On daycare, yet again

by DaniGirl on January 7, 2010 · 15 comments

in Working and mothering

It’s been a good long time since I’ve bitched about child care, hasn’t it? I think we’re loooong overdue!

The reason it’s been a good long time since I’ve bitched about child care is because I’ve been so happy with the young nanny who has been coming to the house since I went back to work after my maternity leave ended last January. After a horrendous search, we found a gem and we’ve been thrilled with her care. And we will be thrilled with her care, right up until she leaves on March 1 to start her own maternity leave. Sigh.

When she came back after the summer off, she told us she was pregnant and I steeled myself for another demoralizing foray into the search for affordable, accessible, quality child care. In late September, I started haunting the online child care ads, and whimpered in dismay. And then, early in October I think it was, I mentioned our situation to one of the other moms from Simon’s kindergarten class that I’d befriended. I told her about the nanny’s (relatively) imminent departure, and asked her to keep her ears open for me. To my surprise and delight, she called me up the next week and wondered if I’d be interested in having *her* take care of the boys, and I couldn’t say yes fast enough. She has three kids, too, almost the same ages as my boys at the same school, and all the kids are friends. It’s perfect! I swear, it’s like karmic payback for all the daycare shit I’ve had to wade through over the years. Not only the easiest daycare search ever, but with optimal results. I couldn’t be more happy. It’s only an interim solution, as she doesn’t want to keep doing daycare beyond this spring, but it gives us a perfect bridge over the gap in care this year.

So she can bridge the period between the nanny’s maternity leave and the end of Beloved’s semester, and Beloved will be off from May through August with the boys. In September, Simon will be in Grade 1 (!!!!) and Tristan will be in Grade 3, which leaves me finding full-time care for Lucas and before and after school care for the big boys. Should be easy-peasy, right? Not so much.

A part of me is dismayed to be looking in January for care that isn’t required until September, but I’ve been at this game long enough to know there is no such thing as too soon. I’ve been tossing around different options. I could put Lucas into the day care centre near our house for $40 a day, assuming we creep to the top of that waiting list — I’ve been told it’s even odds since he’s been registered since 2007. Yes, he was born in 2008. Hell, they just called me this year to tell me that Tristan has not yet made it to the top of their waiting list — that he’s been on since 2004 — but since he turns eight in March, he’s no longer eligible for their centre.

If I get a spot for Lucas at the daycare centre — and a big “if” it is — I’d still have to arrange for before and after school care for the big boys. I’ve had them registered on the wait list for their school’s before and after care program since 2006. I just checked yesterday and while the coordinator won’t know for sure until March, she said it doesn’t look good for this year but we’re likely to get a spot for September 2011. Can you believe it? I registered when Tristan was in JK, and we’ll likely get a spot as he goes into Grade 4. And I’m not sure, but I think he’s ineligible after Grade 5.

And setting aside the whole wait list thing, there’s the cost issue to consider. The daycare centre is $40 a day, and the school’s before and after program is $19 per day per child. That’s $80 per day for “institutional” care. If I go private, in-home daycare, rates are similar. On the other hand, I can get a live-out nanny for $80 – 100 per day plus payroll taxes. This is good in that I am the boss and therefore in control of the conditions of employment — the reason I was drawn to nanny care in the first place. Currently, I’m only paying for 4 days per week of care because I’m off on Wednesdays, and we lay the nanny off each summer so she can collect EI and we don’t have to pay a fee to “save” a spot or coordinate holidays with the daycare provider and potentially all the other families for which she provides care. On the other hand, Lucas is painfully shy and I’m thinking it might be good for him to get out of the house for care, and it would be really nice to have everyone out of my house during the day. But finding a daycare provider that has space for all three boy who is in our school cachement area — let alone who is a good person and someone worthy of caring for my boys! — is a Herculean task that I am dreading to my bones. And the idea of going through the nanny interview process all over again gives me a stomach ache.

Sigh.

