Daycare vs. Stay-at-Home Parenting -- your approach, the sacrifices and/or compromises you're willing to make, etc.

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I had a dream last night that we had to leave our (soon-to-be-born IRL) baby in a *daycare* that was literally just an unattended parking garage filled with babies lying in bassinets.

IRL we're hoping that Mrs. H can stay home with me working for at least a year if not more. NYC living is so expensive though that we're strongly considering queens or even suburbs so that we can make this work, because we don't want to leave the baby in a parking garage at 6 mos.

frogBaSeball (Hurting 2), Monday, 30 January 2012 17:04 (five years ago) Permalink

The rumbling of the tires is soothing, newborns easily fit underneath the required clearance and the opportunity for some good tips is available. What's the problem?

pplains, Monday, 30 January 2012 17:07 (five years ago) Permalink

I have no idea what the situation is like in NYC. We have two stories – one really awesome and one that isn't so awesome.

Even in Little Rock, the waiting list for the "good" daycares are usually at least a year long. We weren't aware of this and toured our first choice when Sunny was seven months pregnant with our firstborn, Beeps. We didn't get it right away and had to settle for a La Petite, part of a national franchise.

There are reasons why those kind of daycares don't have much of a waiting list, reasons that become apparent even four years later.

The kids were crammed in a room together. In the mornings, there were older kids (like 1 and 2) hopping around before going to their classroom. Going from one side of the room to the other was like walking across a baby minefield. The staff went through changes more than enough and we were constantly learning new names. The staff would bitch to us about the hours they worked. I sympathize with that at Walmart, but not with my kid's caregivers. None of the parents knew each other.

Once, Beeps had what looked like a mild burn on her that was unexplained. When we finally left after getting in at the first choice, the supervisor was more or less "Yeah, I understand. See ya."

It was our first time, so we just thought that maybe it was like this for everybody? It's not.

The second daycare, the one that both of our kids are still at, is much better. Beeps had a bigger-sized classroom with fewer kids. The cribs were actually spaced apart. The staff stayed the same and Beeps became close to one of her teachers. She got attention even when her pants weren't wet.

She's four now and she walks down the hallways with teachers and other parents saying hello to her. Occasionally, she'll even run into someone that she gives a big hug to. There's a jealous tinge of guilt I sometimes feel about her having this whole other world that belongs to her, but in the long run, I do believe it's been very healthy.

Her little brother got to start right off the bat at the good place. Again, the staff stayed the same. He had a favorite teacher. I know his teachers and the other parents (even sold a van to one of the teachers.) He's made friends that he still plays with today. It's strange - at home he won't sit still enough for us to read him books, but at school, the teachers say he sits in the book nook all day going through them all … when he's not trying to tackle his buddies.

We spend a lot of money on childcare. The good news is that there are several options in which you can tax deductions on it all. The bad news is that I sit here sometimes thinking that I'm earning a living just to pay for my kids' tuition. But it would've been mighty difficult for me or Sunny to take a break in employment and then somehow jump back into the job pool. And now that Beeps is going to a Pre-K at a public school and the little man's only a year or two out from that as well, our expenses in that area will soon diminish.

Obviously, we would have stayed at home if we could have, but sending them to school at such a young age has really helped in their development. The biggest trick is finding the right place and unfortunately, there are many reasons why they're much more expensive and the waiting lists are longer.

pplains, Monday, 30 January 2012 17:24 (five years ago) Permalink

How old were they when they first went to day care?

We're somewhat lucky in that (1) my wife is a public school teacher which means reentering the job pool is not hard and (2) I make more money than her. I'd imagine that good NYC daycares will cost a huge chunk of her takehome pay anyway so that it probably won't seem worth it.

frogBaSeball (Hurting 2), Monday, 30 January 2012 17:27 (five years ago) Permalink

Beeps was SIX WEEKS. Hank was around three months.

