Sunday, August 23, 2009

Child Care

I;m taking a couple of minutes to enjoy having two hands free! We returned from a quick trip to Whole Foods and a whistle-stop at Jen's to pick up some lovely dinner (I've already been nibbling.. and it's delicious!!!), and Raf eventually fell asleep in his car seat. And, two hours on, his car seat is sitting on the breakfast bar and he's fast asleep still.

Not sure how long this will last so I'll be brief... but I'm already frantically worrying about child care. I am soooooo lucky to have maternity leave, and whilst my sis and sis-in-law enjoy extended time off from work - being in the UK, of course - I do feel very fortunate to have until January off. Even so, I am very worried about child care. I just dont know what to do. I have yet to leave him with anyone but Rich, and when I think of leaving him with anyone else I almost have a cold sweat. There are very few people who I'd feel okay with right now. Of course he's only 6 weeks and I'm sure things will change, but, in the meantime, I'm having to think ahead to child care in the very near future..

Here are some of our options.

A nanny/babysitter to come to our house. This was our original plan, but it's extremely expensive and I'm feeling squeamish about someone being here alone with the boy. The advantage of this scenario is that we can have someone start before I go back to work so I can be in the house whilst Rafi gets used to the person. The ideal would be to find someone who is a bit crunchy, and even someone we know.

A stay at home parent looking for another baby to look after. Raf will be almost 7 months and I hear at that stage they're really into watching other kids. I like this idea.. and also the idea that we can find someone, again a bit crunchy, who holds a similar view to parenting. This would probably be much more afforable.

A home based nursery. This makes me the most nervous, probably because they're less regulated compared to other forms of nurseries, BUT, one of the medical technicians at Deb's office has a nursery/day care, and I have to say that I'd send Rafi there in a heart beat if they a) took infants, b) lived close by. But how do you determine if other home based day cares are right for Rafi?

A daycare center. We're planning - and even excited - for Raf to attend a good learning center, There are some great ones around, too. But I would like him to be a lot older - at least a year. I imagine it could be quite overwhelming for a little tyke.

Any other ideas? We of course don't have any family to help out.

I really wish I could stay home the full year. Oh, to be independently wealthy :)

Would love people's thoughts/experiences.


  1. Hi sweetie... all i can do is tell you what we chose ... we went with childcare because it was highly regulated and because we didn't trust just one person to look after our children... (knowing how hard the job is!) this was true in nyc (where most people do have nannies) and here in australia (where nannies are only for the very rich). i think in an ideal world the perfect mary poppins nanny would be the best way to go with a little one (and much more convenient) but i think perfect nannies are few and far between (and have heard many bad nanny stories to back that feeling up!)

    in both nyc and adelaide we have used "not for profit" community/church based centers (v. important - you don't want them cutting corners with your kids so that they can make a profit!!!!), with very low staff turn over, highly trained staff who undertake ongoing training and career development, good staff/child ratios, separate rooms for different ages (some centers only have two rooms for kids aged 6 weeks to 5 years, our current centre has four rooms). i've been v. involved in our centre through serving on the board and with fund raising... this has meant i've got to know the staff very well and come to appreciate how the center is run and the issues that it faces.

    i've come to think of the childcare staff as my parenting partners.... the staff have supported me enormously - particularly with my special needs daughter (now aged 6) but also with my other two (who both started going to childcare for two mornings a week at six months of age). most of the staff have been there for well over 10 years (one recently retired after 37 years service!) they have so much more experience than me and have perspective (having watched so many children grow and develop).

    mia (almost 4) now attends three days a week and begs me to let her go 5 days a week! mia is in the kindegarten room. there are 20 kids and 3 teachers, leila is in the baby room two mornings a week (they officially have a ratio of 2:1 but it often is 1:1). they both adjusted quickly (after a series of visits) and love their time there.

    i hope this helps. i know it is hard. esp. at first... but if you find the right centre i think you will find them to be a wonderful asset to you parenting and not a necessary evil.

    kate xxxxx

  2. ps i've also always found the staff to be very supportive and respectful of my own particular parenting ideals.... crunchy or otherwise! also, if you found a centre near to your work you could come and visit rafi during the day and continue to breastfeed him etc. just a thought (i know mothers who have done this).

  3. Hi Alex,

    I so feel for you--we went through this exact same conundrum with Sage, of course.

