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?


Life As Wife said...

I think daycare/school are the two issues I'm most scared of when it comes to parenting choices. Ultimately, you have to do what's best for your kiddo and it sounds like you found the right place for Wee 'Burb!!!

Sparkling said...

It sounds like you got her into the right kind of place just in the nick of time. And maybe this surgery was your neighbor's wake up call that it's time to give it up. And I'm a teacher, so how can I not think great things about more of a school setting??? You must be so thrilled with the progress!

The Woven Moments said...

Remind me to tell you about the time our home daycare provider started an animal farm without telling us.

I seriously wish I was joking.

gin said...

we recently went through the same thing, only Toph was constantly sick. the daycare was clean and the people working there nice, but after several months of hemming and hawing, we decided to switch. Toph has not been sick once and is much happier. It was our first daycare experience and we didn't have a basis of comparison...we have a feeling something wasn't right at the old place and we're really glad we switched.
I'm so glad the Burb is flourishing at her new daycare; that truly is the most important thing!

Aleta said...

It sounds like you did a beautiful job in handling the situation with your neighbor.
I'm so glad that you're seeing such big improvements for your daughter and she's an absolute doll!

And wow - a free date night - awesome!

Rach (DonutsMama) said...

You have to do what works best for your family and looks like you found it. Even though I'm home with Donut all day, I worry about her development too--like should she be around other kids and adults? Could she be learning more if she weren't stuck with just me all day? I don't know. It's really hard.

Counselor Musings said...

Wow- it sounds like you found a fantastic new place, and handled the situation with your neighbor well too.

SmartBear said...

Oh honey...I could chat with you all night about this daycare thing. We went through hell. It sounds like you found an incredible place and you handled the neighbor thing well. I never handle those situations well...I make my husband do it! :)
I just told someone I couldn't do her clinical supervision for her. It was really hard for me. I am not sure I said the right thing.

Kat said...

Lady, you definitely made the right choice for Wee 'Burb. It was absolutely astonishing to read about the changes that took place in her demeanor/activity level immediately after you switched.

Hard decisions are a little bit of a coin toss for me...Sometimes I find it to be extremely easy to deliver the news and other times, I'll make it the absolute last thing on my list of priorities. I think it depends on how well I know the person?

LambAround said...

You're very sweet to put so much consideration into how to tell your neighbor that you're switching. The new daycare sounds wonderful! I wonder if there are any options like that here in Albuquerque.

Mads said...

Kids make leaps and bounds in their first few years of development, so putting her in the new daycare setting absolutely sounds like the right choice!
Good for you!
I do not envy "the talk" with the previous daycare lady, but it's definitely for the best.

Mads said...

Kids make leaps and bounds in their first few years of development, so putting her in the new daycare setting absolutely sounds like the right choice!
Good for you!
I do not envy "the talk" with the previous daycare lady, but it's definitely for the best.

Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said... know my tough decisions and the daycare crap going on. I mean, I guess I should be thankful that she dropped us so we didn't have to do the awkward thing.

We found a woman we liked whose price is very reasonable and within our budget. She's well known in the community, respected and loved. She talks about how much she works with the kids -- teaching the colors, letters, numbers, etc. Our concern is that she has 2 other 8/9 mo old babies, but only two older kids and one baby. I dont' know if that's a good or bad thing.

I'm so glad it worked out. No, you can't put a price on that precious face!

Kristen said...

we're in a dilemna with daycare as well, can't seem to find one that will take my 2yr old part time. My problem is I'm a nurse so my schedule is never the same. I need someone who can be flexible, take him on Monday Tuesday one week, and maybe Monday Thursday the next.... who knew this would be so hard! Plus lets be real, I need someone to potty train this kid for me cause clearly I can't do it! I'm glad you've found such a great place, wish we had places like that near me!

Ameena said...

You are far more patient than I would have been in this situation. I had a nanny for 2-3 years and the first two were terrible but the 3rd one? Didn't call in sick or come in late once! I got spoiled I guess but I'm glad you found a better solution to your daycare situation!