I never noticed how much money influenced my behaviour until my kids started daycare. A professional daycare is very expensive - roughly a mortgage payment amount of cash is taken from my bank account each month to ensure my kids are safe, well cared for, well fed, educated and overall loved. Most of the time I am grateful that the daycare provides really care about my kids and try their best to ensure they are happy and well looked after. But it does boil down to me paying a lot for a service. And when someone pays about $1,500 a month for a service, I think it should be exceptional. That's not usually the word I would use describe my kid's daycare.One of the main factors that makes me a constant thorn in their side is the amount of things that have gone missing while my kids have been there. Underwear, pants, even very rare toys that were sent for show and tell because I was told show and tell is an organized event. Sure, until the toys go missing then the teachers preach to me about how it's not about bringing special toys, it's about just showing things from around the classroom. After having lost so many toys, I feel horrible when I see other kids bringing in toys when I don't let Victor, because I fear it will get lost again and I can't afford to keep buying replacements. I replaced one for $20 after an the daycare launched a very long search, (was not offered compensation) but I can't keep doing that. I have explained time and again to Victor that things get lost at daycare. And when he pleads "But I won't lose it" I'm not shy to place the blame where I feel it belongs and tell him that daycare will lose it.
Daycare isn't just the monthly fee. Between what goes missing, and what we need to have stocked there, there are additional fees that require me to keep buying things that I don't think I should. Victor often has pee accidents, and fine he's not yet 4 that's okay. So that means he needs 5 pairs of underwear and pants to be kept at daycare in addition to the ones I send him in. One day Victor came home in splash pants because I forgot to send in extras. Who makes a kid wear splash pants?! Those are insulated pants that would make he very warm all day. One day they put him in my other son's pants. How well do you think pants that said 18 months fit a 3 year old? Annoyed, I asked if they promoted the kids to pee. Oh yes, every 2 hours. Well, if he's still having daily accidents, I can't be the only one to figure out that maybe it should be more than every 2 hours? is that a huge discovery I have made?
One of the most frustrating parts of all this is that if they would follow through on parent suggestions, this kind of thing could be avoided. Instead of Victor having to wear splash pants, there could be a stock of daycare clothes with their name written in huge letters that could be borrowed, washed, and returned if a parent forgets. I have offered to go to the local thrift store, at which you can fill a garbage bag for $15, and buy them clothes that could be used for these kinds of situations for kids of both genders and all necessary ages. They liked the idea, but not enough to follow through and make the request and allow me the funds.
I know about the daycare extra funds because I'm one of about 5 parents who sit on the parent-teacher committee. I sit on the committee for 3 reasons. The first is that daycare is always doing fund-raising and looking for extra money, which I don't contribute to because between this bill and all my others, I don't have must of anything left. So I give my time instead. The second is that I want to know what's going on at the place where my kids spend the majority of their waking hours. And the third is so I can offer solutions or ideas about how to improve things to alleviate frustrations. An example of this was my suggestion for white boards in drop off rooms. Kids dropped off first thing are not with their teachers until later when more kids arrive. I've often left messages for their teachers that never make it to them (such as, William's diapers are too tight). It is frustrating, but I'm sure that drop-off teacher has her own issues to worry about and can't remember everything. So I suggested a white board be placed in the drop off classrooms, to give parents the chance to write a note about their child for their teacher to see. This was in early November. It's now early January and still no white boards, even though everyone loved the idea at the meeting.
There are teachers at daycare who smoke, which is a source of constant stress for me, and it goes back to the money again. If I'm paying this much, I want to feel my child is in safe care. To me, that's not being left with teachers who smell like smoke. One morning I didn't even let a teacher pick up Victor because she reeked of smoke. Apparently she felt bad about that because I didn't feel comfortable leaving my child with her. Well she could fix that by not smoking before working with infants and toddlers.
There are many days when the frustration of daycare reduces me to tears. So I think why not do something about it so I'm not stressed? There are other daycares. But there aren't other best friends for my kids. Victor is an introvert and very shy around people he doesn't know. At daycare he has a group of friends he talks about everyday and I know he loves to play with them. He likes most of his teachers and knows their names. It's on the bus route for his eventual school. how much stress am I willing to endure so he doesn't have to go through the stress of having everything he knows changed? I'm always on guard when I arrive because I expect something will be off or wrong. It's not a healthy relationship to have with those who take care of my kids.
I really have tried to be understanding. I've told the director that managing a daycare must be like holding water with string. I come up with solutions as best I can so I'm not just someone who complains. But when a teacher is 15 minutes late opening, that translates to 30 additional minutes with traffic and results in me and my husband being late, yes I will yell to hurry up and keep ringing the bell. I have a short fuse when things aren't on time or operating as well as they should. But I know this and I'm working on it, for my sake and for those around me.
Then I grapple with the guilt of even sending my kids to daycare since it causes such deep stress. I could quit my job that I absolutely love and work a retail job that I would hate on evenings and weekends that would let me make the difference. But I don't want to forfeit my career that I've worked so hard at.
I know my kids are happy with their daycare, but I want to be happy with it, too.