• Thu, Jan 9 - 5:00 pm ET

In-Home Daycare Isn’t As Creepy As I Thought It Would Be

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)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • elle

    I wanted to get my son into an in-home day care so bad! IDK, there’s just something about that more personal touch,you know? But in the end we couldn’t find one we were comfortable/enthusiastic about. It’s hard to find a good one, but when you do it’s like you’ve hit gold.

  • aCongaLine

    I provided in home day care for about a year- It was fantastic, and I miss it, and wish we could be able to run it again (we moved, and it just wouldn’t work in our new house). It’s just as great for the provider- my kid got some serious socialization while we were in business, and it was great!

  • Snarktopus

    I’m incredibly envious. $100 a week for half-days? Damn.
    Also love the fact that she posts videos of the kids that you can watch.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I really feel super blessed, and she’s so nice. :) She was also the only place that offered half days.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I must live in the poorest state because we paid 100 a week full day and it was a home day care that included food. Granted, it was cheap, but not insane for this area….

    • Bethany Ramos

      The included food thing made my year. I HATE feeding my toddler, and he eats way better at daycare!

    • Snarktopus

      I pay $96 for two days. Two. Days. And I’m not even in an expensive state. I live in IOWA. It’s ridiculous. This is the most reasonable daycare in my area, too.

    • Bethany Ramos

      WHAT. That is no good. I know friends in the larger city right next to us pay about $175 a week, but it’s actually for care with a SAHM. I think other quotes were closer to $250 per week.

    • EX

      Where I live you’re looking at $300+ per week for an infant. $225+ for a toddler. And it’s also not a particularly expensive area to live in.

    • Amanda Rene Slinger

      I live in Iowa too, daycare is insane in my area too!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      My God.

    • Kerry

      We paid 75 a week full day with food. We lucked out in that we knew the girls that ran the home daycare and we knew our daughter would be safe and taken care of, but that was the price they charged everyone. Now she’s in a private preschool where they do learning activities and have more structure, and it’s 100 a week plus aftercare (aftercare being anything outside the hours of 9-4). We live in Kansas City MO, and everyone I know who lives in KC on the Kansas side pays about double that.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      We are coming from the same area then (only I’m about an hour away). I try to avoid saying where I’m from but had to respond to this because you pegged it so perfectly just through daycare prices. :)

    • TheGiantPeach

      I’m in Kentucky and we pay $105 for a full week and $95 for a 4-day week, including food. We use the daycare part of a private Christian school (even though we aren’t religious).

  • lizinthelibrary

    Our first baby is due this summer and I’m scared to death of the daycare centers. I received (very mild) abuse as a 5 year-old child at a daycare center that my mother immediately transferred me out of. Too often center workers are grossly underpaid. For an infant/toddler who can’t tell their parent what is going on, it scares me. We were only considering in home day cares with people I know well (from church, etc) and nannies/babysitters. We’ve found a great situation with a good friend who is a SAHM who will watch her kids with ours. I’m super hopeful this is a safer and healthier choice for my child. Not too many kids to be overhwelming, can still take the kids on outings, a mom that already does fun education stuff with her kids, and so forth.

  • C.J.

    We were very lucky to find a great in home daycare when I still worked. The kids loved it and she is still involved with them now and they haven’t even went in 5 years. She comes to all their dance shows, visits for their birthdays, calls to see how they are. We live in a small town, 3000 people. She was recommended by someone and I liked her the first time I met her. I wasn’t too worried about her being a stranger, if she wasn’t good I would have heard it somewhere. You can’t sneeze in this town without everyone hearing about it.

    • Bethany Ramos

      That really is so sweet.

  • Natasha B

    When I still worked, our oldest was at an in-home from 6mos until preschool. We had one bad experience, pulled her out immediately, and then lucked into an awesome in home. We’re still in touch with her, and our oldest is 9 now :) the only advice I have is:go with your gut, 100%.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I am a firm believer in daycare. I spent tons of time in one growing up (though it was a centre) and there was never a shortage of things to do: crafts, make believe in the kitchen with the costumes, blocks, toys, books, felt wall… etc. And that’s on top of hanging out with all the kids.
    I’m looking at my first at-home daycare tomorrow, as the centre I want isn’t available till my son is 18 months and he’ll be 11 months when I need it. I’m encouraged by your good fortune in finding a quality space with someone great. I really hope I find someone good too without having to comb the city.

  • anon

    OK – my thing about in home daycare was based on my own paranoia. I sometimes lose it. When the kids were little, I would put them in the crib and walk away to cool off. Or hand off to my husband. But what about that in home provider? If she (or he) is by herself, what do you do when things get to be too much? I chose a daycare center over in home for that reason – someone else to help out when it got to be too much. As it turned out, we picked a great Montessori program (that was reasonably priced for our area)

    • EX

      That was pretty much my reasoning for choosing a center too. Also, in a lot of states centers are regulated more carefully (have more frequent inspections) than in-home. I’m sure there are great in-home daycares and I know there are bad centers, but I definitely felt more comfortable with a center and have been very happy with the one we found.

    • Jordana

      I totally hear you – I am the same way with needing a cool down minute sometimes. Some people are just uber patient with kids, though, even many kids that might be throwing fits, so hopefully those are the ones that run in home daycares :-)

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

    The daycare I am looking at right now is $41 a day! I am jealous!

  • ted3553

    My son goes to a dayhome (we call in home daycare here a dayhome to differentiate it from a daycare which usually has way more kids). I love it. She only has 6 kids so they get tons of attention and they are generally cheaper than daycares.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I like the name distinction on that one. I think my son’s in-home daycare is a max of 12 kids, and she has 2 assistants.

  • Jordana

    This sounds like a great place! And way to do your homework first. I unfortunately had a bad experience with my daughter’s first in home daycare, but it sounds like you found a great match. And it’s nice to hear it acknowledged that it’s healthy for kids and parents to spend a little time apart, even in the early years.