My Own Worst Fears Confirmed

One of the reasons I quit working was that we couldn’t find a daycare provider that met our needs. We looked at the big corporate ones and they were just ok. I had heard from people at my former workplace that the ones in town tend to leave pre-crawlers, which Spencer was at the time, in cribs all day. And the row of white cribs lined up against the wall looked to me like cells in a baby jail. To me.

Not that there is anything wrong with big corporate daycare, it wasn’t for us.

We interviewed in-home baby-sitters/nannies. They were either very, very young or very, very old. They had no experience or wanted to charge way to much. The most promising one, a university child development/pre-Ed student, became suddenly unavailable. A lead on a nanny from my breastfeeding group didn’t work out. My job just didn’t pay enough to warrant pricey care in our home.

Not that there is anything wrong with having a nanny, it wasn’t for us.

This left our only other option – in someone’s home daycare. It really was our last resort. And the thought of in-home care terrified me. My friends had gone through 6 trying to find one that worked for them and lost a month’s fee at each one. The two I heard were fantastic didn’t take kids until 2 years old, when the ratio changes. And a then co-worker’s spouse ran an in-home daycare and I considered it, even though I am not a huge fan of mixing personal with business. We were chatting one day and I mentioned that Spencer was having sleep troubles at 6 months and he said all babies should just cry to get to sleep and his wife was known to tame even the wildest nap resister because she had eardrums of steel and the patience of a saint. Scratch that one off the list, my child is not a mustang to be broken. And it wasn’t so much the whole cry-it-out thing, but more the manner in which children were being referred to.

Not that there is anything wrong with in-home care, it wasn’t for us.

So, out of options and not thrilled with my job anyway, I became a stay-at-home mom when Spencer was 8 months old and I have never looked back. It turns out that what I thought I would never do is a perfect fit. I think a lot of my issues stemmed from the fact Spencer wasn’t walking or talking yet. When we have our second child, I imagine I will return to work when the baby begins to toddler. Then big corporate daycare is more like a playgroup.

Not that there is anything wrong with being a work-outside-the-home mama, it just wasn’t for me.

Why is all of this on my mind almost a year after I decided to stay home? Because today at the park was strange. There were a few toddlers there this morning. Spencer doesn’t always play with them, but I let him run around and do his thing. A woman showed up with two kids, a 3 year old boy and a little girl about Spencer’s age, so maybe a year and a half. She had her coffee and blackberry in hand, paid more attention to them than the kids, but that is the norm at my park. She know another mom who was already there with her son. A mom who, by the way, had been on the phone all morning, like when I kept her son from falling off of a 6 foot high slide platform. Twice.

The two women got to chatting and Spencer hit it off with the 3 year old, let’s call him Pete. I was delighted. Spencer was chasing, following him up the slide platform and not looking at me for assurance at all. I was so proud of my little guy. A little bit later, they were sitting at the bottom of the slide ladder, side by side, sticking their hands in the sand and then flinging them in the air. They were both doing it so I saw no harm. When you are at a sand playground, sand is going to fly, as long as there are no tears, it is all good. The woman looked up from her phone and stopped chatting long enough to see what Pete was up too and happen to see a little sand get thrown in the general direction of Spencer’s face.

She flew over to our side of the playground screaming, “Pete, you are grounded, GROUNDED, Get. On. The. GROUND.” Little Pete threw himself on the ground like shots were being fired. When she got over to us, I explained that everything was fine, they were both throwing sand and were just playing. She said, “he is just one of my daycare brats. He is 3 years old and should know better.” I was speechless so she continued, explaining how since toddlers like to throw themselves on the ground anyways when they are being upset or bad, so it is pretty easy to just teach them to throw themselves on the ground and stay still until you can get there and deal with their nonsense. AT this point, I am still speechless. She yells at Pete until he says an obviously confused Sorry to Spencer and I encourage Spencer to say thank you (didn’t happen, still a little hit and miss on that one) and I apologize to Pete for Spencer.

