“Call me when you have a chance.”
I was leaving one of the track sessions at the CHIME Fall Forum when I noticed the text from my husband. Although I was initially alarmed, I knew right away it wasn’t an emergency (if it was, he would’ve called me, and if I didn’t answer, he’d use the ‘find my phone’ function that sets off a beeping noise even when the phone is silenced). But I was curious, so I stepped outside the hotel and called him, and that’s when he delivered the good news.
The daycare facility that had been our first choice when we moved a year and a half ago finally had two openings. And the timing could not possibly have been better.
For the past few months, we had been agonizing over our childcare situation, considering everything from hiring a nanny (something that would be extremely tricky seeing as I work from home) to sending the kids to a daycare facility located nearly 30 minutes away. The reason for this is that the quality of care at the facility my kids were attending had started to slowly decline, and then, like a ball rolling down a steep hill, picked up so much momentum that I knew it was time to run for cover.
The first factor was staff turnover; in the span of a few weeks, four instructors quit. We tried to be understanding, realizing it isn’t always easy to retain top talent in a densely populated area where there are countless opportunities. Then, management let one of the instructors who was beloved by both kids and parents walk away over a dispute. (She wanted to work fewer hours during the summer, then pick back up in the fall. When her request was swiftly denied, she resigned).
The icing on the cake was that the turnover became so rampant that management stopped notifying parents when it happened. We’d simply walk in one day to find someone we hadn’t met watching our children. To me, that’s unacceptable — not only because parents have a right to know who is in charge, but also because three-year-olds need structure and stability, and my kids were getting neither. What’s worse is that it’s something I may have been able to overlook if I had been offered an explanation, but by failing to be transparent, the manager lost my trust.
And yet still, it wasn’t an easy decision to walk away. On one hand, I didn’t want to take my kids away from their friends and from the familiar environment where they had spent a year and a half. But recently, I had started to notice changes in their behavior that I attributed at least partially to the lack of any consistent authority at daycare. As a parent, it’s hard enough when you have to entrust the care of your children to someone else, but when you find that the organization you’ve invested in has stopped investing in their own people, it’s time to do some serious soul searching.
I thought about some of the times in my life when I had found myself in a less-than-desirable situation, and realized that I’ve never been the kind of person who let fear of the unknown dictate my decisions. I’ve always believed that although change can be scary, nothing is scarier than being trapped in a bad job or an unhealthy relationship.
And so, I realized that as much as I disliked the idea of disrupting their lives, I knew in my heart that though making a change like this might inconvenience us in the short run, but in the long run, it would mean for stability for them, and peace of mind for me.
After relaying this to my husband, we decided to seek out another solution so that we could ensure a better environment for our children. And so yes, the call I received at CHIME may have been timely, but it wasn’t the sole reason for our decision. We were brave enough to abandon ship before being thrown a life raft. And I hope one day, my kids will do the same.