Well, the days of home day care will officially be coming to end unfortunately. As much as my wife and I would love to find someone to watch Nathaniel out of their home during the week, we have had no luck finding a suitable person to do so. We seriously lucked out last year with finding a woman from our church who was able to watch him three days a week with myself taking two days off to stay at home. This year, come January, the woman who watched him previously is unavailable and my wife's mom, who is watching him now, will be heading down to Florida for the winter and as such, she won't be able to watch him. Such is life. Unfortunately at this time, neither my wife or I can afford to take off five days a week to watch our son as it takes both our incomes to sustain our household. That leaves us with two options, a home day care provider or a regular daycare facility (I hate using the word facility, there is just something impersonal and sterile about the word, but alas, it is the one that fits best I guess). So moving on. It has been a few weeks of interviews, visits, tours, questions, dissatisfaction, and finally, acceptance and comfort. Let me start at the beginning. My wife and I originally started looking for a home day care provider to watch our son full time. To put it blunt, we made it through about 4 before realizing that we would probably need to expand our options in order to find something by January without getting overly stressed. Those first four (it may have been three) just didn't make the grade. In a few situations, it was the damn TV that killed the deal. We currently haven't let our son watch any TV at all due to the fact that there is nothing we feel that is imperative for him to see on that screen. The same goes for technology at this point as well. Anyway, one had the TV on non-stop, the other said she didn't really watch much TV but it was apparent through the kids incessant badgering to watch TV that we felt she wasn't being completely honest. No and no. There was another that was OK, but was insisted that we pay for the whole summer despite the fact that my wife has the summer off and wouldn't be bringing him to day care. She actually had a nice setup for the kids, but she didn't pass muster due to that one issue and no flexibility. There may have been another before we started inspecting regular daycare providers (there's a word that follows daycare much better than facility). So the next round of fun began.
There were four "standard" daycare providers that we had selected to look at for our son. One was eliminated immediately due to negative comments we received before even looking at it. Upon hearing anything negative whatsoever in regards to a provider that will be watching our son, we walk away. Another one, the Explorer's Club, had a 15 child waiting list and was the one was wanted due to its being highly regarded by parents everywhere, but we declined to look at it simply because there was a 15 child waiting list. That left us with two options, the commercialized Kindercare, which is a nationwide daycare/preschool type provider and Surreybrook Daycare, a privately owned, one of a kind, daycare provider. We did our due diligence, looked at both, researched to see if there were any complaints issued against either one, and at the end of the day, found the better of them. Kindercare turned out to be just what I thought it might be, a commercial daycare provider stuck in an ugly square building in close proximity to a building materials place. Inside was no better, the walls were painted a sterile, unattractive white, the room that he would be spending his whole day in with 8 other children was smaller than my living room, and there seemed to be an overall lack of warmth. On top of that, we found that there were four complaints issued against the place within the past 2 years and that, along with the overall sterility of the place crossed themselves off the list. Surreybrook was the complete opposite. As soon as we walked in, it felt much warmer, much more inviting, and there was much more cheer amongst the children there than at Kindercare. Every wall was painted a different color, they had a small rock climbing wall, about 4 feet high, and while there was a room our son would be in for a good part of the day, it was bigger, more colorful, and "warmer" than the other. In addition, there were other rooms that he would go to for crafts and other activities so he wouldn't be confined for one whole day in one room. Even more inviting was the fact that they went on nature walks, mini field trips, and had animals brought in to see and interact with. Needless to say, my wife and I felt comfortable with Surreybrook and felt it would be a good fit for our son.
There was one other home daycare provider that I went to look at with our son, and actually liked quite a bit. That being said, the deal breaker on that one came when I found out I couldn't drop off our son before 8 A.M. That is just too late for either my wife or I and that one got dropped off our list as well. In all fairness, despite the fact that we feel Surreybrook will be the best fit out of all the ones we have looked at, my wife is going to interview one more home daycare provider today. We shall see. If we left it up to our son, I don't think he would care where he ended up. I went with him yesterday to three places and at every one he got down, started playing with the toys and children, and looked like he was having a grand old time. If he is shy at all, it is only for about a minute before he wants to get down and start exploring everything around him. But it is not his decision, so we will have to make the final one. Another big difference that I noticed between Surreybrook and Kindercare is that at Surreybrook, both ladies I talked to sat right down on the floor with the kids and asked me to do the same whereas at Kindercare, both ladies stood the whole time and seemed less involved with the kids. If anything, almost every other word out of their mouths was about maintaining the "ratio" of kids to adults. Ehh, they are off the list anyway. There seems to be more flexibility at Surreybrook to the point where I could probably take off a day every other week to spend with our son and they wouldn't have a problem with it. I don't think I could quit my day off cold turkey. I don't even think I would want to entirely. If it means that I get a little less work done every other week, than so be it. If they do have a problem with it, I will have words with them and politely explain that since we are paying for the whole week, I can do what I want. But I doubt it will come to that. Well, thats my story about daycare searching. As I told my wife many times when she was getting stressed out over finding a place for our son, trust your gut. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right. One thing I have learned is that our guts our normally right about things. We just have to get out of our heads and listen to them. We also have to keep in mind what will be best for our son, not what will be best or most convenient for us. I think we have found a place that meets all our requirements and will hope that they continue to do so. For now, I will simply enjoy the time I have with my son.