Thursday, January 21, 2016

Exploring Childcare Options

While I touched on childcare in this earlier post, this topic seemed meaty enough to warrant more follow-up! Since one of my New Year's goals is to try my hand at being a working mom (and Jeff has no plans to stay at home), childcare has been something we've been thinking about since we got pregnant. We started off open to both nanny and daycare options, understanding that both come with pros and cons. While we have a plan for what we are going to do, we know that things could always change so all we can do now is cross our fingers and hope for the best! Please note, this post only reflects our personal situation (and neuroses!) so it may not apply to you or your preferences. :)


A lot of parents I know choose to keep their infants at home with a nanny until their babies were at least 1-2 years old. Afterwards, they transition their children over to some kind of daycare or preschool. Many of them told me how much easier it was to have a nanny - you don't have to worry about daycare germs and you don't have to worry about the hassle of getting your baby ready and out the door every morning.

I was a little worried about nannies for two reasons. One, the cost is obviously much higher for the individual 1:1 attention. Two, having a nanny requires a huge leap of faith and I'm not sure what it would take for me to feel comfortable having a stranger alone in our home taking care of our only child. You can't possibly have a nanny cam everywhere and who has time to sit around watching anyway?! The only way to get over number two is to get a really solid recommendation from someone you trust but this one is tough, given the short supply and high demand of great nannies. I even half-jokingly asked friends with parents in the area if any of them would want to be our full-time nanny.

Short of having a nanny recommendation from someone I trust, I was beholden to trusting internet sites like mommy groups on Facebook, Next Door, and The nanny recommendation posts online are always flooded with dozens of follow-up messages from anxious moms desperate to find good help!

With, I received almost a dozen messages from nannies looking to start working right away within 12 hours of signing up. So while seems to be a great resource for finding a nanny, it seems better for just-in-time searches. Not sure that would work for a planner like me! I'm trying to do as much as I can now pre-baby, as this is probably the most free time I'll have in a long time.


For the reasons listed above, I have been a bit biased towards daycares. I like that there are more regulations and processes governing daycares. I also like the fact that there are more caregivers, even if they are spread out among more children. Plus, when Lucas gets older, he will hopefully benefit from the interaction with other children. There is a risk of him getting sick more but I figure baby illness is inevitable and I really can't keep him in a bubble!

I started with looking at the larger facility daycares in our neighborhood. Many of them had great online reputations and neighbors on Next Door raved about a lot of them. I naively assumed that since they were large, they should have plenty of open spots so I didn't start my search in earnest until 3rd trimester. Big mistake - these large daycares have long waitlists, often with waitlist fees, and it's not uncommon to wait years for a spot! I started to get very discouraged and berated my inner planner for not getting started on this process sooner. It seems like I should have put my name on the waiting list as soon as I was even thinking about being pregnant.

My friend Sara had recommended looking into a home daycare. As the name suggests, these facilities are run out of people's homes and tend to be smaller, since the state will regulate how many kids they can have at a time, given the space and number of caregivers. Sara's daughter spent her first four years in a home daycare and has enjoyed the cozy family feel of it.

Through Next Door and Nurture List, I found quite a few smaller home daycares with open spots. It was pretty hit and miss though. While I don't expect daycares to have a formalized teaching environment, I do want to see caretakers proactively interacting with all the children. One home daycare seemed to keep the babies by themselves in high chairs or pack and plays for most of the day, which made me incredibly sad. I understand that this helps to keep babies safe, but how will my baby learn if no one talks to him or engages with him regularly? Luckily, we found a hidden gem last week, thanks to some enthusiastic neighbor recommendations on Next Door. The owner was friendly and knowledgeable about child rearing, her house was clean and well-designated for children, and her interactions with the children seemed interactive, gentle, and caring. She also scored major brownie points for speaking to the kids in Mandarin. As soon as we left, Jeff and I knew that this was the one. I just paid the deposit to reserve our spot yesterday and checked a major item off our to do list! I am so excited to have childcare nailed down before baby Lucas is out - it's times like this that Jeff really appreciates how neurotic I am about planning ahead. :)


As I mentioned in my post, there are a few invaluable resources I turned to while exploring our childcare options.

  • Friends / family: As soon as we started telling people we were pregnant, we also started telling them we were looking for childcare options - friends, colleagues, church members, etc. We did get some good recommendations but unfortunately all the daycares and nanny suggestions were too far from us to be feasible for our situation.
  • My prenatal class recommended this route and I could not be more grateful! This is how we ended up finding our home daycare. They also had a ton of good recommendations and insights for the larger daycares too.
  • I actually found this site from a parent's recommendation on Next Door. Is there anything that site can't do? :) Nurture List has a concierge service that lets you put in your desired services and dates and daycares can respond to you based on how their availability matches up with your needs. I connected with a lot of home daycares that I otherwise wouldn't have heard about this way, but none of those ended up being a great fit for us. 
  • Mommy groups: I'm only part of one mommy group on Facebook, and since it covers the entire Bay Area, many of the posts don't apply to my area. It's really my fault though - I should really go find a group more specific to my area so that I can get more relevant information.
Maui, Hawaii, November 2015

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on finding a good in-home daycare option! We went the nanny route but as I blogged, we had some really disappointing experiences. I'd still prefer an in-home nanny or because I'm discovering when baby gets sick EVERYONE gets sick. I've been sick for a month because of LB. Gr!