point 🙂 I’m already becoming a mother!

    Taryn, So true! I think if we stick with our current plan of both parents taking one day off, and supplementing with daycare, it seems like a very well-rounded approach that I can feel justified in taking. You’re right that there will always be someone out there who doesn’t like my decision, though, I’m sure.

    christy, Same here! As Benjamin mentioned, he felt very strongly that I go back to work after having the baby. At first I remember feeling frustrated by his perspective because, as I said, I have always ALWAYS wanted to stay home. And then I realized that he’s right. There are many reasons to stay home, but there are also many reasons to continue my personal and professional development, a main one being so that I don’t lose my own identity in becoming a mother. After my parents went through a divorce, I watched my mother have a hard time getting back into the working world, since her resume was less than ideal since she had decided to stay home with us. Not that I’m preparing for divorce, but I do think that maintaining my own interests will ultimately make me a better mom.

    Joanna, Great points about the waiting lists, I am sure some spots will open up. There’s plenty of time left between now and when I’ll need daycare to begin. And frankly, over the last few days, I’ve even begun to think about taking some unpaid time for another month or two so that the baby can be 4 months old before we put him/her in daycare, which I think may help me feel like he/she is more “prepared”, and also buys us a little more time. I’m so happy to hear about your positive daycare experience too!

    Benjamin, Yes. Agreed. 🙂

    Tiffany, It’s great to hear a voice from the other side as well. While I am generally one to go along with “the plan”, I can totally see throwing the plan out the window and staying home with the little one full time, even if daycare was what we decided on. I really don’t know how I’ll feel until I get there, so I guess it is a constant process.

    Cate, Good luck! It’s never too early to start thinking (apparently!).

    Sarah, That’s a good point. I had looked up the going rate for an in-home caretaker early on in the process and wrote it off because we couldn’t afford it. But you’re right that if we’re only looking for 3 days a week, that might actually be an option. The only downside to that is that Benjamin runs his business out of our (small) home, and I really enjoy my work-from-home days as well, but I don’t think we’d be as productive with the baby home (caretaker or not). We shall see!

    Laurie, Great points! I hadn’t even really gotten far enough in my thought process to move on to things like that, but I fully intend to breastfeed and make my baby’s food, provided he/she wants that as well. It’s really wonderful to hear that I can have my cake and eat it too, in this case.

    Tio, I know, it is such a balancing act. There are a lot of things that weigh on our decision, but I am sure we will come to a solution that works for our family. Thank you!

  34. I too am a full-time working mom who (for a whole variety of reasons) could not have afforded to stay at home. We started researching daycare early on, and we compiled a list of questions based on the advice of other mothers, parenting blogs and sites and other things that were of particular interest to my daughter’s father and I.

    One of the biggest things I can say is do your research, make your questions and then tour-tour-tour. I had to have called 15-20 day cares and toured 10 or so. Like others have said some were cheaper or closer to home than the one we chose for our daughter but they just didn’t feel “right.”

    Since my daughter began going to daycare she has loved it. She is more social, and advanced in so many ways. Instead of keeping her with children her own age they actually approached us a week ago to move our daughter Mikayla into a new room with children 6 months older than her. We have seen her vocabular increase ten-fold, her independance grow and so many other skills that we truly believe she has gained through her time in day care.

    Truth be told at 19 months old our daughter loves going. She talks about “school” and her “friends” and is excited when we drop her off and tells us about her day.

    Leaving your baby the first time is never easy (heck the for a while it might not be easy). But you need to find a place you are comfortable with, that supports you and your parenting choices (we were fortunate enough to also find a daycare that supported my breastfeeding and pumping for the first year of our daughter’s life).

    One of the biggest recommendations I can make is to find a place that has good, clear (DAILY!) communication with the parents. Our daycare is great in that they send a sheet home daily with Mikayla about her day. Sometimes things are included on there that I didn’t think to ask about after a long work day. It’s really been helpful to know what she did each day and to plan for the rest of the week. I can’t tell you how good it is to know that I can call any time and they are more than willing to tell me how my daughter is (not all places are like that).

  35. We are very fortunate in Canada where we have 1 year of maternity leave which is possibly being increased to 18 months. That give us a little bit longer to get our day care situation decided and put into place. That said, the wait lists are STILL really long and I was told before I was even pregnant that as SOON as I knew I was, to get my name on the list at the daycare in our neighbourhood. I still have yet to do it because I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing with that situation. My employers are great and even suggested that I consider coming back part time after mat leave, so we shall see!

    It stresses me out that we even have to think about it at this stage!

  36. Have you thought about hosting an au pair? It’s very affordable (aprox. $340/week)

    Here are the details, please let me know if you have more questions

    Cultural Care Au Pair is one of the most affordable childcare options available. Regardless of the number of children in your family, the average weekly cost is just $340, which includes the application fee, program fee and your au pair’s weekly stipend.

