Friday, June 06, 2008

The Childcare Diaries, Pt 1

I realized the other day that somehow, amidst snowstorms and sleepless nights, the Little Guy has grown to a whopping 7 months old. I am over halfway through my mat leave. And I started to get a little panicky. You see, we have no childcare lined up for him when I go back to work in November. The Boy's daycare does prioritize siblings, and we can almost certainly get him in there. However, the daycare starts at 18 months. They can legally accept two 16 month old children, but that's it. If those two spaces are already taken, too bad. So, we have absolutely nothing for at least four - possibly six - months. If I take an unpaid leave from work (which I doubt they would allow anyways), then I can't afford the daycare, which means we lose the Boy's spot. Ack!

You'd think I wouldn't be this stupid...again. We didn't get the Boy on any daycare list till he was three months. I wouldn't do it while he was in utero because I was too superstitious. The first three months of his life were so filled with doctor visits that it simply slipped my mind. By the time we got around to it in March, it was way too late. In this part of town, if you get on a list when you're three months pregnant, you're probably too late. I swore I wouldn't make this mistake with the second baby.

Well, here I am. Me. The planner. The person who generally has eight alternate plans, just in case the first seven plans go awry. And yet, for some reason unbeknownst even to myself, I am choosing to fly by the seat of my pants, hoping that the childcare situation will somehow magically "work out". Smart, right?
So what are my options?

Homecare? A good one can be just as hard to find as daycare, and it means that I have to drop off two kids in two separate locations. I never got to work on time doing only one drop off. With two, I'm pretty much screwed.

Nanny? I have some concerns that I have not yet been able to allay. Case in point - I was sitting in the park the other day watching the Boy's soccer class and playing with the Little Guy in my lap. We were sitting on one side of a picnic bench and three Nannies and their charges were sitting on the other side. They were talking animatedly to each other (not the kids) in a foreign language. They were sharing tupperwares of freshly made food with each other (not the kids). One kid sat in a stroller chomping on a piece of Wonderbread. Finally, the kids decided to devise their own amusement and played some kind of chase game in a small spot in front of my side of the table. They were happily playing and not running off. The nannies took notice and told them that they had to play on the other side of the table where they could see them. Why they simply couldn't turn their heads to watch them, I don't know.

Now I'm not saying that all nannies are like that. I certainly hope not. But I must say that in my neck of the woods I have seen a lot of that kind of thing going on. I'm not saying that the kids are in any kind of danger, or are not loved. I'm just saying that the kind of care being provided is not what I expect for my money. I can ignore my kids at home for free, thankyouverymuch.

So, if we were to go the nanny route - which would definitely make the workaday mornings much easier - we'd have to find someone pretty special. But how do you know what goes on when you're not there? (And no, I'm not the nanny-cam type of person. If I don't trust my nanny, I'd rather find someone else instead of spying. I'm not condeming those who choose this approach, it's just not me.)

A very wise friend had an excellent idea. When searching for a nanny, she put out a very honest and specific add detailing exactly what she was looking for, figuring that if she put off some people, well they weren't the One anyways. And she found the perfect person. I could do that. But what would the ad say? Let's give it a go:

If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in rain,
If you're not into yoga, if you have half a brain,

Wait a minute, that can't be right. Nannies shouldn't drink, and they should definitely be prepared for a rain storm. I also hope that they would promote fitness-oriented activities. I sincerely hope that they have a whole brain. To put it frankly, I'm the only one in this scenario who's allowed to have less than a whole brain. No, this is not going to work.

How about this:

Wanted: a nanny for two adorable children.
If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sort
You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take them on outings, give them treats
Sing songs, bring sweets
Never be cross or cruel
Never give them castor oil or gruel

Well this is entirely in the wrong direction. Perhaps I should make up my own ad, instead of plagirizing songs. Although Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp are good examples of the kind of nanny I'm looking for. Well, they could be a bit less cheerful perhaps. I'm old and bitter. But I want that kind of involvement. How could you not with these two faces to look after?

Back to the drawing board, I guess.


painted maypole said...

i read mary poppins last summer, and I would far prefer the julie andrews version than the book version.

good luck with a tough decision!

bren j. said...

Now THAT'S a pickle!
I just watched 'The Nanny Diaries' last night so I am now, therefore, even less help than I would've been before.

Hope the right situation works itself out, sans gruel!

kittenpie said...

I'm contemplating taking one day each week of as holiday during the gap so I can just look for soemthing part-time, like a nanny-share, which we had last time and it worked well.

womaninawindow said...

i HATE that moms have to go through this. I remember when my kids were just this little and life was very hard...these decisions were very hard. (And I have to apologize for not coming by reader is not updating rude! I'll check in on my own.)

b*babbler said...

Eesh - this is a dilemma. I did the same thing though... waited, dragged my heels, and in the end didn't not to go back to work until 2 weeks before I was supposed to start up again. (I remember telling one place, in May, that I wanted a spot in October. The woman laughed (out loud) at me.) Yeah, I'm a superstar.

Good luck with the nanny route. I think brutal honesty is probably the best policy when finding a nanny-type situation.

Mandy said...

I live in Vancouver, and my oldest, now over 3 never got into a daycare. We were on the lists, but no dice.

We had to go with the family run daycare route. (I shared a nanny briefly with another woman, but the nanny got pregnant so that didn't last long.)

Now my second is 8 months and again, we're on all the lists, but I have very little hope of hearing from any of them.

Can I say how glad I am that Stephen Harper gives me my piddly $200 a month to put towards childcare instead of building some facilities?

Anyway, good luck with your search. I plan to start crying on doorsteps soon.

crazymumma said...

damn. I wish I was a nanny.

wait. I sort of was before I had children.

anyhow. you will find someone lovely.

Anonymous said...

Oh to have Julie Andrews in my house as a nanny would be just perfect.
This is why I stayed home one more year after mat leave was up...I didn't know what route to go...finding that just right nanny takes time but the right fit for you is out there.

ewe are here said...

Finding good, dependable, affordable childcare should be easier, so much easier. Why does it have to be so freaking hard?


Your boys are so lovely there... and we have that baby gate (3 times over) AND that book. ;-)

MaryP said...

My brother gave me one of the Mary Poppins books for Christmas, a sort of in-joke. Have you ever read any of them?

No loving parents would want Mary Poppins as your nanny. After a dozen or so pages, I started circling every time she was sarcastic or belittling to the children. I think it averaged out to two sneers a page before, at page 118, I stopped reading. Just couldn't take that bitch any more.

The Disney version was, well, Disney-fied.

Best luck in your searching. You'll never replace yourself, but with any luck, you'll find a worthy back-up!