Wednesday, January 10, 2007


On changing child care providers

And you thought I'd gotten over the angst-ridden navel-gazing that has predominated the past month or so. Ha, I mock your naivité. In my world, there is ALWAYS something else over which to fret.

I think I might be in the market for a new child care provider.

Our decision to consider changing (could I possible hedge any more?) isn't precipitated on anything cataclysmic, which almost makes it harder. The boys love their current care provider so much they call her 'auntie'. They've been with her since Tristan was 16 months old, and way back then Tristan was the only child in her care. But lately, it seems like every month there are new kids there. She has two of her own, both school-age, plus my two (although Tristan is in school half time), plus two more preschool boys, plus one or two toddlers, and a handful of other kids under six on a rotating basis. A lot of them are part-time or kids of shift workers, so they're not all there all the time, but the house always seems full to capacity. She has a helper, but still - that's a crazy amount of kids. There's one new kid in particular who is rambunctious and rough, and the boys complain about him regularly. This week, he broke one of Tristan's new Christmas toys, and the boys have said he likes to run into them and knock them down. Not an ideal situation.

Last August, the caregiver took a two week vacation and we had to find substitute care. Both Tristan and Simon still talk longingly about when they went to Tanya's house, and how much they liked her. Unfortunately, she only had openings for the summer, and is too far from us to consider for regular care. However, I find this above everything else very telling. It was a week and a half over five months ago, and they still ask about her.

But - and, isn't there always a 'but'? - my fear of change is banging a gong of alarm at the idea of finding a new caregiver. What if a new caregiver isn't as flexible, or as loving, or as patient? What if we make a really bad choice and she's an axe murderer, or she lets them watch Barney?

But then, cries the barely-repressed optimist, maybe Mary Poppins is just around the corner, waiting with cuddles and crafts and nutritious meals for two loveable boys to complete her otherwise perfect life. Hey, it could happen!

Most of my friends have struggled with daycare, going through several providers and even being stuck without anyone and having to miss work to cover off, which makes me even more leery to risk our current stable, if not ideal, arrangement. It's the old "devil you know versus the devil you don't" connundrum.

And it's hard to find the perfect daycare provider when you are forced into it because you change neighbourhoods, or your caregiver closes up shop, or something like that. But to willfully bring on the experience of not only searching for the right caregiver, but then making the transition and then learning to live with the peccadilloes of another person taking care of your most precious possession... ugh. I must be crazy to even think about it.

But I can no longer ignore the whispers of concern from my gut. Over the last several months, I've struggled to decide whether the idea of change was worse than the idea of stasis, and the accumulated weight of many small concerns has finally tipped the scales far enough that I'm tentatively looking for a new care provider. I've put up ads on two popular free online services, and had a few responses already. At least I have the luxury of being able to take my time and find what is hopefully a perfect fit.

Hey, at the very least I can milk the hell out of this for some good blog fodder, right?