The Daycare Question

Not “If”, but “Which one” and “How.”


I’m cool with daycare. I grew up with it, since both of my parents always worked. I have no problem with the idea of sending my babies to daycare. My job/hours are increasing (which is good news!), and though we have an amazing nanny three days a week, we now need childcare for the other two days a week (when our nanny works with another family). We could try to find another nanny…but then we’d have to wade into websites and interviews and judging who could be a good fit… The prospect of a baby-free house two days is actually intriguing. It would easier to get things done without baby distractions. Plus it’s cheaper. So we’ve decided to pursue the daycare option.

However, I have been dragging my feet because the reality and logistics of this are just…a pain in the ass.

First is the availability question. We need two spaces, which makes it a lot more difficult. Plus apparently Tuesdays and Thursdays are the busiest days of the week. Some centers have minimums (2 or 3 days a week) or only prefer/want to fill spots full-time. And of course most of the good places have wait lists that are months long.

Next is the affordability question. There are a lot of daycares in Portland, and many of them are….um….’fancy.’ With pricetags to match. And while that can be an option, even as a stretch, for a family with one child…with two babies and our income, that price point is not an option at all.

Then there’s location. Since both of us work mainly at home, it does seem silly to do the whole packing-up-babies-then-driving-and-unpacking-babies thing only to turn around and go home to work. It would make more sense to me if we were then continuing on to an office. But we don’t, so we obviously prefer to find a daycare as close to home as possible.

And now we get to likability! It’s no good to find a good place nearby if it doesn’t ‘feel’ right. There’s a lot to that too–the facility itself, the people working there…And on a tour you don’t exactly get a lot of time for anything more than, “here it is.”


We actually went on a round of tours earlier this year, but none of them really fit what we wanted (namely budget and location), and we ended up adding a third nanny day instead of dealing with daycares. So in the last couple weeks we toured a new batch of childcare centers. We are not left with an easy decision.

Option 1 is really close–about ten minutes. The people seem nice. The price is on the high end of our budget, but we could afford it. However, the infant and early toddler rooms are actually in the same room with only a half wall separating them. We were in there for a few minutes and the noise almost drove me bananas. Also, the babies couldn’t start there until December.

Option 2 is at the far end of downtown, which means we’d have to fight rush hour freeway traffic. They have a nice playground on site. The infant room is TINY, but the toddler room is great. And the rooms are completely separate. The price is about $100 less than Option 1. However, again, the babies can’t go until December.

Option 3 is downtown, conveniently right across one of the bridges. Easy access, but still freeway traffic. The price is the same as Option 2. There are like five ‘classrooms’ but the entire space is open. Oh my god, the noise. They have an indoor ‘playground’ room, so kids always get to play, regardless of the weather. They do have openings right away.

Option 4 is another (new) branch of a daycare we saw earlier this year. It’s east of us in the next suburb, and it’s not at all one of the places that tries to be fancy. The price is nearly $200 below Options 2 and 3, which would be super great for our budget. Their rooms are all separate, with walls and doors and everything. πŸ™‚ They have an outdoor playground. The infant room is spacious, and the toddler room is too, but doesn’t have a ton of climbable/play furniture. They have openings right away.

So it turns out that noise and timeline are our major factors. The noise of the shared spaces–or my reaction to it–kind of shocked me. That constant noise was just SO MUCH, and in our experience, one or both of our babies can and do get overwhelmed with places that are too noisy. Now, obviously babies must eventually learn to deal with that level of noise, and that’s probably a good thing. But…I don’t want my babies to have to get used to that, or at least not yet.

And that makes me feel like One of Those People who say, Oh no, Not My Child, My Child is Special! Which I hate–one of my major parenting goals is to never be that person.

But for now we can accommodate that without too much trouble. We have decided that we will go with Option 4. It has everything we are looking for, except ideal location (but ideal location is pretty much never gonna happen), and the price can’t be beat. So it’s a pretty easy decision. But now we have to actually make it happen, for real, like starting in the next week or two. That’s the intimidating part and I don’t know how it’s going to go, logistically or emotionally. We’re going to have to leave our babies in a different place, without us, for hours. I think it’s going to be tough for all of us. Wish us luck.

4 thoughts on “The Daycare Question

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  1. you know, I think there is a big difference between “not my special snowflake child!” and “that is really not an option I would choose for ANY child; I am so lucky to be able to actually make that choice!” several hours of total loud chaos every day isn’t an unreasonable thing to want to avoid. we decided that we’ll look for a nanny for when I go back to work (uh… does that mean I need to start interviewing nannies now? not yet, right?) because I don’t like the idea of my non-mobile, non-verbal infant being left in daycare. but I don’t like the idea of any babies being in that situation! I am privileged to be able to afford one-on-one childcare for MY baby, but I think it’s what ALL babies would ideally get.

    daycare sounds like fun for older babies though!

    1. That’s very true, and that’s a much better way of saying/thinking about it. πŸ™‚

      That’s awesome that you’ll get to start with a nanny! And yes, you might want to start looking now, just in case. πŸ™‚

  2. as a not-yet parent, this is one of those questions that seems so complicated to me. it just seems like such a difficult choice, not even just “if” but the “where” and the “how”. my sister in law is a director at a day care school, and i know she’s awesome, but the ones i drive by? look kinda… dumpy. i dunno. it just seems that no matter how much it’s the right decision, it’s going to be difficult, especially after having them around all the time for most of their lives so far. but it sounds like you guys are making a really awesome decision (i never even thought about how loud the rooms must be – but if they’re all open like that? ack. that sounds exhausting!!) and i’ll definitely be thinking easy transition thoughts for all of you guys!!!

    1. Thank you! I am dreading the transitions, quite frankly. It’s gonna be hard. I also wonder if only going two days a week is going to confuse them and make the transition drawn out. Sigh. We’re just gonna have to dive in and hope for the best.

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