Monday, September 15, 2008

The daycare debacle

I don't like to write about this, because I don't like to think about it. Unfortunately, it's one of those things that, when ignored, rears up and whacks you in the face and then laughs about it.

My maternity leave is coming to an end in a week.

(Pause. Sob uncontrollably. Gather. Pause. Continue.)

My contract (which we're in the process of trying to get renewed with our funders) is part-time, because I had to switch when I was pregnant. Full time was too much to handle, physically, so working part-time gave me the chance to rest, and I also got to make up time from early on in the pregnancy when I was really really sick. It turns out that it's a good thing - it enabled us to stretch out the first contract by 7 months, keeping our benefactor happy. It's also a good thing because we don't have daycare yet.

When I first thought about having kids, I'd hoped that we'd be living close to my parents, along with having the Canadian option of at least a year of maternity leave. That way, I could bond with the munchkins, and when I had to go back to work, my mother could take over (because she works part-time too). Here, like I'm sure I've mentioned, maternity leave sucks, at most you can have 5 months, but a lot of people only get 6 weeks. So, I knew I had to apply for daycare.

The problem, believe it or not, is the mentality most people around here have about their cars.

CARS? Wha?

Well, the deal is this. We got info from HR about daycare options, and they were generally helpful for most people, but not for us. There is basically one daycare that's accessible to us as a car-free family, and there's a wait-list (which we're on). The HR woman who specifically takes care of child care was shocked that we didn't have a car, and took great pains to point out the fact that there's only one daycare we can get to without one. Her advice?

"You're going to have to buy a car."

Now, I'm sorry, but that's just not realistic. If I'm working part-time (which, because of the contract issues, might not last forever), we can just afford to pay for daycare. Daycare that's full-time, since there are no real part-time options. If we bought a car, between gas and insurance and the initial expense of the actual purchase, we'd be in the hole every single month, and our small savings from last year would be eaten up within 8 months.

So, we have to wait until we get into the daycare that's close by.

Which means a heck of a lot of juggling. I'm technically on 53% time, which means 21.2 hours a week. That works out to two really long days of 10 hours, 42 minutes; I'm thinking I might do two 10 hour days and then use the third day to meet with my boss for updates and planning sessions (I can bring the baby for those). In order for me to work those hours, Hubby has to stay home and babysit. We can't afford a nanny, and I'm not willing to just get a temporary babysitter, since I don't know anyone here and would have a hard time checking references in any way that I would trust.

Hubby, of course, works full-time, and needs to put in at least 40 hours a week. If he takes two days off to babysit, he needs to find a way to get his computer work and paperwork done during those days, so that he can put in for those hours. That way, he'll only have to work three or four of the remaining days and we'll have at least one day on the weekend together as a family.

When we applied for daycare, we put in a start date of November 1st, since we're taking two weeks off for a wedding in October. If we were to get in on Nov. 1st, we'd only have to do this juggling thing for 3 weeks. I'm not optimistic that we'll get in before Christmas, though.

Sorry for rambling, I'm just trying to mentally prepare for this. I know it's going to be a hard couple of months, but I also know we have no choice. We'll make it work somehow, I just want to make sure that we don't get so stressed out that it's detrimental to the baby and to our relationship.

If only we were living at home...

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