I HAVE been on the waiting list for my local childcare centre for 11 months now.
I do have two kids and I do need them to be on the same days but, then again, I’m only looking for a couple of days a week and I’m flexible with which days they are, so you would think something would come up.
Just last week I called to enquire about places for next year only to find it is all booked up – already.
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In some ways, that waiting list only adds to the appeal of the centre. Kind of like a swanky, new club that has just opened up; it’s the place to be and it must mean that it’s a good one. I want in and I will wait in that line as long as it takes, so help me!
BK (Before Kids) I was one of those naïve ones who thought daycare waiting lists were only for Sydneysiders or Melbournites, not the Gold Coast. Of course, I wasn’t planning on going back to work anytime soon either. But when you have a mortgage to pay and want to eat in the same week, sometimes life forces your hand.
I didn’t want to give up my place but I had to look at alternative interim options:
1. Travel a long way out of my way for a daycare centre with vacancies. Cue suspicion and opposite feelings to those outlined above.
2. The grandparents. Budget friendly, yes, but reliable, no – oh how the tides have turned! As proud members of the Grey Nomads, they are off gallivanting around Australia for a month or more at a time and I can’t imagine work allowing me that kind of flexibility.
3. Contra care with friends. They know my kids and would love them like their own but it is a lot to ask of a friendship on such a consistent basis.
4. Family daycare. I was initially sceptical and concerned about qualifications and accountability but I did my due diligence out of desperation. It turns out that I had my choice of two qualified carers with kid-friendly homes within minutes of my house. Winner.
Already, family day care is working out to be a match made in heaven. We have a great carer and a calm, personal environment where my kids can stay together. There is even the added bonus of avoiding those shocking winter illnesses being shared around.
My childcare ideals have changed and family daycare definitely isn’t just an ‘interim’ option anymore.
Gold Coast working parents, take note.