We kind of move over and play in a different area and the daycare woman goes back to chatting with the other mom. Spencer decides he wants to play over by where they are chatting so I roll with it. I overheard eavesdrop on them taking about one of her other daycare kids (who isn’t there that day) and the trouble she is having getting him to nap. The parents of the child in question co-sleep and let the child nap whenever they want on the weekends. Unheard of! This highly displeases her and she mentions her plan to sleep train him without their permission.  And if the kid doesn’t start napping on her terms, they need to stop co-sleeping “which just screws kids up anyway” or she won’t care for the child anymore. I was horrified and thankfully Spencer wanted to go home for our daily 10 am grapes and gabba date.

Now, I am going to admit a little ignorance. Maybe this is normal. Maybe all caregivers expect parents to bend to their dogma and schedules for the convenience of the caregiver. I hope these two examples are the exception and I am pretty sure they are, but my own worst fears about in-home care were confirmed. And I feel relieved and pleased about the discussion I have made and feel extremely lucky and thankful that I have the opportunity and privilege of being a stay-at-home mom. I understand it isn’t for everyone and it probably won’t be be forever. But it is my choice.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a stay-at-home mom, it is just right for me.

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47 Responses to “My Own Worst Fears Confirmed”

  1. I would be horrified too! I have had my girls at in home day cares and it is a hard thing because you truly never know… about anything, right.

    The one they are at now, does not expect my child to lean to their “norm” nor does she sleep train my children. If this happened, I would high tail it outta there.

    We are just in the process of bringing a Nanny into our home (who comes recommended by our current day care, so I feel good about the decision).

    I’m also horrified at the fact that they weren’t actually WATCHING those kids but were instead surfing their blackberry. WOW.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Not watching kids is pretty normal at this park. If it wasn’t so handy, (1 block away) I would totally pick a different park.

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  2. the grumbles says:

    uh, no. this is not normal.

    take jude to an in-home sitter and this is not how she rolls or i would never consider it. when we interviewed potential places we screened for compatibility with our more “natural” or whatever parenting style. when ours listed dr sears on her website with her childcare university credentials? sold.

    when i pick him up each day we talk for a few minutes about any issues so we can tackle it the same way and be more effective (sleep, potty, eating, etc.), that way we’re a team. i guess we’re lucky that our babysitter is awesome? i treasure her.

    those kinds of sitters from the park SCARE ME.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I think if I had been able to look for longer I may have been able to find something, but the options in town really sucked. It is fabulous that you have such a great sitter!

    [Reply]

  3. Natasha says:

    I have a girlfriend back in NC who is going through similar problems with her part-time daycare. She’s still (GASP) breastfeeding her 11mo son, and the caregiver is giving her a hard time about it. She’s saying: he needs to be eating only solids, he’ll get scurvy, and first-time moms hold on too long. pulling a major booby-trap on my friend. And even though my friend KNOWS better, this ‘caregiver’ started to get to her.

    Enter me…my friend called in a crisis – should I wean lil Fred? She knew I’d a) say ‘heck no’ and b) know exactly what to say to counter the woman.

    Ultimately, I told her to find a new caregiver (b/c of the bad advice, but also b/c she has no problem letting the other babies sleep with their bottles!).

    Long story short, I’m with you. I’ve eaten through my savings, but I’ve been able to work as little as possible so that I can be the kind of mom I want to be for Nate.

    I don’t know how you sat and “listened” to that conversation without flying off the handle. I don’t think I could have done that.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I tend to be pretty uninvolved as long as kids aren’t falling off of the equipment. I prefer to come home and blog my rage. Which may be cowardly, but I don’t have to worried about hiding from people at the park.

    [Reply]

    Natasha Reply:

    No, that’s not cowardly, it’s well-mannered. I usually just sit and roll my eyes, but when I hear about kids being mistreated I tend to lose my cool.

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  4. Wow, that is just scary. I would have been horrified!

