Overall, we have been very happy with daycare/preschool. There are no nanny dramas, it is relatively affordable* and the socialization is good. With daycare, I don't worry that a caretaker is going to have a bad day and take it out on my child, and I don't worry about what to do when a nanny gets sick, has a personal crisis, or decides it is time to move on.
However, the last month (known hereafter as THE-MONTH-OF-SNOT-FEVER-AND-BARF-AND-MULTIPLE-D&Cs) has illustrated the one important shortcoming of group care: there is no care when the child is too sick for school. Until now, this has occasionally been inconvenient, but not devastating. The last four weeks have changed things, though.
Baby M has been sick a lot. First, it was the flu for a week. Shortly thereafter it was a stomach virus. She and her sister (who had by this time caught the flu) were home another week and a half. Then, after returning to school for only three days, Baby M caught another flu-like illness that had her out an additional three days.
If you are trying to do the math, we have had one or both children home for most of the last four weeks and the results have not been pretty. I'm behind at work, J is behind at work, the house is a mess (because we have been trying to work while tending to sick children), and tempers are short. I only missed one day of classes during all this, but I missed some rather important committee meetings and my students haven't had much access to me. My conference presentation on the 15th was rather so-so and I've not started my paper for my April conference (though the data analysis is mostly complete).
Tonight, I came close to a meltdown upon realizing that Baby M was running a fever of 101 again. However, her crankiness through much of the day left me suspicious that this might be an earache, and sure enough, her ear started draining tonight. The beauty of tubes is that we can just treat her with Motrin and antibiotic ear drops and she is usually fine within 12 hours. Hopefully, we will all go to work and school tomorrow and make it until Friday, the start of Spring Break.
One thing I am going to work on during Spring Break is coming up with a much better system for handling sick children and work. We have no family here so we don't have that sort of backup system. I wonder how other parents manage?
*If I could have afforded it, we would have started Baby M in group care a bit later, at 18-24 months like her big sister, but we had been through our savings for nanny care by the time she was born.
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