Daycare dilemma

December 18, 2010

I’ve decided there is something very wrong with me that the thought of my child leaving my side for a few hours a week sends me into a state of guilt and panic.

Sam and I agreed to put Bella in daycare or find a nanny 2 days a week. Half days, so really more of a sitter than a nanny. He’ll be gone 18 weeks for the Army.

18 weeks. I can’t even think about it right now. Or blog about it.

I’ve been posting ads and calling around, trying to get ideas of what would be a good fit for her. I’ve narrowed it down to three choices:

  • Public daycare (like Primrose or Montessori)
  • In home daycare
  • Nanny/Sitter in our home

Pros for Public Daycare:

  • More structure in her day
  • Professionals used to dealing with lots of personalities
  • Activities geared towards her age
  • Lots of peer interaction
  • A set, flat rate with set times

Pros for In home daycare

  • Flexibility on days and hours if needed
  • More individual attention
  • Less chances of her being sick

Pros for Nanny/Sitter

  • Bella’s schedule can stay the same during the day
  • We have on call help if needed
  • Lots of flexiblity
  • Able to get another SAHM with a similiarly aged child

Then there are the cons.

Cons for Public Daycare

  • Very little flexibility in days/hours
  • Lots of sick germs
  • Have to pay even if I didn’t bring Bella one day/week
  • Hard to find a place that will do half days – especially just two

Cons for In home daycare

  • I worry someone might treat Bella differently than her own kids
  • Cost is higher than public daycare
  • Personal involvement (like not charging if I’m late to be nice, but then there’s the awkwardness if I run late again…)
  • Have to bring her nap stuff with us (3 flights of stairs – that is all)

Cons for Nanny/Sitter

  • Cost is around in home in some cases but usually higher
  • Bella won’t get a lot of peer interaction
  • I have someone in my home that whole time, so I have to be gone
  • Dependability (like someone just doesn’t show up – ever)

Really, I know I have a lot of cons for public daycare, but I’m leaning towards it. And this might sound crazy, but a lot of it has to do with the professionalism and personal aspect of the other two choices. I don’t want to have someone feel like they can’t say, “Hey, you were late and you owe me extra money.” I also don’t want to feel like I can’t say, “Looks like Bella bonked her head last time she was here,” because I’m afraid of hurting their feelings.

I found someone we are going to interview that wants to do in home. She has a 2 year old and 3 month old, works pt as a nurse, lives very close. However, what she wants per hour is what I’d pay a nanny. Not someone with 2 other kids that I have to bring my child to and from. But this is what I’m finding right now.

Then there’s the guilt of leaving her (I know, it’s good for her and me, she’ll be fine eventually). But it’s there, and I have to figure out a way to be 100% comfortable with this decision. Sometimes I wonder if this is a waste of money. Most moms would kill to stay at home and I’m working on farming my kid out. I mean, no, not really, but the money could be used on other things.

I think I know too much. Having worked as a nanny, and in a daycare, I’ve seen many situations that I swore I would never leave my child in. That the parents never had a clue about.

Now I’m so paranoid I can’t leave her anywhere. :/

Which one would/did you pick? Why? If you had to pick one (cost/hours/etc) what did you wish you had chosen instead? How did get the point where you felt totally comfortable with your decision?

29 Comments

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  • Michelle

    January 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

    You have to go with your gut!

    I have also been on both sides of this. I’ve had to find daycare for my child and I’ve worked with children for 17+ years.

    Each has pros and cons and it depends upon what is most important to you. Good luck with your decision!

  • Jen

    December 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Just my 2 cents. Because I can’t help it. Tyler was in daycare from the time he was 8 weeks old, until right after his 3rd birthday (except for the 5 months that I had him at home after Mikaylen was born and my sister watched them both). Being a single mom and going to school full time, it couldn’t be helped. There was a low turnover rate for the teachers, and I still talk to some of them since we moved. He loved every single second of it. He really was outgoing, and learned SOOOO much. Oh my gosh, the things he would come home and tell me, I was amazed at how smart he was. He got sick 4-5 times, but he has not been sick at all in the past 1 1/2 years. His immunity is super strong.

