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So yeah, daycare

I’ve been avoiding thinking about it, refusing to count the weeks until January. I even made it Mr. Bunny’s job to set up appointments so I could keep hiding. But now the time has come when even HE thinks it’s time to find a place, and has been saying things like, we should really start looking into it, to which I respond, it’s your fucking problem waaaaaaaaah!

Let me be clear: I think daycare is GOOD for babies. Intellectually, I accept that it’s not a bad thing, may even be helpful for a baby who doesn’t know a lot of other babies. And I don’t really expect Bun Bun to care, though I do worry that the timing will interact poorly with the separation anxiety a lot of kids experience around nine months, leading to endless guilt and misery for Mama. But it’s not that I have qualms about daycare qua daycare. That said, I wouldn’t choose to do it if I didn’t have to. If I could, I’d stay home with her for a year at least.* And okay, I suppose I could ask my chair for a leave of absence, and I might get it, but what would happen to my career if I spent another semester gazing lovingly into my child’s eyes? Of course, do I even care about my career?

Um…anyway, I didn’t actually  intend this to be about the emotional turmoil and the questioning and the blah blah, I really just wanted to ask…how the hell does one find a place that feels right?

So far we’ve only been to one, and I was so choked up and freaked out I don’t think I really absorbed much. Is it going to be like that at ALL of them? Or was it just the fact of having to really contemplate leaving her? Should I visit one that I know is unacceptable (smells like piss, flies on the babies**) just so I will gain some perspective, and feel better about the other options? Is there going to be a place that feels right to me, where I can imagine Bun Bun being happy?

Or can I only imagine her safe and contented in my tender lovin’ arms?

[A couple of things I feel compelled to add based on comments:
1. I hope I didn’t suggest to anyone that NOT doing daycare is BAD by saying daycare is good. Totally don’t feel that way, as I hope is made clear by my desire to stay home.
2. I can’t stay home next semester. I’m under contract. Maybe next year I could wrangle something, but I’m screwed for January-May. Which makes me sad.]

*I know, I get eight months, which is so fucking wonderful. But not enough. Because I’m a greedy whore.
**Sorry. Not good to joke about flies on babies, but these are the images that go through my mind…

35 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh Bunny! You know that you have all of my sympathies. I realize that my situation is not exactly on the curve, but the angst about leaving a young infant with strangers is NOT uncommon. And I think that there are reasonably good reasons for that. Do you have any BPN type message-boards where you live? I started by researching online, then went to word of mouth wherever I could find it. In my case, I knew that I wanted something small (a little more attention, maybe a few less flies/viral inoculations?). Small does mean expensive and so does high caregiver/child ratio but I think it's worth it as long as you can afford it. It's also nice if you feel like you can get along with the other families that send their kids there. Over time, bonds do sort of form between kids and you may have playdates outside of the place. The good thing about putting bun bun into a place now is that you will avoid the kind of separation nightmare that I find myself in now with an almost 2.5 year old. I hope hope hope that she will do wonderfully because that will make all the difference to you. If you feel confident that she's ok, you will feel much better about going back to work. Good luck!!!!!

    November 3, 2011
  2. That's exactly how you find a daycare – walk through a bunch and then walk through a couple of them again. We found our daycare when I was 6months pregnant…it was easier to do it when I was in denial about actually having a baby in my belly. I digress. Go visit some. Show up unannounced so you can get a feel for what they're really like without having time to prepare for you. We visited one place that way and DID see some stuff that I'm sure wouldn't have happened if we had scheduled a visit. I've swung by our chosen daycare a couple of times while on leave just to make sure it still feels right.And that's how you'll know …. it won't be the same as if she were with you, but when you find somewhere you feel comfortable, you'll know. Good luck, Bunny.

