April 9, 2012

We need more advice

Your advise on the helmet dilemma was great, so now I'm asking for feedback on our next 'big' decision.

To switch Brex's daycare center or not?

Current situation
He's in a small house down the street (not this house, but one similar in size). There are three caretakers and 11 children. The kids are all happy and well-behaved; even the rowdy boys are managed well and learn to be gentle and not throw, hit, or climb all over the furniture.

Of course, that happens because the woman who runs the daycare is a control freak.

It must be said that her rigidity helps create a predictable environment and the kids obviously feel safe there. What bothers me more is how she personalizes things that have nothing to do with her. One day I arrived to pick up Brex and she told me the baby was angry with her since he'd been crying on and off since waking up from his nap at 4 pm. Since I'd brought the stroller so I could take a long walk with him, I took him over to change his diaper in case it was dirty. He had a poopy diaper. It didn't smell at all so it was an understandable oversight, but... if the kid is crying don't you do the hungry/tired/dirty/gassy rundown before assuming he's MAD at you? I don't think 6-month old babies know how to hold grudges.

I think I've also mentioned she calls him spoiled? She says that on Mondays he acts like he doesn't want to be a daycare baby. Well, we're beginning to suspect he's an introvert like his Dad, so being in a small room with a bunch of other kids is likely a bit difficult after a relatively solitary weekend.

To be fair, she has a LOT of know how and years of experience. They are wonderful about trimming his nails, washing dirty laundry, dealing with his cloth diapers and breastfeeding issues, teaching him to eat solid food, potty training the older kids, etc. Included at no charge are clothing changes, organic breakfast, lunch and snack, formula and diapers. No other day care does that.

Our New Possibility

Brex has been offered an opening at the Call1er Center which is at Jrex's work. It's a wonderful, new building directly on his way to lab. They have 3 workers per 8 infants. Each year they admit 24 kids who split into three cohorts. The workers remain with the infants in their cohort for the first two years, after that, the kids 'graduate' to the preschool program. The kids admitted in August are all born in the previous year (it's one of the deals where you sign up while you're still pregnant), so the age range will be almost one year olds (Brex) down to 6-week old babies. He'll go from being one of the youngest to being one of the oldest in the room. They support cloth diapers and giving the kids breastmilk, so that won't change.

The preschool program has some Montessori principles (they don't force the kids to all do the same thing at the same time); there's room for self-driven activities. With indoor and outdoor activity areas, there's lots of chances to get out energy in positive ways. The preschool program also includes field trips to the zoo, the aquarium, etc. Another really cool feature is that the preschool program includes deaf kids. He'll learn a little sign as well as learning about different abilities.

What are my hesitations about moving him?
  • Time
    If Jrex drives Brex to and fro, I'll never see my baby during the week. That makes me want to cry. If I drive him in the morning (most likely scenario) I could leave at 8:45 and get him there at 9 and then Jrex brings him home by 7 pm. The problem is that Brex's natural bedtime seems to be 7 pm so that won't be in the baby's best interests. After 15 years of marriage to my wonderful husband, I know despite every good intention to bring the baby home earlier, it would be a huge challenge to get away in time to make that happen (often through no fault of his own). If I drive Brex to and fro at both ends, I lose an hour a day to commuting. Also, since my company is on Pacific Time, it helps if I get extra time at the end of the day.

    There's a guy with a little girl down the street who works at UT. Me being me, I'm planning to knock on his door to see if he might be up for a car pool. He brings his daughter home around 5 pm most days (I met them while walking Brex home). If he could bring Brex home earlier than Jrex would be able to, that would solve a lot. (The question about enabling a workaholic is one that I'm OBVIOUSLY not addressing here! ;-) )

  • Cost
    It's $200 more a month. Doable, but painful. The good thing is that the tuition drops by $100 each year as the kids get older since the teacher/student ratio is higher for the toddlers.

