She Says… Daycare: Done!

Well, we did it. After a minor panic in realizing that we were [shockingly] behind the eight ball in securing daycare for our unborn child, we signed the safety deposit/sign-up fee/first week’s tuition check yesterday. Maybe not for the date we wanted, or the price we wanted, but we’re “in” just the same. Which is kind of a big load off my pregnant mind.

I know this sounds crazy, but we only looked at one daycare. This is very unlike me, as most of you know I am a hopeless over-researcher and will spend a ridiculous amount of time to make big decisions like this one. BUT, although there are many options available in our area, only ONE  is within walking distance (which is a huge plus, since I walk to work and it is a pain to have to drive the baby to daycare, then drive home, then walk to the T and go to work each morning). With this place, I can walk the baby to daycare in the morning, and then I can easily hop on the T from right there to get to work. On the way home, I can get off at the T stop right by daycare and then walk home. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Still, I knew that even the most convenient location wouldn’t win me over if I didn’t feel comfortable there.

Lucky for us, Benjamin and I almost cried when we took the tour — the place was adorable. The kids were happy and diverse, the teachers were smart and caring. They hit every major requirement I had (on my clipboard full of questions to ask) and many more. As we peered in the various classrooms (infant, toddler, pre-k, etc.), happy little faces peered back. I saw tables set for craft projects and healthy snacks being given out. The kids were smiling and interacting and all of them seemed safe, happy and comfortable. Whenever possible, the teachers take them outside on little field trips around the area (in those adorable baby wagons or walking with each kid holding on to a long rope — so cute!). We were sold.

The daycare we chose is a KinderCare. It’s a chain. One of the biggest ones (at least in my area). In the beginning of the process, I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, it means big prices (yuck) and corporate “regulations”, so they might not be as willing to compromise on missed days or pick-up time. On the other hand, it means strict hiring standards and background checks. It also means adherence to the highest safety standards. I love those things. What I found out when we visited the center is that it also means lesson plans for all ages and a positive, learning-centered environment. While I know some people might see this is as a negative (my child will be in “school” from infancy), I think it is a positive. The atmosphere in the KinderCare center was one of creativity, self-directed learning and education from Day 1. Even in the infant room, they do what they can to stick to a schedule (not always possible, I know!), and I think that structure helps to develop important skills for the little ones like listening and delayed gratification.

The ONLY downside to KinderCare that I can see so far is cost. Nearly $2,000 a month for a 5-day a week schedule. Phew! Benjamin and I decided that we will try a 3-day a week schedule to put the cost back in our budgeted ballpark. It also makes me feel a little more balanced about sending my baby off to daycare (which I know will be very hard for me) for only 3 days instead of 5. I will take Mondays off, and Benjamin will try to keep Fridays free with no jobs, and we’ll make it work.

As I said, we also didn’t get the start date we wanted. Can you believe that signing the check in March 2010 (at 21 weeks pregnant, mind you) only guarantees us care beginning in THE THIRD WEEK OF JANUARY 2011?! Craziness. Although we wanted the first week of January (which is when I am hoping to go back to work after an extended maternity leave), my fingers are crossed that people ahead of us will drop off the list and we’ll get our target date. If not, again, we’ll make it work.

So, one big thing checked off that long list of to-do’s. About a million more to go!


19 responses to “She Says… Daycare: Done!

  1. Oh goodness! Thank goodness for tax breaks and any FSA plan you might have!

    I’m glad you found a convenient place that gives you peace of mind–that’s so important.

  2. HOLY MOLY – I can’t believe how expensive that is! [grateful sign of relief that I live in a small town – with expenses pared down accordingly…]
    Although, what really matters in the end is that you are comfortable with the place – peace of mind is worth a lot!

  3. Yikes!!! Is it even worth it for one of you to work at that price? ! I know we looked at the cost of childcare, work attire, transportation, etc. and realized after all of the deductions I was only bringing home a couple hundred a month. Not worth it to pay someone else to raise my child and for me to run the rat race of trying to be full time employee and full time mama! I know several families who have done the math and realized the same. It’s crazy!!

  4. One great benefit of living in Oklahoma is that things are cheap. Even then, I was sad about $700 a month. And most of our daycares won’t do part-time. We’re still debating what to do with this little one when he/she comes into the world. .. I’m glad you got it figured out!

  5. Wow, that’s pricey! We only looked at one daycare also, and it was the right fit. When you know, you know! And it definitely feels great to have that weight off my shoulders as well

  6. Lu is in a KinderCare and I LOVE IT!!!! They are fab. Once Piccolino is eating food they provide it all-it’s awesome. We get 20% off but it’s still spendy!!!

    As for the date. Once you have him call them A LOT. They’ll find a spot 😉 I promise. After Lu was born I pestered (in a nice way) and I got in on my date. Once I got in I made sure to bring cookies and stuff to thank them.

    I am SUCH a KinderCare fan!

  7. As a working mom, any price that you can afford is worth your peace of mind and your ability to be a parent while continuing your career and maintaing that part of yourself. I also looked at only one facility and knew immediately that it was the one we wanted, and we were lucky enough to get a spot. To me, working is as much about my identity and my contribution to society as it is my financial contribution to our family, and daycare is as much about allowing Lydia social interaction as it is a place for her to stay while we are at work. Also, for what it’s worth, I have never felt like daycare is the equivalent of someone else raising my child. Part of raising my daughter is modeling that she will have professional opportunities and options in her life, even if she also wants to be a parent.

