Thursday, August 26, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Home Daycare

I know, I know, another post about Wee ‘Burb. And me declaring I’m not a mommyblog! I truly am not, so I hope you’ll all bear with me as I digress into parenting tales of woe once in awhile. It’s pretty much all my suburban life has been consumed by this last month.

So here’s what happened. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum in this blog, I don’t have any mommy friends locally. And so when it came time to choose a daycare for Wee ‘Burb, I was sort of in the dark. Don’t laugh, but I started researching when I was pregnant. I figured the best time to tour places and talk to people was before I actually became a sleep-deprived mommy zombie holding a crying, pooping distraction.
The first major choice was home daycare versus center. I personally grew up in home daycare and was sung the virtues of such for many years. But the cons as far as I could tell were that if you didn’t know the person, you were essentially putting your child in the hands of one stranger. Versus many strangers at a center daycare. It didn’t help that the week I was researching, there was a big article in our local paper about a couple who had been performing some deviant acts online out of their house, which was also a daycare. Somehow their excuses of “we never did this in front of the kids, or while they were here” just didn’t exactly make me feel better.

Now, look, I worked in a center daycare, so I know the cons there very personally. The one I worked at closed not long after I went to college after an inquiry into a woman who duct taped a child to a cot. But in the end, I just felt that without knowing anyone personally who did home daycare, I would have to trust center.

Except, well, I did know someone who did home daycare. Right across the street, in fact. Which was, at the time, a huge con for me. Because when Wee ‘Burb was born, looking into her little face and wanting to spend every waking second (and Lord were there a lot of those!) with her, I just couldn’t bear the thought of having her across the street. Watching her and hearing her and not being able to be with her.
So I kind of avoided the discussion whenever I saw my neighbor and fretted endlessly that she thought I didn’t trust her.

In the end, we adored the center daycare where we took Wee ‘Burb. It was 5 minutes down the street, her “teachers” were young and enthusiastic and had been with the center for years. They loved my daughter, gave her hugs and kisses, taught her how to feed herself and sit up on her own, somehow converting her into this independent social child who actually napped more than 20 minutes.

But they were expensive. We started by cutting out Netflix and some other odds and ends. We tried to cut our grocery bill, which is like cutting off a limb if you’re a foodie like Scott and I are.

But, really, every time we looked at our expenses there was one glaring area in which we knew we could be saving money.

I had no idea how much! I began to consider putting Wee ‘Burb in home daycare about a month ago. Realizing I would like to travel, and someday eventually give Wee ‘Burb a sibling, I knew something had to give financially, and so I started my research with the woman across the street.

She literally gasped when I told her what we were paying for center daycare. She said she charged $50 less a week, and provided food! In turn, I gasped. Because in my obviously flawed research, I truly believed we were talking $50 a month difference, not a week!

She lamented that she could not take Wee ‘Burb, though, because she had some newborns coming in January and she had to keep her ratio down as a result.

This began a week-long period of self-flagellation the likes of which you’ve only seen in movies like the Da Vinci code. How could I have been so selfish? How could I have prioritized this vague feeling of how hard it would be to have her so near and yet so far over the kind of savings we were looking at?

After days of this, I finally got down to doing more research through some sites my neighbor was kind enough to give me. After determining who had any hits on their record, who had been doing this long enough, but not so long they were burnt out, I narrowed my list down to three providers and went across the street to run them by my neighbor.

She whittled one more down for me saying the woman “never seems happy when I see her at the park.” Grateful I told her again how much I regretted not choosing her in the first place. And this is when my neighbor threw me a lifeline. She said until January her ratios were such that she could take Wee ‘Burb now. She pointed out it would save us money in the short term, and give us more time to carefully research home daycares.

The decision was hard and easy at the same time. I so loved the people she had taking care of her at the center. And there were downsides to having her across the street outside of my own difficulties. Namely that as a home daycare provider, if she was sick or her basement flooded (which happened this spring), it was up to me to find backup care. Or have Wee ‘Burb at home, which has been increasingly difficult as my work responsibilities increase along with her mobility.

Long story short (Yes, I know, too late), we decided to put Wee ‘Burb in home daycare with our neighbor and just hope that it either works out later, or at least we have the winter to find someone else.

So last quick thing! My neighbor comes over to do all the contract stuff, and we go over the list of what she provides. At which point I almost hugged her. Not only does she provide the food in her fee, she provides wipes, lotions, Orajel, and FORMULA! Let me just paint a picture for you: we spend about $30 a week in formula. Right there we’re talking $80 a week in savings.

It’s not even been a full week yet, but Wee ‘Burb is loving her new place! The bigger kids are always crowding around her. It is hard when I hear her cry, and even worse when I hear her laugh when she’s outside, but in the end I know she’s loved and safe. And I know my bank account is going to look a lot healthier.

What financial decisions do you make that are also tied up in emotions? Which wins out: thrift of emotions?


LambAround said...

This sounds like a great situation! Not to get your hopes up, but maybe now that you have your foot in the door, she can stay even after January.
To me, thrift should always win over emotion. Kids need financial security, which has a fun little bonus called "less-stressed out parents" :)

Tracy said...

If you are ever looking for ways to save, I have many. One I recommend is “subscribing” to Amazon diapers and formula although I don’t use much formula myself. You get between 15-30% off their already competitive prices and they ship automatically and appear at your door when you need them! I also sign up for all the formula programs….I actually sign up a few times for myself, my sister, my mom (like she can have a baby) but they send rebate coupons to get you hooked. Always ask your doctor if they have free samples also…the reps always drop off stuff and doctors dont really care who takes them.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Lamb: I hope you are right!!! She did say today she wants to keep Wee 'Burb around.

Tracy: I am always anxious for tips! I am signed up for the formula programs, though I never thought of signing up other people, that's a great idea!