    November 3, 2011
  3. So I imagine that this is similar to finding a nanny, which is what we do for childcare (to get into a daycare near my house in NYC I would have had to put in a down payment when I was 4 mo pregnant. And that was just NOT happening). I recommend, to get your initial list, go onto local message boards and get the scoop there, and ask pretty much everyone you know. Then meet with them and go with what feels right. I promise that the anticipation of this was far far worse than the thing itself. I was a mess the weeks before I returned to work, and then? Then it was not just OK, it was actually good.

    November 3, 2011
  4. I'm in the same boat, have looked at 2, first one was so clean it was sterile and looking at all those little cribs lined up well not good, 2nd one had a higher teacher student ratio and was a bit more messy which after the 1st one I found relaxing. Will look at 3 total, still hoping to find someone by word of mouth that could come to our house and watch him. I think you'll know when you find the right one.

    November 3, 2011
  5. If you really don't find a place that you like (and I hope that you do), you could look into a nanny or nanny share until bun bun is around 18 months old (I think by that age day care is a wonderful thing for them – socialization, hoarding toys, learning to beat up boys, etc.). I know it's more expensive, but if you can afford it and it would put your mind at ease………..

    November 3, 2011
  6. N #

    ok, My whole comment was just deleted because my computer is crap. But, since I think this is important, I'll do it again. 1. Find loving caregivers. Watch them for a while interacting with the babies. Do they let them cry (a lot?, babies will cry and they can't hold 4 at a time) Do they sing songs, interact with them or do they just feed, and change them.1a. What is the staff turnover rate. It's nice if they stick around. 2. Find out what the ratio of teacher to kids is. Should meet state licensing standards or be better. generally 1:4.3. Make sure you can drop in anytime unannounced4. Ask other parents what they think about it. Specifically. "what do you like most and what do you like least?"5. Can check with licensing and see if there are any violations.6. Find out facilities vision. ie is it all structured or do they learn through play.7. What is thier dicipline for older kids8. What is sick policy and are they strict. (I seriously hate when people drug up thier kids to mask a fever. Lame! My kids always get sick) 9. Food, when they are older you may want better for for your kids. (This is the thing I like least about my daycare.)Also, if you are starting at 9 months, she will probably cry a bunch. That sucks. Ok, sorry about crappy grammar, don't have time to retype.

    November 3, 2011
  7. We are two bitches in the same sad boat Bunny. I am also going back to work soon, Dec 1st. I hate the thought of leaving her. It breaks my freakin heart into a million pieces. I have lined up in home care from a relative but also have a plan B just in case it doesn't work out. For me the daycare we went with is very clean, safe and the people "seem" really nice. There is also a big focus on education right from the start. The deal maker for me is a webcam that allows you as the parent to log in from any computer and see you child's room at anytime. MUST HAVE for me.

    November 3, 2011
  8. Oak #

    I think there are two things to think about and they're not particularly deep. Trust your gut – I love our daycare, I loved it from the moment we walked it. Its expensive as shit but they are so good with Mac its amazing. You will know this sort of a place when you get there. The second is trust your kid. Mac loves going to daycare. Your kid will let you know if they're in a place they don't want to be. That's about all I got. But now I get to spend my time finding a daycare that somehow will need to compare to the cadillac of all daycares since mine only takes infants up to 16 months. Bleh.

    November 3, 2011
  9. Subject near and dear to my heart. Careful, I have a lot of opinions on this. We left a daycare after a couple months and ended up at The Greatest School Ever Made for Toddlerina.Not sure it works for everyone, but can you find a Montessori school? I adore everything about it. I just love the philosophy and the impact it has on the teachers.Keep looking. You know I actually worry at times about taking Toddlerina out of school? I dont know that I can compete. She is so HAPPY there! She adores her teachers and friends – has since before she could even speak. You can see it in their little baby eyes. I swears it. You will know Momma.ps – I suggest you immediately stop calling it daycare and call it what it is: School. I find it does wonders for a Momma's heart.

    November 3, 2011
  10. It is DAYCARE. She belongs in her mammas arms. Your baby loves it because they don't know differently. Don't sugarcoat it–you have to work!

