Figuring out who would take care of our children while we worked was one of the toughest parenting choices we’ve had to make. Having me be a stay at home mom was never a viable option for us financially, so as soon as I got pregnant with our first child, we started looking into childcare options.
We live in a city where finding daycare spaces can be very, very tough. Not only is daycare ridiculously expensive, there are also long waiting lists for many daycare centres, starting from before the babies are even born. We did some research and found a daycare centre that would meet our needs: good reputation, good facilities and convenient location. We got ourselves on the waiting list when I was three months pregnant, knowing that we would require care for our child starting at age one.
Fast forward to summer 2011. Our son, Littleman, was about six months old and we decided to ask to for another tour of the daycare we had chosen. Now that we were parents, we had a better sense of what we wanted to know/ask about so we set up a time to visit. As we took the tour, we spoke to the supervisor about the chances of space being available when we needed it in January 2012. This is when we learned that Littleman was unlikely to get a spot.
Right away, we started looking around for other options. While we preferred the idea of a daycare centre rather than a home daycare, options were limited because we needed something in walking distance from our home and there weren’t many places that accepted babies under 18 months. We ended up choosing a home daycare where Littleman would be one of five children. We had to start paying for the spot two months before we needed it because someone else would have snatched it up if we didn’t.
We expected the transition from being at home with me to being in daycare all day to be tough for Littleman. We had heard that it often takes a couple of weeks for kids to settle into the new routine. What we didn’t expect is that he would NEVER settle in.
After two and a half months of constant crying, emails and phone calls to pick him up early, we finally had to admit defeat and accept that this daycare just wasn’t right for us. We made the decision to pull him out. I checked in with our first choice – the daycare centre – to see if there was a chance he could get a spot there. At the same time, I arranged to see a few other home daycares in the neighbourhood.
In the end, we chose to keep him at home for a couple of months until a space opened up at the daycare centre in the summer. We were lucky enough to find a nanny who was available part time to cover the days that D had to work. When she wasn’t available, I would take some time off of work or my mom would help out. When Littleman finally started at the daycare in July, he was 17 months old and the transition went extremely well. He was very happy there and remains happy there now. His little brother, Bo, joined him at the same daycare in February of this year.
Now that Littleman is four and will be starting Junior Kindergarten in September, we had to start over with the whole child care application process. Where we live, Kindergarten is now full day. Our public school offers a before and after school child care program. As it turns out, getting a spot in that program is just as cutthroat as regular daycare and we (almost) waited too long to get ourselves on the waiting list. After a couple of stressful weeks, we found out that Littleman got the last spot in the child care program.
We were super-relieved when we found out. But, seriously, what are people supposed to do if they don’t get a space for their child? After the bad experience we had when Littleman was a baby, I hate the idea of having to settle for childcare that isn’t my first (or even second or third!) choice. Ugh
Learning from past mistakes, we have already put Bo on the waiting list for a before and after school child care space for when he starts Kindergarten (in 2018!). I know I will always worry a little bit about my kids when they are in the care of someone else, but hopefully I no longer have to worry about whether they have a daycare space at all.