Before I even accepted that I am going to give birth to a real live human in a few months, I began to freak out about daycare options. Not kidding- I started a list of potential daycare centers on January 5th, one month after I got my positive test.
For better or worse, I live in one of those thriving metropolises where finding daycare is a bit of a bloodsport. There isn’t a shortage of facilities, it seems. People are practically running daycares out of bodegas in my neighborhood. And though I love to stop in a grab a Fanta from time to time, I’m not sure I want to leave my child there. However, if you want to get into a decent, reputable place, you really should have signed up three years ago.
Though physically this pregnancy has been easy, it’s been a doozy on me mentally and emotionally. I’m still figuring out how to live a life without my mom in it, navigate my own emotions, and set healthy boundaries on grieving members of my family. Under “normal” circumstances, I would have a spreadsheet with a list of daycares, outlining pros and cons, pricing structures, miles from home/office… But I can’t. I just can’t.
The trouble is I also can’t leave this up to the last minute. If I want to get into a daycare that is close enough to where Mr. O and I work and isn’t run out of a garage, I need to get this ball rolling. So I pulled up the list from January 5th and I’ve set up tours with our top two choices.
Why are these our top two? Because a) both are on the way to/from work for both Mr. O and I, and b) we know people who sent their kids there, and everyone came out with all limbs intact. Other than that, I have NO IDEA what these places are like.
Having your first child ushers in a whole bunch of other firsts. This is the very first time I have to evaluate a daycare center. Turns out there is a lot more to it than making sure teachers don’t let children eat paste. In preparation for these tours, I’m brainstorming a list of questions to ask. You know… so I at least give off the illusion of being a responsible parent.
So far I’ve got:
- What is the teacher to child ratio?
- Are teachers trained for the age groups they teach? How do they stay up-to-date on current methods/approaches?
- How do teachers partner with families on the development of the child?
- How do you determine if/when a child is ready to move up to another level/room/group?
- How is each day structured?
- What different kinds of activities do children engage in on a given day?
- Are there outdoor activities (weather permitting, of course?)
- How is playtime used as a way to learn– both educational and emotional?
- Does each kid have their own crib? Is this a thing, or do you just let them pile on top of each other?
- How do you sanitize play areas and toys? Let’s face it. Kids are gross.
- How do you handle any need for personalize care per child? I’m thinking dietary, but also developmental.
- Are there specific food restrictions?
- Could Mr. O or I visit during the day, or is that frowned upon?
I realize that when I drop Chick off for the first time, they will essentially be a breathing, eating, pooping machine. They will not be doing long division or exploring Mozart. Some of these questions are a little bit excessive now, but I also don’t want to do this again in 6 months. I’d like to find a place we like and can safely put our bundle of joy for a few years.
Anyone else out there thinking about this stuff yet? Any questions I should ask or other stuff I should consider?