I’ve been lucky enough to stay at home with my son for the first nine months of his life, and will continue to do so until he’s a year old. This summer, however, we have to go through the great separation. Yep, it’s time for childcare.
Being a stay-at-home mom (or SAHM in message board parlance) has been pretty amazing. I know his favorite foods, I’ve seen him roll over, he falls asleep in my arms at least three times a day. Sure, parts of the experience blow (like having a small crawling shadow who wants to be picked up NOW RIGHT NOW), and I miss talking to adults, but I feel like I’ve done the best I could for my family. And now, what’s going to be best for my family is putting Gabe in childcare and doing directed fieldwork this summer.
I’m an over-preparer, and so the process of finding a daycare is overwhelming. How do I find one? How do I evaluate it? How can I find reviews or talk to parents who’ve had kids there? Why don’t more of them have websites? For goodness sake, must they all be “Lil’ Heroes” or “Gramma’s House”? Is there a maximum grasp of grammar and spelling allowed to post childcare on Craigslist? Do you get higher priority for placing ads in all caps? I was an English major, I can’t bring myself to leave my spawn with someone who hasn’t fully internalized the concept of only capitalizing proper nouns.
In more serious worries, I think about the horror stories I’ve heard. I was in daycare briefly, until my mom came to pick me up and found her three-year-old daughter alone in the backyard next to the pool. How do I know that the care provider doesn’t have a creepy relative who’s allowed around the kids? Are there animals near the kids, do they have their shots? Gabe loves animals with both hands, what if their animal doesn’t like that? What if he pulls a bookshelf on himself? What if he eats an electrical cord? What if another kid gives him pinkeye? What if he misses me?
I know this is an important step for both of us, and it’s a good practice run. By doing childcare part-time this summer, we’ll both be more prepared for full-time childcare when I find a job (which will hopefully be soon after summer quarter, because student loans are terrible). But how do we do this? How do you separate yourself from your smaller half? How do you hand them to someone and say, “Godspeed, here’s a thousand dollars”? How did you find your childcare? What should I look for? How has having your kid in childcare affected your relationship with them, with yourself, with your spouse?