The little man smiled for the first time today.
Today I took the day off from work so we could check out a few daycare facilities.

While I have little doubt that my wife would love to be a stay-at-home mom indefinitely, it probably wouldn’t be in the family’s best interest for a host of reasons…

You know, health insurance, schedule flexibilty, and job security being the three biggies that come to mind first…

We’ll play it by ear but, for now, the plan is to drop the little guy off at daycare each morning once the maternity leave ends in another 6 weeks.

Not really knowing what to expect on a daycare tour — I was envisioning a “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” type of set-up aimed at little kids — we pretty much walked in blindly.

Sure, we checked out a bunch of websites for the daycare providers in our area but, like so many other things, they never list a price.

Now I’m not saying that the pricetag attached to the care is all that matters, I just don’t want to be caught off guard when the price drops — like I have been for a few of our home improvement projects.

Not really knowing what to expect, the first place we went was right upfront — care for the little guys (6 weeks to 3 years old) for all five weekdays runs $231 per week.

Not that we were taken aback by the number, they further justified it by saying that that’s only $4.86/hour.

Sounds like a deal, though we don’t intend to have him there as many hours as it would take to get the hourly rate down that low — they just took the $231 and divided it by the number of hours that they’re open during the week.

It was a nice modern looking place — everything was new and it showed. Nice and bright, well-staffed, and equipped with a security system that rivals the vault at any downtown bank. I’d say that we were impressed. Presentation-wise, from the glossy handouts that they gave us to the person that walked us around, this place was going to be tough to beat.

The next place we visited is a little off the beaten path. It’s a place that I know a few people from work have used and, six months ago, if you’d asked me to name a daycare place in town, well, this would’ve been the only one I could name off the cuff.

When we walked in, well, it just had that nursery school feel, you know, there was a hint of “controlled” chaos in the air even though we weren’t anywhere near any of the children yet.

The director gave us the pitch and then we ventured behind the big wooden door for the tour portion of the presentation.

Wow. It brought back memories of my own nursery school days…

Little cubbies with name tags for all of the kids to put their stuff.

Children just talking everywhere about, well, nothing at all. There was one kid, probably four years old, that just wanted to say “Hi” to us. Repeatedly.

While it was a little messy and cluttered, it seemed pretty structured and under control at the same time.

I couldn’t help but notice all of the Fisher-Price toys from the 1970’s all over the place — the kind that I’ve looked for but haven’t been able to find because they don’t appear to make them anymore.

Seemed like my kinda place, though, I suppose I should expect daycare to have modernized some since the 1970’s. I’m not saying that I’m against pretend plastic cell phones for kids…

(No wait… That’s exactly what I’m saying. Give me that plastic rotary phone any day of the week and don’t tell me that the coiled cord is a choking hazard…)

In short, it was cool to see the kids playing with the *exact* same toys that I played with.

One thing that was very different though were all of the hand sanitizer machines on the walls. I was a little turned off by the whole germ-o-phobe vibe. We even had to cover our shoes with little shower cap like things.

I understand it but I don’t agree with it. It’s almost as if one OCD parent changed the way things are done for everyone.

Somewhat related, While the director was telling us about the no-peanut policy in the building, I couldn’t help but think back to my own childhood.

I was one of those kids that was allergic to peanuts. I’m still one of those kids. But you know what? Just because I couldn’t eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich didn’t mean that no one in my entire school could eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That would’ve been ridiculous…

I dunno, it seemed a little overboard to be so heavy handed but maybe that’s just me?

I was smart enough to know that I couldn’t eat a peanut M&M. I like to think that kids today with the same death allergy are smart enough to know it too…

So, the comparable weekly rate for this second place is $225 per week. They didn’t bother to justify it, just threw it out there. They also told us that there wasn’t an opening for when we’d like to start but that they’d keep us posted.

So, at then end of the day, we were kinda torn.

I don’t want to bash one over the other so, for the record, both places had the no-peanut policy. Both were also crazy with the wall-mounted hand sanitizer machines. Both seemed to have a great staff working there. And both also seemed to be filled with kids that were respectful, happy, and having a good time.