    You might ask Pam Morgan if she has any suggestions for child care near the Biddeford campus. And the Children's Center (on Stevens in Portand) is of course VERY well regarded (ask Jan Froelich--her daughter's been there for a long time) and UNE faculty get priority. (They have a huge waiting list.) Not sure how young they start, though--I don't think they take infants. But you might consider putting your name on the waiting list for next year, just in case.

    Kate's point is a good one: you can work it so that wherever Rafi is, you can come see him and nurse him. And hopefully you can work your teaching schedule around this need. And if this doesn't work out, you can pump at those times and whoever has him can give him a bottle.

    FYI, what we did was find a crunchy nanny to come to the house. But of course Sage was only 4 months old when I had to go back, so that's in part why we went that route. The nanny would bring her to my office in Portland at feeding times and I'd nurse her there. It worked out great and Sage got lots of individualized attention.

    The downside was that, while we were happy with all of the nannies Sage had (she's had 5 now), it was sometimes hard to keep them. They're young women with full lives and sometimes that gets in the way. So one nannied for a few months and then had to stop to go to nursing school; another, as you know, is leaving Portland to work on an organic farm in Spain. One of Sage's nannies was a woman who brought her own baby to our house (same age as Sage), but that was tricky as Sage needed a lot of hands-on attention. (You might remember that she'd only fall asleep to movement. We used to hold her while sitting bouncing on the yoga ball, or walking around in the sling. This is tricky when you've got your own baby you need to nurse and wear!)

    We paid our nannies $10/hour. This is way less than they're worth but it's what we could afford. We found them by word of mouth (you could check at Birth Roots if you really want crunchy) and through advertising on Craigslist and then interviewing several. It's a huge amount of work and a big leap of faith.

    So my first term back, when Sage was 4 months, as I said the nanny would drive her to my office for nursing, but she also gave Sage a bottle when necessary (I arranged to teach on the WCC only that term). After that, when I was back in Biddeford 2 days a week, I used to manage my schedule, as I said, so I had a break between classes when I'd pump. I'd also pump in the car on the way to school sometimes (thank goodness for the Medela electric pump!). I'm glad I never got pulled over for something!

    The point is, you can make it work. It's full of anxiety and it's a huge, angst-ridden process, but please rest assured that you will make arrangements and they will work fine, and Rafi will be fine. And so will you! (I know it doesn't feel like that now! But I promise--it'll come together.) And if you start out one way and you aren't happy with it, you can change your mind, too. Don't forget that. ;-)

  4. I'll do it!!!!!

    Sarah Hope

  5. THANK YOU so much, guys. I'll respond properly tomorrow as Raf is here in my arms being fed. I think we're going through a growth spurt as he nursed all night and day. I'm exhausted (remembering your mantra, Jen: THIS WILL NOT LAST FOREVER!)

    All this advice helps a lot.

    SH - are you willing to forego your Harvard studies to attend to this little guy's development stages? That would be wonderful!!!!!

    Love A

  6. Hi all, again.

    I've been thinking about our options this past few days. I have a few calls into places and I'm waiting for them to get back to me There was a great ad in Craigslist for a nanny-share in Portland but the hours wouldn't work out for us, I don't think.

    Kate, I am also very leery about having a person come to the house, even though this is ideally what we'd like. Costs aside, the lack of regulation worries me, Ack.

    The community based childcare options don't seem to be for infants under 18 months.. but I'll keep searching. I've heard some good things about a day care in Saco, And, the woman I spoke with was actually English :)

    I wish I could stay home until he was a year. Although he's currently going through some sort of spurt as he is very fussy, is eating constantly, and being sick a lot. it makes nursing quite stressful. I have a post brewing about the radical changes that are occurring. He's really developing his own little personality!!

  7. For sure! I mean, what's a year or two time off anyway? I'm going to be in school FOREVER! :) Besides, he's your little one and too cute at that, it would be worth it!

    I think offers a bit better service than a craigslist ad.

    Another route to look at too, is to look for a current student studying early ed/child development and might be able to finagle a schedule around classes. I've got a former prof who did that!

    Sarah Hope

  8. The other downside of a nanny coming to your house is that, if she's sick or has car trouble, you're stuck. A center is more likely to be open on a reliable basis. ;-)