Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Childcare and Beer?

Okay, I'm not one of those stay-at-home mom (SAHM) bloggers who can tell you about midweek trips to the library or thoughtful meals I cook for my family. Actually, our weeknight meals usually look like this: Sept 2013 135

That's grilled cheese and potato chips. I have mixed feelings about that full-time-working-and-being a mom thing, and I'm sure I'll blab about them in upcoming posts. Or maybe even this one. My reality is like many other moms in our country: I work five days a week, so quality care for my LO (little one) is imperative. What us moms determine to be decent care may vary from mom-to-mom, but one thing's for certain: it's hard to find. Up until today, we've been relying on family members to care for Caleb during the week.  I could gush on about how much I love seeing my son grow close with people so important to both me and James.  We are lucky. But for a variety of reasons, it couldn't last forever. Here's one reason.

Mom struggles her toddler - mom blog

The little baby who, less than one year ago would sit in a swing perfectly content, or lay on a blanket and not move at all, has turned into a toddler - mobile, social, curious, aggressive at times! Grandparents are wiped out. It is time to start paying someone to watch our little explorer.

But who?? Who do I trust. that. much....?!

We set up a phone call with a nanny who James' parent's mechanic used for years. Then we visited a childcare center so polished and clean that they actually made us take off our shoes and put on slipper-like shoes before we entered the infant room. Then we visited a childcare home center near our house in Baltimore City where a woman had a video camera surveillance system  set up so she could see the children in the play room from everywhere in her house. When she saw (on the surveillance screen) that they were doing something wrong, she yelled very loudly for them to stop! Then I called a home center that got good reviews online. The woman who answered talked to me for literally 25 minutes before giving me a chance to speak, taking up my entire lunch break. When I asked her what the children were doing in the time we had been on the phone, we conveniently got disconnected. I know. At this point, you're asking,

"Well, what did you expect? Didn't you read all those parenting magazines and websites that say you need to start looking for good childcare early - when you're pregnant?"

Okay, okay! Yeah, I read all that advice, heard it from my family and friends. I procrastinated because I thought it would break my heart to leave my baby in the care of strangers while I sat in my cubicle. I dreamed of quitting my  job and taking on new income-generating projects  so I could stay home with Caleb during the week. I would become a dog walker. There's lots of dogs in our neighborhood. Plus, Caleb loves dogs. I would start selling something (who knows what) on Etsy. I could have my own  business selling handmade lotions and soaps. I could become one of those coupon-ing moms and watch our every cent. Throughout all of this, James allowed me to dream. Then he met a fellow dad at the park. The dad suggested a day care center located in the old brewery for National Bohemian beers, or "Natty Bo."   James' ears perked up immediately because: 1) Beer was mentioned. 2) Specifically, Natty Bo beer was mentioned. This beer used to be made here in Baltimore, and so it is a source of pride for all Baltimoreans. James grew up in Baltimore and even though Natty Bo doesn't taste good at all, he loves it with his whole heart and soul and drinks it during Ravens games and even makes hats out of 6-pack boxes because apparently that's good

Okay, sometimes I wear Natty Bo hats too. So just to remind people that the beer used to be made here in Baltimore, Natty Bo left his  icon on the old brewery building. The icon even glows neon at night. People call the building the "Natty Bo building".

  9_12_natty bo building 2 9_12_natty bo building

We went to visit the day care center in the Natty Bo building.

The center director promptly invited us to see if Caleb would play in the infant classroom while we chatted business. Caleb fit right in. He happily dove into this awesome ball pit.  It's a miniature version of the ball pits they have at Chuck E. Cheese and McDonald's play places. I don't know about you, but I used to LOVE those when I was a kid! I didn't realize you could buy one of these things (Not like we ever would because the little balls would end up basically all over the world.)

  9_12 ball pit

 We talked to the center director and a few minutes in, I tucked away my four pages of questions (yeah, I'm a first-time-mom); my instincts led me. When we visited a second time, all of the teachers knew his name. They said hello to him before they even looked at James and I. And yeah, leaving him this AM was tough. But I was way more of an emotional wreck than he was. Guess it's time to face it:  My baby's growin' up.
  8_2013_james camera 193

What's your child care experiences/fears/or dreams of owning your own dogwalking business?

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