I mentioned last week that Charlotte started day care full time a few weeks ago. I’m going to share about that tonight, but first I need to back up a few months and explain why she’s going in the first place.
Over the summer, Chris found out that he was losing his funding from the physics department for the current school year. The graduate college had to cut some serious funding, and Chris was one of its victims. It was supposed to be his last year, so of course, we were pretty frustrated and nervous about how our finances would work out. We weren’t just losing his salary. We also lost his benefits (and Charlotte’s), and would have to pay tuition out of pocket. All that amounts to a lot of thousands of dollars. I’m doing fine in my job, but not that fine. We realized right away that Chris would need to get another job.
You’d think with a masters degree this wouldn’t be too difficult, but our town is tough. Everyone is over qualified for their job. There are PhDs waiting tables around here. You don’t need super advanced degrees for all the university jobs, but they are tough to get without a connection – everyone wants a university job.
Luckily, Chris had one! Our friend, John (Madeline’s dad), works in IT for the university hospital. He told Chris about a job opening in his department, and helped him get his resume ready to apply. Chris got the first then second interview, and then, yay, he got the job! THANK YOU, JOHN!
This whole process took about the entire month of October, and now suddenly we needed to find care for Charlotte asap.
We ended up choosing an in-home provider – a woman whose home is about two miles from ours. We looked into both centers and in-home care, but went with in-home for a few reasons.
- Availability. Many of the centers we were considering were full for at least a few months. We’ d have to get on a waiting list and hope something opened in the next couple of days. (Yeah right.)
- Flexibility. Not all in-home providers can do this, but ours is able to accommodate my teaching schedule. Since I don’t work at school three months a year, I don’t have to pay for that time. A lot of places will have you pay for the full year even if you don’t send your child because they need your money. I get it, but I was happy to find someone who wouldn’t make me do that!
- Easier transition. I assumed that going to someone’s house would be easier on Charlotte than starting her out at a center. She’s never had to go anywhere without her family before, so of course I was concerned about how this would go. She’s used to being at our home during the day, so someone else’s home seemed like the next best thing.
The woman who watches Charlotte is very sweet, funny, and laid back. She has a great back yard outfitted with play sets, toy houses, a sandbox, swing set, and loads of toys, so the kids spends lots of time back there. There is even a small hill for sledding once the snow hits. Charlotte will love that!
Right now there is one boy a little bit older than Charlotte, but he’ll be starting preschool in a month so Charlotte will be the big girl on campus pretty soon. We hear she loves helping to feel 4 month-old Jack his bottles and worries about him when he cries.
Her best friend so far is a little girl named Aria. Charlotte calls her Oreo, which is so adorable I never want to correct her. Aria recently turned two and loves her baby dolls. I’m not sure that Charlotte gets into that there, but she certainly hasn’t expressed any more interest in her dolls at home. She’s still our animal/dinosaur-loving girl.
This is her “report card” from her first day. We only sent her for half the day as a warm-up, which makes it a little less worrisome that she didn’t go potty. :)
She also made that cute little cotton ball ghost!
Overall, I’m very pleased with how things are going so far. Though it’s certainly been a transition for all of us. Chris is not used to this schedule, and I’m not used to him not being around as much. Charlotte has to get up and ready so much earlier, and then she’s toted off even before breakfast. I miss not seeing her when I come home for lunch. The house is mighty, mighty quiet during the day. I think this is actually a very good thing for Buddy…
You know what’s been hard for me? I never expected this because you can’t know it until you experience it: Charlotte smells different at the end of the day. The sitter’s house smell is all over her hair and clothes and even skin. It’s not a bad smell, but it’s not our smell. Chris doesn’t really notice or think about this, so this is clearly just my thing. I have to wait until after bath and into PJs before I get my little girl’s smell back. It’s not that big of a deal, but it tugs on my heart just a little bit every day.
But…there is a best thing about our days now, too. Pick up time! I am the lucky one who gets to pick her up every day, and it’s always the sweetest reunion. I see the kids’ faces looking out the front picture window as I pull into the driveway and then watch Charlotte’s head start bouncing. I know exactly what she’s squealing in there. When I get inside she’ll say, Mama, you came back! or Mama, you’re here! before she’s down those front steps so fast and actually excited to go home.
She misses her favorite toys, too. Another sweet reunion.