    My son is in a huge daycare and is 1 of 8 babies in his room. I’ve stopped in there at all hours of the day and my pick up and drop off times vary by about an hour every day. So I’m pretty comfortable with what I “see” being what really goes on there. They let my son nap when he’s tired and while they encourage a nap at the same time every day, they don’t force it. He’s never in his crib except at nap time. I never wanted my kid in a big box daycare and was sad that was how it ended up being (the three people who I know and trust who do in home were all full) I’m glad that while we run into problems here and there, they’ve all been minor and I never feel like my kid is being neglected or mistreated.

    Or yelled at. Ugh.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    That sounds like a great daycare. I just couldn’t find anything decent in town. The pre-schools, however, are fabulous. So there is hope.

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  5. Natalie says:

    My friend is a nanny,and that is definitely NOT normal. I am horrified! I was sitting here with my mouth agape as I read this. I mean…I thought it was extreme for a parent to act that way to their child, but a childcare provider? Um, no.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Ok. Good. If you are horrified it means it isn’t even a SoCal thing.

    [Reply]

  6. Alana says:

    I was a nanny for 2 different families for 9 years.
    As a nanny the things I saw other sitters, nannies, etc do at the park, indoor playground, or whatever was astounding to me. You kind of get to know other nannies or sitters when you go to the same places around the same time. They had a lot to say about the kids they cared for and it was never kind. I once asked why they continued to work with the family if they didn’t like the kid or their family and they said the money was good. Plain an simple without batting an eye.
    I couldn’t believe it. It really made me sad.
    This is one reason I will eat Ramen Noodles, drink cheap wine, and eat cupcakes everyday forever if it means D can stay home with me.
    xo

    [Reply]

    Polish Mama on the Prairie Reply:

    That’s exactly what I hear when I ask the women who I meet who are daycare workers. The money is apparently d— good. Watch, as an example, 6 kids for say $250/week, that’s $6,000 a month. Even if it’s for $150/week, that’s still $3,600 a month. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

    [Reply]

  7. I’m not going to say this is normal, because I don’t want to offend anyone. I will simply put it this way, every single woman who I have met (while thankfully being a SAHM and at the park, library, or elsewhere with my children) who is a daycare provider is like that. So far. I’ve met quite a few (as in well over 40). Again, that doesn’t mean they ALL are out there. But all the ones I’ve met are.

    I especially love the story my friend told me about a daycare woman who came highly recommended by several people. Her daughter had dried poop up her back, on her hands, on her face when she came to pick her up. The woman said it had just happened and that she had changed her. She was also only watching two children that day. I don’t think so. I have two children and have babysat and never had a kid have dried poop on their body after they got changed.

    I even had two daycare moms on my block at my old neighborhood and they would have the kids in their basements watching tv all day (in the gorgeous summer even) while they would smoke cigarettes outside, wash their cars, mow their lawns, clean their houses, and a few minutes before the parents came they would take the kids to play outside.

    A big part of the reason I decided to be a SAHM was when I was looking for a daycare provider, I found out who licenses them and found out the policies for writing violations on a daycare. Then, I would call and ask if the file would be worth looking at for each place (big corporate or at-home). If I would get a resounding yes, maybe even a pause (I called often enough that the kind woman working there would start giving me hints that were not breaking any policies). Every single one I was looking at had multiple violations (and it’s hard to get a violation, really).

    [Reply]

  8. Jenni Chiu says:

    Exact same boat here. We explored all our options, and they were either too costly, or left us feeling uncomfortable.
    Never thought I’d be a SAHM, but here I am!

    Worth it.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Totally agree. Never thought this is where I would be, but I love it!

    [Reply]

  9. I don’t know about America, but I was a summer au pair in France twice and if I had ever so much as loose a child from my sight for more than a minute, I’d be send back home right away. So at this side of the ocean, it’s so not normal!

    [Reply]

    Amelia E. Adler Reply:

    *I meant lose, of course. And “I’d be sent back”. Sorry, my English is lame. ^^”

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks for your input! I am getting the feeling it was unusual from the other comments, you just never know.

