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.