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September 29, 2004

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What is wrong with a Swedish Au Pair. I believe Rock Hudson and Doris Day had one.

Kristie

Looking for daycare is a scary thing. It's one of those things that requires a lot of research...and not one of those jobs that can go to the lowest bidder.

The first thing you should do is prepare a list of questions to bombard your prospective daycare person with. Don't be afraid to ask anything and be ready to dismiss them all as candidates if they can't provide you with a quick, clear, concise, and acceptable answer. Do this with both nannies and daycare facilities.

Secondly, decide which you would prefer. Private or public daycare. I personally prefer private in-home daycare for babies, but once they reach 2 years old I feel that it's good to socialize children with their peers. A pre-school daycare will allow them to learn things you may not think of teaching at home, guarantees that your child won't be babysat by the TV, and gives the child a sense of independence. They learn how to make friends and they learn to look up to adults in general as authority figures and not just mom and dad. This will be helpful on the first day of Kindergarten. :0)

Thirdly you will want to visit the facility if you choose one, or speak with references if you choose the nanny route. For daycare facilities or home daycare businesses feel free to drop by unannounced to look at how well it runs. You'll want to see how their charges are taken care of and what the daily routine is like. This way you'll be able to tell if the things they tell you will be done are, in fact, done regularly. Anyone providing daycare services will encourage you to do this. If you run into someone who frowns on this then cross them off your list of prospective providers. They suck and they know it, but they don't want you to know it til later. I can't say much about speaking with nanny references because I've never had a nanny (though that would have been nice!)

These are just a few of the things I've learned when looking for daycare. I'm a single mom so I really have to be able to rely on the people I entrust my children with. If my daycare isn't reliable then I'm the one who will suffer the consequences because there's no one else in the household to share the responsibility of having to stay home.

Good luck on your search!

Mir

I've always liked that whole safety-in-numbers thing that a daycare offers. The idea of leaving my child(ren) in the care of a single person who is accountable to no one scares the crap out of me.

We've done both family daycare and daycare centers, and they both have their own strengths and weaknesses. But I do feel your pain. After I let the kids watch Mary Poppins they begged for her to come take care of them for WEEKS! ;)

Sorry I don't have any advice for you on the whole daycare thing. But I think your writing is hysterical. Looks like this is a new blog. Keep it up! I can't wait to read more!

p.s. Jay sent me.

MetroDad

Kristie, Mir...Thanks for your comments! VERY much appreciated. BossLady and I had a long conversation tonight about what both of you said. We're leaning towards the "safety in numbers" option that Mir mentioned. And at the same time, I'll be sure to take all of Kristie's advice regarding research and references. Do you think it would be weird if I started showing up for surprise visits 15 times/day? Boy...I've really got to get over these separation fears. It's hard for me to even believe that they're so prevalent (considering that our dear daughter isn't even born yet!) THANKS AGAIN!

Liz

Good luck with the search. Trust me, the fear of leaving them in the hands of a stranger who likely isn't really doing this for the love of children as much as for a pay check, may not speak the language (which is cool in a 'teach my kid a foreign language!' way but less cool when your daily report is 'baby... scream... day... yes?'), and might for all you know be leaving her crack out on the coffee table or turning tricks during baby's nap only gets worse after your little darling arrives. Um... I think I have to go get my daughter now.

Anyway, nice blog, I hope you keep it up!

Liz

MetroDad

Liz...we're still laughing hysterically at your comments. How did you guess our exact fears about having a nanny? Your comments pretty much summed it up. Only thing I would add is the fear of the nanny stealing the baby and moving to Iran (as in the Sally Field's classically bad movie "Not Without My Daughter!!!")

Thanks (not for allaying my fears but providing me with a good laugh!)

MetroDad

Kristie

I guess I can see your point in the "safety in numbers" logic. My mother did daycare in our house for 10 years and it never really occured to me that people out there would not treat their charges as their own. Kids in our house were treated like family.

I cringe when I go to daycare centers and see the babies lined up in cribs. Even in my very own daycare center, where I love the director and am satisfied with the attention and care that my own kids recieve there. I don't get that same homey feeling that I got when I was 15, would come home from school, and play with the babies. That's why I picked a private home daycare for my girls until they turned two. But I realize I was very lucky to get the provider that I had. She was like my mom, the kids were family. I guess it's hard to find.

Have fun on your tours! You'd be amazed at all the cool stuff daycares have these days. The one my girls go to has an indoor tunnel/slide and a trike racetrack! My girls are too big for the trikes but they sure do have fun in that tunnel!

Elizabeth

My 4 year old is sitting on my lap as I write this, eating potato chips.

As you can see, I never gave up the "lock him in the house until he's 18" concept. I just switched to working at home.

Yes, I suck. On so many, many levels.

Great blog!

Calvin Broadus

Still at it, my unwashed dope smoking little friend? So it turns out you're an Oriental. Your English is surprisingly good. I guess it's true what they say about Orientals. You work real hard at school; must be all that Samurai discipline. Surprizes me that you're such a fairy. A real man would keep his wife at home and find a way to make ends meet. You're right about one thing: you don't want some darkie looking after your kid...

Kim Voynar

Hey MetroDad,

I hear you on the whole childcare thing. It's a nightmare trying to figure it out, especially with a first baby. Jay and I struggled with that issue for awhile when I was pregnant with N. and ultimately decided to hire a nanny part-time. We went that route because, having worked in the daycare industry myself during college, I just couldn't put a baby in daycare.

OTOH, the whole issue of trusting a stranger to care for our baby? Whew. We interviewed a slew of prospects, including a 350-pound woman wearing a 200-ound crucifix, who promised to "bathe our child in Christ's love" and a deaf Jewish in-home provider who wouldn't let us bring breastmilk for the baby unless I only ate kosher. Uh, yeah, don't call us, we'll call you.

The cost of living (and cost of childcare) in NYC is just so outrageous - it was largely why we ended up moving from NYC to upstate NY, and ultimately out to Seattle so when I was pregnant with J. so that I could derail from the corporate track and stay at home - which turned out to be much easier to do in theory than in practice, but I'm still at it 5 years later, somehow.

The one note of caution about daycare in NYC: many of the home daycare providers there are not licensed. So be careful, and don't be afraid to drop in unannounced, both before and after you put your daughter somewhere. Any daycare that won't let you just drop in? Run very, very, fast.

K.

Alex

Here is a list of good nanny agencies. Good luck:

http://www.newyorkmetro.com/urban/guides/family/schools/listings/nannies1.htm

OR try a good childcare center. There are a few good ones like Smarter Toddler Daycare & Preschool, The Brownstone School or Buckle My Shoe.

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