The two things you mention – job security and a higher income still coming in – are two pretty big differences between our situations. If you can pull it off, even by moving, and you're just not in a hurry to start your kid on a M-F schedule like the rest of us, then stay at home. In our heart of hearts, I know Sunny would've liked more time at home with the kiddos.

pplains, Monday, 30 January 2012 17:33 (five years ago) Permalink

when my daughter was born my wife stayed at her old job just long enough to collect benefits/allow me to stay home with kid through the CA Family Medical Leave Act, and then she quit to stay home full-time. We looked at some daycare options but for the money none of them seemed worth it - we were going to be spending almost all of one of our salaries on it, and she didn't really like her job anyway, so it made sense for her to stay home. we have managed to get by on my salary (thankfully and luckily) and it's worked out great - I can't imagine anyone providing better care for my daughter than her mother.

Full Frontal Newtity (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 30 January 2012 18:50 (five years ago) Permalink

this has been a big conversation in our household basically since we got pregnant. my wife lost her job pretty soon after but we had done a good job of saving so we decided it didn't make sense for her to try to find a real job before the baby was born, then she was staying at home raising the baby. we cut our budget down to almost the bare minimum to allow for this on my salary but it's not really sustainable because there are always unexpected expenses and our savings have been chipped away. so now my wife is looking for a job but neither of us are very happy about it because we would both prefer that she were watching the kid instead of her being in day care. day care here is v. expensive and has v. long waiting lists.

congratulations (n/a), Monday, 30 January 2012 19:01 (five years ago) Permalink

Yeah we're already expecting to chip away at savings to do this, although we think we can manage for a year without too much of a hit. Expecting unexpected expenses, as you say. I'm actually kind of shocked how hard it is to budget for my salary once you factor in health insurance for a family, baby expenses and the like. Granted we can move to a cheaper area, move to a one bedroom, etc., but it's like how the fuck do people do this. They probably live in the suburbs is how. Or rack up debt.

frogBaSeball (Hurting 2), Monday, 30 January 2012 19:36 (five years ago) Permalink

yes this is why people move to the 'burbs. I have been very fortunate to be able to avoid that so far.

Full Frontal Newtity (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 30 January 2012 20:12 (five years ago) Permalink

My wife gave up a tenure-line college appointment to become a stay at home mom for our first, & then our second, & then our third. On the plus side she didn't love what she was doing at the time. Now's she's headed back to the academic workforce, since our third is now in kindergarden. So for us at least the break in employment didn't end up hurting much. Obviously academia is pretty unique in lots of ways & this seems to me one of them.

However, for my first's first two years, my wife was still teaching, so we had to figure out childcare. I was still a grad student. For the first year, I kept #1 with me half the day (while my wife taught), & brought #1 to my wife for the second half of the day. It wasn't too hard to get real work done those days, because #1 slept a bunch, & other grad students took hour long turns with #1 so that I could go teach my one class. I was happy to have such child-friendly co-grad students; we paid them in dinners iirc. For the second year, my wife teamed up with another faculty member at her college with a < 2 year old & got their offices moved next to one another, then turned one of the offices into an informal child-care room for the two kids & used the other office as their shared work office. We split paying a series of college students throughout each day to watch our kids. It worked great. Again, academia rules: I doubt this woulda flown in a corporate setting. (& tbh I'm not sure the college would have loved it if they'd known.)

When I think back at how we managed this, I'm kind of in awe. It was a lot easier with my wife at home for the other two kids...though it's psychologically tough too. We haven't had much money until recently, either, on just one faculty income at a not-generous university, though we're both starting new jobs in the fall so our lives are changing completely in that way & many others.

Euler, Monday, 30 January 2012 20:23 (five years ago) Permalink

We had a dream situation and took full advantage of it. The newspaper my wife worked for, two banks, and a couple of local garment plants got together and built a daycare center, next door to the newspaper. So Sarah went into daycare at six weeks, and my wife was able to go next door and spend a few minutes with the baby two or three times a day. I worked around the corner and went over during lunch hour occasionally. The caregivers were great, well trained, the fees for parents were ridiculously low ($40/week for us).

The daycare was somewhat of a loss leader for all the businesses involved, and the rates went up steadily within a few years, but we had moved to Oxford and Sarah had already started school by then. She got exposed to all the childhood germs, and I think daycare is good for a kid's socialization, if there are good caregivers who keep an eye out for miserable aggressive kids acting out.

