Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Daycare Debate

As much as we would like one of us to be able to stay home with The Bean until he starts school, it is not a viable option for us.  So, for the past several months we have been talking about what we will do once January comes and Jen's maternity leave is over. 

Daycare waiting lists can be a little ridiculous in the city.  We knew this before The Bean was born, but didn't really give it too much though.  After he was born we started thinking about it a bit more.  When he was maybe a month or two old I thought I'd check out one of the very reputable daycares that just so happens to be right across the street from my work.  We picked up an application and I inquired about how long the waiting list was.  The woman behind the reception desk told me that if he didn't have a sibling already attending the daycare, we were looking at about three years.  Three years!  I mean, how is that even possible?  You'd have to get on the list when you start thinking that you might want to have a child one day.  Despite this, we paid the ($50!) application fee and got our names on the list.  Then we did the same thing at about three or four other places.  

As the year went on we started thinking about other options.

A nanny might be nice if we found one we really liked.  But it would also be super-expensive.  Like, hardly worth going back to work expensive.

A nanny share could work though... if we could find someone who wanted to share a nanny.  We couldn't.

Maybe a small home daycare then.  We called a local organization that oversees licensed home daycares.  There was one near our home that they hooked us up with and another one near our work.  Jen went to visit the one near work.  The provider seemed really, really nice, but there were some issues with the space (a small, dark, basement apartment).  We went together to the one near our home, but had major issues with it (a virtually empty --read: prison-like-- room for the kids to play in, a lunch menu that consisted of some variation of pasta everyday, what seemed to be a strong aversion to any type of outdoor time throughout the entire winter, to name a few). 

Jen also had a business card of a woman who had approached her in the park one day, so we called and set up a meeting time with her.  She ran a licensed home daycare/preschool.  We had some concerns about The Bean being the youngest in what would be a group of five children (him included), but overall this seemed the most positive option.  Jen was gun-ho and I was on board.

But we had already made plans for me to visit the home provider who was really, really nice.  And I really, really liked her.  And I didn't think the space was as bad as Jen had made it out to be. 

Then a daycare that we were on a waiting list for called.  

Just when we thought we had made a decision...

So we discussed some more.  Jen was still really sold on the daycare/preschool and I was on the fence between the two.  We decided not even to check out the other daycare.  It just seemed too overwhelming.  Ultimately it came down to location, price, and long-term potential, with the daycare/preschool being the front-runner in all three categories. 

We stopped by again last night to fill out all the paperwork and pay our deposit. 

It's a relief to have it done.

I hope we made the right decision!

It makes me wonder how other people deal with the decision of what to do for child care and what leads them to the choices they make. 

So, dear readers (those of you with children), what did you decide and why? 


  1. I was lucky enough to have family to help out for a bit, then an in-home day care that did not work out and finally a wonderful pre-school. Trust your intuition, it will serve you well!

  2. We are so very fortnate that my cousin's wife runs a home daycare and she had a spot for us. She is amazing and we love that Drew gets to spend his days in someone's home instead of a center. He LOVES playing with the other kids. We bring all our own food but her rateis about $80 a week cheaper than a center. Hope it all works out for you gals and the Bean!

  3. Oh boy! This was a dilemma from the start. I work part-time during business hours and then work around my husband being home/weekends, so it was tricky for us to find a part-time slot in a daycare. We used an in-home nanny for 18 months and then put our son in daycare. He hated it! He was miserable there and cried every day for 8 hours. It was heart-wrenching.

    We then found an in-home provider where Miles is super happy. He loves it there and talks about the other children as his friends, even hugging them when he sees them in public. It makes me wish we'd had this option sooner, even over the nanny, because he is having such a great experience.

  4. This is such a dilemma. There's a brand new center feet from our house which I love but its $$$, about as much as I'd estimate a nanny to be. To be honest, I've LOVE a nanny especially with two babies - less sick time (in theory), less car time, etc - but I don't know if we can afford someone with enough experience.

    We're looking for in home providers right now. The one we were recommended is full (she's also 2 blocks from us, sigh). I have a couple more leads, but we'll see. I also have another center in mind, and a deposit down at a cheap place I don't like but will make us less we'll see. 4 weeks to the wire...

  5. Third try was the charm for us (or fourth rather...) We each stayed home with him for a 3-month stretch after he was born. Then our moms, who both live close by, watched him for the next couple months. That didn't work out as well as we wanted, so we began looking at daycares. We had him at a home daycare for a few months, but that wasn't very good. Then we got him into a center which was fine for a while, but degraded as he entered the next age room. Finally we got him into the place where he is today (daycare that has a preschool) and we love it. He was on their waiting list for a little while, but we completely lucked out by getting a spot (the stars must've aligned). Typically it takes months-years here, too. I'm glad you got a spot for him!

  6. We got on lists when I was pregnant (we lived in Toronto) and got into none of them. When they offer subsidy, there is never room. We went with Kids & Company which got us in immediately and we loved it. In Ajax it's been much easier. We like the daycare setting. We even tried montessori and didn't like it for our kids. I like them being at a center with several caregivers in a structured environment that requires outdoor time, etc. But also our daycare does so many wonderful activities that we truly love it there.

  7. We went back and forth on the daycare debate for months. It is horrible. In the end we realized by budgeting CAREFULLY that I could stay at home with our little guy until he starts preschool. I know that is not an option as you said. I want to tell you it will stop as The Bean gets older, but unfortunately the preschool debate/placement is even more stressing than the daycare one. I am sure you will do what is best for The Bean and Mommies :)

  8. First time we went with a home daycare that was on our street. Most of the kids on the street had been through her doors and she had been providing care for 20+ years and had a great reputation. This time, we don't know what we'll do. Maybe a nanny (since there will be 2 of them)but the unborn babe is on many lists anyway... This city is so expensive and it is SO hard to find a good place. Not sure where you live, so not sure how many centres there are by you. We are south east and therefore very limited in choices... Ugh.
    I am sure you made a good choice though! Good luck!!!

  9. Thanks for your comment! I just learned to knit. I read a book (I think it was called knitting for kids), but when I had to return it to the library, I just used online videos! It's not bad to learn at all!

    As for daycare, My daughter went to daycare, but I ran the place. Now I stay home with my girls. I think daycare is good as long as you are very clear about your expectations (ie. don't want your kid constantly being moved around) Also, I would visit for extended periods. Some teachers would be too lax in my opinion (not putting cups up and kids drinking out of other kids' cups.) If you choose an accredited or other good place, it's better! Good luck.

  10. Hey, this is my first time to your blog, I think. We were living in Toronto until S was 6 months old. We got out before the daycare issue came up. (;

  11. I missed this post somehow. Finding a daycare can be so hard!

    With Erik, we had a friend watch him for the first year after Kim's maternity leave, but their son got very sick for a while and it wasn't working out because we couldn't take Erik there if he had so much as a sniffle, and they had to cancel often for appointments, etc. So we started looking at daycares. We decided to go with a daycare centre and they got us in pretty quickly. It's the same one we're still using now and we LOVE it. We liked the idea of a centre instead of a home daycare because we just felt more comfortable knowing exactly who was in the building all day. Each family has a code to get in so there's no issue with security. I also liked the healthy menu (chef on site so hot healthy lunches every day that follow the Canada Food Guide), the cleanliness, the friendly staff, and the required outdoor time. It was the first place we looked at and we loved it immediately.