    November 3, 2011
  11. I felt the anxiety gurgle in my belly as I read this, Bunny. It is fucking haaaard. Everything about it.The first daycare we we visited was our chi-chi first choice, and when I pulled into the parking lot I could see all the lil toddlers through a classroom window lined up in their seats having breakfast, and I instantly started snotting and tearing up. I was 35ish weeks pregnant, so I am sure hormones played a factor, but I should have recognized that little clue about what lay ahead for me. It really was a fab place, and when I saw little fingerpaintings for Hannukah and Kwanzaa along with the Christmas stuff, it totally appealed to my kumbaya sensitivities. We were wait listed, but put down a deposit because it seemed perfect, despite the painful thought of it becoming part of our future daily routine. Obviously it was about more the place embracing a more diverse approach, but I knew it was the best in terms of curriculum, baby/caregiver ratio, decreased levels of staff turnover, etc. In the end we went with a different center, one affiliated with the hospital, one I could literally walk across the street at any time and see/nurse Arlo. It wasn't as schmancy, cost a little less than the other, and there were 16 (!) babies in his class, but trying to still have some role in Arlo's daytime care trumped the chi-chi curriculum. I like what Oak says about trusting your gut. My gut told me that I needed the comfort of knowing I could see him any time I wanted. I'm sure other people would have made a different choice, but whatevs. ANYWAY. References from current parents are a good thing. Checking out the department of social services licensing website to investigate the center's infractions are a good thing. I would also suggest visiting in the morning when parents are dropping off–what does this look like? This said a lot to me–how well the caregivers knew the parents and the babies, how the babies took to their new caregivers, the level of communication b/w staff during a really busy time, etc. And then visit again perhaps during the day. I liked that the the staff of the center we ultimately went with had been their for ages. That meant a lot to me, meant that the center treated their staff well. Some kind of constancy is a good thing. What I found (and what made me kind of uncomfortable) was when I would visit during my lunchtime. Arlo's regular teachers would take a lunch break, and teachers from other classrooms would float in to cover their break so that the state-mandated ratio was honored, and those teachers clearly did not know the babies' personalities. *shrug*I could go on forever about this, even though our daycare schtick only lasted three weeks. I'd like to think that my decision to stay home with Arlo was totally, 100% about him…but to be completely fair, it was also very much about my own needs. I haven't looked back, haven't regretted my choice for a second, BUT it's different for everybody. Everyone told me that it would have gotten easier, and perhaps it would have. But, it was important to honor my instinct. Honor yours, whatever it tells you. Don't let anybody else make you question that. You can do this. XP.S. Re: your recent comment, I deeply doubt I would ever feel the need to stop following your blog. You are one of my true OG's. 😉

    November 3, 2011
  12. If you can stay home, it's best! Try and swing it.

    November 3, 2011
  13. If you haven't already, I would also advise looking at inspection reports to see what kinds of violations they've had, and how many (working but over-one-year-old smoke alarm battery, or a kid got BURNT and another was forgotten outside for an hour? True examples from when we were looking for daycares). I believe in your state JFS runs a site where` you can look it up.

    November 3, 2011
  14. JB #

    I second the Montessori suggestion. Montessori schools are not cheap, but they are wonderful. Jackson adores his teachers and his classmates/friends, and all of the kids across ages seem quite well-adjusted and well-taught. The parents are also very active in the Montessori school where I live, and there are lots of extracurricular activities for kids and parents planned that are fun if you have a flexible job that allows attendance (I do, and from what I know about you, you do too). The nanny idea is a good one, too, if you don't find the right school.And I call it school, too. Roccie told me to and she is wise and correct.And the judgy anonymous posts? Really, I invite you to suck my left nut because some mamas DO work for a variety of reasons, which include but are not limited to economic necessity and personal fulfillment. Every mama must do what is right for her and her family.

    November 4, 2011
  15. ZOMG, Anonymous!? Best for WHOM? ARGH. Gah, I hate that shit.

