Finding the Impossible

I found out last week that our daycare provider will be changing the way she does things; from now on, she will be accepting no more babies or toddlers (<26 months). While this isn’t currently a problem for our (nearly) 3 year old, it means that the spot we had been promised next year for our now 7 month old will not be there—and there’s no way that we’re sending them to two different daycares.

This is the third time we’ve had to struggle with finding a suitable daycare provider. Our first provider was unlicensed and working out of her house, but we thought she was the best suited out of those we interviewed, and who actually had an open spot.

It wasn’t long before little things began to creep up. Our son (then just over a year old) would regularly miss naps because the provider took the kids out somewhere. Then she was somehow finding time to paint her house and refinish small sections of hardwood while “watching” the children. We were concerned, and talked to her about our concerns, but ultimately the idea of finding another trustworthy provider was too daunting, and we decided to persevere.

Then came the day when my wife went to pick up our son (then 18 months old) and found the daycare provider raking leaves in the front yard…while our son and a 15 month old girl sat on the back deck having their snack. That information, by itself, is a bit worrying—my son was a pretty good eater, but still choked on food occasionally, and I’m guessing the 15 month old was the same—but some context makes things much uglier. Both children could run/walk/stumble around by that age, and the stairs down from the deck were both out of sight for the sitter, and led down to a nice hard concrete slab…in a completely unfenced back yard.

Think about that for a second: the yard led straight out to the alleyway, which then connected to a reasonably busy street, and the whole thing was out of the sitter’s line of sight. Worse, when my wife confronted her about it, she had no idea why we were concerned—and I say that’s worse because it immediately made me question what other potentially fatal situations she was unconcerned about. That was the last day our son went to that daycare.

It took about 50 calls, and following all sorts of leads to find a spot with our present daycare provider—a wonderful lady, her mother, and her sister, who are licensed, inspected, and spend time teaching my son both English and Spanish. Hell, they even get carefully scheduled outings to places like the science center that always have adequate supervision and respect everyone’s nap schedule. And now we’ve lost them.

Again, we’re faced with the reality of how difficult it is to even find an open spot in this city, let alone find a spot at a place where we feel we can completely trust the provider with the life and wellbeing of our children. Fortunately, we have until March, when my wife goes back to work, to find someone, but even with that kind of lead time, it may still be a major challenge. The last thing we want to do is be forced into picking someone we’re not 100% sure of, just because we run out of time; but on the flipside, we simply can’t exist without two incomes at this point, and my wife’s work will expect her to return once her mat leave is over.

There has got to be a better way, but I just can’t see it. For us, family care is not an option; we’re not close enough (either emotionally or in terms of physical distances) to have a relative care for the boys. At this point, I honestly think I might be OK with working from home for a while, but it just isn’t an option with my job, and we can’t afford to live without me working—unless this website suddenly starts making money…despite having no ads, or we win the lottery…though I don’t like wasting money on the tickets, so that’s probably unlikely too.

We can’t be the only parents going through this, and each of you has my complete sympathy. Some things in life just suck, I think, and the only thing to be done is to do your damndest to roll with the punches; what else can you do with your back against the wall?

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