    [Reply]

  10. Alison says:

    The thought of someone treating my children like that, especially when I’m not around to defend them, is one of the reasons I’m a stay at home mom. I think (some) daycares do expect you to confirm to their ways. Our oldest was in day are for a short time, and I was constantly being told when I should wean him, when I should start him on solids & what to give him, how I should handle discipline at home so it made it easier on them when he was there, and on and on and on. My biggest issue was the fact that they gave them junk food as snacks. When I asked them not to give him sugar, they said they needed a doctors note. The fact that I was his mother & asked them to stop meant nothing to them. It was infuriating. I have to admit that being a SAHM was a bit lonely at first, but now I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I think a day care has to be chosen carefully and as many people have said, it has to be the right fit. I couldn’t find the right fit, so I made me choices.

    [Reply]

  11. Holly says:

    I sat here reading this with my jaw dropped. I guess it doesn’t totally shock me, but still. You should find out this woman’s business and complain to the Better Business Bureau. Though I don’t have any direct experience w/ nannies except for my neighbors who rocks, normally the nannies I observe in the park don’t seem so bad. But yeah, bitches like this are one of the main reasons we never wanted to have Ivy be in the care of someone outside the family. Although, now that she’s a bit older and mama needs a break we are actually in the process of getting an in-home sitter but only for like, nights out and stuff.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I have a feeling that the caliber of nannies in NYC is much better than here. There are just so many more to chose from. (Also, YAY for nights out!)

    [Reply]

  12. TMae says:

    I think child care is like everything else – some people are awesome at it, and some suck. Parents included. And I think we’re drawn to the sucky examples because they’re so sucky.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Yes. And we notice the yelling of others when perhaps we don’t always notice our own.

    [Reply]

  13. Kim says:

    Wow. I read this to hubby (twice, because I don’t think he was really listening the first time). I just requested another year of leave from my teaching job because I don’t want to put O in daycare until he is able to talk to me about his day, and this reinforces my decision! It isn’t all bad though- my sister works in a baby room at a large daycare center, and she is awesome! I would be back at work if she wasn’t so far away. You just have to find those gems. PS- the stuff about interviewing nannies reminds me of my days as a nanny. One family asked if I used drugs. Even if I did, did they really expect me to say yes? haha

    [Reply]

  14. Midwest Elle says:

    I will be going back to work soon and my daycare choices will be slim pickings since my budge is very tight. I am scared to death about running into a situation like this. Terrified! But I don’t have a choice. :(

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    This wasn’t meant to be scary. It is simply my story. Also? Southern California is full of assholes. I bet things are better other places.

    [Reply]

  15. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy, Amy. Amy said: {Post} Thoughts on daycare, being a SAHM and throwing sand at the park. http://bit.ly/fmTe92 […]

  16. Brigid Keely says:

    I know people who work at day cares and work as nannies and, as with any other job field, you get people who are great at their work and love it and people who are in it just for the money or until they find something better. The care providers you encountered sound pretty dire, but the “grounded/hit the ground” thing is BRILLIANT.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I think the theory behind the get to the ground thing is ok , but the tone was crazy. And yes, this was a horrible example. I am sure there are awesome caregivers out there. I have friends who nannied. And I think there are the great ones, the good ones, the bad ones, and the truly awful ones. Unfortunately, the one I encountered today was the latter.

    [Reply]

    Brigid Keely Reply:

    Yeah, the tone sounds awful, but I think it’s something I can adapt as both a game and preventative/safety thing with my toddler. Because he DOES love throwing himself down on the ground.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    It is so funny how much kids like to throw themselves on the ground, both when upset and happy. My guy likes to go over backwards, too.

    Suzanne Reply:

    I was totally going to try the “grounded” thing with Evan when we’re in situations like last week – where I was nursing in public and couldn’t get up fast and he ran away. If I could get him to hit the deck that would be AMAZING. But freaking out over a kid making a little mess while another parent was CLEARLY supervising? Unnecessary.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I agree that the grounded thing has merit. I took issue with her tone and maybe the phrasing. It seems so punitive. (Maybe because of my associations with endless high school groundings). Something like Freeze! Maybe even Hit the Deck!, which would be perfect for your naval family.