It’s kind of disappointing to see that even though two of the three boys will be in school full time in September, we stand to gain absolutely no financial break on daycare fees, and will be spared exactly none of the headaches of finding and managing child care. But, of course, we lose the $100-a-month child care payment from the government for Simon when he turns six next month.

Seriously, how the hell do people with less resources than our privileged family make this work?

Editorial Aside: Every link in this post is a link back to a different spot in the ongoing saga of one family’s search for affordable, quality, accessible day care. If you want to read more, you can peruse my “working and mothering” category. I’m sure my experience is just about average to what any Canadian family must endure, and I’m horrified by that. The system is broken, and we MUST fix it.


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mom on the Go January 7, 2010 at 11:39 am

We put Reid in a private school for JK/SK because the school she’ll go to doesn’t have before/after care and the cost of private school was equal to the daycare costs for the hours that remain once classes are finished when class last only 2.5 hours. I don’t have a plan for September. We’d always talked of adjusting our work hours so that one of us would always be around. But with hubby going back to Afghanistan, I guess I need a plan. Thanks for the reminder

2 mrsgryphon January 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm

The child care struggle is so frustrating, and I have 3 friends just in our little town who’ve hired full-time nannies over the last year. It’s a solution that seems to work for many, and if I ever had to go back to work, that’s probably what we’d do too!

With a 4 year old and a 7.5 month old, we’ve made the decision that I will stay home with them, for at least a couple of years and I will probably not go back to work (full-time) until they are in school and old enough to take care of themselves when they got home. We are in a financial position that we can afford for me to stay home, without income, but I *want* to work at least part-time and it just doesn’t make financial sense. Working part-time would require child care that would eat up any income I made from working! I’ve often wished that we lived closer to my parents or the in-laws so that they could help out, but that would mean we’d actually have to, you know, live near them and I’m kind of enjoying being 3 provinces away šŸ™‚

3 marianne January 7, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I hate the daycare scramble. I’m also in the position of having to find new care for my 2-year old daughter this spring due to an expectant caregiver, though at least I have only one child to find a spot for. It’s doubly heartbreaking as we had hoped to have a second baby relatively close to our first, and have me take an extended leave from teaching at that time, so that our daughter woudl have perhaps a year of daycare and then be at home again. But our fertility issues have thrown those plans out the window. We are currently discussing whether or not I should go ahead and take a leave of absence if we’re not pregnant before next school year and just give up any potential mat leave income if I got pregnant while on leave. At teh moment just the thought of looking for a care giver to span the gap between March Break and the end of June this year makes me sick to my stomach.

P.S — captcha = “scramble”

4 BeachMama January 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Argh. Sorry to hear you are back on the daycare wagon Dani. Here’s hoping it works out smoothly for you this time around.

5 A Crafty Mom January 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm

That’s it.

I’m never going back to work again, EVER.

I just read all your back links about the issues you’ve had and it terrifies me. I am in a similar boat. I am a teacher and was supposed to go back to work this past September – had to ask the board for an extra year of leave b/c daycare was going to cost us so much. I have two in kindergarten, so they are home at 11:00 a.m. – most places still charge $35 for a HALF day!! And then the baby was going to be a full day price. Now as I am assessing day care for next September, I will have one in grade one, one in SK and a 2 1/2 year old. It’s still going to cost me a fortune, and like you, I want to find something close so the boys don’t have to change schools and can stay in our neighbourhood. Because I switched careers “later” in life I only had a couple years of teaching under my belt before my first mat leave – not putting me very high up on the pay scale. šŸ™

Forgot I would lose that $100!!! Egads – my oldest turns 6 in March. It never ends!

Good luck with your search – I am thrilled to hear that you’ve found someone nearby to help out for the rest of this year – that’s a lot of pressure of your shoulders for the short term.

6 Finola January 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Misery loves company….we are in the same boat too, except our nanny has already gone on maternity leave and we still don’t have any care for our five-year-old. Our older daughter has been able to get into the after school program at the school, but our little one is coming home at noon. My husband works from home and has been able to pick up the slack temporarily, but I don’t know what we will do until June, which is when a spot MIGHT open up.

