To Childcare or Not to Childcare? That is the Question

29 Jan

To Childcare or Not to Childcare; a question that Billy Shakespeare famously overlooked and one which parents are left to ponder. I have just returned from Max’s induction at a childcare centre he was due to start tomorrow. I remember feeling a little bit sick, then a lot sick, the sort of sickness that is experienced after making an almighty error of judgement. I had convinced myself that childcare was in mine and Max’s best interests, Max could have a day off from Dad and Dad could have a day off from Max. The induction concluded with an awkward chat with the manager informing her of my change of heart; “please accept our large deposit as a token of our foolishness and have a lovely life”.

Where did it all go wrong, I went in with such high hopes and an open mind? From start to finish it was like something out of a parent nightmare; we were greeted by a young worker whose furious gum chewing did little to mask the smell of stale cigs and seemed to suffer from an acute child allergy that’s symptoms included a louder than necessary sigh, a dismissive wave of the hand, a cross look but not the pretend cross look us parents are so good at and an out of place mini skirt that she kept grappling with.
Kids were unanimously sporting a thick yellow gloop from their noses, accessorised with an indiscriminate mush, presumably food, in and around their tired looking faces. My optimistic smile was replaced by an attempt to look indifferent but I suspect I looked like I just stood in a giant dog turd that I didn’t want anyone else to know about. It’s the same look you have in the hairdressers when you realise the stylist is not quite sharing your vision. I’m not one for wrapping children up in cotton wool or parading them on pedestals but this felt so devoid of love, comfort and well being.

Having enviously peeked over the fence (not a good look for a young man) of THE centre that sends local parents into a collective cooing frenzy, I know they can also be fantastic places where love is dished up in glutinous portions. I sought a chat with the manager of THE centre; I delivered a suitably desperate tale, donned puppy dog eyes and dressed Max in his cherub costume but she smelt me a mile off and I was dismissed with a knowing grin and a three year waiting list.
I know that for lots of families child care is a choice grounded in practicality and necessity. I also am not averse to the idea that childcare helps to prepare children socially. But parental instinct piped up and said at this stage, in this centre, no. Perhaps my notion of happy children engaged in creative pursuits was a little too lofty but is that really so lofty? Either way I will be taking it upon myself to give Max what I think he needs and I feel vindicated in that.

The entire episode has served as a timely reminder to keep my own level of parenting performance somewhere up there and drummed it into my big, stubborn head that I am in a very fortunate position to even have the option and that I should embrace it in its entirety.
As per usual linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess


23 Responses to “To Childcare or Not to Childcare? That is the Question”

  1. Jacana January 29, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    I would have high tailed it upon being greeted by the chewing gum junior.

    • daddownunder January 29, 2013 at 6:37 am #

      I think in my head I already had Jacana ; )

  2. subversivereader January 29, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    I have a friend who had some trouble with different Day care centres, but has since fallen in love with a local Family Day Care 🙂 Hope you find the right solution at the right time for you 🙂

  3. theusefulbox January 29, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    Mini-skirt and working with children – not a good mix. Even a knee-length skirt is no good for sitting on the floor. I speak from experience.

    I love your last paragraph. It is too easy to expect our child-carers to acheive a lofty standard of care, then provide sub-standard care when our children are in their own homes! Thanks for your honesty.

  4. rickfarrar January 29, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    It’s a very difficult balancing act when choosing whether to send a child into the care of another or to try an provide for all the needs of your child including the socialising element. The first few years of a child’s development are so important, especially if you want to make sure that they are brought up with your values. On the other side is the process of learning to live with others from differing social settings.
    I think that you have made the best decision for Max, given the information available to you and that is all a parent can do. Good for you.

  5. Emily January 29, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    At least now you know. The flipside is that you may have decided that you didn’t want to risk that scenario without seeing the place, but you’d always wonder if you should have done it.
    I love that last paragraph in particular. Beautiful. Enjoy.

  6. mumabulous January 29, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Luckily my experience with childcare has been overwhelmingly good. Keep looking around. You will find a wonderful place for Max.

