The second time I found I was pregnant, I told my husband. And then I picked up the phone and called my daughter’s daycare and told them. You think I’m kidding.
Making the decision between a daycare center, an in-home daycare, or hiring a nanny is a big one. If you’re pretty sure you’re going the daycare center route, here’s what you need to know:
I moved to Nashville when I was just a few weeks pregnant with my first daughter. It was an insane time - starting a very demanding new job, buying and moving into a house, and settling into the new town without knowing more than a handful of people at best. That and I was throwing up every other minute…good times.
No one thought to tell me that about the daycare “situation” here in Nashville, especially in Davidson county. To say it’s competitive is an understatement, due to an inexplicable lack of spots for full-time 5 days a week care. There are plenty of part time programs or ones that start from 18 months old or even 2 years old, but if you’re planning to go back to work around the usual 12-week mark at an 8-5 job, here’s my advice: GET MOVING.
I had no idea I should have put our names on daycare lists the minute I found out I was pregnant, or ideally, even before that time. And even then, we wouldn’t have gotten into some of the better centers convenient to our home on the west side of town. The waiting lists are long, and after the required tours you’re invited to plunk down an application fee that secures your spot on the list. This guarantees nothing other than that your name is on the list.
And even if a well-meaning daycare director tells you that you’re guaranteed a spot when you need it, don’t get all cocky and stop putting your name on other waiting lists as a back-up plan. Just take my word on this one.
This Tennessee Government list of Child Care providers should be your ultimate resource. Print this bad boy out and make notes along the way. You’ll be making a LOT of phone calls and scheduling tours, noting availability and where you put in applications. Angie’s List also has some good articles and reviews.
The best resource you have, though, is your network of parents here in town. People are obviously biased, but for good reason – having been through three daycares for my oldest daughter before finally getting into the one we’d wanted from the start, I can tell you the vast majority of people don’t keep their kids somewhere that’s just ok . The more people you know who have their kids at a certain daycare center near you, the better. If someone you know took their kid out of a center to go somewhere else, press them for the real reason why and don’t let them get away with a vague answer such as “It just wasn’t a good fit.” You need to know why, keeping in mind everyone can have an unusual experience and one mildly bad review shouldn’t be enough to scare you away.
I’ll talk more soon about what to look for in a good daycare, but for now, take that pregnancy test and celebrate the positive sign – and then start making daycare calls if you have any inkling that you’ll be returning to work full time once your bundle of joy has arrived. You’ll thank me later.