houseMy husband and I both work at home full-time and often never see the light of day. This makes for a pretty great childcare arrangement—until your baby becomes a toddler and starts to tear the house apart.

We both decided pretty early on that we wanted to put my first son in some kind of daycare once he turned one so that we’d have a few hours to ourselves to work without going crazy and for the purpose of socialization. I mean, I think we’re pretty great and all, but I’m not exactly sure how my son would turn out if he was locked in a house with both of his parents 24/7 through his formative years.

We live in a smaller town in Texas next to a large city. It’s hardly the country, but it still has a nice small town vibe, and things are often cheaper. Once my son hit the one year mark, we dipped his toes in the waters of daycare by taking him to a local Mother’s Day Out at a church. He had a great time, but the issue was that the MDO only offered care a few days a week.

We were hooked. We wanted more. I started pricing daycares in our area, which turned out to be harder than I first thought. The catch was that I was looking for a half-day program because of my flexible schedule. I normally get done working in the early afternoon, and I really didn’t want to pay for full-time daycare if I didn’t have to. I also look forward to spending time with my son in the afternoon.

Turns out that half-day daycare is kind of hard to come by. Most official daycare programs don’t want to waste a spot on a kid that’s only paying half price. Almost randomly, I stumbled upon an in-home daycare program from a nice lady that lived in a neighborhood just a few miles away. We had a meet-and-greet with her and also learned that she was the only accredited and licensed home childcare provider in our area. Who was I to argue with that?

Initially, I had no clue what to expect after sending my kid off to hang out with other kids in someone else’s home for four hours a day. I’d heard terrible reports of negligent providers and daycare abuse, especially related to shady in-home caregivers skirting the rules.

We must have lucked out. His teacher is fan-freaking-tastic and has regularly scheduled educational activities for the kids day after day. She posts videos to Facebook of their learning time and play time, and my son looks enthralled in every group activity. He brings home piles and piles of artwork that I have no idea what to do with.

Even better, this daycare is dirt cheap, probably related to our area—$100 a week for half-day care (including food!). Even better than that, my son absolutely loves it and will sometimes run in the door in the morning to eat breakfast with his friends. We’ll be putting my second son in the same daycare program next year after he turns one. All judgments aside, in-home daycare wasn’t as skeevy as I expected.

(photo: Getty Images)