Wednesday, December 2, 2009 Care

I met a couple of new neighbours last week, and was especially delighted to meet their delicious 2 week old baby girl. Out-and-about in the 'hood so soon after her arrival, these folks were energized and on top of their parenting game. As we chatted, they asked me where my kids went to daycare in the area. In turn, I asked them if they were on waiting lists anywhere in town yet, and when they sheepishly confessed that securing a space was still on their to-do list, I urged them to make it a TOP priority. Do-it-yesterday kind of urgency.

Child care spots in Toronto are at a dearth to say the least. To get my son into the centre of our choice, I was on the list when I was 4 mos pregnant. Actually getting his spot in the end was partly thanks to this advance planning, but partly sheer luck. When I became pregnant with our second child, I told the Director of our daycare before I told my own mother. Time is of the essence if you hope to get a spot, to say the least.

Beyond the dire supply-and-demand issue, there are lots of things to consider if both parents are planning to work outside the home. Daycare centre, home care, or nanny? Near home, work or the kids' eventual school? And most burning of all: how are we going to PAY for it?? When I return to work next year and have two kids in daycare, that first years' fees will top out at $2,300 a month. Yikes. I've often joked that I should just get them a condo and cable TV. Mercifully, the fees go down as the kids get older.

Planning WAY in advance and doing tons of research is key. The City of Toronto has posted some useful resources on their site. Canadian Nanny is a helpful service for those looking to hire at-home caregivers. U.S. readers can try Metro Daycare to source childcare in their area.

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