Good help is hard to find

It’s very hard to find good help. A working mom’s most important ally is arguably her child care provider. Okay yes, and a very supportive and engaged father. But without good child care, I assure you nothing else falls into place.

I work full-time, my days are long because I have a lengthy commute. My children spend 10 hours a day in care. There is no debate. I need quality care for my children.

When my life feels like it’s spinning out of control, knowing that my children are loved, engaged and well-cared for makes all the difference. It’s a peace of mind that is worth more than almost anything else at this point in my life.

For the past three years I’ve been very fortunate. My oldest (and for four months my youngest) have been welcomed into the home of people who have become family. Their caregiver loves them as if they were her own and without reservation. She puts my mind at ease, I never worry and sometimes think she’s doing a better job than I would if I were home. They go to play dates, the library, on field trips to places like farms and parks. They do regular and interesting learning activities and crafts. They read, they play, they interact. They eat better than I do. They learn discipline, and how to be polite. My children are loved, wanted and part of the picture. They are thriving, well-adjusted and well-rounded little boys because of her. She is a second mom to them and I cannot stress how profound her influence has been.

But alas, all good things must come to an end. She’s moving on to pursue new and important personal goals. And I wish her only the best. She deserves it.

Her decision is not about us. And yet to me, it’s all about us. It’s heartbreaking, for me and for my boys. Everything is about to change and it’s scary. It’s scary because I have no idea whether I’ll be able to find another like her. But I’m not prepared to settle for any less.

My oldest will start all-day, everyday kindergarten in the fall. He’s growing up, coming into his own and ready to venture into a whole new world. He’ll still need before and after care, but by and large he’s facing change no matter what. It’s my youngest who has me the most concerned. I cannot accept any less for him because it wouldn’t be fair. And I simply don’t want less for him. Why would I? And so I struggle. What will I do if I can’t find the perfect provider? My expectations are high.

I prefer a home care provider because I think our children have their whole lives to spend in an institution, but only this short time to live their day in the comfort of a home.  We’ve been to visit a couple of providers. My experience in interviewing these women has been less than stellar. In fact, in one situation I had a strong urge to run screaming. Let me paint the picture.

She has two dogs. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this except that you think it would be more professional to keep them separate for the sake of the first interview, perhaps bringing them out for a quick introduction. But this was not the case. Not only were the dogs jumping all over us, they were in my children’s face. THE WHOLE TIME. And it gets better. She let them chew on our shoes. Oh yes. That’s right. And I told her. “Your dogs are chewing on our shoes.” Her response. “Hmmm, hmmm,” and she went on sitting at the kitchen table. There was dog poo all over her back deck. She kept reinforcing the fact that her backyard is fenced in so that the kids can’t sneak off. So I ask you, what do you think that means? Because really, should I ever be concerned that my 16 month would sneak off? When I asked her about the things that they do? “Oh you know, we just go with the flow here, I let the kids set the tone for the day.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

But here’s the clincher, when I asked about the kind of meals she serves, she said, and I quote without editing, “If you like, I’d be happy to feed them Gerber Graduates.” Oh yes. This was offered in completely seriousness and with every indication that it would be an upgrade. The more I dwell on it, the more my blood boils.

So obviously, she was a no and I’m disheartened. I’m disheartened that my search isn’t going to be easy. And I”m not suggesting that it necessarily should be. They are my children and I’m prepared to search as long as it takes. But I’m disheartened that there are so few good places for them out there. And for children in general. Why is the service of child care so undervalued in society? Why don’t we provide more options for working mothers, but more importantly for their children? Before the current Conservative Government in our country was elected we were on the cusp of our first ever National Daycare Strategy. Enter Stephen Harper and the entire plan was scrapped. Years of work and lobbying and progress between the provinces and the federal government went up in Conservative smoke. Now, the federal government thinks they are doing all they need to by providing parents of children under 6 with $100 cheque every month. It’s so ridiculous it’s laughable.

So here I sit. I have two months to find a caregiver who will offer everything that I want, everything that my children deserve. Will I need to be willing to accept compromise? Quite likely. And yes, I resent it.

And though I choose to work, in reality it isn’t really a choice. We need two incomes. Do I wish we weren’t in this situation. Honestly, yes. But, for better or worse, we are. So I persevere and hold out hope that our family can be blessed a second time. Because I have to.

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39 thoughts on “Good help is hard to find

  1. A Crafty Mom says:

    Oh no, I so wish it were different for you 😦 I totally understand what you're saying – if for any reason I had doubts with my day care provider in the fall (she is new, I am going back to work, it will be a first time for both of us and I don't know her *that* well) my husband and I have already agreed I will leave work and stay home.Since I have also been on the other end side – I watched a friend's son for six months and frequently am "back up daycare" for many of my working mom friends – I can see how other day cares might work. People are always shocked at how healthy I feed their kids, that we are outside, that we do crafts, that we *GASP* – do learning activities (I have two kids in kindergarten so I am already doing this work anyway). I have been begged by many to watch their kids full time but it is SO NOT FOR ME!If it were, I'd take yours in a heart beat.The dogs? Really? That's horrendous. It's funny what other people deem acceptable. Best of luck to you – remember that good things come to those who wait.

