Here is one comment that Torsten's mom made when his parents were in town that I wasn't able to share on the blog because I hadn't announced I was pregnant yet: if we lived in Germany, we would have free health care and much better social services, which would allow me to quit my job and stay home with our child.
Ha. Hahahahaha. Even if we could afford for me to stay home with our child (and given that I'm the sole income-earner at the moment; hopefully that will change soon as the start-up is going excellently, but even if Torsten does pull in a couple of clients soon his mom kind of has a point in that I would keep my job for the excellent health insurance alone), I don't think I'd want to.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'd change my mind. I'd love to work part-time and stay home with the kid part-time. But I can't see quitting work and staying home full-time. I like the job I have, which is enjoyable and stimulating and pays a combination of a reasonable salary and excellent benefits; I hear the stay-at-home parent job can be rather thankless and challenging. Though of course rewarding.
But the conversation is a moot point, because I'm the only one bringing home any bacon. And that means: childcare!
The other thing about not quitting my job to stay home with the kid is that I do, actually, stay home while I work. (Ah, the perks of working remotely.) So, I could, and hope to, stay home with my kid without being the kid's sole caretaker.
Of course, financially it would be awesome not to pay someone to take care of our kid. But, when I set up my telecommuting arrangement with my company I had to sign an agreement saying that I would not use my telecommuter status as a substitute for childcare, and I fully intend to honor that commitment. Plus, I don't think I could get my job done while taking care of a baby. I hear those suckers are loud and time-consuming, and it's hard to get in your public health editing groove when your baby is screaming to be held, am I right? Not to mention trying to sound professional on conference calls with clients while your child yells bloody murder in the background.
But! That doesn't mean that my work from home situation combined with Torsten's flexible schedule doesn't give us options. The other perk of my job is that I work on East Coast time, which means I start early and finish early. And, once the baby is born and waking me up at the crack of dawn I might decide to start and end even earlier. This would allow us to hire some sort of nanny or babysitter who comes in for the first part of the day to take care of the baby while I'm working, and then leaves in the afternoon when my workday ends. On those occasions when I had a major deadline and have to work past my regular hours, Torsten would most likely be able to adjust his schedule to take care of the baby in the meantime. Or we could arrange for the nanny or another sitter to stay longer on those days. Or we could ask friends to watch the kid. Or we could find a trustworthy drop-in daycare center. Or something. It would be relatively infrequent (I could also do extra work in the evenings once the baby was asleep), so I'm sure we could figure out it.
Also, a part-time nanny would actually be either cheaper than or the same cost as full-time daycare (from what I hear, nannies in the Denver area charge $10 to $12 per hour, and from what I can tell, full-time infant care is in the range of $1200 to $1400 per month). It would allow me to nurse instead of pumping, which I would like. It would also mean that we wouldn't have a weird reverse situation where our baby has a commute when we don't. It just seems wrong somehow to wake up, get dressed, pack the baby in the car, drive it to daycare... and then drive home and sit in the house while the baby's off at daycare.
So! That's Plan A. Since I will be getting about five months of maternity leave altogether (assuming Torsten has a client or two by then, which would make it feasible for me to take unpaid leave), we won't need this nanny for almost a year. So it's a smidge too soon to start looking for reasonable candidates, despite my early planning tendencies.
But it's not too early to start working on Plan B--finding a good daycare that we would use if the nanny plan doesn't work out, and putting our kid on the list now because oh, those wait lists? Apparently they're insane, even for those of us who don't live in DC, New York, etc. So that's what we're working on now, and so far we're having little luck--places are either 30 minutes away, or outrageously expensive, or don't take babies, or do a lottery instead of a waiting list, which doesn't afford us many options if we didn't get in via lottery. I'm not too worried because I don't really see a reason why the nanny thing wouldn't work out, but it seems prudent to add ourselves to a daycare list now just in case. So that's what we're working on at the moment.
Of course at some point the kid will be too old to stick around the house while I work. We'll want it to get some social time with peers, and the kid will be loud and mobile enough to disturb me while I work even if I'm in a separate room, and also aware enough to be confused about why Mommy is here but not HERE. So at some point we will want to switch to a more traditional daycare, but hopefully the nanny plan can get us through the first year or so, which would also vastly increase our daycare choices, since the older the kid, the more places are willing to take care of it.
BTW: in a week hopefully we can stop referring to Piglet as "it." Won't THAT be nice?
Anyway, FOR NOW, the plan is a nanny, with a more traditional daycare setup as a backup plan. Anyone have any suggestions on how to FIND these things? "These things" referring to, you know, good nannies and quality childcare centers. Because we've been looking, asking friends with kids, etc., but so far we got nothing.
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