    November 4, 2011
  16. JB #

    Also, I highly recommend arranging a 1-2 week transition before you send her full-time. The first day or two, go in and stay with her the whole time, for just a couple of hours. You can observe the classroom interactions, the other babies, and she has the ability to observe with you right there. Then for a few days, take her in and drop her off for just a couple of hours. Go get a pedicure or shop, just to keep busy and then go back and find out how she did. Don't be discouraged if she's fussy at first, but also let her surprise you (she may). You can keep this up for a week or more, lengthening the time a little until you go for a full day. We preceded the first full day by doing a "dry run" of a typical morning, dropping off at the time I intended to be usual for a morning half-day, and then the next day just an afternoon half-day with me picking up when I intended. Now that I freelance, and this may apply to you if your office hours/teaching schedule allows, I drop him off whenever I damn well please (often not until 10 or so) and then pick him up whenever I feel like it (usually by 4). It was hard as first, gut-wrenching really, but he is so happy now to see his friends when we arrive and then so happy to see me when I pick him up — it really makes it feel okay.

    November 4, 2011
  17. Oof. Daycare. I feel great about daycare in general and the particular one DJ goes to (it's on my campus), but, still, every day I think, "Maybe I'll keep him home today just for fun!"

    November 4, 2011
  18. Best for whom? The BABY and MOMMY. Do you find it natural to be seperated from your baby before 1 year? That's why breast milk keeps coming to fill your boobs—because you should be very close to your child through infancy. Don't make daycare sound like another natural alternative when it's not.

    November 4, 2011
  19. Oh, dearest Bunny, please excuse me for what I am about to say in your lovely lil' internet home. Anonymous, apparently you feel very strongly about this "best" approach, and I find it peculiar that someone so dedicated to this belief would cloak themselves in an anonymous comment. You have no idea what is "best" for any mother or baby or family. This is for each individual family to determine for itself. Studies have repeatedly illustrated that children of SAH parents aren't any better off than children of WOH parents. What is significant and what absolutely matters most is 1)a happy, healthy parent who is 2)lovingly engaged in their parenting. This looks different for EVERY family. And you know what, asshole? I AM a stay home parent. Why? Because this is what MY family determined to be best for US. Clearly you lack experience with diverse families. Open your classist, judgemental eyes. Get off your high horse and out of your house once in a while.

    November 4, 2011
  20. Hmmm I'm out right now at a library reading with my baby. It's convenient to say there is never a right way… because then nobody is EVER wrong. It's always the RIGHT way for them… WAHOOOO! Studies show no delay in cognitive ability. So what?? Is that all that parenting produces? Shut up and have a damn opinion besides "it's all great"!

    November 4, 2011
  21. JB #

    Who ARE you, oh great wise anonymous? I would love to know WHO is giving such sage, well-thought-out, one-size-fits-all advice. I'd hate to think it's some opinionated, cowardly shrew. Shudder to think.

    November 4, 2011
  22. Woo! FIGHT! FIGHT! But for reals, this is a sensitive topic that people have strong feelings about, which I kind of forgot about, so perhaps we could all take a breath?

    November 4, 2011
  23. Breath taken, I don't mind arguing but it's just getting ridiculous. I have no problem with being a working mom when you have older kids. I have a problem leaving a BABY. Nobody can honestly see why it's wrong to leave a little infant at "school"? I find that hard to believe. A lot of people agree with me but nobody wants to be the judgy mom. I do judge someone who wanted a baby so badly and only a few months later wants to drop them off somewhere. Last post, promise

    November 4, 2011
  24. JB #

    You've crossed a line, anonymous, with that last full sentence. That is not an argument, but a cruel insult.