  2. ShannonL says:

    Ugh, the search for a good daycare… it sucks. We had our share of nightmare stories, too. It's not easy. But there are great ones out there, just like your current caregiver. Give it time (and lots of interviews) and you will find someone wonderful.

  3. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    Oh I remember this struggle when we first had the kiddo in daycare. The very first place we went to smelled like kitty litter. I kid you not. She was very nice and had a good layout and struck for the kids, but her house smelled. Like. Kitty. Litter. The third place we visited smelled like stale second hand smoke. The home was small, dirty and just didn't feel right. We spent about 5 minutes there before heading out the door.The second place we visited is the one we ended up using. It was a small center. This worked for us because it provided us security that if something happened to the "teacher" there were others to help out. It's so hard finding child care. No one will measure up. I hope that you find what you are looking for.

  4. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    Oh I remember this struggle when we first had the kiddo in daycare. The very first place we went to smelled like kitty litter. I kid you not. She was very nice and had a good layout and struck for the kids, but her house smelled. Like. Kitty. Litter. The third place we visited smelled like stale second hand smoke. The home was small, dirty and just didn't feel right. We spent about 5 minutes there before heading out the door.The second place we visited is the one we ended up using. It was a small center. This worked for us because it provided us security that if something happened to the "teacher" there were others to help out. It's so hard finding child care. No one will measure up. I hope that you find what you are looking for.

  5. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    Oh I remember this struggle when we first had the kiddo in daycare. The very first place we went to smelled like kitty litter. I kid you not. She was very nice and had a good layout and struck for the kids, but her house smelled. Like. Kitty. Litter. The third place we visited smelled like stale second hand smoke. The home was small, dirty and just didn't feel right. We spent about 5 minutes there before heading out the door.The second place we visited is the one we ended up using. It was a small center. This worked for us because it provided us security that if something happened to the "teacher" there were others to help out. It's so hard finding child care. No one will measure up. I hope that you find what you are looking for.

  6. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    Oh I remember this struggle when we first had the kiddo in daycare. The very first place we went to smelled like kitty litter. I kid you not. She was very nice and had a good layout and struck for the kids, but her house smelled. Like. Kitty. Litter. The third place we visited smelled like stale second hand smoke. The home was small, dirty and just didn't feel right. We spent about 5 minutes there before heading out the door.The second place we visited is the one we ended up using. It was a small center. This worked for us because it provided us security that if something happened to the "teacher" there were others to help out. It's so hard finding child care. No one will measure up. I hope that you find what you are looking for.

  7. Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point says:

    I get this Christine. I feel for you and that interview is discouraging. It takes time for us moms to trust another person to look after our little ones and it's disconcerting to have to change what's already working beautifully. Still, I wonder if change, where it concerns my boy, is harder on me than on him. I had a conversation with a woman who was once a high-powered Silicon Valley exec. She decided to stay home to be with her two little ones though she loved her career. Years later, her high-school age daughter asks her, "Mom, did you work or were you a stay-at-home mom when I was growing up?" It makes me wonder how much of what I lament over is worth lamenting over.

  8. fit for a kid says:

    I remember looking for daycare with my first. I had a few similar situations… like the caregiver who had no books.If you can swing it in your area, a nanny would probably be your best and most cost-effective option. We have had great success with two amazing caregivers in our own home. They were able to take the kids to playgroups, the library and all the activities we wanted. I think it might be harder to find in a rural area (would you call your area rural or suburban?), but definitely worth a shot and a momma-saver. Our previous nanny is our friend now and visits the boys and/or babysits whenever she can. Our current nanny is my lifesaver and almost like a sister (that I sometimes have to boss around – in a nice way).

  9. Kate says:

    Good luck! I'm a freak about who watches my kids. Probably too much so. Don't settle. You'll find a wonderful, loving place for them.

  10. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    Does it make you feel any better to know the situation isn't any better in the States? No. Oh, okay never mind. :)Sending you lots of good luck on your search. I hope you can find a great caregiver – and soon!

  11. Amber Strocel says:

    Ugh, I have been in that position and it's NO FUN. My daughter was in a really great daycare and then she aged out of it, but I had the worst time finding suitable preschool-age care. We eventually landed a spot in our dream centre, but it was only after 6 months in a place that wasn't a great fit. She was well cared-for in the bad fit, she was safe and stimulated, but she wasn't happy. It was the worst. And I was pregnant at the time, so I was working for maternity benefits and didn't feel that I had a lot of options.After that experience I really decided that we need a better way to handle childcare in this country. It's so haphazard and spotty and HARD. I hate that about it.