  • Friends
    His current daycare is all local moms and kids. At Call1er he'll get to know the children of his father's peers, but I've heard from another Mom with two kids there that she hasn't gotten to know any of the other parents. We're going out next weekend with one of the other couples from his current daycare, most Fridays there's a 'hen fest' (Ms G's term) with a bunch of parents sitting and talking about what they're doing for the weekend. Through the other parents I hear about local events and feel connected to the neighborhood. Of course, that also adds to my small town claustrophobia. Ms G being one of the BIGGEST gossips I've met doesn't help...

  • X-factors
    Better the devil you know? I'm guessing that they'll be less controlling, but I could be wrong. She only does up to 3-year olds so I'd have to find another preschool option for him. I'm also a little nervous to tell her we're 'rejecting' her and moving Brex somewhere else. I don't want to create bad blood with someone who is deeply entrenched in the area and who obviously has some interesting emotional filters (though that's also part of why I'd like to create a little distance).

So, what say you? Is it worth the extra time with him and the easy commute to deal with someone who irritates me? Is the grass just greener in the unknown "new" pasture? Am I being the control freak? We have to send our answer by Monday, so it's a fast yes or no decision.


Snickollet said...

Is Cal1er where you think you want Brex to end up for preschool? If so, it seems like making the move now would be nice in terms of the long-term stability.

However, were I you, and the carpooling with the other family did *not* work out, I'd have a really hard time with the long hours away from the baby and the possible disruption of what seems like an established bedtime. In the no carpooling scenario, the convenience and connection of the current situation would feel worth preserving to me, even in its imperfection.

If you do go with Cal1er, I think you can frame it as a long-term choice to your current provider--can't pass up the opportunity, etc. Hopefully she can't take that too personally. I can understand why you wouldn't want to alienate her.

I find the child care situation to be one of the most difficult aspects of parenting. The stakes seem so high! The good, anecdotal evidence news is that M&R have experienced everything from home daycare (such as your current situation) to larger centers to private and public preschools to live-out and live-in nannies. They've all had their advantages and disadvantages, and have all served their purposes at different times in our lives.

Good luck with the decision.

Rachel said...

Wow, that's tough. The not-seeing-the-baby-during-the-week would be really hard, I think. If they were both the same distance, I would probably pick Call1er. Is it at a university? In general, those places tend to be really good (latest research on child development, etc.) And if he can go there for preschool, it would be nice to have that continuity.
My daughter is also an introvert, and she generally does better in a calmer environment with fewer kids.

On the other hand, I think your concerns about the commute and neighborhood friends are legitimate. Bottom line, he will no doubt be fine no matter what you decide, but I think you're right to trust your instincts.

michiganme said...

I agree with the other commenters. I think your baby will thrive in either setting so I would choose what's best for you. (And, if he's surrounded by love he will be fine with quirky personalities)

Mizasiwa said...

Hey only saw this today so im too late to give any advise really - though I cant wait to hear what your decision was!

OTRgirl said...

We have until next Monday, so still trying to decide. I really loved the Call1er center when I visited and assumed it would be an easy yes. Yet yesterday, when Brex woke up with a fever, it was great to be able to run down the street to pick him up. Then this morning, when I dropped him off (the fever was gone) and he got testy and cried when I handed him to her, she said, "Look who's acting spoiled!" and I wanted to hit her and tell her she wouldn't have to deal with it for long. Sigh. I really don't know which to choose.

Lil'Sis said...

Oh OTRgirl, we've been there with our 3 kids, run the course of both types of places and some in between. I found in the long run for us the new option you're looking at, that type of place given all the pros and cons of each was better suited to our family, what it lacked in the "personal touch" of an individual provider in the home, which I thought we'd miss, was exactly what we ended up liking, I never felt guilty or bad or as if I was personally offending when I had an issue or concern as I did when it was an in home setting. So it worked for us, both types of providers have advantages I agree, we took into consideration cost, commute issues, timing, longevity of the center for our kids, all that stuff, in the end we went on gut instinct about how we felt. We made a couple of mistakes along the way but none of the kids is any worse for the wear; we chose what was the best fit for our kid(s) at the time, at one point we had kids in 3 different schools b/c it was the best fit for each kid even though we drove more, learned lots of car games:)

You'll pray about it I'm sure, you'll weigh all the options, you'll make the right choice for your family no doubt...I will add that the times where I wanted to hit a daycare provider in my mind, those moments were so tormenting for me! Hang in and good luck!