    [Reply]

  17. lishyloo says:

    oh man, that makes me kind of sick to my stomach. i questioned the whole stay at home thing a bit for myself but after truman hit 4 months old and decided “schedules” are for suckers i was SO GLAD i was home with him! very very difficult baby. at age 4 now he’s super into his routines but his babyhood would have thrown any daycare over the edge. “get to the ground??” really???

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Yeah, at 1.5 my guy is still not so big on schedules. I think he would like the company of a daycare, but I pity anyone who tries to get him to sleep. He needs mama cuddles for sure.

    [Reply]

    lishyloo Reply:

    same here, sleepy time is a ritual for both of my boys, even naps. extremely grateful to have the time to do this for them. they are not going to want me to cuddle and read to them forever, i am taking advantage while i can!

    [Reply]

  18. saretta says:

    No one can take better care of your child than you. If you are a caring, involved parent.

    [Reply]

    saretta Reply:

    Meant to add that I’m visiting from SITS!

    [Reply]

  19. Suzanne says:

    I don’t know if you intentionally didn’t mention it or if you’re going to hate me for bringing it up, but have you heard of “I Saw Your Nanny…”? It’s a website/message board for moms/babysitters to tattle on other babysitters/nannies so if you have kids who go to certain parks (it used to be all in NYC but it may have expanded)(I’m not Googling or linking on purpose) you can scan for reports about your nanny. People say stuff like “Central park: Middle age Hispanic nanny in a white jacket spent the whole time on her phone instead of watching adorable blond 2 year old boy in overalls. She let him fall down twice!!!!”

    On the one hand, it’s all so immature and bitchy (and some of it is VERY racist, which there is never any excuse for) to be spying on everyone around you. On the other hand, I’d really want to know if the person watching my kids was behaving like the nanny in your account.

    I’m glad at this point in time we’re financially stable enough that I can stay home.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Oh no. No clue it even existed. That seems like it could go very, very wrong quickly.

    [Reply]

  20. LBDDiaries says:

    Poor little Pete; he’s going to have issues and that woman -who does she think she is? I wonder if Pete’s mother knows what’s going on? I sure would have wanted to tell her! I would have had to have a come to Jesus meeting with that so-called daycare woman quick-quick. I had a nightmare one who beat my child for crawling up on her bed. He was 3. She beat him with a thin curtain rod that left long stripes then lied about it when I confronted her. She fast quit lying when confronted with evidence. He couldn’t have crawled on her bed if she hadn’t left the child gate open. Needless to say, Aunt Dottie’s daycare went bye-bye. Grrrr.

    [Reply]

  21. Jules says:

    When I was in college, I worked at a small, family owned day care. We began caring for children at the age of 2. They had a “nap time” in the afternoon. Some children actually slept, others just lied down. But everyone did have to be on a cot. They were allowed to bring in blankies, toys, etc for this time on their cot. It was a relaxing time because the rest of the day was filled with centers, playing, reading, art. etc.
    But expecting a 3 year told to “know better,” is asinine. They don’t have those logic skills. She should have gone over and said, “Throwing sand is not a good idea. It can get in your eyes. Let’s play with it this way.” And then demonstrated better ways to play with it.
    I feel bad for little Pete.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I think having all of the kids on cots for quiet time/nap time is great. I didn’t completely go in to what the woman was saying, but she kept the “problem kids” in a separate crying room. I am pretty sure she is an extremely bad caregiver and while they are out there, it is surely not the norm.

    [Reply]

  22. Tricia says:

    I am appauled at some of the things I see/hear at the playground. And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to help a little one because mom is too busy smoking and talking to her other smoking friend to care for her too-small-to-be-alone child. I’m a SAHM, too; it’s just what works best for our family. I love this post because it is HONEST, and it also shows how you came to your conclusions…it’s brilliant. Great writing, Amy!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks! I am so thankful that they outlawed smoking in play areas of parks around here. That would drive me nuts. People are mostly on their phones.

    [Reply]

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