Rotary Boy of the Month (WmC), Monday, 30 January 2012 20:41 (five years ago) Permalink

$40/week

a WEEK!?!? that is insane

Full Frontal Newtity (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 30 January 2012 21:03 (five years ago) Permalink

My wife works nights for 4-5 hours one or two times a week and goes to school part-time as well, but otherwise is a stay-at-home mom. We've definitely dipped into our savings a little bit doing this (and obv tightened our respective belts a bit too) but really the only question was her working or going to school more (and in all probability losing her mind from exhaustion) since daycare wasn't really an option (and neither us was for it anyway) and none of our parents are available. :( I think it's been great for her (and obv the babby too), but I can imagine that some people (moms or dads) might find the stay-at-home thing a bit claustrophobic.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Monday, 30 January 2012 21:15 (five years ago) Permalink

$40/week is bonkers. Even $40 a day is bonkers actually.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Monday, 30 January 2012 21:15 (five years ago) Permalink

I know, it was a crazy-good opportunity for the employees at those businesses. The paper was owned at the time by a nonprofit community service org that pumped a lot of capital into the place. Then the paper went for-profit, the garment plants shipped all their jobs to Honduras and the D.R., and the banks suddenly remembered they were banks. The site where the Kid Company was is now a parking lot for the newspaper. But for one shining moment, socialism helped raise my baby.

Rotary Boy of the Month (WmC), Monday, 30 January 2012 21:38 (five years ago) Permalink

Can I ask the ballpark area of daycare costs? I've been thinking a lot about how we could ever possibly afford to have kids, if we do decide to have them, and I have a feeling that it would cost more than I earn.

just1n3, Monday, 30 January 2012 21:45 (five years ago) Permalink

It depends on how old the baby is, where you live and how long you need the daycare for. Home nannies are at least $25K though from my understanding and I wouldn't expect infant care to be less than $1500 a month.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Monday, 30 January 2012 21:52 (five years ago) Permalink

However there are tax credits you can claim and some places probably do financial aid so you can probably make it less than that. But yeah even with that it's not cheap. :(

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Monday, 30 January 2012 21:54 (five years ago) Permalink

i think when evie was briefly in day care we were paying something like $250 a week

congratulations (n/a), Monday, 30 January 2012 21:55 (five years ago) Permalink

when she was about a year old, it gets a little cheaper as they get older

congratulations (n/a), Monday, 30 January 2012 21:55 (five years ago) Permalink

But for one shining moment, socialism helped raise my baby.

well I'm glad socialism turned out to be good for something after all :)

Full Frontal Newtity (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 30 January 2012 22:30 (five years ago) Permalink

We're in Portland, OR and pay $875 a month (really awesome facility I should add). The cost will go down to $650 a month in March when she's 2 1/2 years old and potty trained.

Darin, Monday, 30 January 2012 23:37 (five years ago) Permalink

In Canada, you get 1 year of paid leave (employment insurance payouts, 60% of yr income) per birth. It can be split among parents or used by just one. My wife's benefits package tops up the 60% to 75%. Even at that rate, my wife makes more than I do, so there was never any question about who would use the year of leave. With our first, I was able to bundle sick days and vacation time into about five weeks off at the start. Not long after I went back to M-F work, there was an opening for a weekend position Friday-Sunday. So I was the stay-at-home parent for almost three years. My wife gets flex days every second Friday, so we've only had to worry about childcare for two days a month. I have a chronically underemployed sister who lives closeby.
In October we had twins. There are no extra allowances for multiple births, but I managed a medical leave (stress/anxiety) for the last four months.
I go back to work on Friday. We've hired my sister to come over and help out on weekends. Our oldest is three and on a waiting list for a three-day/week preschool. But I'm still terrified of what's going to happen when my wife goes back to work. Of course, the twins won't still be infants then and they are already much mellower than their sister.
The cost of putting three kids in daycare is prohibitive.

like working at a jewelry store and not knowing about bracelets (Dr. Superman), Tuesday, 31 January 2012 14:48 (five years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

so we are starting to look at day cares (yeah i know) and i was wondering if people had worthwhile things to ask about and look out for? we're in a good but odd spot where because of our schedules (and local involved grandmothers) we only need to do 2 days of daycare a week, so the cost isn't as horrifying as it would be otherwise (MN is apparently the second or third highest priced daycare average in the us, because the world conspires against me). this unfortunately also eliminates a bunch of places that have either a 3 or 5 day minimum. still, the prices for 2 day seem to be about $150 to $250 a week.

anyway, i don't know really anything about this, so we are going to some interviews and i want to not come across like a chump during them. any thoughts or prep peeps recommend?

