Thursday, January 22, 2009

Baby Factory Alternative

We officially pulled LL out of Baby Factory yesterday. It would have been earlier, but LL and I have both been house-bound with our colds since last week. Also, even though I knew that I never wanted to bring him back to that place (three days was more than enough!) I also didn't want to officially cancel our spot there without having some sort of alternate care in place, since I do kind of have to show up at my lab one of these days. I've been back to work for almost two weeks, but I've actually been in to work on only two of those days. It's lucky that I'm a student, or I'm pretty sure that I'd be fired by now. Grad students can't really be fired. Once you're like me and past all the major milestones, grad students can pretty much just be belittled by their advisors until they leave on their own. My advisor is fairly clueless about parenting and social lives and the like, but I'm pretty sure that he's also compassionate enough not to do that in this case. Anyway, I had a long talk with the director at Baby Factory, and the silver lining is that she agreed not to charge me any money. Technically speaking, I've already been billed for January, and I'm obligated to give them 30 days notice, so I would owe them for most of February, too. But the director quickly agreed that since LL was only there for 3 days, and the care sucked, they wouldn't charge me for February and I could tear up the bill I received for January. She was also extremely apologetic about the experience, and a little shocked by some of the stories I told her. S thinks she was just putting on an act for my benefit, but I don't particularly care either way. The good news is that we are officially done with that place!

The better news is that we may have found an alternative to Baby Factory. It's a home care place, which is something that I hadn't really considered until our experience with Baby Factory. The woman who runs it seems great, she used to be a preschool teacher at one of the top schools in our area, the kids at her house seem nice and respectful and mellow, the place looks safe and fun, the place has been running for several years, and the parents that I've talked to as references have wonderful things to say about it. (Also, one of the parents is a pediatrician, which makes me feel good about the level of care.) There's an immediate opening because one of the families that used to go there just moved out of the country.

My only reservation is that all of the kids are 2-3 years old, and the woman has never had an infant there before. (She's cared for her own children as infants, but she's never cared for one since she started caring for several kids at once.) Right now, she's looking after 3 toddlers (though one of them is only there 2 days/week), so LL would be child number four, and she'd like to add a fifth as well. My understanding is that five is kind of standard for home care places. But, caring for five kids when one of them is an infant seems unfathomable to me.

The rates are so low compared to Baby Factory... S and I are considering offering her more than her quoted rate in exchange for securing her promise that she won't take in a fifth kid. We're going to bring LL over for a trial run next week, just to see how it feels. (It would have been this week, but LL's not fully over his cold, and he's still so clingy from being sick that I don't think it's a good idea to start him somewhere new for the next few days.) I think that LL will like being around the toddlers, and the little girls we met there when we visited seemed excited to have a baby around, so I think that he'll have no shortage of people waving rattles around for him. But I still worry about anyone's ability to take the time to soothe an infant to sleep for a nap, or even feed a bottle, when trying to keep an eye on a bunch of toddlers.

Anybody out there have experience with these places? Is it really possible for someone to properly care for an infant while also watching three or four toddlers? Anything else we should be looking for, or watching out for, when evaluating small home daycares?

5 comments:

  1. i have no personal experiences with places like these but know a few people that have used home daycares that sound like what you described. There are superwomen who just CAN do it. Your provider may just be one of those simply loving superwomen.

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  2. delurking...i have ran a home daycare for 20+ yrs now. At present I have my 4 yr old granddaughter, 18 mo. old granddaughter and a 2 yr old. I've had them all since they were 6 wks of age. Things here run smooth as silk. It's all about routine and flexibility. I have a routine but I can deviate from that routine if necessary and not have the wheels fall off. I'm also a great multi-tasker, which is a must. Several yrs. ago I had 3 little ones that were 5 wks. apart in age. It was a challenge but like I said routine is the secret. Once you establish your routine everything runs like a finely oiled machine. Once in awhile you get thrown a curve ball and you have to be able to bend but not break.

    If the lady you have chosen is providing care for a pedicatricians child...you can bet she is top notch.

    Good luck with your new daycare situation...I'm SO glad you kicked the Baby Factory to the curb!

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  3. oops fumble fingers...I really do know how to spell pediatrician :)

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  4. I occasionally have the same fear about home daycare, but I agree with the previous commenters -- people who run such places are superwomen who find a way to make it work, creating environments where kids can thrive. For us, the big plus of a home daycare is having a place where kids of different ages interact -- Harry loves bigger kids, and they tend to like him too, so I think having him somewhere where he can have that kind of interaction (and see their behaviors and skills modeled) is great (as opposed to an infant room at a center).

    I'm really glad to hear you found what sounds like a much better place for LL to spend his days!

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  5. delurking to add a comment to.

    Our daughter is in a home daycare part time and has been since 7 months - and the other infant there with her (who we got the recommendation from) has been there since 3 months. And it has been absolutely wonderful. While I know *I* couldn't care for 5 kids, I do think it is possible with a lot of experience and a routine. I also love the fact that our daughter interacts with older kids, and that she always has the same caretaker - a huge benefit in my opinion. While we did go through the separation anxiety phase around 8 months, our daughter now happily goes to our daycare provider - she kicks her legs in excitement walking through the door, and doesn't bat an eye about me leaving. While the toys, etc. at our in home provider aren't as fancy in a center, the personal loving care is more than worth it. I think you will be very happy.

    As for the 5th child - our daughter LOVES having another kid her size at the daycare (she's 13 months and the other child is about 2 months younger.)

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