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Help, I Need Childcare! (What to Look For)

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When I first found out I was pregnant, I did not yet know that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom.  I taught at an elementary school, and my co-workers quickly warned me that I better start looking for childcare immediately.

They explained to me about the waiting list at the good places and how you have to pay a fee to be on these waiting lists. Even if you don’t get in, you don’t get the money back (What? Let the hormones kick in and the crying begin!)

I was blown away.  Where I come from, if one daycare had a waiting list, someone else would open up another daycare. I quickly realized I must have grown up in a time of abundance.

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Our childcare Story

After some time, I began to try and find care for the baby.  This was such a stressful time.  It was overwhelming for me to think that I was going to be leaving this baby with these complete strangers.

I Googled, and I took recommendations from co-workers.  I began calling these places and asking if I could come sit in for a day and observe their nursery.  Can you believe that I did not find one place that would allow me to do this?  This led to a lot of crying and repeating, “There is no way on this Earth I’m leaving my kid anywhere that won’t let me visit for a day.” 

The places, and we’re talking nice places that people were paying good money for, would allow me a tour given by a director or a higher up. At most places I couldn’t talk to the teachers, I could only ask the director questions. Some places allowed a meet the teacher and ask a couple of questions.

I am still flabbergasted that parents do not have much choice but to leave their children with people every day all day whom we haven’t observed for more than 30 minutes much less spoken to. I did it.

It immediately donned on me that this is what parents have been doing with me for years.  I was a teacher. Wow!  I was overwhelmed by how I had taken parents faith and trust for granted.  My heart was immediately changed.

I ended up putting a deposit into a child care that my school district offered at one of its campuses in portable buildings.  Even this place wasn’t impressing me much, but some of the people from my district who sent their kids there were firm believers in the place.

Check this out, there were even two notices in 8 x 10 frames for something the daycare did not pass on inspection.  I can’t remember for the life of me what they were, but I remember being alarmed.  I asked the director about it. She explained that it is mandatory to have these displayed.  She told me she had to take a leave, and it happened while she was out.  As I reflect on this, I realize my desperation.

I immediately got on my face almost daily and began to ask God for a way for me to stay at home and raise this child.  I prayed that Chris and I would agree that this would be best for our child. 

Help! I Need Childcare. (What to Look For)

It was a rough patch in our marriage because Chris soon found out that his job had decided to outsource his position, and this would mean he would need to find a new job.  We were very stressed because we had a baby on the way, and we were worried the breadwinner was going to be jobless. 

I couldn’t help but wonder if this was something to do with my prayers.  Chris and I discussed places we would live and he turned them into his recruiter.  Long story short, Chris got a job the week we brought Jock home, we would be moving, and he was going to be making enough that I should be able to stay home.  I was so grateful.  I still am.

When Jock was one, the women in my new community began to talk to me about putting Jock in a Mother’s Day Out program.  They went on and on about how good it is for the child and the mom.  I was still scarred by my previous experience, but I began to feel a little more at ease because most of the MDO programs were in churches.

After searching the internet and taking friends suggestions on places, I started to call to see if I could come observe for a day.  I quickly found out. No.  I could just come for a tour.  There were even places that didn’t do tours!  They just did an orientation with the director.

All of the places have the same reason.  It’s too disruptive.  In public school, at least the ones I worked in, parents could come at any time as long as it wasn’t a practice testing or state testing day.

Disruptive.  I agree.  I did not much care for parents walking around my classroom.  It was hard to keep the kids’ attention.  If I were in charge of the world, I would offer parents a time to come in, and I would let them watch a live stream of the class they were interested in. 

My ideal place would allow parents to meet the teachers before agreeing to send their child to this place not the night before school starts or the day of.  Really. Really.  Come on.  There could be a time when parents all come.  The teacher introduces themselves and has a brief Q&A. This would be enough to land my helicopter.

Can you tell I’ve put some thought into my dream school?

The mothers from my Sunday School class were very impressed with the MDO our church ran. At first, I was hesitant because I kept thinking of all the praying I had done to be a SAHM.  My prayer was answered, and now I was considering taking him to childcare.

