I had mentioned before I was going to chronicle my daycare search.
Last week I went on my first visit. This particular lady I was fairly certain wasn't going to work for me just from the phone call. I went on the visit just to "get in the groove"...it is sort of like when you graduate from college (or are getting ready to graduate) you interview with companies whether you want the job or not. It is good practice.
The lady was nice, but as I had suspected she wasn't for me. Even though she had been "in the business" for 11 years, there were things that made her seem inexperienced. For example, she didn't have a spiel down. Most people do and can rattle off basic information that most people want to know. Instead, we sat down and she said "Well, what would you like to know?" Umm...everything? I had her start with her contract.
Then - she didn't give me a copy of the contract. Most people do so that you have the information on hand. Usually all the crucial information is in the contract, and reading it thoroughly is important before deciding on a center.
She told me there was no state sick policy, and went on about how she took it upon herself to contact a school nurse to find out what schools do. She was presenting it as if she had some great initiative and that she was unique - that other centers didn't have a sick policy. Her policy wasn't unique and the state does have a sick policy. Some centers opt for more stringent policies, but there is in fact a minimum state policy. Seems like you ought to know the states policies if you are going to be doing daycare, don't you think?
She also told me that she had only ever had one other breastfed (BF) baby in her care. This makes me sad, simply because I know so many women who work do not have employers who make it possible for a mom to pump. (I think legislation should be put into place to assist moms in this area...but that is another soap box entirely.) I also wondered how many babies she has cared for and I was mildly concerned about her ability to care for my BF'd baby. It isn't much different from a formula-fed baby, other than you MUST treat the milk with the utmost respect. Her original system simply wouldn't have worked for me. She usually just had mothers bring one bottle, and she would make up the bottles during the day to feed the baby. She said this was easiest for her. There is rotation and balance between fresh and frozen that must happen with breastmilk (BM). So I wondered if she would be able to adjust appropriately and follow directions. I wasn't deeply concerned over this, but it was something I wondered about.
She showed me around and her house was clean and decent...except the playroom. She told me they had replaced the flooring throughout the house when they moved in...except in the playroom. She said if they ever stopped doing daycare, she'd remodel it then.
The room had rather old dingy carpet in it. There was white paneling on the walls that was also old and grungy looking. The toys also all looked very old...and dingy. It appeared to me the woman did not invest in her business. Things simply did not look clean and crisp...not in the playroom. You want that. I have no idea where the kids spent most of their time, but she had the kids leave the toys in the playroom while I was there. There was also a walker hanging on the wall and it also looked old and dingy. Kids put things in their mouths. I was horrified to think of these toys going in anyone's mouth. Yuck!
This one area gave the impression she didn't take her business as seriously as someone else does. She doesn't care enough to invest in toys...or clean the ones she has. She doesn't care enough to invest in the play area. It was rather sparse. Toys are something I look at, as it is a forgotten detail in the quality of care. Meaning - while you can't tell by just looking at toys, it certainly is an important thing to look at. Children learn through play.
The unkempt playroom and toys added to the feeling that she was unorganized. She only cared for two children currently, so being unorganized is ok. (Well, the state of the toys really wasn't.) But if you are taking care of the most kids possible, you've got to be organized.
I also found it a bit unnerving that while she said she had been doing childcare for 11 years, I felt like I knew more about childcare and the way it works than she did. (She didn't proudly show me her license for example...they always do. I saw it hanging up along with the other things she is required to have posted, but she didn't show it to me. It was an observation.) It was just a rather large inconsistency that I couldn't exactly ask her about. "Hey, why does it appear you have no clue what you are doing?" Yeah - that question wouldn't go over well.
In a nutshell, I suspected she would probably work ok. OK meaning Ruth would not be harmed in her care, especially now while she is so little. The issue is that I don't want ok for my kids. I want the best of the best. I'm keeping her on the list in case I need something in a pinch. But she wouldn't be what I would choose long term.
I've made more calls and have another interview setup for next week. This lady I'm must more hopeful about. First - she sounded like a grandmother. I don't know if she is or not, but she was so very sweet on the phone. She has been doing daycare for 30 years (!!!). If you do something for 30 years, generally speaking you probably like it.
She also behaved like she had been doing it for 30 years. She gave me the entire rundown on the phone. I had to laugh, because she talked about preschool curriculum and said "The kids are mostly ready for Kindergarten." Mostly? Really? If I was looking for that kind of care, this would bother me. However, I'm not. I'm looking for baby care. Ruth will be attending the same center as the other two once she is old enough. So the question is really how well can she care for and nurture my baby? Everything I heard sounded good.
One other point I'm rather excited about (and didn't realize until I looked up her address well after I talked to her) is that her house is located right next to the center. Funny I had seen parents dropping off kids at this house before and wondered if there was a daycare there. It had looked like it. This would be so ideal it isn't even funny.
I'm trying to not get too excited about it, but I do have a very good feeling about it. It is still really early - so much could happen. I could visit and find something that doesn't sit well (has happened). Or I could completely fall in love and believe it to be the perfect place only to find out that she is taking some other kid instead (has also happened).
The only thing I'm sure about is God. I've prayed and He has assured me He has the perfect place waiting. I just have to find it. So I've also asked for Him to open my eyes, give me wisdom and discernment, close doors I'm not supposed to enter and to open those where I'm supposed to go. I have such a peace about this search. I've never had this much peace about a daycare search ever. The bottom line is God knows I must work. He has commanded me to do so. He doesn't ask us to do things without giving us the proper tools...and proper childcare is a must for every working mother. You can't be an effective employee sitting around worrying about whether your child is OK.
I'm hoping to get another interview squeezed in this week. (I would have preferred to talk with this lady this week...but she set the day/time so I guess she is busy or she has a lot of people interested. I hope the former.) I didn't get a chance to make more phone calls today. Yesterday I spent about an hour making calls to get the one interview. Yuck. Have I mentioned how much I hate the phone? Tomorrow I will make more phone calls and see what I can get setup.