The plan now is to hire a college student to watch Little Monster a few hours a week just like we did before she was old enough for daycare. The cost would be a bit less than what we were paying but it doesn't come with food once she starts eating stuff. For LM at least, two big factors played into the decision to lose our spot at daycare: she hasn't been napping well so she comes home sleepy and goes to bed an hour or two later, eating only once, and that pumping is making me super miserable. So much misery with that pump. Since the kid goes to all day, every day kindergarten soon and there's a sliding fee after-school program, losing her daycare isn't all that awful. If we have no income it ought to be fairly cheap and decent quality. I'm torn though, about not having certified childcare. I kind of want to look for a spot for her either starting in time for spring semester or when she turns one, which means looking right now...
It seems to me that we've steadily declined in daycare quality for the kid over the years, despite staying in the same kind of licensed in-home daycare settings. At first her daycare had 4 kids total, so the personal attention was great and even at 18 months, there was a preschool curriculum. The second place was run by a grandma and had 7 kids at most. The third place was very similar but in a small (rural poor) area rather than an affluent suburb so there were few nice new things and slightly lower quality food. Slight drop there. Here though, there are the state maximum number of kids allowed, and a few sibling groups so they are meaner than average to each other and by extension everyone else. I feel that Lttile Monster was getting good care but the Kid was getting lost. She's also learned several really awful things from daycare like kicking until you get your way, being mean on purpose, that "you can't be on my team" game (although usually she was the one excluded, not excluding), and the "I will keep being naughty until I get my way" tantrum. She used to say please and thank you, now she tromps around expecting us to cater to her every whim. I know some of that is being 5 and selfish and not connecting feeling bad or sad after a punishment (usually taking away whatever she was throwing at us) to her choice to keep doing whatever after she was asked to stop, but I feel awful that she is so miserable at daycare and I haven't addressed it with her teacher properly in all these months.
I suspect now that she knows daycare is almost over that she's being extra weird and acting out more (egads more) because she is out of routine and possibly because the other kids are being extra awful to her. I am all for quality daycare that's affordable for everyone, but I feel like such a terrible parent for leaving her in what is a bad environment for her and maybe any kid. We really should have addressed our concerns a lot sooner and found something else to do with her if things continued to be bad. And a big part of the problem is the number of kids. This is a legal number and there just isn't time to teach the kids not to hit each other and actually enforce that rule? Maybe we need to change the legal number then. Our provider is very capable and well trained but the number of kids is probably too much for anyone.
It comes down to that elusive infant spot. We got the spot for the baby because the kid attended there and we would have had to put down a big deposit & pay 50% weekly tuition to keep it if she had left... I get that every home daycare gets one or rarely 2 infants so there's a low supply, but it is awful. The center infant tuition around here is 3-4 times the in-home licensed rate. If Little Monster got a center spot, then we would pay more each month on just her childcare than rent.
Sigh. I am just really looking forward to making whatever comes next work for us. The spouse is officially now unemployed and hasn't heard about the last 2 interviews but the first 6 didn't lead to a job. Sigh. Trusting that we are where we need to be is really hard and now that we've built a rickety new support system, we have zero guarantee that we can stay with no job for the spouse. It is a hard time of uncertainty but we will survive. At least Little Monster remains a cheerful and lovely baby who brightens up any room she is in. It's very startling to have a "good baby" after so much colic and reflux. Having more time to enjoy her is going to be great fun, even if it means more Kid tantrums.