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A child playing on a playground of a childcareI postponed this moment for as long as I could, but couldn’t do it forever. The sad truth is that I need to work more than 1.5 hours a day – and that’s all I could manage so far because that’s how long Eric is sleeping throughout the day, and that’s all the quiet time that I get.

So the search for the best childcare began. It often happens that instead of the parents choosing a childcare center, the center chooses them (because not enough spots are open), but that didn’t stop me from trying to pick the best possible one.

Before we started looking, I sat down and defined the most important things to me:

1. Eric must get enough attention, he’s a very sociable kid and because kids of his age still can’t play together, there should be an adult, entertaining and stimulating him, not just looking after and making sure he’s safe.

2. The kids must have beds to sleep in (as opposed to mattresses thrown on the floor).

3. The outdoor area must be safe and appropriate for Eric’s age.

4. The food needs to be fresh and nutritious, there should be variety, not just sandwiches and sweetened juice.

5. There mustn’t be any physical punishment of any sort.

6. The routine should be flexible, meaning the kids must be given food and water and allowed to sleep when they need it – because 18 months olds’ routine can often vary and some days they might not be hungry when everybody else is eating, or not tired when everybody else are put to bed. That would require the staff to be attentive and learn signs of each child.

7. I read in a book that kids-to-caregiver ratio for Eric’s age group should be 3 to 1.

8. There should be a certain caregiver assigned to a child so that he learns to trust that one person, to promote his feeling of security.

9. The centre should be in a walking distance from our house because Rob has to drive to his work, I work from home and we only have one car.

I googled all the childcare centers within walking distance of my house (25 minutes) and only came up with … 2! Not much, that wasn’t an encouraging result at all. Never mind, it was time to pay them a visit and see how bad things really are.

The first one didn’t look serious at all. It had a large area for older kids (ages 3 – 5) and a small corner separated from the rest of the room by a gate for kids of Eric’s age. They actually didn’t have many kids of Eric’s age, only much younger (8-9 months) so that area was enough for them as they don’t move much yet at that age. Honestly, it looked and felt like a little prison. When we came, it was blazing hot (40 degrees) and all the kids were outside, playing with water, half of them didn’t have the hats on. There was only one person looking after about 8 kids and she could barely speak English. Even for someone as new to parenting as me that was enough to leave that child care center and never come back.

To be continued soon!