Childcare Conundrums, Solved

No childcare situation is perfect. Here are some common complaints and possible solutions.

Lateness Hassles

Daycare

When our incredible Mary Poppins of a nanny announced she was leaving to seek greener pastures, I panicked. Once I could breathe again, I took a hard look at our childcare situation. Perhaps, I thought, it was time to put our 18-month-old son, Fletcher, in a more diverse social situation. I enrolled him at a nearby nursery school and was delighted with my decision -- until we got the welcome package. Inside was a form for signing up to be a room-parent volunteer, a time-consuming responsibility. I resented this intrusion into my already overscheduled workday. But I saw how Fletcher was blossoming, so I went back to singing the center's praises. Even after you've done your homework and feel you've chosen the best daycare, there's always going to be something that bothers you. And when safety isn't the issue, you need to decide whether those annoyances are simply irritating or outright appalling enough to withdraw your child and find a new daycare. Here, parents sound off on what they've encountered and how they've coped.

I get hassled if I'm late to pick up my child.

Although Jennifer Fas, of Downey, California, normally picked up her daughter Megan, 2, by 4 p.m., her cell phone would start buzzing if she wasn't there by 4:05. She and the caregiver reached an agreement: "We left it at 'I promise to be there at 4 p.m., and if I'm going to be past 4:05, I'll call.'" For now, her cell phone has stopped ringing.

What the experts say

Chronic lateness disrupts the facility's daily functions and interferes with caregivers' going home on time. If a parent exceeds a five-minute grace period, it's not unusual for childcare centers to charge a dollar for every minute the parent is late. Still, if your caregiver has a tendency to use a condescending tone, tell her directly that you don't like the way she speaks to you and that you'd like to find another way to interact, says Mary Zurn, PhD, vice president of education for Primrose Schools, a Georgia-based childcare franchise. You might need to find a new daycare if that doesn't work, because the caregiver's attitude could inhibit you from expressing your concerns -- a bad arrangement for you and your child, Zurn explains.

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