Childcare & the space between

I was looking frantically for childcare a few weeks ago when my mom, who is from Indiana, had to go back home.  She had faithfully been watching my little bundle of joy anytime day or night.  The kind of care that has no price tag, because it’s done with love & that’s priceless.  The thing is,  I want the same thing for my baby girl even when she’s gone.  Unfortunately, we only have 1 grandma visiting in town.  I made countless calls to daycares, & what I’ve found is that childcare in new york city costs more than my private collegiate education per year.  If you want a daycare, you have to get on a waiting list.  If you want a nanny or a sitter to come to your home, your in jockeying position with all the Upper East Side Park Avenue mommas who don’t have a job, can offer benefits, paid vacation, & more money than I make in a year.
Best bets:

  • If you have a limited budget, be up front- you won’t get people who will waste your time.
  • Tell all your friends- word gets around & people who may not normally do childcare are free for a few weeks here & there.  You can cut & paste together a schedule of various people who won’t tire of your baby & will find it novel to make cash for doing something they’d do for free a few days here & there.
  • Post fliers- very 1960’s, but it works.  Take your baby with you (if s/he is not a crier) & get them all dressed up.  Win the hearts of the business owners where you post the fliers & they will be your advocate.
  • craigslist- be direct about what you can afford & you’ll sort through the riff raff.  Also, make sure to meet initially in a public space

I didn’t use any online services or pay anything to find my sitters.  I had interviews with a lot of wonderful women, even after I found the people I was going to use (notice I said people, i have a group of folks I rotate & have as backups) I continued answering calls so if one person fell through, I had backups.  I also got a lot of great advice, & I also got yelled at for being a cheapskate. Someone actually called to yell at me because I wasn’t paying enough…then she asked me to hire her.  it takes all kinds- so get a thick skin & stick to your guns.  Some people think a posted wage is a starting point for negotiations.

From one nanny I really wished I could hire (but she required full time year round & was looking for something that we couldn’t offer) she said “make sure you & your husband have a date night.  I’m available evenings if you need me.”  I laughed & said “yeah right, like we can afford a night off after we’re done paying you”  She replied, “honey, you will go round & round for the next 18 years & wake up one morning next to a stranger if that’s your attitude.  find the money or take a day off work, because the relationship that you let go must be worth more than what you’d pay me.  Otherwise, you’d never have made that commitment in the first place.  Don’t ever forget it.  Your baby needs to see what a real relationship is, & it takes work & time apart for each other.  This is how we build a future for ourselves, by showing our children the type of life we want them to lead.  I tell all my families this- even if you don’t hire me- take a date night at least once every 2 weeks or you’ll regret it.”

I’ll remember Ms. XX for the rest of my life & will work to remember this advice.  It does work wonders.

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