3/10/11 - The Day Care Connundrum

We recently started investigating day cares.  Originally, DH felt strongly that we should send our child to the day care associated with my place of employment - a reputable albeit expensive early childhood education center.  Their tuition is over $1500 a month but with an employee discount it would be just shy of $1200.

I don't love the idea of taking our child to a day care so close to my job.  Although the convenience of having him or her so close by seems awesome at first glance, there are a number of reasons why I feel pretty strongly against it.

Reason number one is my commute.  On a good day, I spend 45 minutes in the car each way.  On a bad day, I can spend well over 2 hours, sometimes as much as 3 hours (See "The Worst Commute Ever" post.)  The stress of my drive regularly brings me close to tears.  In the winter, I dread going to work and all I want to do is leave once I'm here.  I curse like crazy at bad drivers and the only things that keep me from driving off the side of the road on a really bad traffic day are my books on tape and my Droid.  (Yes, if I am sitting in traffic and not moving I will play games, read news online, browse Facebook, etc.  I'm not "driving" if I'm not moving, so give me a break - this is for my sanity.)   I have looked at other jobs for years now, but I have it pretty good where I'm at, and I'm not ready to take a massive pay cut to get a job closer to home - it just isn't financially reasonable at this point.

I can't imagine subjecting a child to that sort of drive, especially an infant.  That poor thing would be strapped into a car seat, facing backwards and wouldn't even be able to see me.  I know that babies sometimes like to sleep during car rides, but I won't be able to do a thing if the baby is crying on those night where my drive takes over 2 hours.  In the winter the driving conditions are treacherous, and there have been times that I thought I might get stuck and just never make it home.  Could you imagine having a child in the car with me at that time??!?! They'll be starving in the backseat, sad, and alone.  (And to top it all off, I'll have to listen to a screaming child instead of my books on tape that are the only thing that can take my mind off of my stress and unhappiness.) 

So yeah, I'm definitely not interested in subjecting a child to a commute that I can barely mentally handle myself.

The second reason for not preferring the work-related day care option is somewhat related to the first - it would be all me. I have to get the kid ready in the morning, take him or her on that awful commute, drop them off at day care, pick them up, drive some more.  Then I would still have to go home and immediately start cooking dinner (which I always dread after a particularly tough commute.)  It's all me, with no help from anyone else.  I could handle it, I'm sure, if I had to.  But it would definitely add of lot of stress on me whereas absolutely nothing would change for DH.

If baby Hartman is at a day care near our house, the responsibility could be nicely shared.  I could take care of morning drop off and DH could take care of afternoon pick-ups.  On afternoons that DH couldn't do the pick-up for some reason, I could still do it on my way home.  If I ever wanted to take a day off but still take baby Hartman to day care for some "me" time, I could do so without having to drive an hour into the city.  In fact, there's no way in hell I would take a "me" day and take the baby to day care if we were using a city day care.  It just wouldn't be worth the drive.   And in this scenario, no one parent would be shouldering 100% of the responsibility.

Those are only two reasons, but they're two pretty significant reasons if you ask me.  Amazing day care or not, I'm not sure that it's ever going to be worth it in my mind.


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