    Sorry. This topic gets me a little fired up. 😉

    Congrats on checking this huge to-do off the list!

  8. Her, Yes, the FSA plan will totally help. We knew going into it that childcare would change our budget quite a bit, but this was pushing it!

    Janelle, Benjamin and I ARE both comfortable, and I am so happy that we found the “right” fit that it almost makes me forget the cost. Almost.

    Holly, Yes, we’ve done the calculations and weighed our options. While for some I realize this is strictly a financial decision, I completely agree with Laurie in that I am doing a lot more for myself and for my child(ren) by continuing to work. I understand your position, but especially after visiting the center we chose, I do not at all see it is someone else raising my child and me simply running the rat race.

    Amber, It is a big decision… good luck!

    Jen, I’m so glad to hear others say they only visited one place, the overachiever in me was feeling like I didn’t do my due diligence 🙂 Thank YOU for getting me started on the whole thing (by reading your blog post about daycare)… I would have waited a lot longer before starting to look.

    Chelsea, I am SO happy to hear that Lucy is in a KinderCare!!! Your comments about how to choose the best daycare on my last post were so helpful to me, and I wondered if I would ever find a place as wonderful as yours. And lo and behold, I did! The SAME place 🙂 Appreciate the note about getting our date, too. I will definitely get them on speed dial in August.

    Laurie, I could not have said it better myself. I agree 100%. Thank you for getting fired up!!!

  9. $2000 a MONTH for 5 day care?!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?? how does anyone work? maybe i’m just broke! i would have to just stay at home. jesus!!!

  10. oh and does this mean you’re going to work part time when the baby is born? i totally understand wanting/needing to work (i would feel the same way), and it’s nice that you or ben can stay at home 1/2 the time (i didnt mean to some insensitive in my other comment, it was just an omfg moment… i had no idea childcare was so expensive)

  11. caitlin, I know, right?! The cost is a bit much. I mean, I assume that since the cost of daycare is so much more expensive here in Boston than it seems to be other places that the salaries are too, so it may or may not be the same percentage of my salary as other parts of the country. That said, it will be a big financial hit, but I still make enough (and provide the benefits for our whole family since Benjamin works for himself) to cover it and make us a little extra. Thank goodness, huh? And yes, I’ll be returning to work at 4 days a week instead of 5. Benjamin will do the same, except his work (since he’s freelance) is a bit more flexible.

  12. Yes, daycare turned out to be quite pricey for us, which I believe is sort of the norm for living in a city like Boston. (I imagine living in other big cities would be similar.) Luckily going to a 3-day, day-care schedule reduces the cost by about 25%, and we are fortunate that it still makes sense for us to send our child to day care instead of one of us not working. I think doing 3 days of day care will be great for us and Piccolino, and it is very important that we both continue with our careers.

  13. I didn’t realize Kate was commenting at the same time as me. Sorry to sound redundant to what she said.

  14. That is a relief for you two, but sheesh daycare is highway robbery!!

  15. We also only looked at one daycare and knew that it was the place for us. We live in Columbus and pay $900 per month for one of the best daycares in the area. For Boston people, our friends who used to live in Charlestown paid just over $2K per month for daycare, so Kate’s costs are about in line for the area. No daycare is perfect…there will be things you love about it and things you wish were different, but it is really impossible to put a price on excellent care for your child. Leaving our son at daycare the first couple of days was terrible (I have dropoff duty, my wife picks up since she is a teacher and is done early), but it does get better because A) you get used to the separation and B) you soon see that your child really does benefit from the social interaction, learning, and play that daycare offers. This isn’t meant to be a dig at anyone, but people who do not have kids (or aren’t expecting) simply cannot realize how important it is to have a good daycare. Paying for daycare might sound like a sacrifice, but it isn’t at all. Having kids really does change everything. For the better.

  16. Pete, great to hear another dad experience, and I like what you have to say.

  17. Eek I had no idea daycare was so pricey either! Sounds like robbery b/c what other choices do new parents really have? But that’s terrific you found a place both you and Benjamin are comfortable with, and it’s convenient for you!

    How did you convince your company to allow you to work 4 days? (if you don’t mind me asking!) My company already lets me work from home permanently which is huge. I’d love to broach the subject of 4-10 hour days instead of 5- 8 hour days when we finally do get pregnant and have a baby.

  18. Jen, Regarding the 4-day a week work schedule, I am VERY lucky in that there wasn’t really any convincing to be done on my part. I came to my boss with a detailed plan of what I’d LIKE for my maternity leave (weeks of mat leave, weeks of what my company calls “parental leave”, which is on top of mat leave, weeks of unpaid leave and weeks of working 1-2 days a week, and then returning to work at 4-days a week). Although I was willing to be flexible, my boss immediately said yes and agreed that this would be a great schedule for both me and the business. Perhaps I’m lucky to work in the consulting industry that is still recovering from the economic downturn — they’re probably happy to have me shift to four days a week versus five! The reality is that I imagine I’ll be doing the same amount of work (we didn’t really discuss getting rid of any of my responsibilities), but that it fine with me if it means one less day of daycare a week for my little one(s).

  19. Pingback: daycare – The Five Little Known Facts About Opening a Daycare by Christine Groth –

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