7 thordora January 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm

You suck it up when yr poor. My ex worked part time, and we did without/lived on credit to avoid child care as much as possible. Now-I’m a little freaked since I can’t afford anything, and yet might have to do more than the one afternoon to give my Dad a break. 100.00 for ONE of my kids? that’s barely a few days with our sitter.

Thankfully, my father lives with me most of the year. Otherwise? We’d be eating ramen.

8 Amber January 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm

I didn’t take the daycare shortage that seriously until my older child aged out of the infant / toddler centre she was in and we had a struggle finding a preschool-aged spot for her. She spent 6 months in a group daycare which was fine and she was OK, but it wasn’t a good fit and we were all miserable. Really, there has just GOT to be a better way.

9 Rae January 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm

My EI ended 2 weeks ago. My daycare spot was availible Monday. I go back to work next monday. … We qualify for a partial subsidy through the city .. (which makes a spot a little easier to find, but barely) but it works such that I’ll be making the exact same amount I was on EI. That “Extra” money I’ll be working for goes to pay daycare.. and if my income goes up? I pay more to daycare (which I should, really, to the limit of my $2400 in fees a month…) but at the same time, there’s no getting ahead. I work to pay for daycare and a little bit of house money, or I stay home and we live on the line, hoping nothing breaks. ever.

I agree – it’s broken. I hope you find something that works.

10 Trista January 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm

You’ve now officially frightened me – our current child-care arrangement is that our moms take turns taking care of our daughter, but that will likely come to an end next August and we’ll have to find at least part-time care (2 days a week) for our two-year old. I need to start looking into this, yesterday.

11 SC January 8, 2010 at 12:18 pm

That sounds like a headache and a half Dani. It is this exact sauga that deters me from actually having the 3 kids I really want. I am also holding off on having a second until E is almost in school, so that I will only have to have 1 in daycare full-time when I return to work the second time. I feel fortunate to have found good day care… but I know that all good things must come to an end – as evident in your post today. I hope you find something that works for you – and that is equally as good as your current live out nanny. Happy Hunting (again!).

12 Nat January 9, 2010 at 7:39 am

Daycare is the reason The Boy is in private school.
The public school near us had no after care options (like you the waiting list was enormous, and even if we had put him on it at birth, he still would not have made it.) I checked with any umber of services and NONE had any half day spots for the JK, SK years. In fact, we were going to have to buy a full-time slot and chauffeur him back and forth to it. The cost for this spot… roughly the same as the cost of private school, which had full-day JK and SK, and before and after care programs.

Really… for a country that keeps talking about children as a resource and as precious we sure don’t make it easy for parents.

13 @WannabeMomErin January 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm

This is something that @JMarOttValley and I are concerned about as well: the expense, the wait lists, the logistics. It’s enough to make you start second-guessing the decision to try for a baby. Luckily, we are also good at sticking our heads in the sand and pushing ahead with crazy plans.

I wish you lots of luck in finding a solution that works for your family within your deadline.

14 Shan January 10, 2010 at 10:06 am

I am so very thankful for the sitter we have for our kids. She is actually the same sitter my husband went to when he was a kid. She’s lived two doors down from my husbands parents for over 30 years. She loves my kids like they were her own. She gets my oldest on and off the bus. She charges by the hour, not by the day and she is incredibly flexible with her hours. She also will and has taken my kids overnight. Bonus…. after they fall asleep, they’re off the clock. She will take them if they are sick although I choose not to exercise that option. And she’s reasonable. We definitely get way more than our money’s worth.

15 coffeewithjulie January 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

I’ve been thinking about your recent daycare post since it went up. (And I’ve been following your blog long enough to not even have to click through any of the links! Don’t you find that creepy? I am sooo following your life!) Anyhow … back to me thinking … I’ve been thinking that the state of a country’s child care has a direct link to the state of that society’s level of gender equality. I may just have to do my own rant on this!

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