Why I chose to put my baby in an at-home daycare.
In a previous article I listed all the pros and cons of the three most common choices when it comes to deciding who’s going to take care of your baby when it’s time for you to go back to work: daycare, nanny or at home. Today I want to tell you why I came to the point where I didn’t want any of those options and decided to put my baby in an at-home daycare. We’ll also see what an at-home daycare is and how it could make your life easier.
I won’t go too much into details to avoid going off topic, so I’ll just recap really quick the steps I went through to get to this decision so that you can better understand what brought me here and why I had to hit the break on the Italian-stallion side of me to avoid diplomatic incidents. 🙂
My story in a nutshell
- I went back to work 3 months after our son Ethan was born, but only for 2 full days a week instead of 5 half days. This choice was forced by the fact that my husband, being a firefighter, works on a rotation shift system: 24 hours on and then 48 hours off. Eventually I could choose to work when he was home and we could alternate at home with the little monster.
- This allowed us to keep Ethan home with us until he was 11 months old and to not spend my entire reduced paycheck on childcare. Basically we kept him home as long as possible. Besides that we wanted to enjoy our son when he was still very little, we spared ourselves 11 months of colds, sickness, pediatrician expenses, medicines, etc. Also, since we’re notoriously lucky, Ethan had pretty bad baby colic until he was 9 months old, so he needed some extra love and attention. Even though sometimes it was rough, I’m happy I was able to take care of him personally.
- At 11 months old, we realized that, not only the little destroyer was ready for new adventures and different inputs, but also that an extra income would have been a good thing for our family. The nanny was not an option due to the cost, so we chose a daycare close to home and for a decent price. At the beginning they seemed to be very friendly and professional, but in time I started noticing things that I didn’t like, such as weird and unexplained bruises, having to pay anyway when they closed for weather with no notice and so on. As I said I won’t go too deep into details to avoid a reflux of bile and I’ll opt in for a yoga session instead.. Ohoomm! Let’s just say that in 5 months we accumulated a lot of issues one after the other until we were so desperate that we decided to get our son out of there, with extreme relief for all of us.
This is the long story short and you might wonder “so what?”. I’ll tell you right away 🙂
I heard that there were educators or baby sitters who would host kids in their own house offering a service that was a half way between a nanny and a daycare. In my specific case, one of my husband’s colleague’s wife is an early childhood licensed educator with previous working experience in daycare facilities. She had her second baby only 2 months earlier and decided to open her own activity at home, so I contacted her and went to see her right after.
The visit went very well. Ethan immediately felt comfortable to the point that he didn’t want to leave. She was very sweet, clearly knew what she was talking about and we were able to go through some crucial points such as:
- daily meals
- particular situations
- education and activities
- and more
With this great solution our son can:
- receive new inputs that are not from his own parents
- have at his disposal a playroom equipped with everything he needs, just like in any daycare
- being in touch with other kids of different ages
- still receive personalized and more flexible care that responds better to his needs. This is possible because at-home daycare have a limit by law of only 5 kids. Considering that Joan, the teacher, already has 2 kids, Ethan and 2 more children would be the highest number of kids she can host. So for example, if Ethan hasn’t slept well due to teething or other reasons, I just have to let her know and she’ll let him sleep longer or serve him softer food, etc. All without changing too much his schedule, which we all know how important that is.
- Avoid to get sick every other day. In case of sickness Joan will not host the kid. If it’s one of her daughters, she’ll let me know immediately. At that point it’s up to me to decide if I want to leave my son to her anyway or keep him home. Clearly only if it’s a simple cold, while in case of more serious illnesses my son stays at home, period.
- Besides the beautiful playroom she set up (I wish I took a picture of it to show you), she also has a backyard safely set up with lots of outdoor activities.
- Have a much deeper relationship with his teacher that we already consider more like a nanny.
But that’s not it because pros are also for mama and daddy:
Thinking of how happy Ethan is when he’s with his nanny is already a great reason to choose an at-home daycare rather than a regular daycare. To make it even better, there are also some nice advantages for us as parents such as:
- The weekly cost is the same of a regular daycare, but if FOR ANY REASON, Ethan can’t go for one of more days, we don’t have to pay her. Payments are weekly, but the cost is calculated on a daily basis. This means that we’re are paying the week in advance like in any other daycare, but if something unexpected happens and we have to keep Ethan at home, that day gets discounted from the following week. Pretty awesome, right?
- Less stress and expenses due to sickness brought home from daycare
- more peace of mind knowing that Ethan is in trustworthy hands
- more days and hours flexibility. We always try to be respectful of pick up times, but if the unexpected happens, Joan doesn’t breath down my neck. Also, when it happens that both my husband and I work on weekends, Joan is available to keep Ethan also on Saturday or Sunday, as long as it’s one or the other and not both days. And clearly she’ll take another day during the week off. Which is totally fine for us as well because we don’t want Ethan to go for 6 or 7 days in a row.
- A better organization knowing in advance Joan’s personal needs (for instance if she has a doctor appointment, etc). She tells us in advance so that we can figure out a solution for that day. After all she’s a mom too, right?
- Last but absolutely first by importance, seeing Ethan’s happy face when I bring him there. Sure he has his mommy moments, but he’s always so happy to see her and he’s showing great affection for her daughters too (who are adorable by the way) 🙂
Signs I made the right choice
Since then our little destroyer is way more affectionate and less fussy, he sleeps better, he’s pretty much not getting sick anymore and he’s learning so many things so much faster. At 20 months old he knows some sign language, he goes to give a kiss to the 3 months old baby as first thing and also learned how to play with dogs respecting their space.
In conclusion he’s definitely happier and, as a logic consequence, we are too.
That’s why, if you have the chance, I strongly suggest to choose an at-home daycare for your little one too. Experiences are very personal, but you can’t deny the advantages that it brings. I didn’t even bother to list the cons because they are already included, but in my opinion, every “con” is widely counterbalanced by a “pro”.
At-home daycare is a mix among all 3 options mentioned in my previous article. It might not work as well for you, so consider carefully all the key factors and the perfect solution will come to you. In case you already made a choice that doesn’t make you completely happy, remember that it’s never too late to change your mind. Whatever discomfort can be easily reversed. At this age kids are just like their mamas: they adjust to (almost) everything! 😉
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