As a family, we're stronger
I’ve always been a planner, so when my husband and I decided to start our family, we immediately began searching for child care. We were prepared for the financial hit that child care would pose. It was a tough number to swallow, but when you consider the care that they're providing it's worth it. These kids are learning, and growing, and developing in their classrooms. They're learning the fundamentals of life, and then you add on the fact that these child care providers are cleaning, feeding my child, and changing their diapers? Pay them ALL the money.
We were caught off-guard, though, by the sheer difficulty of finding a child care spot to begin with. We began researching sites in my first trimester of pregnancy, and were immediately struck by how tight the market was. I think we started seeing the word wait list on all of the websites, and that was probably our biggest clue. We were like, wait list? I haven't seen that since I was applying for college.
We eventually placed ourselves on six different waiting lists (at $30-$50 each), hoping to get any placement for our son. When Arlo was born, we still had no clue who would care for him when our respective parental leaves came to an end. My husband and I spent some of Arlo’s earliest days dealing with the frustration and anxiety of our child care challenge. We looked at every angle, but no solution seemed viable. Home providers were wait listed. Child care centers were wait listed. We interviewed nannies, which would've cost twice as much. We looked into nanny shares with friends, but that's tough trying to get a group of adults and kids all on the same schedule with different careers, jobs, hours, and requirements. That didn't work.
Finally, two weeks before I was due back at work in Waterbury, I heard of a new center opening in North Ferrisburgh, and immediately enrolled Arlo. Other than an annual email asking if we wanted to stay on the waiting list, we never heard back about availability at any of the other locations we applied to. When Arlo was two years old, we heard back from one of the child care centers close to home and felt fortunate to move him there.
I regret that we didn’t have more choice in the matter. We felt stuck, like we had to settle for anything. Thankfully, the child care centers we've had are wonderful sources of support for our whole family. I think the three of us, whether it's at child care or at our jobs, are enriched in those environments and as a family we're stronger, because the variety, the education, and the creativity from our teachers is truly remarkable.