Aimee said...

Joining the others by saying weigh all the options, pray and trust your gut instinct. Which option gives you peace and which leaves your stomach in knots?

Good luck! I'm sure you and Jrex will make the right decision.

OTR sister said...

I vote for Cal1ier Center and moving to part-time. Best of both worlds!

Inkling said...

Isn't it nice to know that God says we can ask him for wisdom and that he will give it?! I'll be praying for just that for you, that you will be able to go with your gut on this and that all the details will work out if you do end up moving him so that you can still get loads of cuddle time each day.

My gut says to leave the crazy-filtered lady, or at least try hitting her once to see if it changes anything. ;) But then again, I'm not Brex's mama, so go with YOUR gut.

Praying for you and thinking of you this week as you make a hard choice.

and p.s. his pics have been adorable lately. I swear you could just post pics all day and we'd never get bored. =)

Anonymous said...

I never had to make this decision, not having any kids. But my gut says go to the new place. The home care may be fine, but I also believe kids are very in tune to their parents 'feelings' and if you already have issues with the home care lady - he knows it. What makes you uncomfortable makes him uncomfortable. Think about when someone holds a baby that does not have a lot of experience - somehow the baby knows it and can't relax. Brex is probably sensing some of your uneasiness with the woman. Plus with the larger place you won't have to worry about when a caregiver is sick or wants to take a vacation. They have others to cover. The people I work with that used home care ended up taking more time off to cover for when the care giver is sick or out of town than those that used a daycare.

Especially if that is where you want him to end up for preschool - making the move now makes sense. If Brex is truly an introvert - change may be hard but easier the younger he is.


Anonymous said...

My kid went to a grandmom and pop place for the first year then we sent her to a daycare/preschool facility. I experienced similar "personal" things with the mom and pop place. They were great, personable, and all that. But for me, what they lacked was the "learning" part. They didn't teach, not that a 14 month old needs actual teaching. But they didn't have any real activities like exploration stuff. The first sign of an overcast day and they wouldn't take the kids out b/c it was too cold. It was more like babysitting. So we took her out and brought her to the daycare/preschool and she thrived. She also really learned how to make friends and got to actually "learn" things. My kid was a little older than yours, but if you are looking for a long term place for your son (up to 5y) then maybe the center would be better (plus discounts after the first year). Or perhaps you can find another place closer to you, but not at the current place.

Kids come and go, you can't worry about hurting their feelings if you're not too warm on them already.

Good luck with your choice!

sam said...

Move to the new place is my vote.

Monterey Jack said...

Four comments --

First, you are so blessed to have two viable opportunities for Brex' daycare. So many parents don't even have one realistic choice.

Second, this blog indicates that you're trying to make your decision before you have the relevant data. Can you work out arrangements for the 5 p.m. commute? Of so, Cal1er looks like a better opportunity because of the reasons which Anonymous gives.

Third -- and alternatively -- there is another whole scenario which you are not considering. Where is it written that you have to work at home? You are the most mobile person in the family. Have you considered getting an office, either at Cal1er or in the Med Center? That way, you can commute whenever you choose -- and can have better access to Brex than any other parent. E.g. you can go to the school for feedings if you wish. You and Jrex would also have the opportunity to be with him during lunch hour.

Fourth, regarding the leave taking with your present day care provider, I suggest you follow the rule that I learned at General Electric: "Tell all the truth you can."

Point out that in January you were so relieved and grateful to discover this excellent daycare down the street -- because you weren't able to get him into Cal1er. You really wanted him to be in Cal1er so Jrex could spend time with Brex during lunch hours. Now the Cal1er opportunity has opened up so you are going to take it. But, thank her abundantly for her excellent care of Brex -- and it would be appropriate to take her a thoughtful and somewhat expensive gift.

(Note: This line of reasoning works with the carpool option as well as your commuting to an adjacent office.)