Daycare, take II (15w2d)

As much as the first place squicked me out, I LOVE the second place.

Once I was buzzed in (no one gets through the door w/o someone at the front desk allowing it) I was greeted warmly by the center’s director, Traci. We started the tour in the infant room, after first putting plastic booties on over our shoes. The infant room was light years beyond the first place. It was bright and organized. The cribs were lined up against the walls, with pictures of the babies and their families attached to each at baby-eye height. They were CLEAN. There were three exersauser things in use, a couple of swings that weren’t in use, and two rocking chairs. The large rug on the floor covered like 80% of the room. Two little girls started toddling over to me as soon as I came into view.

The teachers (all three of them for the 9 babies there yesterday) greeted me when I entered and introduced themselves. They all agree I’m having a girl. The babies seemed happy and content. (Truth be told, I had a bit of trouble paying attention to the director while in there… my baby radar was pinging like crazy and I could hardly take my eyes off the little ones!) The diaper changing area was clean, the pad looked new and clean and there were a couple cans of Lysol wipes on the counter – I’m confident that they really are cleaning and sanitizing everything as often as they claim. The refrigerator was organized, with every baby’s little container labeled and full of labeled & dated bottles. When the bottles are used, the staff washes them out and puts them in the baby’s bag in the closet, so Mom & Dad just grab the bag and the baby to go home. Each baby has a drawer for diapers, rash cream and changes of clothes. Everything was well organized and CLEAN!

Parents are encouraged to drop in anytime. They love having breastfeeding moms come by for lunch. There’s two video cameras in each room, so we Mom & Dad can log in to see how the little one is doing. The teachers seemed engaged with the children and genuinely happy to be there.

We progressed through the center, checking out the toddler room, the up-to-2.5 year room where they start potty-training, the up-to-3 year room where the potty-trained move to, the pre-K room that was filled with 15 3.5 & 4 year olds who were eagerly reciting their multiplication tables. (One 4 year old had a 4″ tall bright red mohawk!) The kindergartners (they have a private kindergarten) were waving at us as they lined up to go outside to play. Every room was clean, and decorated to the hilt! It was a tad overwhelming to me, but I imagine that a 3 year old thinks it’s the best thing ever. Lots of stimulation for the kids. They’re encouraged to learn by playing, so lots of art projects and hands-on activities were around. The kids start on computers at 3 years old. They start twice-weekly Spanish classes at 2. Music appreciation starts at infancy. Optional on-site karate or dance lessons are available starting at age three.

We passed the kitchen which had restaurant size & quality appliances. It was closed because lunchtime was over, but it was spotless. The first place had drying dishes piled everywhere and there was hardly an open surface anywhere.

What struck me the most (other than it being clean – I was looking in corners and under tables too) was that the kids and staff all seemed happy to be there. In every room we went into, the teachers at least nodded and smiled to me as they continued their activity, if not introducing themselves. The kids (while not getting up from their assigned spots on the carpet) shyly waved as we passed through their rooms.

Everything I’ve read online about how to choose a daycare says right off to go with your gut. Well, I was darn-near skipping as I left Kids R Kids yesterday. Their prices will turn out to be cheaper than the other place, but honestly I’d be OK with paying more. Their policies seem fair, and everything they do seems to err on the side of the children.

So Paul and I talked last night about all this, and he read through all the literature I brought home. He asked a lot of good questions, and we talked about some stuff. He had suggested that he could request that work never give him a weekend off once the baby comes so he could watch the baby two days a week and we could save on two days’ worth of daycare. I explained that the price difference between 3 and 5 days a week would be a lot less than he thought (like $40 or less) and honestly I feel that it’s worth it to pay for the full week so that he *can* have the occasional weekend day off. I explained that our marriage needs to be a priority for us after the baby comes, and we’ll need to work to find time together because the baby will change everything about our lives. I asked him not to try to lose weekends so that we can hopefully have more time together as a family, and time together as a couple. Paul asked if he had a late starting day at work if he could keep the baby home and take it in late to daycare on his way to work or keep the baby home if he has a mid-week day off. I didn’t cry when he asked if he could spend the day with his child, but I did kiss him and assure him he’s welcome to spend as much time with his baby as he’d like.

Paul wants to tour the facility before we lock anything in, but he’s on board with me. This place is 3 miles from my office – less than 10 minutes and easy for Paul to get to in about 20 minutes. I feel confident about leaving our baby in these people’s care. I’m glad to have one more thing tackled on The List. (Paul realized last night that we’re gonna have to pick out a pediatrician. He is encouraging me to get on that. hehe)

Take my baby, please! (15w)

Even though there isn’t much evidence to support it, this pregnancy is apparently marching along. (Or so the weekly “here’s how big yer critter is now” e-mails tell me, at least.) And while we’re kinda stuck waiting on nursery stuff until we find out the sex (*hopefully* next week!) I’m trying to start working on baby-related things.

My big challenge this week has been daycare. My reading tells me I have a lot of research to do, and to start sooner than later in case there’s a waiting list at our chosen facility.

There’s a (24 hour) daycare center called Kids ‘r’ Us across the parking lot from my office. I assumed from the time I found out I was pregnant that the baby would spend his/her days there, with me popping over for lunch and occasional cuddle-breaks. So this week I called and spoke with the director, got some preliminary info and made an appointment for a tour.

I toured the facility yesterday and was underwhelmed. My gut reaction was that Kids ‘r’ Us was dirty and disorganized. The staff didn’t recognize me as a touring parent as I wandered their rooms at naptime. They were either doing paperwork or sweeping up what I thought was an inordinate amount of random gunk off the floors. The infant room was less inspiring. I don’t think the cribs or changing area is sanitized often at all, and the linens are washed weekly. The cribs were scattered haphazardly around the room, and there didn’t seem to be much in the way of toys or stimulation for the wee ones.

I was pretty disappointed, especially since I really wanted this facility to work because of it’s location. But I just can’t see leaving our baby there. But I wanted to check out other facilities before I totally crossed them off my list, because maybe my expectations were way too high. (What do I know? I’ve never been in a day care before.)

So this morning I called a ‘corporate’ day care that I pass during the last 10 minutes of my commute to work each day called Kids ‘r’ Kids. (Where do they get these names?) The director answered and gave me a lovely spiel about their facility and their infant program which began with how often their cribs and linens are sanitized (daily) and finished with details of the sign language curriculum they start by 4 months. So many great things about this place, and from the looks of the photos on their website, it’s exactly what I expected a day care to look like. PLUS, the price works out to the same as the place by my work – and once the baby is on solids it’ll actually be cheaper because they supply the Gerber-brand baby food.

I’m touring Kids ‘r’ Kids tomorrow at lunch and I cannot wait. If I like what I see tomorrow, I’ll check out the place with the Bureau of Licensing and whoever else my social worker co-worker says I need to. (I don’t know what I’d do without my co-worker Kate. She is a font of incredible mommy-wisdom combined with no-nonsense social worker smarts.) I’ll take Paul to tour the place, and if we agree on it, we’ll put down a deposit to hold a spot in September for our wee one. (I’m hoping to be able to take 6-7 weeks off work for maternity leave; we can’t afford for me not to work, so I can only take off as much time as I can save up vacation & sick leave for.) Gotta love America’s (lack of) Maternity Policy.

I’m a little surprised at my visceral reaction of “I’m not leaving my baby there” to the first place, but it’s kinda nice to be feeling mom-like.