    Mikaylen, on the other hand, stayed at home with my sister for the first 5 months of her life, and that was great because I was breastfeeding her, as well as going to school. But to this day, she still has major seperation anxiety. It really has affected my life, and her life so bad, and I know it’s because she wasn’t in daycare as much as Tyler was. She was fine while she was in daycare, and interacted well with the other kids and the teachers. But now that she’s at home with me all of the time, she flips a lid every time there’s a difference in her schedule, or if I leave to go somewhere (Heaven forbid). I think the daycare setting would be great for Bella. She would learn so much, and have a lot of socialization, and she wouldn’t be so dependent on you for everything. And if she does get sick, at least you won’t have to miss work to take care of her. And her immunity will be great by the time she does enter school. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  • Christy

    December 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    We use Primrose for our 3 1/2 year old son and LOVE it. I work full-time so he’s been in daycare since he was 12 weeks old. I like that there are more people there than just a one-on-one so I don’t worry about him as much. Also, if the teacher is out sick, they have someone to fill in instead of having to find other childcare arrangements. He is learning so much, and making lots of friends too.

    As far as being sick, it seems like they build up their immunity earlier if they are exposed to things at daycare than if they are home with mom until kindergarten. I’d rather he miss a few days of daycare, than to catch all the sickness when he starts real school and miss out on learning his basics.

    I also like the fact that the daycare centers are licensed and inspected by the state.

  • Stephanie @ Confessions of a Trophy Wife

    December 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t blame you a bit! I would totally get all panicky at the thought of leaving DS somewhere besides my mom’s house for a couple hours (which I get all panicky about anyway and rarely do even though she begs me to let her watch him, I digress…).

    For me, I think I’d try to find someone who was a SAHM and was looking to make a bit of extra spending money on the side by keeping one extra child for a few hours a week. I know people that would be interested in that sort of thing, so I’m sure you’d be able to find someone in your area. I would ask your playgroup mommys for suggestions. (Are you still meeting up with them?) I would feel so much better if someone I “knew” (even if I didn’t know them super well) recommended someone to me rather than just going at it blindly by myself.

    Good luck!

  • themanager

    December 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    if i had to pick, it would be a daycare center. my reasons are just that i think it’s safer for my child to be in a place where there are cameras, other adults watching, more kids just my childs age in his class. i know there is a lot more germs butmost places follow a strict cleaning schedule so you know it’s been cleaned good recently.

    i worked in 2 different daycare centers. one was very unorganized and smelled like pee. this is not somewhere i would want my child. the other was in a hospital and was top of the line in our area. after that experience i realized that there can be some really great care available in a public setting.

  • Heidi K.

    December 19, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I have my sons at an in-home day care. Unlike what you are describing, this day care provider does not have children at home. Her children are grown and gone– in their early 30s, I think. She’s been doing this since they were little. She loves and treats her day care kids as her own. (BTW…she’s also cheaper than many of the local day care centers.)

    My older son (15 months) loves being there. He gets plenty of personal attention (state laws says only 6 children can be in a home day care) from the provider. Yet, he also has tons of fun playing with the kids. I like that there is some age range difference, so that he has role modeling from the older kids (ages 4-5) and also another boy near his age, too.

    My little one (2 months) adapted very quickly to being there. NOTE: I am still on maternity leave and using day care periodically. It is OK to send your child to day care even when not working….to go to the doc, to run errands, to clean OR JUST TO TAKE A NAP AND READ A BOOK! The guilt gets easier– esp. for me when I see how much fun the older son has playing with his friends, how excited they all are when the boys arrive each day AND when I can feel refreshed and de-stressed for a little part of each week when I can be by myself for a bit.

    Good luck w/ the decision. It is a tough one. I’ll be praying for you.

