Monday, August 1, 2011
The Daycare Dilemma
Wooooh boy have things been interesting around here as far as Wee 'Burb has been concerned! Last week I alluded to our daycare dilemma.
In early June, I got notice from my daycare provider that she was going to have to have surgery and would be out for at least 6 weeks. Her surgery was scheduled for the end of June!
Last year, this woman was my savior. Tired of paying astronomical prices for infant daycare at a center, a spot opened up in the home daycare across the street. I couldn't believe my luck! A neighbor we knew who already loved my kid, and who also provided everything but diapers. Including formula!!! We figured out we were saving $80 a week.
That figure stayed in our minds for awhile. When I started to realize that Wee 'Burb's development was lagging. When she came home begging for her favorite cartoon, one I had never heard of before in my life. When I realized that Wee 'Burb was the only one not participating in art projects or other curriculum-based items. When the daycare closing at 4:45 meant I had to pick her up every day, couldn't make plans during the evenings.
She was taken care of, she was loved. She went outside twice a day, and I could see she was having a blast. But she was one of 5 kids for one person, and she was the youngest. She was doted on, but I felt maybe not focused on, if that makes sense.
In addition to my suspicions that Wee 'Burb's development wasn't being prioritized (understandably so), there were the constant absences. While I knew the provider had 10 paid days a year, we didn't often get a lot of notice. There was the sump pump disaster, which meant she couldn't go for two days. There were mysterious illnesses (ultimately leading to the aforementioned surgery). Of course I couldn't blame my neighbor, which almost made it more annoying. How can I be mad at a woman whose basement has just flooded for the second or third time in weeks?
But she didn't offer backup care. So we either had to essentially pay two people for one day of care, or I had to quickly rearrange my schedule to have Wee 'Burb home with me.
So, some dissatisfaction was brewing, although I couldn't bring myself to really research other centers because a) I love my neighbor and b) Wee 'Burb loves my neighbor.
But when she approached me about the surgery, I had no choice. There was no way I could keep Wee 'Burb home with me for 6 weeks. To say my current work situation is tenuous is rather like saying Jesse James has a concerning track record with women. I can't afford to have Wee 'Burb yelling "ELMO" on my conference calls right now.
Scott's co-worker recommended a place nearby that had more of a preschool focus. Similar to a Montessori, but without the official label. We went to check it out and to say we fell in love was an understatement.
Along with only 10 other toddlers, with two teachers, Wee 'Burb would learn Spanish twice a week, participate in Music classes the other three. They would spend an hour a day each on gross motor and fine motor skills.
And when the time comes, they would gladly participate in any potty training method we choose.
The kicker? What sealed the deal? Date night.
One night a month, FOR FREE, they would keep my kid until 9 p.m. FOR FREE!
The cost was the problem. $30 more a week is no small deal for us right now. We discussed and debated and then threw up our hands.
Within two weeks of being in this daycare, Wee 'Burb was walking like a pro, climbing stairs, marching in place, trying to sing her ABCs (it goes something like "A B B BEEEE"), and sleeping on a cot (we still have her in a crib at home).
I felt like the choice was made for us. Every instinct told me this was the place for Wee 'Burb.
I thought finding the extra $30 a week was going to be hard. But the worst part? Telling my neighbor.
I brought her flowers and brought Wee 'Burb with me as a cuteness reinforcement. I discovered there's no card titled "Sorry for kicking you while you're down, but we're going another way."
I explained to her about the development issue (she was aware that we had consulted with a physical therapist) and she was so great about it. She admitted she had been considering downsizing or closing. And so far I think the relationship has been just fine.
Every day I get a report of Wee 'Burb's progress at her new daycare. She's playing dress-up, excelling at Simon Says, even learning about hula hoops. I know I made the right decision, even though it was a tough decision.
But how can you put a price on this?
What have been your tough decisions lately? How do you deliver bad news? Do you just rip the Band-aid off or plan it for weeks like I did?