I’d be comfortable leaving him at either place.

The costs, which will fit into our budget, are all but identical too — around $1000 per month — so it comes down to which place gave us the better vibe.

I won’t lie, I thought it was really cool to relive my own nursery school days at the second place. I’d like him to go there.

At the same time, it was old. It was a little run down. And it, I dunno, just didn’t seem with the times. (Obviously?!) Really, they don’t accept credit cards — they’re that old fashioned.

My wife prefers the nice, new, and modern place. For $6 more per week, it probably is the better choice.

Best of all, they have an opening for us too.


  1. We just started our boys in a state of the art facility. Multiple playgrounds, water parks, homeroom teachers and teachers for each class. Sounds more like the first one you described. Once we saw it we knew that is were we wanted them to go if they couldn’t be at home. Our one guy is really really shy and so far he seems to love it. They are super patient and caring, no hand sanitizer everywhere, but there is cleaning staff always vacuuming and cleaning toys and such. Our kids haven’t been sick yet.

    It is also a no peanut allergy, which we appreciate a ton. Our little guy(1.5 years) had a severe reaction at six months. It only takes one kid to share a PB cookie or one peanut MM. Maybe once they get to school they might know better, but under 4, I would rather be safe than sorry. Depending on the reaction we are talking possible life or death.

    By the way our would be about $1200 a month for one boy in NJ.

    Currently we are paying $300 a week for both boys for Monday Wednesday and Friday partial days. It costs us more, but they get to be home with Mom more. She is a part time consultant.

  2. @Happy Rock Yeah, we’re definitely leaning towards the more modern place. Nostalgia aside, it’s the better facility…

    As for the peanut thing, well, I could rant and rave about that all day and, in time, I probably will.

    Oh, and thanks for the real number — it makes me feel better to think that we might be getting a deal up here in Connecticut. $1200 in Jersey, huh? Wow.

  3. I really hope what I’m about to say doesn’t rub you the wrong way. I mean this with the best of intentions and NOT to be an internet jerk.

    How does your wife feel about returning to work? Is she 100% ok with leaving her son in daycare at such a young age? Six weeks is so tiny! You say you’re pretty sure your wife would love to be a SAHM. Why can’t she be?

    In my un-asked for opinion, if she wants to be a SAHM, that would be the best thing for your family — not some illusion of a better financial situation.

    I don’t know your situation, of course, but is paying $231/week (that’s $12k per year!!) really worth it?

    Brainy Smurf, does your employer offer health insurance? Or does your wife make the big bucks and have a generous benefits package?

    Nobody truly has total job security. Anyone is replaceable. No one is immune from layoffs. If you go from two incomes to one, then yeah, it’s a little more frightening when the one person loses their job. But, that’s why we have emergency funds, ya know?

    I don’t know what you mean by “schedule flexibility,” so I can’t really comment on that.

    I don’t know if your wife is breastfeeding now, but from what I hear from other moms, pumping is hard work. She might be able to pump at work, but expect to supplement with formula. Formula and the related accessories = megabux.

    In daycare, your little one will certainly catch colds. Which one of you will stay home with him when he does? How will that affect your jobs?

    Babies grow so stinkin fast. My son is six months old now and I’m amazed at all that he’s learned how to do in his short life.

    I would be heartbroken to know that his first smile wasn’t at me, but at his babysitter. Or when he first rolled over, he was at daycare instead of at my feet.

    Maybe daycare really is the best option for your family. But maybe it isn’t — keep on exploring it. Babies need their mamas, and mamas need their babes!

    Talk with your wife some more. If you’re both certain you want to go the daycare route, what if you delayed it until your son was older?

  4. Your baby sure has a cute case of “gas” 🙂

    I sub at a pre-school, and let me tell you, hand sanitizer is the way to go! It seems obsessive, but infants are always leaking something, 3 year olds never remember to flush and/or wash their hands, they all seem to suck on various bizarre objects (door handles, really) and kids of ALL ages are always putting their fingers in some orifice it doesn’t belong. You will learn to appreciate sanitizer as smurfy gets older.

