So here we go. Let the search for new childcare begin. Yesterday afternoon we attended a meeting at the boys' childcare center where we learned that the center will be closing this summer. Ugh. So, so bummed.
We suspected this might be coming and I was able to put it out of my mind all week, but driving to the meeting Friday afternoon I found myself getting nervous about whether our suspicions would be confirmed and hoping not. We had received a memo on Monday that there would be a meeting on Friday at 5:00 and no one knew what it was about. Well if that didn't sound ominous...
I am really disappointed, of course, and I was also more emotional than I expected. Zippy has been attending this center for nearly 3 1/2 years and Bee since just before his first birthday. Let me tell you though, other parents were heated. I mean, there were some angry, angry people up in that meeting. Wowza! People were ready to call their senators. No, I'm not joking. That was put on the table. Do not mess with peeps' childcare, county officials!
To me, though, it is what it is. Long story short, the center is getting kicked out of its current space because the county needs the space for something else, and the center doesn't have anywhere else to go. I understand where the county's decision is coming from, even if I don't like it. You know the Serenity Prayer that begins: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference"? Well, it was pretty obvious this decision isn't going to change. So I am sad and a little anxious about what we'll be doing for childcare in a few months and mostly I feel awful for the teachers who found out at the meeting that the center they've worked at for years is closing its doors. But I'm not going to beat my head against a wall trying to change the inevitable.
The thing that had people so heated, and I totally understand this, is that we all want our kids in a safe, loving environment when they can't be with us. And, sadly, there is a shortage of good childcare in our community and, I would venture a guess, throughout much of the U.S.. When I first looked for childcare a few years ago, I visited places that you could not pay me to send my child. I remember walking out of one place on the verge of tears and vowing I would quit my job before I would send my children there. What is even more heartbreaking is that there are parents who put their children in substandard childcare, either because they aren't armed with the information they need to evaluate a childcare center or they don't have any other options. I'm won't add "they don't care" to the list because I think most parents do care. I really believe our country needs some sort of program and regulations that would provide for consistent, quality, free childcare throughout the nation. There is a major problem when families have to wait months and months for decent childcare and then pay a small fortune for it. Hubby and I are lucky that childcare is affordable in our area, but affordable is of course relative.
I think daycare can be a good thing for kids, if they are in a quality setting. My boys both go 3 days/week and through daycare they have developed their social skills, made friends, and formed nurturing relationships with adults besides momma and poppa (which research suggests contributes to kids' resilience). The boys get to experience being part of a community and practice skills that will help them when they move into elementary school. Things like numbers and letters, sure, but also things like respect for others and patience and taking turns. There are things they get out of a day in the classroom that they can't get alone with me at home. Their teachers have also been a resource to me when we run into challenges. And, bonus, they boys have tried new foods at daycare they wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole at home. Daycare got Zippy to eat broccoli. These are all wonderful things. All possible because they are in a great daycare with amazing teachers who truly care for them and know how to nurture their development in positive, healthy ways. Did I mention we were on the wait list for over a year before there was an opening?
Monday morning we'll start calling and visiting daycare centers, looking for a spot for Bee. Fifty other families will be doing the same. There will be a mad scramble for spaces in our community that don't even exist right now. We've been through this before, when Zippy was a year old and his sitter - who is still like family to us - moved across the state. We had 2 months to come up with a new plan. And again a year later, we decided to change centers so he would be closer to home, rather than 30 minutes away near Hubby's job. Each time, I've been worried about finding the "right" place and whether I'd be satisfied with the care my precious boys receive. Each time, it has worked out. So I will just have faith that it will work out again.
What is childcare like in your area? Are there plenty of good options for families? Would or do you feel comfortable sending your child to daycare in your community? Chime in!
Photos, from top to bottom, by monozygotic.com, Andrew Angermann, & Emily Goodstein via Flickr. Some rights reserved.