    Cultural Care Au Pair’s childcare and cultural exchange program offers your family flexible, live-in childcare. Your au pair lives with you as a member of your family for one year with the option to extend for an additional 12, 9 or 6 months. Your children benefit from a one-to-one relationship with a committed and caring live-in companion while your entire family enjoys a cultural exchange experience.

    Cultural Care Au Pair:

    * has 20 years of experience in intercultural childcare
    * has a dedicated worldwide staff on-call 24 hours a day
    * provides local support for both au pairs and host families
    * is U.S. government designated and regulated

    All Cultural Care au pairs:

    * participate in a careful screening and selection process
    * are 18-26 years old
    * are proficient in conversational English
    * enjoy children and have previous childcare experience

    A Cultural Care au pair can:

    * provide flexible, in-home care and personalized child supervision
    * arrange weekly working hours to suit your family’s scheduling needs
    * assist you with light household duties such as preparing your children’s meals and helping them to keep their rooms neat
    * oversee and enrich your children’s playtime with international games, stories and activities
    * drive your children to and from school, to appointments and on outings and errands
    * supervise your older children during their after school hours and summer breaks
    * introduce your family to another language
    * teach your children international customs and traditions
    * become a lifelong friend to your family

    All Cultural Care Au Pair host families:

    * require up to 45 hours per week of childcare
    * are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents
    * are able to provide a private bedroom for the au pair
    * have a sincere interest in cultural exchange

  37. Since you’ll only need daycare a few days a week, it might also make sense to look into an in-home thing. I found an AWESOME person on (gasp!) Craigslist when i worked 20 hours a week. She and her husband were in town for his schooling, they had a 2 year old, and I just dropped our daughter off at their house. It may seem crazy, but she is by far the best babysitter we’ve ever had.
    The downside is that we did it all under the table so our weekly checks to her were not tax deductible…

  38. I am in the exact same place as you (minus being pregnant!!) – I work for a large company that provides great benefits, both health and retirement. My husband works for a very small company with limited benefits. I also value my career and live a lifestyle that really requires two incomes.
    My thought is that even with daycare, you and Ben will be co-parents. I think so much has changed since we were young…when child-rearing was really left up to the mom. I fully plan to have an equal role in raising our child as my husband. Luckily, both our jobs are flexible enough that we can make it work and minimize the hours of daycare.
    You’ll figure it out. And good for you for being so proactive about it!

  39. My son goes to daycare 5 days a week, I work full-time, and I don’t regret it at all! In fact, last week daycare was closed because of the snow, so I was cooped up inside the house with him all day, and I kept thinking to myself, “working full-time is definitely the right choice for me!” Don’t get me wrong, I love being home with him, but I love and appreciate my “day job” even more now that I’m a mom. Also, I perform better at work now. I find that I’m more efficient and procrastinate less because I want to make sure I leave on time and don’t spend the evenings stressing about the stuff I have to get done. It’s different for everyone, obviously, but for me, working full-time is the absolute right choice.

  40. I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I love it! I wanted to throw another option out there for you that you might not have considered. Many people have started doing what is usually called a “nanny share” which might be a great choice for you. Basically you would find another family who is looking to share child care costs and together hire a nanny to care for your children.

    Often times a tricky part is figuring out which home to use because for many people it is a perk to have the nanny come to their home. Since that isn’t ideal for you it could work out well. Cost wise you might come out ahead for at least the first year because day care centers often charge full time rates for infants even when the child only attends part time. Your routines will definitely be easier when you can leave the bulk of your babies things in one (or two) places and just have them washed and kept there.

    If you don’t know someone who might be willing to do this with you, often times people will post things on craigslist. Another option is to call nanny agencies in the area and talk to someone there about it. Most agencies will be happy to talk to you and explain how it works and the costs associated with a nanny over the phone without any obligation.

    That being said, there are really some amazing daycare centers out there and your child will do well with whatever you end up choosing. One other thought on the daycare situation is you might want to look at some Montessori schools, one that I taught at had an infants program that was amazing! They didn’t advertise it as daycare but seeing as most people don’t randomly send their infant to school for 8-9 hours a day that is basically what it was.

    Good luck in your search!

  41. Maureen, Great suggestions, thank you so much. I love the idea of a daily report of how everything went; I can only imagine how many things are forgotten when the baby is too young to tell you him/herself what went out. I think I have narrowed our list down to 5 and we will definitely visit all 5 to make our final decision. At this point I am less concerned about the cheapest option and more concerned with my level of comfort with the center and leaving my baby there.

    Angie All the Way, I know, I thought about a quick move to Canada (or Europe) once we got pregnant… everyone seems to have better maternity leave policies than the US! You were smart to already get on the daycare lists, whether or not you end up using them.