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm

      Thank you – and just knowing that you feel that way about it makes my decision a lot easier. I know Bella will enjoy it, she does like to be around other kids when she gets used to them.

  • Mandy

    December 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Hey Diana, I would have someone come to your house and watch Bella. In the middle of winter, it is cold to take her back and forth and your place is already child proofed and clean. Bella is familiar with the surroundings and can probably stay on schedule better. It might be hard for her to sleep in another environment or in a noisier environment, I know you said that she has a hard time adjusting. She could still get interaction with others, maybe if you do playdates with others or take her to gymboree or whatever. Just my thoughts, based on my experience. I think when Chase can talk and is potty trained, I will feel more comfortable with a public daycare.

  • allison

    December 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Oh Diana, don’t feel bad at all! You need a break occassionally – for yourself and just to get things done. And interaction with other people and kids is good for Bella.

    I’d lean toward in-home in your situation. I mean, check the woman out and make sure you’re comfortable, but it seems like it would be the best fit. You’ll need Bella out of the home sometimes. And preschool will work when she’s older. I inadvertantly ended up doing in-home for my neighbor’s son, who is 6 days older than my daughter. It’s great for both of them! They get to interact and learn from one another and the neighbors pay me what they would have paid daycare.

    Also, I probably give the little boy more attention since he’s the one out of his element.

    But that’s my situation, not yours. Hey, do you think you could offer to watch her kids for a few hours every other week? Maybe then she’d cut you a break on the cost. And then you’d get a chance to see the dynamic of her home and children and how they interact with Bella.

    As for lugging Bella’s stuff up and down stairs, just get copies and keep them in the car or at the other woman’s house.

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

      After I read this, I put out a post on Craigslist about doing a few hours a week switch with another mom. So far I’ve had no takers, but maybe something will come up! It’s a great idea!

  • Alexia

    December 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    This is a hard one. Especially with your pros and cons list. There’s great aspects to every decision and some frustrations. No wonder you’re having such a hard time deciding! If I were in your position I would go with the public option. In fact I’m trying to get Cedella into Montessori for a couple mornings a week but there’s a waiting list (boo). Yea she’s going to get sick, yea they’re going to charge you for the week, but you have the flexibility to take her on different days, or to establish a routine with the school. She will be socializing and learning and will be better off for it. And there’s no awkwardness or lack of professionalism that may come with the in-home option. And I think the nanny is just a no all around. You wouldn’t feel like you were able to get things done and your house and that you had to be gone for the entire time the nanny was at the house. What if you wanted to take a long bath or ::gasp:: a nap?! Doesn’t sound like it’s worth it to me. Hope that helps! And good luck ; )

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:53 pm

      That’s exactly what I keep thinking too. I can’t go home and unload groceries, clean the house, whatever – because she’ll be there. And once I’m there, Bella will want to be with me.

  • Sara

    December 19, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Hey dear, just wanted to put my two cents in, I luckily found the nicest daycare. I love Olivers teachers. Here it’s a little more expensive but since our days are very routine, it’s worth it to me. And I don’t know if it’s luck (or maybe breastfeeding 6+ months?) but he’s only been sick a few times in the last year that he’s been there. Good luck deciding, hon!

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks lady. 🙂

  • Meredith

    December 18, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    First, let me say that it I think it is a great decision to give yourself a break, especially while your husband will be gone. You will need it and it will be good for both of you!

    I didn’t stop working until the second baby, so my older son required child care for a little over a year. We tried both an in home and a day care setting and I preferred the day care by A LOT. The staff were caring and friendly, his day was structured with age appropriate activities and I just all around felt he was well taken care of. But he was sick a lot. Nothing serious, just kind of a chronic runny nose and ear infections.
    The provider who watched him in her home was a woman who had great references and is nice and has been doing this a long time. But she wasn’t right for us. I felt like she thought she knew better than I did and didn’t listen to me or comply with my wishes as a result. (i.e. feeding him peanut butter at 10 months old). Also, there wasn’t much structure, too much tv for my liking and one of the other children she watched was kind of a behavior problem. This led to some of the personal awkwardness you refer to being concerned about.
    In the end it all comes down to the people and what you are comfortable, good luck with your decision.

