Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Finding Quality Childcare

In my Purposeful Conception class, I recommend that people who are trying to conceive should start thinking about what kind of birth they want to have and who they would like their care provider to be. Once you become pregnant, it can be stressful to "shop around," depending on how the first trimester is affecting your body. Even though it might feel like putting the cart before the horse, I actually think it's a very useful strategy (even if you don't end up getting pregnant for a long time, moving to a new city, or something else). It helps you understand what your options are and helps you start to clarify what you want for yourself. I think staying one step ahead can really help minimize stress (such as learning about how to care for an infant while you're pregnant, instead of waiting until the baby arrives and spending all your time trouble-shooting on Google).

My related recommendation about staying one step ahead has to do with childcare. If you plan to use childcare at any point before your child enters the formal school system, I recommend that you start touring facilities when you're pregnant. First, you might have to get your child on a waiting list sooner rather than later, and secondly, it's a lot easier to do a tour without having to secure a babysitter for your baby (since some places ask for you to leave the baby at home).

I have been having a heck of a time trying to find childcare. At first, I thought I would stay home with Henry for the first three years of his life until he started school in pre-K3 (relying on some kind of informal childcare exchange to free up some time for me to go to meetings for Montessori For All). I put him on a waiting list for a Montessori school in Austin when he was about six weeks-old.

However, once I learned that Montessorians recommend placing children in community around one year-old (and I started a part-time job working for a new charter school in Austin and I started to get stir-crazy at home), I began exploring childcare options. I found a former Montessori teacher who does Montessori in her home (and she lives within walking distance of our rental house!) but she's suddenly full. She might start to be able to fit Henry in two days a week on Tuesday and Wednesday, starting at the beginning of March.

Since I'll need to work 20 hours a week at my part-time job and do my own work for starting Magnolia Montessori For All, I'm going to need more than two days a week. Finding an amazing facility on short-notice is not easy. Seriously, every reputable Montessori daycare I call is full. I found one that had a spot open, but I didn't feel comfortable when we toured there.

At this point, we seem to have only one other option. A new daycare just opened in North Austin, which touts being "eco-friendly" and they mention the word Montessori in their brochure (thanks for sending me the link, Kelly!). Since Henry is going to start real Montessori school this fall, I'm less worried about the Montessori piece (although it still matters to me). The downside of our one remaining option is that it is far from our house in South Austin. However, it is right by my work (although some days I won't be going to that job, I'll be doing stuff for Magnolia Montessori For All).

As Facebook says, "It's complicated."

Anyway, my recommendation is to start touring and getting your name on waiting lists when you're pregnant!

Today on 2000 Dollar Wedding: A delicious recipe for creamy tomato soup!

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Anonymous said...

Boy, I don't envy this. It's never fun, and you always have to compromise on something. But it's always, always expensive. It's even harder to shop for child care than housing because you don't know what the options are. Maddening. You always find out about the "best" one when it's too late or full.

The best provider I had was an unlicensed, under the table thing with a SAHM neighbor. She only took my two, and it was no big deal. You might ask your neighbors, if you know any. You could also check out church bulletin boards nearby. You might find a SAHM who needs some cash.

I would think the hardest part would be emergency child care, if you have no family support. I was always lucky to have family when things hit the fan.

Anonymous said...

It's SO hard to find good daycare, and people are willing to pay out the nose for it. In my city, a Montessori daycare in a hip neighborhood with qualified leaders would be full in days, no matter what they charged.

This kind of seems like a sign that it is hard to find childcare and it's expensive and nobody does Montessori -- and at the same time you want to start a school...

sucker4acoustic said...

I agree! We live in South Austin as well, and things are getting shaken up at my work. Right now my boys stay home with either my husband or myself (our schedules work around each other's) but even looking into two days a week for an almost three year old and six month old is so crazy expensive and there are hardly any infant spots open anywhere!

Ms. Beltran said...

Love the name of your school. Why and how did it come to be?

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ sucker4acoustic: We should meet at Garrison park for a play date sometime! E-mail me if you're interested...

Hi, Yolanda! I wanted all the schools to have a unifying name (like KIPP), and to be connected to the local community, and to sound more like a private school than a high-performing charter school. I sent my parameters out to friends, and they helped me come up with the idea of using Montessori For All as the unifying name and then name each school according to a regional tree. If the school name gets shortened in the community, it will be "Magnolia Montessori" but when we reference it in print, it will be Magnolia Montessori For All. Kelsey (at http://risingshining.com) generated a list of trees to use when we open more schools later down the line.

Kelsey said...

I spent the summers of my youth at the Garrison Park pool! Haven't been back in years but just hearing the name brings back memories.

Also, I heart trees. :)

Sara E. Cotner said...

Oh, Kelsey, it just breaks my heart that you live so far away. I mean, I have trouble getting people to move to Austin (AUSTIN!) because they want to be near their families (which I understand and support). But your family is HERE. In Austin! You should be here already! Can't Chris just transport all his amazing work to East Austin? The local farm movement is seriously awesome. Plus, you should not be anywhere near Hell's Angels (cannot believe that story!).

Montessori Mama said...

Isn't there already a Magnolia Montessori? Are you working with them?

Kelsey said...

Haha, Sara I know! Who knows what the future holds, anything is possible! As I was thinking about my neighbor's "message" I had to laugh since that is about the exact opposite of what would happen in an intentional community.

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