  12. Amy Whitley says:

    I have been where you are now, and you have my full sympathy. The first time I was in this position, I was working full time, 10 hour days like you, and my oldest was 2 and my youngest 3 months. I could not, no matter how hard I tried, find quality care for them (in a large city with lots of resources). It was so stressful, I ended up quitting my job and staying home (the financial stress was less stressful than the daycare stress). That's how I 'fell' into being a SAHM (which lasted another 9 years!)…by force!This year, I had to hunt for childcare again when I went back to work. I didn't find what I wanted (again, in a large town). I only needed daycare for 3 hours a day, but I didn't didn't find anything I felt completely comfortable with. A friend got him into a YMCA program he's actually too young for, and that's sufficed for 3 months, but thank God the school year is almost over and he'll be home with me full time again until he starts all day school next year.Quality daycare should NOT be 1. unaffordable and 2. impossible to find. It's a sin.

  13. Laura says:

    Been there, done that — and came out on the other end. So did my boys. This is so hard. After a lot of searching and prayer, my situations did work out. Hang in there. I have boys, too – four!

  14. IASoupMama says:

    I have actually told my husband that he is forbidden to look for a job that would take us away from my kids' current sitter. Forbidden. Sure, he could move up the ladder, but he can move up the ladder in five years when our wee ones won't need full-time care any more. I panic at the thought of finding a new sitter… I hope that you have some luck!

  15. Evonne says:

    I have worked in day care and I have seen it all – good and bad. It can be hard to find one that suits you and your kids, but they are out there.I really wish there was more of an effort to improve ALL of the centers out there, whether they are in a center or in-home.

  16. Nicki says:

    Oh Christine! I feel for you. I have been there. My first child care provider was heavenly. My son loved her. Then she moved. With twins on the way and my pediatrician having just closed up practice, I decided I was going to hire a nanny – someone to come in and watch the kids in my home.The horror stories that came from that experience. I wish you luck with finding just who you are looking for, without compromise!

  17. Sarah says:

    Yuck, Christine! I often wonder why caring for children is so un(der)valued. I started wondering that when I was babysitting for a couple of bucks a night!It sucks. We are facing this and our issue is that it is expensive. We're looking at a school-like setting because that is where one of Q's buddy's is, so it comes with a recommendation. It is so hard.

  18. Corinne says:

    Good luck Christine. I'm so sorry you have to go through the search. I hope you find the perfect solution 🙂

  19. Jack says:

    The good news is that this battle never goes away, or to me it feels like it hasn't. I was lucky in that when the children were a bit younger I was able to support us all so I didn't have to worry about daycare.But years of private school have been rough and I wonder if it is possible to keep it up. It is a rat race that never seems to end. OTOH, the population isn't shrinking which leads me to say that somehow our kids adapt to their environments and more often not find a way to thrive.

  20. Chantal says:

    You'll find the right person, i know you will. Hugs!

  21. Capital Mom says:

    I wish you so much luck in finding someome!!

  22. Aging Mommy says:

    Oh Christine that is so hard, I'm sorry too you are having to go through this search and upheaval. I hope you find the right new caregiver soon.

  23. Denise says:

    Oh my dear, sending big hugs. And as sticky and gut wrenching as this is, knowing you are being so diligent and thorough should bring you a bit of peace. It is what we mothers do. And what you do, so well. A good solution will come–especially when you are open to new ideas. Just writing this post is so important. Keep us posted. xo

  24. Denise says:

    Just wrote a huge comment congratulating you on this post and sending huge hugs…only i wrote it much more eloquently the first time. 🙂 Keep us posted and bravo to you for being such a diligent, caring, loving mother. A solution will come. I just know it. xo

  25. Leslie says:

    Christine, I'm not in your situation now, but I sympathize. Jack stays with family while we're at work, but there's no guarantee that this would work for his eventual siblings, or for how long, etc. I feel exactly the way you do re: home care vs. an early introduction to institutional environments. I hope you find a comfortable place for your family without too many sacrifices – I have to believe it's possible, albeit elusive!

  26. Stacia says:

    We don't have the godparent tradition in my family, and I've always been a little jealous of people who do. Another person to give you presents for every important occasion?? Yes, please! (Of course, I know there are also some very important, serious, unthinkable reasons for having godparents, too, as you point out.)

  27. alita says:

    First, let me say that your interview sounds like my worst nightmare. Seriously! I can't believe that somebody would sell themselves as care providers like that. I am not in your position so I can't say I understand. I am sympathetic to your crisis though. Child care shouldn't be impossible to find and it is atrocious that has become that way. I wish you all the luck in the world. I hope you find someone who suits all your needs as soon as possible. You are your kiddos best advocate. Work it, mama!

