You know what’s harder than putting a kid in daycare?
Putting two kids in daycare.
We had a great experience with daycare in Washington, but moving and adding a second kid into the mix has been quite the challenge. And since I feel like we’ve had to figure this out on our own, I love sharing all our daycare adventures with everyone.
Putting a newborn in daycare
We didn’t use daycare until my older daughter was 15 months old. Putting a newborn in daycare is a completely different ball game. They have such different needs! What do you do with a baby in daycare? What’s the teacher to baby ratio? Are you changing them enough? How long is it going to take you to understand my baby’s cues? She can’t sit up yet, are you just going to lay her down all day—because if my kid gets a flat head I’m going to freak out!
Will my kids get to see each other?
I know a lot of parents face some pretty strong sibling rivalry very early on, but that hasn’t been the case with us. Demon #1 hates when our attention is diverted from her, but she never takes it out on her sister. When I took #2 to work with me for those three weeks, my husband said that #1 frequently asked “Where baby?” She missed her. She is so dang in love with that baby and I’m going to enjoy that as long as I can! The thought of separating them for 6.5 hours a day feels so wrong to us, but that is what most daycares do because they would be in different classrooms and don’t want the toddler germs getting into the baby room. I totally get that, but it was hard to imagine them not being together for that log.
Holy Hannah this is expensive!
We’re trying to buy a home soon and daycare for two kids will cost more than our mortgage. The place we found is cheaper than a lot of places around here, but it’s still so much money. Then when you think of it in terms of the whole year…bring on the tears! The income I bring in after the cost of daycare is taken out is still significant enough that I wouldn’t quit and stay home instead, but it’s still hard to swallow. “It’s too expensive to work” is a very real thing.
Finding one with two spots open
Typically, when people get pregnant, they put themselves on a waiting list for a nice daycare so that 9 -12 months later, they can get a spot. That’s lovely, but if you move and need a daycare asap, it is very difficult to find. Having two kids makes it feel dang near impossible. That’s for any daycare, not only the nice ones.
Why are there so many gross daycares? Whyyyyyyy? We went to the local Kindercare to check it out—yikes. The entrance was locked, but the lady came and opened the door, no questions asked. It was when we were just standing around that she finally realized we weren’t current customers. Hello, I could have been nuts! And with the infant classroom right next to the front door, I was not impressed. Nor was I impressed that the diaper changing stations were out in the open in the classroom—I don’t know the other parents and I don’t want them watching my kid get changed. And the lack of color and general welcoming vibes. It felt dirty. We left, got in the car, and I cried. It’s incredibly discouraging to run into so many places like this. I’d gladly pay more for better quality, but they are hard to find.
Even with those considerations, it still comes down to how your kid fits with the daycare. We’re still in the adjustment phase. I think the baby is doing well, but the toddler is struggling. We have a traumatic drop off every.dang.morning. She’s super happy when I pick her up–I know she is having a good time. I love that she gets to play with other kids and still see her sister, but dealing with the drama every day is exhausting. It’s enough for us to start looking into finding someone who can come to our house instead.
Which brings up a whole new list of considerations.
Sometimes, it’s enough to make you wonder if the cost and stress of finding good childcare is worth working? My brain, my heart, and our bank account know that it is. The long-term effects of me working–even part-time–is very much worth the effort involved right now. Future schedule flexibility, financial security, the ability to provide a home for them. Not to mention the example of seeing their mom find satisfaction in work, helping them recognize their own ambitions and feeling like they can reach them.
So while it is hard to remember all that when I’m carrying at least four bags, a car seat with a newborn, and a crying 2-year-old to the car every morning, I know it’s worth it.
So, to all my friends trying to figure out childcare for two kids, I salute you.