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

      Ah! As I was reading the peanut butter thing I got really mad. That’s what I worry about. Someone just feeling like, “Hey, I’m a mom, this is my house, it’ll be fine.”

  • metta1313

    December 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    We picked the most expensive daycare place. We felt the best about that choice because of all the structure. And as a teacher, I can so appreciate that everyday on Abby’s sheet, they write down what activites they did and can make the connection to all the cognitvie and motor skills Abby is working on. We love that she gets to hang with other kids and we were told a couple weeks ago that Abby is starting to join in more with circle time and interact more with the other toddlers…even though they are all walking and she still isn’t (sigh). I learn things from them too because they have so much experience with toddlers. They listen to my concerns and give me tips on how to work with Abby at home. And I think that if we didn’t pay for the most expensive daycare around, the teachers wouldn’t be as great…these teachers have professional development and know their stuff…monies that we pay help to support this.

    That being said…Abby is sick…A lot! The teachers do a good job of bleaching everything down when the kids nap or at the end of the day, but toddlers don’t know better than to “share” their germs. They are giving that way. My doctor did tell me to look up the hygiene hypothesis online….it says if a kid grows up on a farm, with a pet, and with daycare, they get sick more now, but their immune system gets stronger. We have two out of the three, so that is our saving grace…hoping that when kindergarten comes around we won’t have as many sicknesses. We can only hope.

    That being said, since being back to work, I have to say I appreciate having time away. I mean I wish I could work part time and spend more time with Abby, but now that she’s in toddler phase, having some uninterupted time to get things done is always appreciated.

    There are pros and cons to all those situations. You just have to go with your gut. For us, we had no choice. We could only afford daycare, but we chose the best daycare around (after a brief stint at another one last school year, which sucked) and we go with that. We can only do our best.

    PS: The guilt doesn’t go away. It will be hard at first to leave her. But slowly you get used to it…as part of your routine. And you know you can always shoot me an email with more questions and such. Smoochies!

    PS: I have some spelling mistakes in this comment but alas it won’t let me move my cursor to fix them 🙂

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm

      I feel the same way – I know that you get what you pay for in childcare. Cheapo providers and centers that are great and know their stuff are few and far between.

      I’m glad you love the one where Abby is. It sounds amazing.

      I will email you. 🙂

  • SarahinSC

    December 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Here’s my two cents….

    I’ve been a stay at home mom for over nine years now. When they were little I went to a gym where there was childcare for an hour or so a day and that was their social hour and my time for a break. When they got preschool age I taught 3 hours a day at a preschool and they attended another class while I was there. Other than that, we did lots of activities with the MOMS Club (an international organization, you could google) and had consistant playgroups and as far as socialization goes, they’re just fine (and now 7 and 9). Regardless of what you decide, I’d spend a good bit of time (at least a half of a day) at each place you’re considering so you can get a true feel for the place. 🙂

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm

      That’s a really good idea – the half day part. I hope that would be something Sam and I could both do. I’ve never heard of MOMS (MOPS but they are expensive) so I’ll look it up.

  • Becca

    December 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    The other big pro with a good center based daycare is that you’ve got more eyes watching. I’m like you– I really don’t trust anyone except myself to watch my children; I’m always at least a little nervous leaving them (and often more than a little). For me, a center based daycare just seemed *safer* over all….when I went to visit in home daycares, I could just see too many things that my daughter could get into. Daycares are structured to keep kids safe– they are not homes and there is value in that. And as I mentioned at the begnning of this comment, there are simply more eyes watching which means that there is a less of a chance that someone is going to snap and do something really yucky, you know? But… whatever option you choose will be the right one for you. Just know that you may not feel 100% secure no matter what you choose– if you are a nervous person, it’s going to feel scary no matter how carefully you make your choices. It’s just scary to leave your kids. But I try to remember that my kids are in no way protected from harm when they are with me, anyway. Honestly, anything could happen at any time. It just *feels* safer when they are with me.

