My daughter turned 3 recently. Part of me cannot believe how fast time has flown by, and yet another part feels like it was just yesterday that I was researching daycare options as I prepared to return to work after maternity leave. Parenting is funny like that.
When we lived in the Toronto area, I remember people saying that they had enrolled in daycare centres before even becoming pregnant. Say what?! I guess the demand for a spot was at quite the premium! While we didn’t go to such extremes in Muskoka when looking for a daycare provider, we did start the search when our daughter was about 8 months old. Since I worked from home at the time, we decided that a home daycare nearby would be the best option, to avoid adding tons of driving time into my day. I had no idea how difficult it would be to find someone that my husband and I felt comfortable leaving our child with.
I was always asking around for daycare recommendations. One of the providers that came highly recommended happened to be at the local early years program on the same day that I was, and so I asked her if she had space. Sadly, she was full; also, she only offered part-time hours. Our search continued. I think we visited about 6 different home daycares, and none of them felt ‘right’; there was just something we weren’t comfortable with at each of them.
We eventually found one that we were ok with, and reserved a spot for when I’d be returning to work in a few short months. And she was right around the corner from our house – huge sigh of relief! ...until a few months had passed when I got a random text message that she could no longer take our daughter; she had given our spot away to her friend without even talking to us first. Was she serious?! I asked her to call me so we could talk about it. A couple more texts were exchanged back and forth, but she never called. I started panicking – finding someone in Muskoka is tricky business. Our search continued again.
As the weeks crept closer to returning to work, I almost considered not going back at all because of the difficulty we were having in finding someone. We weren’t just going to leave our daughter with someone if it didn’t feel right. I ended up calling the girl I’d spoken to a few months back that was full (with part-time hours), just to see if she had a space open up. As luck would have it, she had a cancellation a few days prior and one open spot! So, I set up a time to go over and meet her with miss C. I immediately felt at ease, and it was very obvious that she cared deeply about the children in her care. This wasn’t just a ‘job’ for her; she was passionate about her work. We were lucky to score the open space, and I was lucky that my work allowed me to return 4 days a week instead of 5.
Finding this gem of a daycare provider is one of the best things to happen to our little family. She is wonderful with all of the children in her care. She offers a structured schedule with lots of reading, crafts, and imaginative play. They spend a ton of time outside on nature walks and collecting pinecones, identifying different birds and leaves, and feeding the chickens. Our daughter has thrived since day 1. She loves going to be with her friends. There have been countless times that our provider has helped me out by offering early drop-off, late pickup, and even the occasional weekend help. There’s no one else like her, and no other provider that we would trust more with our child. And that is priceless.