My mom’s been making the grueling 350-mile trip, twice a week, since I started working last month. We’re super-lucky. That, I know.

But, because it’s a family situation, nothing was never really defined; as in, how long would this arrangement last? What was going to happen if/when we move (away from the City)? What if I go nuts in such a small space with my mom hoovering over the baby? Just kidding.
But really? I’m not saying I don’t completely appreciate my mom’s gracious gestures of watching Jack as a newborn, it’s come to the point where we need to make some solid decisions about our future. We’ll be living in NJ for the long haul. And, as anyone knows that’s moved away from family, it’s difficult living so far away. But as it’s become more and more reinforced since Jack’s birth, it’s time for us to do things on our own.

What I’m talking about here is the arrangement of my mom traveling from Va. to NJ every week to be our childcare provider. It’s been a great ride, but I think I made the executive decision that it’s time to start looking. I haven’t spelled it out in so many words, but it’s been the unspoken next step for a few weeks now. With Jack being a little more self-sufficient as an infant, this spring, the plan is that we’re going to transition to a daycare scenario. I’ve researched the nanny route, looked into the home daycare scenarios, but at this point in time, since we hope to start off doing daycare in a part time situation, it looks like we may be going the out of home daycare route for now.

As much as I’d love to be home with him all day, I know that’s not in our cards– especially considering the higher cost of living in our area.

childcarecrisis1.jpgSo, on Friday, I started the daycare hunt– again. I have no idea what daycare is like in other parts of the country, but I’m assuming it’s similar.

Around us, daycares are structured like schools. Even the smallest baby has an agenda while at daycare. At the particular daycare I toured on Friday, the director showed me around and then described the “infant schedule” to me. Each baby was fed at their respective feeding time, based on what the parents suggested. They were changed every 2 hours on the dot. They practiced mobility, language, among other things each day. Since all the facilities in our neighborhood are in the 2K range or had 1 year waitlists, I chose to look at this daycare, located in a neighboring city.

Too far to walk, too arduous to lug a baby, I chose to drive over to the daycare. It was cold and street parking was at a minimum, so I had Jack in his Bjorn. When we arrived, it was late in the afternoon, so most kids were gone at that point. However, the few kids and babies that were left were all scattered around, doing their own productive little activities. The director showed me all the different stations and where Jack would be for most of the day. What was most interesting to me was the fact that Jack could be in a 4 baby to 1 teacher scenario OR for a few more dollars and much more peace of mind, he could be in a 3 to 1 scenario. Jack seemed to like the 2 teachers we met and bobbed his head along to their conversation. He drooled at the little babies that were around, too. I especially loved the way he looked around with so much interest at all the colors and lights in the place.
I left the daycare feeling a little relieved that the affordable places came highly recommended, the people were very kind and competent AND Jack almost portrayed a sense of approval. Having my mom watch Jack every day has been wonderful; however, even though she insists, it’s almost too hard to allow my mom to travel so much just to help us out.

When I first looked at daycare facilities last year, before I even started to show, I got a firsthand look at the mounting expense of childcare. Having received multiple emails after that post, and then going on to have many more conversations with other friends on that same topic, as always, we’re never alone. Childcare is so expensive, and with the media harping on the idea of a possible recession, I can already feel the tightness in my chest and I haven’t even stroked a check yet.

Our friend emailed me a link to this very timely article the other day. I’m sure many others can completely or at least, partially commiserate with my current woes. Aptly titled, the “Childcare Crisis,” I couldn’t have written a more appropriate headline myself.
The article basically laments about the mounting costs of childcare, and how dual income families, like us, are the norm, yet many still feel the crunch with the inherent expense of childcare in order to go to work.

Ah yes, it aligns with that work-to-live mentality. I can’t speak for everyone else, but working and then paying for childcare can be such a Catch-22. We have to work to pay for living expenses, thus we must pay for childcare. But what do you do when childcare eats most of your salary? (I mean, besides drink heavily? haha.)

It’s a shame that most middle income families, make too much to get help, yet it seems the middle income families feel the strain just as much. if not more. But still, it amazes me that there are people who continue to abuse the system when there are so many families who really do need help, not to mention the families that do the right thing. Like that dude I was stuck behind in line at the grocery store who bought a mountain of meat–over $100 in steak and shrimp–thanks to the government. blah.

Jeff and I moved away from families in search of better jobs and with hopes that one day, we would have the ability to care for our family. That day is finally upon us, so where does that leave us?

If I do say so myself, so far, Jack has been just fine. We might struggle with the distance from some family and some friends. We may struggle with long hours and crappy commutes. But, if all this sacrifice will allow for a happy and warm home, then so be it.

Now that this whole childcare search is upon us, all we can do is work harder to provide and continue to maintain a balanced home life. It’s such an upward battle, but then again, the giggles remind you that it’s so damn worth it.