    Holy rambling comment. Sorry. I went back to try to edit but I can’t seem to do anything without backspacing/deleting the whole comment and re-writing it, so I’ll leave it for what it is. 🙂

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:23 pm

      I don’t know what is wrong with my comments lately.

      But you’re right, that’s why I lean towards a public daycare. More eyes, more guidelines, more accountability.

      I love that you included the being a nervous person part – because I am but I tend to forget that just because I am doesn’t mean there is anything to be nervous about. 🙂

  • Mrs. B.

    December 18, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I’ve only ever done in home daycare, because back when I was working out of the home many years ago, I worked retail, so public center hours wouldn’t cover all the hours I needed (I frequently worked nights and weekends) and I couldn’t afford a nanny. In my region, public centers were far more expensive than in home care as well. I think in home daycare providers who think of themselves as “day care providers” rather than wanting to bring in a little extra money by taking care of one or two children once in awhile are more reasonable in price. They think like a business, and they have to be competitive.

    I live in a rural area now, and there was one person who did in home care. When I started working, she was really my only option. We could have put the kids in care in the bigger town 25 miles down, but my husband sometimes worked overtime so, again, centers were not an option. I regret to this day my choice to go back to work and put my kids in that “only option” for care, even though my job saved the day when my husband got laid off.

    Since you’ve worked in daycare, you know how important it is to check references. I’ve also had far less “daycare providers” just up and quit on me-whereas someone who just wants to make a little extra money has quit on me-once literally in the morning as I was dropping my kid off on my way to work. If you’re not going out of the house to work, this is less of a concern, but it would certainly disrupt your daughter’s schedule. If I were putting my children in daycare again, I would probably not make the same choices I’ve made in the last few years. It’s a hard decision!

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      Ugh, I can’t even imagine the frustration of that day when your caregiver quit. This is what I worry about with the in home/nanny option. And while it wouldn’t be the end of the world since I’m not working, it certainly would be a pain and a lot of stress.
      Thank you for sharing what you did.

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  • Sol

    December 18, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I lucked out with the perfect local daycare. We have about 5 popular daycare centers in town and not a single one fit my needs or desires. Then we found one at a local school that specializes in children with down syndrome. They run a daycare program out of their school. I found the environment to be loving and caring. The teachers did not have a high turn over which I found was common at a lot of the other schools. They also had a high ratio of care providers per children. I didnt think daycare would be it for us. I really thought we’d end up with someone in our home. My daughter spent 3 days a week there, then 4 days a week from 8 am to 5 pm on many of those days. It was difficult to leave her but it truly was a second home to her. She ended up attending preschool there as well.

    At first, when I first went looking at places, I thought flashier was better but i the end the hands on teaching style the school used were more important to me then how fancy their computers may be. Or how new their tables and chairs were. It ended up being much more affordable as well.

    To become comfortable with the idea I did a trial period at the school. Which they welcomed. Our first week we went 3 days and only for about 2 hours each day. The next week we did a longer period.

    It was not easy but honestly after the first month Leah was happy to go off and play and I was the one still in tears.

    I often wonder if she would have been better off with me at home but she will remind me of ACDS and her fond memories of it. So I think in the end it was the right choice.

    I think you need to go with your gut. Give it a try and see if it works. It may or may not. But trust yourself.

    1. Diana

      December 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks Sol. It helped a lot to read that – because it isn’t an easy decision. The easy thing is for me to just say, “Nevermind, she can just be with me.” But I know that isn’t the solution.

      1. Sol

        December 20, 2010 at 9:01 am

        Give it time. Weigh your options and go from there. You are deciding to leave your beautiful precious lil one somewhere without you. It shouldn’t be an easy decision I don’t think but don’t make yourself too crazy about it. ((hugs))

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