I got Jock on the list for one day a week when he was fixing to turn two.  Lord have mercy, I won’t even go into the crying we both did.  It was devastating, and I can’t believe I even kept doing it. If you want to find out about our drop-off and separation anxiety story, read it here.

Eventually, he got a little better, and the next year I signed him up for two days.  I was never thoroughly impressed with the way they made such a big deal of no parents coming into the room and leave as quickly as possible (I know this is what experts say is best, but this was way overboard). 

Why did I keep taking him there? I often wonder why I kept doing it.  Some days I would sit in the parking lot and cry after drop-off.  This place was known as one of the top places in town.  It made me wonder what the others were like. 

Jock had a kid in his class whose grandpa was a billionaire! I even caught myself thinking that they could afford any place in town.  This must be a great place if they continue to come here.

Honestly, I thought he needed something besides just me, and I needed time to get my never-ending to-do list done.  I didn’t know of a better place that I could afford.

Now that we have moved to the suburbs, there is a lot more choice and a lot more opportunity for Jock.  I have been blessed to find a place that is very open to parents staying and watching, although I didn’t get to watch because I found the place during the summer. But I will.  Finding this preschool gives me hope that there are places out there that are transparent.

What Can We Do?  Most of Us Need Childcare At Some Point?

I believe that we need to raise our expectations of childcare facilities?  These are our children, our most prized possession that God entrusted us with.  We are leaving them with these people, and this is our money we’re handing over. We should be calling more of the shots.

I know that most childcare is fine.  I just find it hard to swallow the amount of trust that is expected of us when we sign-up.

If we quit using the places that don’t allow us to fully see what happens or will be happening in a day of our children’s lives with them, they will be forced to become more transparent.  Many places say they have an open door policy.  They do until you reach the front desk. I’ve heard it all: “I’ll deliver (whatever I was dropping off), don’t go back there, I’ll walk back there and check on him, and I’ll let you know how he is.  Believe me, Mrs. Stasney, we will call you if he won’t quit crying.” 

No, no, and no.  We should be able to observe what is going on with our children any time.  There were even times I did get to the rooms at an unexpected time and on some occasions, there were only one or no teachers in the room with the kids.  The childcare facilities with cameras that allow you to watch your child throughout the day online is a phenomenal idea. 


I get it.  I was a teacher.  You have to go to the restroom.  You have to go borrow something from the neighbor teacher.  At the same time, my teaching experience is part of the reason I was open-mouthed.  The public schools that I worked in were open to parents, and most of the private childcare facilities I looked into seemed like they held their cards super close to their chest. Before this experience, I took it for granted that parents had open access to any place they left their child, and obviously, I’m still not over it.

With all of this said, I want to give parents a checklist or a list of questions that they go through when trying to find a daycare, pre-school, private school, whatever you want to call a place where you’re going to leave your children. 

This lists will give you a starting place on what to look for and what to ask. Of course, you don’t have to use all of it, but if you are a first-time parent or don’t have much experience with childcare you can use the list as a springboard. Maybe you are an introvert like me who can’t always think well on her feet with unfamiliar people. I found it helps to have notes!

I got the information on the list from my own research, my own parent and teacher experiences, and my friends.  Let me save you time! I compiled the topics for you. Topics include: About the facility, Safety, Routines and Procedures, Learning, What to Look for on the Tour.

I hope I inspire you to raise the standards of what you accept and how you are treated by your child’s possible caregivers.

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  1. Hi Shelly! Great tips! Ro is turning three so I have to start looking around. I’m already dreading it and feeling the stress just thinking about what I want for him. Thanks for the checklist. Have a great weekend.

    1. You’re so welcome! Just pray, trust, and go for it- & take the checklist:) Jock has blossomed so much socially this year. I had almost forgotten I had social concerns about him until a friend asked me recently. I was like, “OH yeah, I was so worried, and all for nothing!” He did 3 days a week 8:30-11:30. Take care.

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