We had a tour of the local daycare that’s been recommended to me this morning. At least two of my co-workers have used it – one currently, and the other is now at a different center run by the same folks (as she no longer works at Blue, so the older place didn’t make sense geographically.)
The infant rooms have a ratio of four infants to one caregiver. We actually saw lower ratios than that today (like three infants to one caregiver) but apparently this is because some kids are on vacation. Other than a filthy sofa in the waiting room, the place was clean and bright and seemed to be filled with friendly people. There are two caregivers in the infant rooms, at least one of whom has an associate’s degree in some kind of child learning. The caregivers seemed attentive as far as I can tell.
My thoughts on pros versus cons:
1.) Less than 1 mile from where I work and about 2 miles from home. Parents can drop in at any time, which means I could easily stop by during lunch hour and B could drop by any time (since he works from home).
2.) Caregivers and babies seemed engaged
3.) Cost is well within what we can afford
5.) No TV or anything like that – they’re definitely engaged in “teaching” the babies and kids and playing with them
1.) Smallish outdoor area and kids spend only one hour outdoors a day
2.) 4 to 1 caregiver to infant ration – seems like 2 to 1 or even 3 to 1 would be better. 2 to 1 is definitely not going to happen at a daycare.
I had to get ahold of myself at one point. I nearly teared up watching the infants, thinking about leaving my infant here. It would obviously be really hard.
I have really mixed feelings about this whole thing. On one hand, the caregivers at the daycare only do this 40 hours a week, so they’re going to be fresher. If I stayed home, I’d be the caregiver all the time. It would cost us a small fortune because we’d not only lose my salary, B would have to rent an office. Our house is really small, and it would just not be practical for him to work from home with an infant around, in his opinion – which is the opinion that counts on this subject. (I actually had thought it would be OK.) In addition, just watching the infants today, taking care of them looks like it would be really boring. They don’t really do much at that age. I want to care for my infant – but ALL the time? No, not really, and I don’t think my child will benefit by having me there ALL the time.
Forty hours in daycare doesn’t sound like that much to me, but they’re the daylight hours, the waking hours. This will matter more and more the older the child gets. 5 of 7 days sounds way worse than 40 of 168 hours. Let’s say we sleep 56 hours a week. Then we’re still only talking 40 of 112 waking hours. Honestly, it bothers me more for a three year old than a baby. I want my child to be able to play at home without a bunch of other kids around all the time, to be able to go to the pool or the park or the woods regularly. It bothers me to limit my child’s waking hours to the same small area all day, every day. In Seattle, it’s pitch black by early evening half the year, so it’s really all the daylight hours.
As far as this particular daycare goes, I suspect it’s as good as it gets nearby. There may be better places much farther away (like a 30 minute drive) but I doubt what they would have to offer could outdo the benefits of being able to visit at lunchtime every day. Heck, the place is so close and Blue is so flexible, I could visit twice a day if I wanted to, as could B.