My story is a common one. When my daughter turned 3 months old, I was faced with what felt like the most impossible hurdle in the world – putting her in daycare full time so I could return to work. I left for work very early in the mornings, so my husband would take on the task of dropping her off. I picked her up at 6pm, often one of the last to do so. She’d fall asleep in the bjorn before we walked into our apartment. My moments with her were mostly kept to the weekends (outside of the sleepless nights… I would actually be excited to wake up at the wee hours just so I could hold and soothe her). Anyway long story short… after bursting into tears to an acquaintance when asked about the situation, I decided we needed to make a change. I have the UTMOST respect to all working moms. Everyone is unique – we have different goals, different financial restraints, different everything. For me, I realized that I needed more time with my girl. More time to read to her, more time to play with her, more time to kiss those chubby cheeks. So I quit my job, which I loved dearly.
Without getting into too much further detail, I realized quickly (after 2 months staying at home) that I needed a bit of variety in my life. I missed working. Loved every moment with her more than anything in the world, but yearned for something else. Started working 2 jobs part time, both of which I can thankfully do at home, during her naps and at night after she is in bed. Skipping ahead to the present – she is turning 2 in the Fall and we’ve decided to put her in daycare again, this time however only part time, 2 afternoons a week (I need to dedicate more time to work & I think the socialization and interaction will be fantastic for her).
So on to the task of finding the right care. Navigating the world of daycares, especially in Park Slope where there are a plethora of options, can be a very daunting one. There are so many to choose from! Here is my best attempt in trying to help someone in this position as I’ve just gone through it a 2nd time:
* Word of Mouth: Talk to local moms and dads, wherever and whenever you can. At the playground, the YMCA, at music class, your mommy group. What do others have to say? I think this is the most valuable way to learn and a great starting point. I came to figure out pretty quickly that many stay at home moms/dads (especially those with two children) have a child in daycare at least part time. They can offer insight on where their child attends and why they would (or would not) recommend it.
* Park Slope Parents: This site is SO super helpful. Not only do they list the different daycares in Park Slope but they share reviews from other parents: http://www.parkslopeparents.com/list/387_Daycare-Providers.html and here they offer tips to help you along your search, what questions to ask, etc: http://www.parkslopeparents.com/Finding-a-Daycare/the-psp-guide-to-finding-and-securing-daycare.html
For me, above all else making that decision was based on trusting my gut. I knew immediately when taking a tour of some of these facilities if I loved or didn’t love the center. Of course there are a whole slew of issues that come into play (curriculum, cleanliness, etc)…but how do you feel about the staff? You’ve got to get some sort of warm feeling from these people that will be caring for your child.
I still have these last few months with her 24/7 and I cringe at the thought of dropping her off somewhere in September…however I know this is what is best for both her and I. Again, we are all unique, our lives are unique, our desires and goals are unique, our ideas of balance are unique. But the one thing we all do share is that we absolutely want what’s best for our children. If you’re in the market for daycare, Park Slope Parents (the site & literally the parents you meet) should be super helpful, guiding you to find the place that FEELS RIGHT to you!