Thursday, May 12, 2011

Daycare woes

Some recent posts at Bao in the Oven inspired me to do a post on my own daycare situation. I never really wanted to send my kids to daycare. I had always hoped that Elizabeth would land some tenure track job just in the nick of time and that I'd be able to be a stay at home mom for a year or two, then put them in some awesome and engaging pre-school and go back to work part time. Unfortunately, the academic job market sucks. Elizabeth's PhD did not land her a tenure track job, but got her stuck adjuncting. And anyone who has ever been an adjunct before can tell you that it pretty much qualifies you for sponsorship from Sally Struthers.

So here we are, going to the only daycare we can afford. We toured all of the facilities in the area. None of them would give a price over the phone. Instead, they make you come in and fall in love with the facility and "curriculum" and then hit you with the cost. They all but laughed in our faces when we told them what we could afford. Our daycare is in a small, older building. It is definitely showing it's age. I think we were able to get a good price there because the tired, worn facility can not compete with the bright, fancy new daycares that have been springing up like dandelions.

We love that our daycare is so accommodating. They were the only place that would let us do a 4 day week instead of going truly full time. They are willing to work with our changing schedules and occasional early dropoff / late pickup. I admire the patience it must take to do what they do each day for a very small salary. The people there really are sweet, and seem to genuinely like our kids.

But it's definitely not the same as some of the other places we saw. The fancy new facilities teach sign language and have music and art "programs" even in the infant room. Our daycare has nothing like that. I know I can't expect all the little extras for the price we pay. But there are some other things that bother me a bit more. A couple weeks ago I walked in to find my daughter looking red and blotchy. My mind raced to remember what she ate that day, thinking it was some kind of allergic reaction. It wasn't until I looked at my son's sheet for the day, which contained a small note about him tipping over in a walker outside that I realized it wasn't an allergic reaction- my daughter had a sunburn from being taken outside without sunblock. Some other things that make me scratch my head and wonder:

*I'm 90% sure they heat bottles in the microwave. I always heard that was bad because it destroys the beneficial properties of breastmilk and that it heats unevenly.

*The babies are always put to sleep on their tummies. I know many babies do better this way, but I thought a daycare would need to be more strict about the whole "back to sleep" thing and other safety issues.

*I found out that my son was eating a teething biscuit in the jumperoo. Isn't this a cholking hazard? Like running with a lollypop in your mouth?

*There seems to be very little effort to get the babies to nap. Some kids from the pre-K room frequently visit the infant room. It's nice that the babies get the extra attention and stimulation, but it creates a chaotic environment in the room. No wonder they don't get any sleep.

*Communication can be really difficult. All kids are supposed to have a sheet filled out with info on how many diapers they had, how they napped, when & how much they ate etc. I know the staff is busy, but these sheets are hardly ever filled out more than halfway. I think they're inaccurate much of the time too. AM and PM staff sometimes give conflicting information. This makes it hard to determine if their schedule is working or needs to be changed. I hate having so little control over / involvement in my kids lives.

There are other minor things that pop up, and I'm sure I'll remember a whole slew of other things as soon as I post this. I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has similar issues with their daycare. Maybe all daycares are the same, and I'm fretting a bit too much over silly little things. Or maybe I'm just looking for stuff to be bothered by since I never really wanted them in daycare in the first place.


Strawberry said...

Daycare pains are the WORST. You end up feeling so angry and helpless at the same time. We've so been there. Took us 3 tries to find the 'perfect' daycare, but of course, we have issues with a Biter that hasn't been effectively dealt with. Still, everything else has been great with the newest place.

We pay more for our current daycare but get much more peace of mind in return. Thankfully the price will go down once he's in the next room (have you checked to see if there are price changes dependent on age in the other daycares?)

Personally, we needed to switch and were pretty unhappy until we did so. Not putting sunblock on a baby and letting older kids 'visit' during quiet times...those are real problems, among the others you listed. Not good. I'm sorry you're dealing with this.

J and DZ said...

