On daycare, again

by DaniGirl on November 22, 2010 · 4 comments

in Working and mothering

The day after we saw and fell in love with our new house, I posted an online ad looking for child care. That’s before we’d even put a formal offer on the house, before the building inspections, before anything. Because? Quality, affordable child care is that important. And, that hard to find.

I got one promising contact and we chatted back and forth through the long process of listing and selling the old place, and moving and getting settled in the new one. But even though we started the big boys in their new school from the beginning of September, I dragged my heels on transitioning Lucas to the new care provider. She seemed nice enough, but I was content with our existing caregiver. More than content, I adored her. However, the 15 minute drive back and forth to Barrhaven was getting inconvenient, especially for Beloved trying to get all three boys out and get to work himself at a decent hour. After putting it off for several weeks (classic denial — if you ignore the problem it goes away, right?) I finally made arrangements to have Lucas start with the new caregiver last week.

I was practically sick with anxiety. Lucas is not as clingy as he once was, but he is still very shy of strangers. Even though he’d been with our most recent caregiver on and off for six months and I know he loved her, he’d still fuss when we dropped him off some days.

We went for two practice visits at the new caregiver, just dropping by before lunch for a wee visit to meet the other kids and let Lucas get to know her a bit. The first time went well, but on the second visit I looked down at Lucas as we approached the porch and he had tears streaming down his face — even though no mention had been made of leaving him, nor did I have any intention of leaving him. For whatever reason, he sensed that change was afoot and didn’t like it.

And, I must admit, I was anxious about the new caregiver myself. She seemed nice enough when we met, and had great experience, but I fretted nonetheless. For the last several caregivers, one of the big boys had been home with the baby most of the time, which provided a security that worked both ways — I could get a full report from the more verbose big boys, and they could act as a human security blanket to Lucas. But with the big boys now both in school full time, I’d be sending Lucas off by himself. I haven’t send a child solo to day care since my eldest was one year old!

In the nights leading up to leaving Lucas with the new caregiver, I lost many hours of sleep worrying over the transition. Maybe, I thought, we should just make the “commute” to Barrhaven work. After all, wasn’t a stable and loving environment more important than a few minutes of inconvenience and extra driving each day?

The night before his first day, I made sure my work calendar was light and told the new caregiver that if he was too miserable she should call me and I would come and pick him up. I castigated myself for not making a longer transition period for him. I counted my family leave days. I broached the subject carefully with Lucas, telling him what to expect the next day and nearly weeping when he began to object, mollified only by the idea of a half-finished puzzle he had started on one of our preparatory visits.

And you know what? Beloved dropped him off that first day and he went happily into her house without a backward glance. No tears, no fuss. He’s been happy as a clam ever since. He loves his new caregiver, and especially loves her 13-year-old daughter, who seems to return the favour.

So I ask you this: when am I going to learn to stop working myself into a lather over things that turn out to be absolutely nothing?

And if you’re keeping count, that’s seven caregivers for our family in seven years — and ours seems to be a story of success and stability compared to many I’ve heard. We’ve been blessed by some truly wonderful caregivers, and only had a few bad apples in our lot. But of all the challenges we’ve faced in raising our three boys, finding accessible, affordable, quality child care continues to be the most daunting.

We’ve been so lucky, and I’m grateful for that. But something as important as child care shouldn’t be left to the caprices of good fortune. Here’s hoping our luck holds out. I think this one’s a keeper.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sara November 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Fortunately, I never had to worry about finding a quality care provider. My aunt offered and even though we pay her $5 a day for our little man to be there she saves up all of the money to blow it on him for gifts for his birthday and Christmas.

It does help that she raised four well-mannered and bright children who are between the ages of 35 and 16.

2 Allison November 22, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Totally understand the stress & nervousness! We found a fabulous daycare for my older son while I was on my second mat leave, he went two mornings a week then, and I thought I’d transition them together to another daycare when I went back to work, but I loved it so much that they are both there now! It is a bit more than we wanted to pay, but it is so worth it, they are both really thriving there and having so much fun. Glad to hear that it is working out for you too!

3 Lee-Ann Sleegers November 22, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Our problem isn’t with daycare as I’m still home with Rachel but rather getting reliable evening sitters. Our niece did it for a while, but she’s passed that stage now and her sister isn’t old enough yet. Then we had a girl from the neighbourhood, but she’s now in University and therefore not available as much leaving grandparents and a couple aunts but we don’t want to bother family for just a couple hours.

4 Amber November 24, 2010 at 1:30 am

We’re up to 3 daycares and 1 nanny (so 4 care situations) in 4 1/2 years. And I would also consider us fairly stable.

Childcare is hard. Even when it goes well, it’s really, stinking hard.

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