    November 4, 2011
  25. Can't resist joining a fight.Oh you brave anonymous, shut the fuck up. If you really stand by your opinion, tell us who you are. If you are just trolling, well, there are ways of dealing with that as well.Bunny, I know a guy who knows a guy, if you ever need it. I may be polite sometimes, but I do come from the East, where hackers are just as numerous as the unemployed. And yes, I went to day care, starting with 8 months old. Tough shit. I can't say I have relevant experience on the topic, we chose a creche and then moved across the town which made the daily commute take up 4 h of the 8 alloted for it. It was too much, and so we gave up on that and hope to find something in spring, closer to us. If we are lucky, because I can't tell you how crazy ze Germans are with creches. Anyway, good luck and trust your gut.

    November 5, 2011
  26. Dear Anonymous,Show your name. Don't hide your identity, but then again, I imagine you really don't have much of one.Can you pay off my ART bills so I can stay home with the baby?What color is the sky in your world? I bet it is Christian and fucking Republican, that is what I bet.Beat it, you asshole. Your comments dont even make me mad, they make me laugh. Schoolschoolschoolschoolschool.My baby is better loved than your baby.

    November 6, 2011
  27. Hey anonymouse, you're obviously a troll. Move along. It's fabulous that you can pop out your baby and have your baby daddy pay the bills for you, but some women need to make a living. It's not 1950.

    November 6, 2011
  28. How come no one commented on the fact that 'anonymous' spelled "separated" incorrectly? Just sayin. Is my pet peeve when anonymous folk assert their stinky opinions without the proper grammar and/or spelling. At least sound educated when you are being hateful, bc then i will *maybe* listen to you without being distracted by your overt ignorance. I have doubts that the kid who stays home with a judgemental mommy (and one who can't spell simple words correctly) is better off simply bc he/she is not in day care. In fact, I doubt it so much that without even knowing who you are, I feel very sorry for you. And your kid. Ppl have bills to pay, moron. You cannot just universally say that babies are better off at home. Bc some little ones have mommies like you, and *those* are the kids who should be in daycare FO SHO.

    November 6, 2011
  29. Isn't it weird that a lot of the people with the most inflammatory opinions don't have names? That must be hard.

    November 7, 2011
  30. Dude. Anonymous. You're being stubborn and mean. I wish I knew more about your background, because I'm betting that your strong objections against daycare aren't coming out of mere bullheadedness about your personal philosophies. (But just in case not? I didn't lactate enough to meet my son's needs. I guess that means I'm already inadequate and not supposed to "be very close to my child through infancy". Free pass on putting him in daycare! W00t!) So I'm going to try to talk to you, Bunny, and everyone else here. Which means I'm leaving a very long-winded, very personal comment that I really hope doesn't come back to bite me in the ass.I agree that not all child care situations are created equal. The first daycare I went to as a child was a home-based one where the provider locked us outside in the yard all day. One bush in the backyard was for #1, the other was for #2, and she tossed PB&Js out the door at lunchtime. First kids there got to eat that day. The second was a daycare center that was unfortunately short staffed, which led to inadequate supervision. Some of us got molested by an older child. Okay, a lot of us. For years. And nobody had a clue until one kid finally came out and told her parents. (Hell, the other KIDS didn't know who else he was picking on until after he was outed and we were questioned about it. I thought I was the only one and so did several of my friends.)So yeah, I have some reservations about putting my son in daycare. But that's Emphatically. Not. why I work part time night shift and stay at home with him during the days. It's really because I can't afford any of the daycare centers I'm comfortable with leaving him at.The truth is that you have to be really, REALLY picky about selecting your daycare arrangements. I know the licensing requirements for home daycares in my state. You can find out yours by asking at your state's Department of Social Services or the equivalent. I do not think the requirements are stringent enough here or that the providers are properly monitored. So I wouldn't use one unless I knew and trusted the provider. But that second daycare I was in? Was school. I started there for preschool. And it was a great preschool. It fulfilled almost all the requirements I'd want for my own son. I'd even consider taking him there today if they were still open and had adequate staffing now. They did play-based learning. Had many long-term, regular staff members. Parents were allowed to drop in at any time, for any reason, and stay as long as they wanted. They could even volunteer there if they wanted to. You could have a trial run where you stayed there with your baby for a few days to observe how the daily routine went to see if you were comfortable with it before committing to a spot. If the center had just been able to maintain a proper staff-to-child ratio, the incidents would have been far less likely to occur. And if they had occurred, they would have been found out about sooner.Some of us HAVE to work and need childcare outside the home. Unfortunately, not everybody can be trusted. Ultimately it's a matter of parental comfort in selecting the arrangements necessary. But please parents, speaking as the child I once was, take the time to learn and periodically review the behavioral warning signs common to abused kids. If any of the daycare parents had recognized the signs in their children, those two centers would have been shut down much sooner than they ultimately were.

