WORK/LIFE BALANCE FROM A MOM AND NURSE PRACTITIONER

Daycare Dilema

11/3/16




Daycare has been both a blessing and a curse in my life. As my husband and I have prepared for our second child, we have tried to figure out how to balance work, our budget, and needs of our children into our decisions for childcare. My greatest anxiety while pregnant for the first time was around childcare. Unfortunately my husband and I both drew the short stick when it came to family help, and although it sometimes seems like we are the only ones that are in this boat, it's not the case. We happened to find a preschool and infant center close to where we lived when I was about 8 months pregnant, and put our son on the list after touring and talking with the staff. I had sent out a few inquiries at other day care centers, and signed up for care.com, as well as sent out an ad for a babysitter to nursing students at my school. I ended up opting for the daycare option because of affordability and the socialization for my son. My husband and I are both the only ones with kids on both sides of our families, and thus my son's interaction with other kids has mostly been at daycare.

What I like about daycare:
 He has had interaction with a diverse teacher and student body from infancy.
His language skills have developed in leaps and bounds (he knows the whole alphabet, and has been learning to count in Spanish).
 He has learned about "taking turns" and waiting in lines.
They do fun crafts at school daily, and other cultural activities, such as learning about Day of the Dead or Chinese New Year.
It's tax deductible (Hey, I'm married to an accountant).
It's media free, meaning there are no TVs, ipads, etc. in the classrooms.
All teachers and aides are CPR certified.
I don't have to worry about having someone come to my home and the concerns with that (keeping the house in order, caring for our dogs, safety, etc,)

The hard parts of daycare:
It was hard to leave him at first and I felt guilty
My son became sick often during the first year.
We have to miss work if my son is ill or has a fever.
There is not flexibility on scheduled days and times (when I did not have a consistent work schedule, I had to constantly trade days at work, my husband would have to occasionally take a sick day to cover, or I would have to beg daycare to let us swap a day. If you are late you are charged an additional fee for every fifteen minutes late).
It's expensive
Not a lot of individualized 1:1 care.

I put my son in daycare at two months so I could complete my clinical hours for grad school. For the first few months he was only at daycare  two days a week, and when went back to work full time when he was five months he started three days a week. Now that he is two, he goes four days a week. By now he is well adjusted to the routine of daycare. I feel he is safe and well taken care of, and that the curriculum  helps with his cognitive and social development. That being said, I really do not want to put my daughter in day care as early as I did for my son. We already had to put her on a waiting list to start at the infant center, but I still have reservations. I anticipate her starting at about 5 or six months, but ideally I would wait a year. I would like to wait longer this time so I can have more time to breastfeed, establish a sleep schedule, and for her immune system to develop.  I will not have the flexibility in my schedule as I did with my son to start part-time daycare, which also gives me pause. The daycare option still seems to be preferential with the second child due to affordability, convenience, socialization, and educational components.
With a household with two full-time working parents without any family assistance, there is no easy solution to childcare. Our monthly expense on daycare exceeds all other bills besides our mortgage. We have been stretched to our max making ends meet with our first child, and I don't anticipate things getting easier with number two. I often feel frustrated that there is such little help for parents. If you are not living below the poverty level, have a special needs child, or have family to help you out, society pretty much tells you "you made the decision to have children, now figure it out." I often feel angry about the lack of support, from family and our current government. I'm definitely not in the worst situation as a parent, and I remind myself of this when I find myself getting angry. However it does take a village to raise a child, and most days I feel like I'm on an island as a parent. I will stop my rant for now, but I would be interested how other working parents have found solutions to their childcare needs.
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