February 9, 2011

Picking the right daycare

When T was four months old we found a nanny share with another homebirth family. They lived in our neighborhood, felt the same way we did about eating organic and plastic toys, were willing to host, and were willing to essentially subsidize some of our half of the nanny.

We interviewed two nannys and were afraid. One could not communicate during the interview and never held the children, the other actually told us that she was a nanny because she didn't know how to do anything else.

After a referral, we interviewed another woman. She was fantastic. Answered all the questions correctly, came prepared with all of the paperwork, she held the babies and could tell their separate personalities apart. The only thing she required of us was that the babies be on the same nap schedule. Since T wasn't starting daycare for three more months, I thought it was fine - a lot changes in three months.

The other family was starting sooner and we would join when T was 7 months old.

To get both of us used to the nanny/being away from each other, I started dropping T off with her once a week for a few hours. On our first visit, the nanny asked when he napped. I said he would nap around 1. She said, "I'll just let him cry." I said I prefered that he not cry and she needed to comfort him if he was crying. She proceeded to argue with me saying to "ask my doctor," and "its good for him" Crying it out is one thing Tim and I feel very strongly about. We're decided to practice attachment parenting and that was part of the reason for hiring a nanny. I told her not to let him cry, but that I would get back to her about it.

THe other baby sleeps four hours a day (two two hour naps) and the nanny wanted T to do that too when he normally takes 1 1/2 hour of nap a day.

I stressed myself out. I borrowed baby books, read them all. Tried to convince myself that crying at this stage is okay. I cried because it didn't seem right that I had to change my way of parenting for someone else. I checked myself that I wasn't just trying to get out of going back to work.

I started trying to bring T during times when he wouldn't be napping so he could play with the nanny. Each time we were there she would want to know, when and how much he needed to eat and when and how long he would nap. Since T was born he's been breastfed and fed on demand as well as napping when he was tired. It followed some patterns, but I listened to his queues. I tried to explain them to her, but she kept wanting me to tell her a schedule.

I was incredibly stressed out - T didn't seem to like this nanny and she certainly didn't seem to like him. She always looked exhausted when I arrived and he was sort of whimpering. T's a HAPPY baby. She told me that he would just be sad for awhile, but that he'd get over it. It seemed out of character for him, but this was a new situation - it might be weird for awhile.

I didn't like the way she played with him, but Tim told me that I was being picky and I realized I could have a problem with that.

A week before I started work, I left T for four hours. I wanted to see how it went and get him used to being there for a long time.

When I arrived, he was awake and in the crib. He was fine, but not extatic to see me and not his happy self. She said to me, "he slept for two hours!" I was like, "Um, really? That's strange - he never sleeps that long" She said, "well he slept for an hour, then I let him cry for 15-20 minutes and he slept for another hour." I said, "we don't want him to cry," She tried to tell me that it was good for him and that it wasn't really a cry just a fuss.

Long story short, after three days of putting myself through hell and going back and forth about keeping him in for a month and "seeing", having the nanny sign a document of his care instructions that she will do exactly as I instruct, and considering moving so I could afford to stay home with him instead, I talked to another mama.

She kicked my ass. Questioning why I would put him in care with someone who clearly doesn't like him, doesn't want to work (napping 4 of 6 hours she's working?), and who deliberatly disobeys my clear instructions. The answer? I didn't want to hurt our friends, the other parents. They had put themselves out there financially and were counting on us.

There were two sections in our 30 page contract (between the parents, nanny, and us) that gave us an out - but I knew the other mom would kick my ass and I would lose a friend.

But it was the right thing to do. This was Thursday and I was scheduled back to work on Tuesday. I called every daycare advertising space on craigslist and made appointments, I checked with Tim and we decided as soon as we found something else, we would write that painful check for the entire month and never leave our baby there again.

Friday morning we arrived at a daycare in our neighborhood (and blocks from the house we're about to buy). It was clean and bright. The provider was a mom herself who never let her kids cry it out. Turner, despite being sick, really seemed to get along and when she was holding him and he got fussy, she knew he wanted to crawl.

We loved her but wanted to do our due dilligence. We went to one more daycare and after the stained carpets, the crazy care provider with WAY more kids than allowed, telling us she'd put our baby in the swing most of the day and give the kids chocolate chips in their kashi, we left and tried to figure out how we were going to afford the first woman's charges.

We immediatly came home, did a budget and called her up. We wanted the space if she would have us.

To be continued...

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