    Tracy, Thank you for the information about au pairs. Unfortunately if you saw the size of our house (we live in 1/2 of a 2 family house in a crowded urban area), you’d see that adding another person to the family (aka having someone live with us) is not a realistic possibility. However, I can see that there are lots of great reasons to have one if the living situation was different!

    Jenn, It’s true, having someone in our house may be an option. I’m happy to hear you found someone you love on Craigslist. When I first moved to Boston and graduated from college, I advertised as a babysitter/nanny on Craigslist… and I like to think I would have been quite a catch! So I’m sure there are some very qualified and wonderful people there (amidst the crazies?). Good point about paying her under the table, I hadn’t thought of that!

    AplusB, It’s true, we are in a really great spot, with both of us able to take some time off so I don’t feel so overwhelmed by the prospect of leaving our child 24/7 with someone else. Thank you!

    Alison, That’s good to hear! I worry that I’ll be less productive at work because I’ll be wishing I was home, but you’re right that it could turn out to be the opposite. Who knows until it happens, I guess.

    Nicole N., I’ve heard of nanny shares but I didn’t really know how they worked. Very interesting! You’re right that this might be a good option for us, and we might be a desirable “sharer” because we’d let the other family have home court advantage 🙂 I will definitely look into this. Thank you!

  42. I don’t know why,when you are expecting and just have had they baby, you expect to live the SAME lifestyle you had when you didn’t have kids. Maybe I’m older, could be. I had my first child at 22 and I knew then that my life would be totally different and no more causually going out, drinking with friends, etc. Babysitters are EXPENSIVE no matter where you live. I did work for the first month after my child was born and I tell ya, I couldn’t do it. I wanted to RAISE my child, no the day cares. And the day cares will not tell you if they walked, talked,etc their first so you can say that you saw/hear it first. Hate to burst a bubble here. If you can swing daycare, more power to ya. But it really didn’t pay for me to work for gas money and health insurance. And the idea that if you’re sick you can actually be sick when you have a kid in daycare is FALSE. I have been a SAHM for years and when I’m sick, the household knows it and pitches in when I’m sick. Yes, even when the kids were little. What ever plan you choose, it’s your ultimate decision. Good Luck.

  43. Kelly, Thanks for your candid comments. It is good to hear from all perspectives. I am confident that whatever decision we make will be the right one for us at this point in our lives, be it daycare or parent-at-home care. Everyone’s experience is different.

  44. i live in a rural community and we are fortunate to have several affordable options. getting in them is hard but a couple of things i have learned as a working mother
    1. you don’t have to stay where you start. so think small. remind yourself that you are not putting all your eggs in this basket and that if you hate it – you will just leave. little ones are so resiliant. we have switched daycares a couple of times as our needs have changed over the years and neither one of my kids skipped a beat.
    2. there will always always always be something about daycare that you don’t like. but try to distinguish between what you actually don’t like and what you don’t like b/c you could do it way better. make sense?
    3. daycare is the ultimate worst part of having a child – but its still worth it
    4. daycare is not forever and does not ultimately turn your child into who he/she will be. its a bleep on the radar.
    happy hunting…deep breaths!

  45. oh…and one more thing…have you considered a nanny?

  46. ilovehalle, Thank you! These are great lessons that you’ve learned. You are totally right that we don’t have to stick with or try to find “one, perfect spot”. The best we can hope for is “perfect for now” and expect our situation to change in the future. I appreciate the message, and all of your points are right on! As for the nanny idea, we have discussed it, but since my husband runs his freelance business out of our (small) home, and I often work from home (and love, love, love to do this), it would be a bit cramped with a screaming baby and a nanny. When I used to babysit I remember times when I would be there when the mother would be there too, and it always made me so nervous. Babies cry, and I always felt like, “Oh my gosh, I have to make this baby stop crying or the mom will think I’m doing a bad job.” Once I find a caretaker who I trust, I don’t want to be all up in their face 🙂 It’s not off the table, but I’m sort of thinking of it as an option to explore if we don’t find any day care centers we love.

  47. kate – very true i see your point. i do have a friend who shares a nanny with another couple and both couples have working from home luxuries and they kind of split up the time up with whoever is not home. they also interact with other children too. just putting it out there.
    just hang in there. you will find what is right for you and that is all that matters.

  48. This is an interesting discussion.

    We did a lot of planning before we had children. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wanted to make sure as much as possible that I had all the options open to me. We waited to TTC–we saved money, learned how to live off of one income, adjusted our lifestyle, and made housing/car/big purchase choices with having children (and again, one income) in mind.

    No to daycare–not for me. I exuded a lot of time, energy, and money getting my degrees–and I can’t think of a better way to use them than being a parent. Unless the job I have is truly making the world a better place and isn’t some ridiculous version of busy work, I can’t see trading being with my children.

    If I ever put my child in day care, it wouldn’t be until they could express themselves verbally.

    But that’s just my opinion and it’s what works for us. Other people feel differently about the point of having children.

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