The Novice Father: The inside looking out
Vail CO, Colorado
My 8-month old daughter just got accepted into daycare. To judge by my wife’s and my reactions, you would think that she got a scholarship to Princeton.
Halfway through my wife’s pregnancy, we called up every daycare we could find to get our unborn daughter onto their wait lists. I thought I was on top of things being so early. Soon I realized I waited too long.
It’s no secret that childcare spots are in high demand. With a local baby boom, daycares haven’t been able to keep up. Plenty of studies, surveys and local politicians note that the gap between babies and daycare spots now approach the thousands in Eagle County.
However, I don’t see packs of unsupervised toddlers roaming the streets of Avon, Edwards and Eagle. Local parents have had to get creative. And that’s what my wife and I did.
“It was kind of a semi-joke, but friends would say: ‘As soon as you find out your pregnant, get on a list,” said Mark Raymond, a father in Eagle-Vail. Raymond started filling out daycare applications two months into his wife’s pregnancy. Even with that notice, it was still six months after his daughter was born before a spot opened up for him.
In the meantime, the Raymonds, like many local families, got creative with their childcare options. During the slow season of his job this year, Raymond had the flexibility to rearrange his schedule. Some days Raymond would work an eight-hour shift at night, allowing he and his wife to tag-team baby duty. Raymond’s sister would help out certain days, and other friends would help out, too. Raymond and his wife spent a lot of effort shuffling their own schedules to make it work.
Like the Raymonds, both my wife and I work. And like the Raymonds, we’re lucky enough to have a small network of friends and local family that have stepped up to baby-sit on the days we’re both out of the house. Eight months down and we haven’t yet resorted to plopping the Kid in front of the television with a dog bowl full of strained peas.
But having an “in” at daycare reduces the strain on our network. Everyone’s eager to watch our baby once or twice. After the fourth and fifth babysitting request, they screen their calls.
The biggest saviors are my parents. They now live in the area. By pulling the Grandma card, I’ve managed a regular one-day-a-week routine. I haven’t been willing to go more than that. I’m afraid they’ll decide to retire in Florida.
I was so excited to get the acceptance from daycare, If only so that our friends would return our calls. I didn’t even think to ask questions about their service. I won’t buy a cell phone without researching all the options, but I dropped my baby into childcare sight unseen.
Now I feel like I’m a part of an exclusive club. I slide the Kid into daycare each morning while hoards of parents stuck outside look longingly through the window. I don’t want to ask too many questions about the service. I’m afraid I’ll get kicked out.
Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to email@example.com.