When my son was coming out of the NICU, the doctors asked for my plan for daycare, suggesting that I don’t put him in a center for at least a year. NICU babies need just a little more TLC. They like to be held, and my son was no exception. But really, if you couldn’t walk yet but were stimulated by everything you saw, wouldn’t you want to be held too?
I was lucky enough to have great family support in caring for my son. My sister in law, who has a son 5 months older than my son, was taking an extended leave from working, so when I went back to work after my maternity leave, it made sense to have her watch both our boys. She lives just minutes from us and having family that you trust made the transition easier.
She watched my son for 3 days a week for almost a year. My husband has a different schedule from my 9-5, so between him and other family members, we were able to make up the difference. But we knew at some point his sister would go back to work.
The time finally came. Our game plan was to find a home care setting with a small number of kids for both of our boys to attend. Daycare is expensive and hard to find, but there are also a lot of options. We found one that was affordable and close to home. More importantly, it had openings. It seemed like the perfect fit. We were very wrong.
During my staycation, we had my son start half days on a trial basis. He was having a hard time adjusting, but more than that, the daycare “professionals” seemed to have a hard time adjusting. Somehow in this home care setting that takes no more than 10 kids and has at least 3 people on staff could not read typical child signs for when a baby was tired. It was okay. I could tell the business owner when I thought he might need a nap. I would let this red flag pass.
The rest of the week went okay, well enough that we thought another trial week would be good and we thought it would be okay for my sister in law to do a trial with her son, too. His schedule would be the same, but for some reason the business owner was giving her a different price than me. I told my sister in law to go back to the woman and ask her why she wouldn’t get the same price as me. The business owner got mad at me and asked me not to discuss rates with other parents (aka my family). Another red flag. My sister in law was going to be picking up both boys that second week since I had to go back to work. Each day the supervisor gave my sister in law a progress report on both our kids. Somehow she could discuss my child with her but I couldn’t discuss pricing? More red flags.
It didn’t get better. She told me she would feed my son breakfast and lunch. I get a text one day saying I must feed my son because he was hungry at a time that was inconvenient for her. She also felt the need to tell me she wasn’t running a babysitting service. So a service I pay for because as a working mom I need help was too difficult for her to deliver on. But she couldn’t end there. She had to add a nasty comment.
That wasn’t the end. She would tell my sister in law different things, then my husband different things. She kept changing her story. She insisted she wasn’t changing anything. She took every opportunity to remind me she had a waiting list.
By far the worst customer service I have ever experienced. I should have known when she spelled children wrong on her business card. I can honestly say this woman should not be caring for children if she can’t be decent to adults. This is the first time I’m leaving my child with strangers and this is how you treat someone?
I told her we wouldn’t be back. 2 days later she called my sister in law to tell her she was losing a staff person so she couldn’t take her son for another few weeks. What if we were relying on that? How unprofessional can you be? I thought you had a waiting list?
So now our boys are back home with my sister in law until we get over this and find a new solution. Right now I’m pretty jaded and don’t want anyone I don’t watching my boy. I’m also pretty appalled at this business owner. She has some social skills and customer service to learn.
Putting your kid in daycare is a tough decision as it is. But when you have an experience like this, it totally ruins it. If you open a daycare, you should care about people. You should care about children. You should care about how you handle your business and have happy clients.
I know there are good daycares out there, but for now, my boy is staying with those that will care for him as if he were their own.