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A perfect solution

May 15, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
For more than a year, I've been promising my mother-in-law, the saint who takes care of my daughter three and one-half days a week, that I would find a child care solution for Thursdays.

When I first went back to work, Thursdays were handled by a good friend in Wheeling. Early last spring, she understandably decided having a busy toddler in the house along with her own six children was not as easy as caring for a babe-in-arms. God bless her and her children for being so good to Emma for a year!

Now our friend and neighbor helps out, watching Emma on Tuesdays (she couldn't do Thursdays) while Grandma handles Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Wednesday afternoons.

That's great, except for two things: 1. It's a bit much for Grandma, who's in her 70s; she needs more down time, and 2. Grandma likes to go knitting on Thursday afternoons. I've been promising her that Thursday duty would be temporary. I didn't want to deprive her of her much-needed rest or her knitting circle, which she so enjoys.

I would find a sitter. I was confident I would find the perfect solution -- I'd convince my neighbor to switch to Thursdays; or I'd find a bright young college student with no Thursday classes who could come to my house ... or another super stay-at-home mom like my neighbor who would take Emma into her home ... or a grandmotherly type who would teach my daughter old-fashioned finger plays and how to bake cookies.

You've heard of Pollyanna, right?

I admit sometimes I'm blinded by own my optimism and over-confidence.

When none of these dream sitters fell into my lap, I reluctantly started looking at local day care centers. Formal day care is the only option for many working families but not an option I relished. I quickly found out that until Emma turned 2 in March, no one would take her for one day a week -- it had to be multiple days.

On a work-related visit in the winter, I discovered a new day care center. It would take her one day a week -- but again, only after she was 2. I liked it enough that I thought we (read: Grandma) could stick it out. Unfortunately, following Emma's 2nd b-day, she was still on the waiting list. The center has a capacity of 12 and no Thursday openings.

Every week, I hoped I'd hear. It didn't happen.

Last week, things came to a head. Grandma fell (she's OK) and she couldn't watch Emma Wednesday through Friday. I felt I'd pushed her goodwill to the limit and it was high time I make good my promise to give her Thursdays off. I used my time off work with Emma to find the perfect center.

I called the first center but Emma is still on the waiting list -- she's next up, but they can't take her yet. Would I consider Fridays? No can do.

Next, I inquired at a brand new center in Wheeling. I was disappointed to learn it considers a full day 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then charges for before and after care. It would have cost $48 ... yes, that's for one day.

I then called a popular local center and visited, but it seemed too big and overwhelming.

Finally, I tried another local center that comes highly recommended by some trusted friends. It's convenient and has a reasonable rate. Best of all, there are only about a half-dozen kids in the 2-year-old class.

I visited, and it felt right. PERFECT! Finally, a solution for Thursdays. Grandma was so relieved, especially since she's preparing for a yard sale this weekend. I told my co-workers, "I never thought I'd be so excited about sending Emma to day care!"

I enrolled her yesterday and she started this morning. When we got there and I took off her jacket, she clung to my legs briefly, but then her caregiver told her they'd be going to breakfast in a few minutes. "Are you hungry?" she asked Emma. "Yes!" Emma squealed and did a little happy dance. Her caregiver quipped, "Yeah, food usually changes everything for me, too!"

A quick kiss for Mom and that was that.

A couple hours later I called to check on her, and her caregiver said she was "perfect."

Hmmmm ... Hope it lasts! I'll keep you posted ...


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