    November 7, 2011
  31. Wow, it's quite brave of you to share this experience, and let's all hope no-one is vile enough to do anything mean with the information. If so, I will hunt her down and stab her in the face. It certainly makes me sick to my stomach to think of this happening to you or to anyone and to think of it happening to my child makes me a bit paralyzed with terror. I was in daycare too, and had some nasty experiences, which I attribute to low quality care and not daycare in general. It's a huge responsibility to face, and I am taking your warning very seriously. But I guess it's just the first of many responsibilities.

    November 7, 2011
  32. Oh Bunny, I feel you on this. We ended up doing a nanny in our house b/c, with twins, it was more economical than daycare (slightly higher hourly rate vs. paying two full fees at daycare). I interviewed about 20 candidates on the phone and then 5ish in person until we found THE ONE. I always thought it was BS that you could "just know" but as soon as our nanny walked in, she had such love and Zen about it and for the babies that I really did know.And I'm totally with you on feeling conflicted about all of this. I think right now my feeling is that working PART TIME would be ideal. B/c I learned during maternity leave that I love my job and I love my work and I love that piece of my life. But I also miss my babies so much it physically hurts every day, and especially the days I work late. So that sucks. Is it possible to want your career and to want to be with your babies 24-7? Apparently. Sending you lots of love on this b/c it's fracking HARD no matter when/where/how it all goes down.xoxo

    November 8, 2011
  33. Hello, I am also anonymous but a different anonymous than the pro-SAHM one. Just wanted to ask why someone who is all self righteous about what is best for all children is TYPING ON A COMPUTER SCREEN AT THE LIBRARY AND HENCE IGNORING HER CHILD. I mean, isn't the point of kid's library readings to engage with your child? Children DO notice when you are staring at a screen or phone rather than engaging with them.

    November 8, 2011
  34. AL #

    Stupid anonymous. I mean, seriously, how isolated do you have to be to think that it's best for all moms and babies for the mom to stay home for 18 months? Climb out from that rock you've been under and take a good look around the world. People have to work, kids have to eat. It just isn't an financial option for some people, and, beyond that, it isn't always the best for mom, baby, and family even if it is financially viable. It is up to every parent to make the decision of what is best for their family.

    November 8, 2011
  35. Dear Bunny, I have been a longtime lurker and I think that this is my first comment. It actually isn't anonymous's comment that is bringing me out of lurk-dom, although I do believe that every family has to choose for themselves what is best, and if you decide that school/daycare/whatever is the best way to provide for your family, then you are doing the right thing by choosing it. Good for you for providing for your family. The comment I actually have to reply to is Roccie's, which makes me sad. Roccie, I am a Christian and a Republican, an IF alum, and a longtime reader of this blog AND your blog. Your assumptions are wildly offensive. I'm not judging Bunny in the slightest, but I AM judging you for lumping a huge group of people together and making asinine assumptions about all of them. Your comment was entirely unfair. You just lost a blog reader – perhaps that doesn't bother you, which is fair, but please, in the future, try to refrain from making such grossly inaccurate assumptions. People are not all the same, and if you don't want people making assumptions about you based on your chosen faith or lack thereof and your political position, then please do unto others… Are you a pot-smoking tree-hugging hippie who wants the government to pay for your cell phone and your fake nails? No? Well I'm not a judgmental Bible-beating protester outside of an abortion clinic, either. Back off and be fair.

    November 13, 2011

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