Find a daycare accepting 11-month-old babies...this April. That's right. Only two and a half months from now.
Yes, yes, yes, I can hear you all now - "You just started looking for daycare? Isn't it a bit late?" The answer is a resounding "yes" to both of those questions.
In my defense, I did get a list of local daycares from the YMCA referral service way back when I was only six months pregnant. Unfortunately, that little burst of initiative sat untouched on my desk for the next 11 months.
I've have called a handful of random daycares over the last few months asking to be added to their waiting lists, but several of my friends said that it was better to wait until just a few months before going back to work, so I wasn't really that concerned about it. I figured if I was on a few waitlists, somebody would get back to me.
As I say, I wasn't worried about it until one of those random daycares I called actually laughed at me. Here's a bit of that conversation the way I remember it:
Me: "Hi. I'm looking for daycare for my daughter in April. Do you have any space available?"
Daycare lady: "Okay. How old will she be?"
Me: "She'll be 11 months old."
Daycare lady: "Buh-wah ha ha ha ha ha ha..."
Me: "Um...could you add me to your waitlist at least?"
Daycare lady: "Sure thing. You're family number 140 on the list."
Me: "So not very likely then."
That was two months ago. And I still didn't kick my search into high gear.
This morning, in a rare fit of productivity, I sat down with my referral list and started calling around again. After about 20 calls, I finally found one daycare with space - that's it folks...ONE daycare. Of all the daycares within 5km of our home, only one has space.
We ventured out in the fog this afternoon to inspect this anomaly. All things considered, it wasn't that bad. It's a little farther than I'd like, but the owner seemed quite nice and Abner didn't freak out when she picked her up and such. Even so, my first instinct is that it's not quite right for us.
It's the first place I've looked at though, so how am I supposed to judge a place when I have nothing to compare it to? What should I be looking for? Are my expectations too high? What are typical in-home daycares like? Please help!