    Also, re: the peanut allergies; I was totally with you on this one until the school nurse explained it to me. With peanuts, the allergen is in the oils of the nut, so a child who eats a pb&j sandwich and doesn’t wash his hands (as I’ve already stated that they don’t) can spread that oil all over the room in a matter of minutes. Some kids are so allergic that merely touching the oil with their hands (before they put the toy in their mouth) can cause a severe reaction.

    Have a great day!

  5. @Kacie No worries — I won’t think of you as keyboard commando or an internet jerk. 🙂

    You raise a good point. Without putting words into my wife’s mouth, I think a lot of it has to do with our family’s risk tolerance — which I suppose the finances are a big part of.

    We’re more of the sacrifice-now-to-benefit-later. I have little doubt that our children will still be children when we’re all but retired on the course that we’re currently on. Latchkey is unlikely. Depending on how quickly the public school system declines, I’m not even taking home-schooling off of the table…

    As for the costs involved with daycare, yes, $12k is definitely a lot of money but that’s one of the reasons that we waited so long to have children (we’re in our mid-30’s) — at this stage, it’s a cost that we can afford. I know some people say that waiting until you can afford children is something that leads into an eternal delay but I disagree. We waited. And now we can afford it.

    My employer does offer health insurance — a less desireable plan at a MUCH higher rate. On the flip side, my benefits package was better until the match on the 401k was dropped earlier this week. Though I guess that I’m the one that makes the “big bucks”, her job “wins” in all other categories — income potential included.

    I also think that my wife takes pride in her position at the company. She’s important and definitely on the up-and-up. Best of all, her employer is “flexible” enough that a pregnancy or a maternity leave won’t derail her progress. That’s very cool and certainly not something that’s very common either. In that respect, she has a great job.

    Again, with the other related costs involved in raising a baby, I have to say, the longer you wait, the easier it is. That’s what we’ve found anyway.

    Had we had the little one 10 years ago, wow, things would have been tight. No doubt, one of us would have had to have stayed home — daycare would have been too expensive. I’m not certain that we would have been able to buy a house. No way we’d have a BMW in the garage. No way would I be able to continue to blow money on dirty hockey jerseys. Not that those last two things are important in the grand scheme of things, I’m just saying that we’re at a stage now where adding a member of the family isn’t crippling to the budget.

    I also think that daycare is in our baby’s best interests. I’ll be honest, neither my wife or I are the most social people. I mean, if put into a social situation, I can certainly come across as very outgoing but it’s definitely not something I seek out.

    As early as possible, I’d like to “break” that in Duncan and throw him into social situations so that he’s not as shy as I was as a kid (and even now). A room full of children his own age is, in my book, the best way to do that and, unfortunately, I don’t know enough people who have children this age to organize something like that on my own.

    At the same time, don’t get the idea that we’re yuppies who’re gonna drop their kid off each day like it’s nothing. Yeah, it’ll be hard and, yeah, of course it’s not exactly what we want to do but it seems like the wisest move — for all parties involved — right now.

    Oh, and thankfully his first smile already arrived — and we had the camera ready! 🙂

  6. You should also consider which one actually has an opening…

    Picking a daycare is the most difficult part of being a new parent. If an in-home daycare setting provided by a good friend or close family member is available, then that might also be another option to consider. The cost is usually considerably lower, and your child will get more individual attention.

  7. First, I’m really surprised that you waited until AFTER the baby was born to try to make arrangements for six weeks out! I know I did that much sooner, so I’m glad you even found two places you would consider.

    The no-peanuts & hand sanitizers- it is what it is now. You won’t see those things going anywhere & I’d even expect them if you look anywhere else. Little kids don’t know that can’t have peanuts & they are very germy!

    I’d go with the first place. I love how you feel all nostalgic & such, but I’d imagine a good bunch of those toys have been recalled for safety issues. Sure, you survived them, much like we all survived w/o car seats. We know better now. If a daycare can’t keep new-ish, clean, well maintained toys available for babies, how are they on new carpets & baby equipment like changing tables, swings & high chairs? Something to think about.

    Go with your wife on this one. Honestly, she’ll have the most guilt about daycare & she needs to feel she’s doing the best she can for the baby

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