O_o-O_O-o_O (jjjusten), Wednesday, 22 May 2013 18:37 (three years ago) Permalink

probably the most important thing to consider is the age and tenure of the women (i assume) who will be look after babyjj. Beats went to a montessori daycare first where all the infant room caretakers were quite young and unsurprisingly in the end, very uninterested in doing anything but leaving the babies in their cribs for 9 hours a day so they can talk/text on their phones. Beatrice came home with a variety of weird physical ailments from that place. I also walked in on some bad situations. One was a woman SCREAMING at a very frightened looking 2-3 year old "STOP CRYING. YOUR MOMMAS GONE AND SHE ISNT COMING BACK!" and another time I walked in to find some strange dude pretty violently yanking Beatrice back and forth on a baby swing while she screamed. When he saw me he smiled and said something like 'She just wont stop crying!'
We got her into a loud, much larger daycare downtown not long after that. The women were much older and most have been in daycare for decades (moist at that same place) and had children of their own. We're going on 6 years there now with Beatrice now reduced to after school and Henry heading into his pre-pre-k year (his last year full time i guess) in a couple of months.
Oh the loud is important too i think. If its not naptime and its silent something is amiss.

educate yourself to this reality (sunny successor), Wednesday, 22 May 2013 18:52 (three years ago) Permalink

thats a really good criteria actually!

is it bad that i am creeped out about home daycare places? because i kind of am

O_o-O_O-o_O (jjjusten), Wednesday, 22 May 2013 18:53 (three years ago) Permalink

no. i mean i think they're a good idea for a group of parents who cant afford a daycare to set up but unless you know and trust the caretaker my instinct is no way.

educate yourself to this reality (sunny successor), Wednesday, 22 May 2013 18:58 (three years ago) Permalink

I went to a home daycare for a few years, and it was weird. Things get awkward when the caretaker's real kids are interacting with the daycare kids. Someone's going to get favorited.

pplains, Wednesday, 22 May 2013 19:45 (three years ago) Permalink

i went to a home day care from 6 mo til preschool, and it was fine. the lady who ran it wound up being my primary babysitter until she died. i called her grammy and liked her a lot better than my actual grandma, who never took care of me. grammy and i used to watch star trek, kung fu, and the muppets together. she was wonderful. when she died, her family buried her with a picture i drew of us together <3 that lady. i got to know her weird family and their kids and everything. they had a dog named satin. the end.

free your spirit pig (La Lechera), Wednesday, 22 May 2013 19:55 (three years ago) Permalink

my mom found her because she answered my mom's ad in the newspaper btw

free your spirit pig (La Lechera), Wednesday, 22 May 2013 20:02 (three years ago) Permalink

thats an awesome story LL

O_o-O_O-o_O (jjjusten), Wednesday, 22 May 2013 20:28 (three years ago) Permalink

my mom found her because she answered my mom's ad in the newspaper btw

your mom put an ad in the newspaper to get rid of you....?

four Marxes plus four Obamas plus four Bin Ladens (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 22 May 2013 22:08 (three years ago) Permalink

Apparently

free your spirit pig (La Lechera), Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:18 (three years ago) Permalink

think we found one. theyre willing to take little dude for just 2 days a week, and one of the prime teachers/kid wranglers is the sister of a dude i have known for years (and who i have hung out with along w/her brother). i have to admit that the almost factory vibe of these places is a little unnerving - like the people were all super awesome, but yknow room with 15 cribs or whatever just sets off all those distopian sci fi freakouts even thow i get it.

the number one issue is that they don't confirm placement more than 30 days in advance? which seems fucking crazy to me.

O_o-O_O-o_O (jjjusten), Wednesday, 29 May 2013 18:21 (three years ago) Permalink

yeah that was the case with the daycares we looked at too but I think it might have been 6 weeks. Anything longer than that then you had to start paying the full weekly amount even though your kiddo isnt even there yet.

educate yourself to this reality (sunny successor), Wednesday, 29 May 2013 20:35 (three years ago) Permalink

also, im glad you found someone you know!

educate yourself to this reality (sunny successor), Wednesday, 29 May 2013 20:36 (three years ago) Permalink


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