  7. Eliza January 29, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    I love that you trusted your gut and ran a mile. I encountered a few centres that were not for us and luckily found ‘the one’ eventually. Its a case of whatever works for you AND your child, your family so if you don’t have to do the daycare thing then simply, don’t. Enjoy this time with your son, cliche as it is – you never get it back again

  8. Twitchy (@TwitchyCorner) January 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Even if the time is right, that place certainly isn’t! Keep an eye out, when the right thing comes along, you’ll know it. I don’t know where you are, but I always loved our local council centres. Always wonderfully kept and run. Somehow many new parents had the misconception they were not better than private, which was often the reverse of the case. Good luck! Visiting from #teamIBOT

    • daddownunder January 30, 2013 at 8:39 am #

      Thanks Team IBOT, I am feeling pretty good about things today, the sort of pleasure you get when you know you’ve made a wise decision

  9. Twinsane Mum (Jules) January 30, 2013 at 2:49 am #

    I went to 5 childcare centers before I found one I liked. One in particular didn’t even let me know that the Director wouldn’t be there on the day I had arranged a tour. It was raining and I had to get both girls out of the car into the pram, got myself drenched in the process and then when I entered I was told that the “Director isn’t in today, maybe you can come back another time when you don’t have the girls with you”. You can just imagine the profanic dribble that spewed forth from my mouth at that moment. No wonder they had vacancies. I’m glad I trusted my instinct and parental judgement, as it was worth waiting the 12 mths to get the girls into where they are now. They say a Mother’s instinct is always right, I think it’s just a switch that turns on when we all become parents regardless if we are the mother or father

    • daddownunder January 30, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      “You can just imagine the profanic dribble that spewed forth from my mouth at that moment” – ouch, I certainly can imagine! Yep there’s a lot to be said for parental instinct, beats any book on the market!

  10. brenda January 30, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    sounds like you trusted your instincts correctly! Childcare was never really an option for us…we struggled on one wage for quite a few years and now I work night shifts (when the husband comes home). there are days when it’s tough and you wish for nothing more than a break (and I felt the kids wished they had a break from me too) but I socialised with them, and in the end, the learnt what a normal day is all about. Good luck on your journey to finding what works for you x

    • daddownunder January 30, 2013 at 10:01 am #

      Thanks Brenda, it’ll fix itself and in the interim we’re having lots of fun together

  11. EssentiallyJess January 30, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    We’ve never done the child care thing, and reading this, I’m so glad we’ve never had to! Good on you for backing out instead of caving to the pressure. That does not sound like a fun place!

    • daddownunder January 30, 2013 at 11:57 am #

      No settling for second or third or fourth best when it comes junior. I had no idea relief could feel so good! Thanks for stopping by Jess.

  12. Roxanne P-CH January 31, 2013 at 2:58 am #

    Parental instinct is an awesome thing. We’ve had to start the child care thing, but the first centre we had an orientation day at saw us running, fast. It wasn’t right at all. Now he’s in a centre we are both happy with.

    • daddownunder January 31, 2013 at 3:33 am #

      I’m glad to hear it Roxanne, its one less thing to have to worry about!

  13. Alicia - One Mother Hen January 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    I have juggled with the childcare or not thing. I sent my eldest years ago to the centre we now live across from. I really didn’t need to, but did. I haven’t felt the need to with the girls, although sometimes, for my own sanity, I am thinking it wouldn’t be bad to have just one day or half. My neighbours boy goes there, and her two always have some sort of bug. Kindergym, library rhyme times and playgroups run by kindergartens are always good social outings, for yourself too 🙂

  14. Rainie Flores February 1, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    It is really a tough decision that parents have to make when it’s time for the mother to get back to work. Personally, i think there are a lot of good day care centers or child care centers where you can put your child, or there are a lot of agencies where you can get a good babysitter. You just have to choose wisely. Meeting applicants and interviewing them would definitely help. –

  15. Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions February 7, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    I can see why you would have been put off by that centre, it doesn’t sound very good.

    We are very lucky in that the centre across the road from our house is really, really lovely, all the staff are wonderful and the facilities are top notch. Mia has only been three times so far but has really enjoyed it and the staff have fallen in love with her so that makes it a little easier. A the moment I work Fridays, which is the one day she goes, but she will keep going once I’m on maternity leave again, a) so we can keep her place, and b) so that I can have one day a week one on one with the new bubs and get a few things done around the house that I know will be harder with both a toddler and a baby to look after. But if I’m totally honest, I’ll probably just sit around staring at the new bubs! Lol!

    • daddownunder February 8, 2013 at 3:04 am #

      Thats’s what bubs are there for Kylez ; )

  16. tonyblawyer (@tonyblawyer) March 17, 2013 at 3:04 am #


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