  28. Justine says:

    Christine, I'm sure you know how close to my heart this topic is. As a working mom myself, having the peace of mind while we're at work is SO important. My mom was supposed to live with us and take care of the baby but my grandpa died and she had to go home to take care of my grandma who wasn't doing so well. And suddenly we had to find care in a month. It was awful. I didn't cry going back to work knowing my daughter's in great hands with my mom but the moment I realized that she had to be in a stranger's care, I bawled.But lucky for us, we found in-home care quickly. I'm with you in that I feel it's better than a center – so much more personal attention and genuine affection. Also we're lucky that living in a big city means our resources and choices are plentiful but my heart goes out to you. Good luck with your search. I hope you will find one that works well for your precious guys.

  29. Celeste says:

    I have noticed your tweets lately re 'the hunt' and have been thinking about you. My 15-month-old stays with my mother in law and I think we will move her to a pre-school program when she is 2 or so. I complain about things like not feeding her what I send in the morning. I complain that she doesn't read enough books or doesn't get to play outside long enough. Then I realize that these people ADORE her, love her more than words and are dirt cheap! And I realize how ridiculous I am sometimes.Although I am not in your situation, as a mother I can feel where you are. I hope you find something you are happy with, realizing that perfection is impossible (I think). {hugs}

  30. Anonymous says:

    I also feel your pain in trying to find a good daycare for your kids.When I couldn't get H into the same place as S I has to move S.I interviewd quite a few providers and was shocked by some. One lady thought good meals were hot dogs and piza pops on a regular basis but would not alow the kids to have juice.I didn't find exactly what I was looking for but the lady the girls go to is really nice. She is strict, but loving. Two important qualities in a provider. She has structure to the day and has the kids doing learning activities, not just play. I am really impressed that she takes the kids out to play everyday year round, providing it is not too cold or wet. The kids have adjusted well to their new care and look forward to going.I hope you are able to find somewhere to meet or atleast come close to your expectations. After all our kids are our life…

  31. Maria @BOREDmommy says:

    Good Luck Christine – I hope you find what you and your kids deserve. I'm sure nothing is more stressful for you right now.

  32. Lindsey says:

    Good luck – I can so relate to this. I have had a variety of situations in the 7.5 years I've had children, and for the last 5 years the same wonderful woman has been taking care of them. She left last week and I feel like I've lost a limb. None of this is easy.

  33. Finola says:

    We have been through this too and I completely feel for you. We have used home daycare, shared nannies (2), and now the afterschool program in my girls' school. In retrospect, I would have done the "institutional" daycare all along, because they are so well regulated and wonderful. You just know your kids will be well cared for. But what's right for your family may not be the same as what's right for mine, so I wish you all the luck in finding the right person for your little ones.

  34. Elizabeth Flora Ross says:

    Wow! That is scary! Your post makes me so happy that I have never had to wrestle with these decisions. Right as my maternity leave was coming to an end and I was interviewing nanny candidates (the only child care option I would consider), my husband and I decided we wanted me to stay home w/our daughter. It was difficult financially, but we have never regretted it. I have the utmost respect for working moms. You fabulous ladies amaze me!I wish you the best of luck in your continued search. Hope you find The One!

  35. Stepping On Cheerios says:

    We are so lucky to have my mother in law doing our daily child care for us. We are always waiting for the day she says she can't do it anymore.I hope you find a good fit for your family:)

  36. becca says:

    OK, I'm finally back to comment again! I didn't read all of the other comments so excuse me if I'm saying something someone else already did. First of all, I feel for you Christine. There is nothing harder than finding care for your kids that you can trust, feel safe with, comfortable with and know that will love your kids ALMOST as much as you. I'm so sorry you're going through this. Would you consider hiring a nanny until you find a home that you're satisfied with? I think it would take some pressure off of you to find a place so quickly. I had a nanny for 4 months while I looked for a daycare for Hannah and although it wasn't ideal, it allowed me the time to find the place she spent the past 5 years. All I can say is that the right place will come… I'm sure of it. And nothing is forever. If you aren't happy, you can always move him again. He won't remember… and it will put your mind at ease.xoxo

  37. mylittlemiracle says:

    Good luck with your search. I pray you find a caregiver as awesome as your previous one. Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to have a mother and step-mother who care for my son while I'm at work. Also, thanks for pointing out the lack of value placed on child care and working mothers in this country. You have motivated me to research this.

  38. […] on vacation again this week. This time because my boys are between daycares. Our beloved provider is going back to school and in a few days my boys will start with a new child care provider. While […]

  39. […] always felt confident that they were being cared for in a loving and nurturing way.  At the time I ranted about how hard it is to find good […]

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