You Get What You Pay For
In February, Husband and I did something we wished with all our hearts we didn’t have to do: We left Little Miss in the care of a stranger for an entire day. That day turned into a week, the week into a month, and the one month into four. There was no alternative since both of us needed to work in order to pay the bills (many of them educational loans…worth it, but oh so frustrating), and it had taken us an entire month to find this sitter. It was literally our one and only option when the Monday morning dawned when both Daddy and Mommy had to go to work.
She was a Christian, had a 16-month-old son, and didn’t believe in TV babysitting. We liked her in the beginning, but the little things really started adding up, and as the weeks went by we found it harder and harder to leave Little Miss there. Her safety wasn’t in question, and her health wasn’t at risk…but our sanity was both in question and at risk.
Babysitter was forgetful. She would think she’d told us something when neither Husband nor I remembered hearing anything about it. Then we’d tell her things multiple times and she’d act as though it was news to her each and every time. Most nights we’d go home missing something: A bottle, the wipes container from the diaper bag, Little Miss’ socks, a bottle cap, a blanket, Little Miss’ jacket, a pacifier. Sometimes we got home on Fridays and realized we were missing something from the diaper bag, forcing us to carry around the large home-sized items all weekend.
Almost every day when I picked Little Miss up she was about ten times dirtier than when I’d dropped her off. I do realize that kids get messy; I’ve watched her eat! But handing her an entire banana 30 minutes before Mom comes to pick her up and then not bothering to clean her up beforehand is a little ridiculous.
Like I said: Little things. But they continued to add up and Husband and I became increasingly discontent with the care Little Miss was receiving during the day. Since we had no other ready options, we focused on the positive and realized that as long as Little Miss was safe, healthy and happy, she was okay.
Then, like any good cliche, the proverbial poo hit the spinny thing that cools a room. The morning I was scheduled to leave for my week-long trip to Europe, Babysitter called and told me she didn’t want to watch Little Miss anymore. That wasn’t what her phone call was about, but it culminated in that statement. I calmly told her that was good information to have and stated we’d make other arrangements and I’d be calling her back.
As soon as I pushed “End” I banged my phone on the desk (I was at work), screamed, and burst into tears. That week our relationship with her came to an end and Husband and I began yet another hunt for reliable, trustworthy childcare.
After a couple of phone calls we ended up talking to a very sweet middle-aged lady who lived mere minutes from my office and nearly spitting distance from our old rental house. She and her husband, who is a part-time pastor at a local church, run a daycare out of their home. We met with them, went over the parent handbook, took a tour of the facilities, and took home a business card.
Our first impressions were very positive, and both Husband and I almost instantly wanted to put Little Miss there. The home was modest and clean, and featured both lovely living spaces and a fun, educational room for kids, and a large fenced backyard with plenty of toys and room for picnics. Every day included nap/rest time, outdoors time, play time, learning time, and meal and snack times, for which the food was provided.
Everything about this daycare seemed perfect…except the price. If we were to put Little Miss there, it would be as though we were paying for more than one additional week each month from what we had been paying the first babysitter. Ouch.
For two days we prayed about it, talked about it, thought about it, and worked out our budget. Finally, we decided that thought it would be extremely tight, we needed to do it. We couldn’t lose the opportunity we had been given to have Little Miss placed in such great care. So we signed up and less than a week after meeting the daycare providers, we dropped Little Miss off for her first day.
Though she cried a little both yesterday and today as we walked out the door, the daycare owners told us she was quickly distracted by the other children (there are seven others, ranging in age from 8 months to about 7 years) and the toys in the playroom. Yesterday she would only sleep on the daycare “mom” and got about 45 minutes of napping in all day. Today she fell asleep without a fuss in the crib and slept for two hours. According to the daycare staff she’s eating well, playing well, laughing, crawling around, and generally enjoying herself all day.
There are so many things about this situation that are already vast improvements over our first situation that I can’t even begin to list them all here. (You’re already bored, anyway, aren’t you?!) When Husband commented the other day that this new daycare was going to be “so much easier on us…except for our wallets,” I pointed out that though that was true, the extra money was paying for that ease as well as our peace of mind and confidence in the care our daughter was receiving. He agreed.
I don’t wish the struggles and stresses we’ve had on anyone, though I realize they have been minor compared to many. However, this has been an incredible growing experience. I am now excited to take Little Miss to daycare every morning because I know she’s getting a) social interaction with a variety of personalities and ages, b) sincere Christian care, c) an early educational experience, and d) absolutely everything she needs.
Our daycare provider told us that they aren’t a “revolving door.” Kids frequently come in at 3 months when Mom goes back to work and stay until they start school. When they leave, parents report that the children still ask to go see the daycare owners; they miss them! And the daycare owners miss the children when they leave, too. “Those kids are like family to us!” they said.
I’m looking forward to Little Miss being included in that family. And I’m more than happy to pay extra for that experience.