Living in Fast-Forward: The Daycare Edition

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?



  1. My Perfect Breakdown · March 23, 2015

    Wishing you the best as you figure out the best place for your little one.

    • thecommonostrich · March 24, 2015

      Thanks! There are just so many options where I live– centers, in-home, nanny shares… I suppose it is better than the alternative!

  2. labmonkeyftw · March 23, 2015

    Maybe ask how the age groups are segregated? Some places have rooms, some have times, and some it’s a shared space with all ages. This is a hard thing to decide! Especially since you go into it not knowing what good and bad are!

    • thecommonostrich · March 24, 2015

      You continue to astound me with your intelligent, thoughtful questions. (Not that I would expect otherwise…) That’s a great point- I assumed they’d have rooms, but hadn’t thought about the shared spaces.

  3. thebarrenlibrarian · March 23, 2015

    We knew before we got pregnant that we would use the daycare center on base, so luckily we’re not faced with the same challenges, but I DO understand it’s a challenge. I did some looking around just to see if I could find someplace better, and everyone LOOKED fine, but really how do you know? Best of luck-hope you find someplace you love!

    • thecommonostrich · March 24, 2015

      Exactly. You don’t really ever “know” which has to be okay to some degree. And I realize I will likely have to make some compromises– no one place will be perfect. There is just so much to consider!

  4. vtr87 · March 23, 2015

    if they tell you you can’t visit, or stop in whenever you damn well please you tell them thanks but no thanks. That’s your kid, and if you want to show back up 20 minutes later just because you couldn’t remember if you said goodbye and I love you to them you should 100% be allowed to.

    (end random pregnant lady outburst…lol)

    • thecommonostrich · March 24, 2015

      HA! True, true… There are some places that don’t encourage it because they worry it disrupts the child’s schedule. If they are putting my baby on lock down, however, that’s not happening.

  5. Jenny F Scientist · March 24, 2015

    Many states have an inspection, complaint, and accident record online, run by the regulatory agency. You can see if they got cited for leaving a shoebox in the hallway, or for forgetting a child outside or letting one roll off the changing table. These are real examples from when we lived in Wisconsin. We went with the box one.

    • thecommonostrich · March 24, 2015

      Shoeboxes v. forgetting a child… hmm… which seems like a bigger offense? Thanks for pointing that out. I’m going to do a “round 2” evaluating some in-home care options, and I’ll definitely be checking out my state’s records!

  6. julieann081 · March 24, 2015

    Perhaps you should ask how they deal with misbehavior? Just a thought.

    • thecommonostrich · March 24, 2015

      What do you mean?! My child will be a perfect ANGEL! (I am, of course, kidding.) Excellent point- I’d like to know who they handle that, as well as how the communicate incidents back to parents.

      • julieann081 · March 25, 2015

        Even if your child is a perfect angel, the others might not be! 🙂

  7. thegeorgie · March 24, 2015

    Things I’d want to know: Do babies eat and nap on demand or are they on a schedule? What if my baby is used to napping on me or in a swing? How will you get him to nap in the crib? What if he refuses to nap? How long is it acceptable for a baby to cry? Also: How long have the people in the baby room been at the center? Who are the long term teachers? (You want to figure out if there is a high turnover and of employees are taken care of.)

    • thecommonostrich · March 24, 2015

      Good point about the crying! This seems to be a parenting hot-button issue right now with clear opinions on both sides. I haven’t made up my mind yet, but it would be a good idea to understand how the daycare handles that.

  8. lovingthemarriedlife · March 24, 2015

    I would ask how the curriculum is aligned to kindergarten… Look up local kindergarten standards and then find out they are helping to prepare the students for kindergarten… it is soon but honestly kids need to start working on skills that are geared toward kindergarten as early as possible especially if a student has any type of delays so I would wonder how they are assessing students so that if early intervention is needed that you can be fully prepared… not that it would happen but I know my nephew had bad ear infections which lead to a speech delay so when he was 2.5 he started an early intervention program for language and by the time he started kindergarten he was on track and doing great if he hadn’t had early intervention then he would have been delayed much further into elementary… sorry for the long reply I’m preparing to be a kindergarten teacher and we just did a huge project on daycares and their curriculum leading to kindergarten….

    • thecommonostrich · March 24, 2015

      Yes- I plan on asking about how they identify and communicate with parents about early intervention. I know so many people who were able to accommodate for different developmental issues because they spotted them and got support early.

  9. Pingback: Daycare: The Saga Continues | the common ostrich

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s