I can't really comment on much because I don't have DD in daycare although the sunscreen issue is annoying and I'd be pissed off about it. It's not fair putting LO's outside without the proper protection. I know moms on BBC were talking about this recently and they said it's the parents responsibility for the first application in the AM. So make sure you're sending them with sunblock on AND provide hats with wide brims. I'm blonde, the sun scares me.

Speak to the director if things feel wrong. I'm sure this stiff goes on at the fancy daycares too so don't think you should let stuff go because you're paying less.

Strawberry said...

I commented on this the first time around. Hope you got it!

Finch and Wren said...

Ugh. I wouldn't hesitate to discuss your concerns with the Director of the daycare. There needs to be an increase in their "awareness" of the basic safety concerns you raised. I would make a list of your concerns and give the director a dated copy to verify you discussed these items and then watch closely over the next couple days/weeks to see what/if any changes she makes... Safety is #1 and their license could easily be pulled for some of the items you mentioned.

jessie said...

Totally valid concerns. Have you brought them up to the director?

TooeleTwins said...

I have been anti-daycare since day one, and the grandparent network worked well. Then, Bub was laid off (and is STILL looking for work.) Now, when I WANT the boys to be able to socialize and prepare for kindergarten, we can't afford even the crappy ones. Sometimes, you just can't win.

However much - or little - you are paying is irrelevant. They are your children, and you have the right to say what happens to them. You definitely need to bring this stuff up with the daycare teachers and directors.

mama bea, bao in the oven said...

Ugh, blargh, blech. I know, as you know, how stressful daycare can be. We too had issues with communication (the sheet, when it was filled out, often contradicted itself--like, don't try to tell me you changed her diaper when she was asleep!), napping, the whole nine. At the end of the day, I really think Essie was fine and would have been fine if she'd stayed there; I wasn't. I was worried and anxious all of the time, and it was affecting other parts of my life. As soon as we decided to switch, I was suddenly much more able to get my work done and was much more pleasant to be around at home, including with the baby. It's made a world of difference for my mental health.
That said, today is Essie's first day at the new fancy-ass place, and she's not napping. (Hopefully that'll change once she gets used to it.) Also, every baby I saw there when we went to visit this week was sleeping on his/her stomach. (In our state they have to touch them every 15 minutes.)
Is your daycare a center or is it home-based? Our first one was home-based, and the director was also the owner/primary caregiver, so we didn't feel like there was anyone over her head that we could talk to. I think that if it had been a center, I would have felt more able to communicate my concerns, but I felt really uncomfortable doing so because she already thought we were overbearing.
Anyway. Sorry this is so long.
(I am plugging my ears and singing "la la la" to myself re-reading your first paragraph. I prefer to continue to dream that once Mama Jae finishes her *$&% dissertation she will get a tenure-track job in a city where we actually want to live...oy!)

thiswillbe said...

I feel for you. I didn't want to have our kiddos (b/g twins, 14 months old now) in daycare, and it was so hard when we ended up having to go the daycare route. That said, don't feel like you're at the center's mercy. Sunburns, heating bottles in the microwave, and putting them down to sleep on their tummies (unless you specifically ask them to, and in many cases have a signed consent form with a Dr's ok) shouldn't be things you feel you have to look the other way about. Perhaps the caregivers just need some gentle education about how you'd like to see things done? One can hope... Best wishes!

Poppycat said...

I feel for you, I really do. One of the hardest things for me every day is being a working mom and leaving my kids in someone else's care. It makes me sad, angry and feeling irrelevant and out of control.

We have a pretty good nanny but we've had our share of issues and I often wish we could afford the schmancy daycare instead, one that taught multiple languages and had more activites. The thing that really tipped me over was when I found out she was letting my 4 month olds watch tv during the day. I was pissed. We had a talk about it but I often feel like I'm being held hostage and can't be as picky as I want to be because I don't have other options financially.

I hope you can work things out in a way that leaves you happy and at peace with your daycare. It's so hard to have that worry in the back of your mind all day. I often find myself distracted at work because of it. I'm wishing a winning lotto ticket forbeach of us my dear! Then we won't have to worry about it at all! :)