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Maternity leave for 2nd child - take firstborn out of daycare temporarily?

Dec 2009

I'm curious about the etiquette for child care when a parent's work situation changes temporarily for a few months.

My son attends a small, in-home day care that we love. I will be having my second child in April and going on maternity leave for 5 months. During that time I don't really want to send my first-born to day care full time, because I actually have the time off to spend with him. However, I realize that child care is the income source for my provider and that I can't just expect to not send him for a few months and then be able to go back to full time when I'm ready.

What type of compromise can I expect? Is it reasonable to ask the sitter to go down to part time with my son to ''hold'' his spot? I'm sure it will be helpful to send him to day-care for a few hours at a time. But, I struggle with the decision to be a working mom and I really see it as a gift that I'll be able to have extra time with him.

Thanks in advance. Sarah


There is no set policy regarding this in the day care field. In my case, my program is full with a wait list. I can't afford to have any slots that aren't bringing in income, even temporarily. My decision would be whether or not to let the parent cut back to part time and finding another part time child to cover the vacant hours (with no guarantee of increasing hours later), or replacing their child with another full time child. It's purely a matter of economics. Oakland day care provider
I would really think long and hard before you pull your first born out of daycare. I am on maternity leave with a baby and have a toddler as well and pulled him only one day a week and after about 8 weeks was at the end of my rope with this one day. Keep in mind there were also other days because of daycare closures and illnesses, but staying home with two small children by myself was not pleasant at all. An infant needs constant feeding, changing, and soothing and a toddler, or at least my toddler, also had constant demands for entertainment and attention. It was exhausting and stressful. My friend who stayed home with two small children actually called her work to come back early from maternity leave! You may have an easy toddler in which case maybe it could work, but juggling two is so much harder than you can even imagine. And all on almost no sleep because of the newborn. Your toddler will have more fun at daycare than hanging out with you tending to a newborn all day and feeling cranky. I would start very, very small if you do want to do this arrangement. Like maybe a day or two a week and if after that you are really wanting more, then maybe increase it. The way I look at it is my first born had time as an infant to bond with just me and the second should get that time too. Meredith
I am just about done with my maternity leave with my second baby, and I'd caution you against pulling your first child out of daycare. I originally thought I'd spend lots of time with my first-born during maternity leave, but I'm so busy with my newborn, it's hard to take care of my son too. He's at preschool pretty much full time and doesn't really know that I'm home all day with the baby (he's happy at preschool). I feel guilty sometimes, but my son behaves badly around the baby and acts up, becomes very demanding, sometimes aggressive. I end up getting very frustrated when both are home with me. I lose my temper. I just feel like I'm a better mom if I don't spend weekdays with both children. (And I really really don't know how stay-at-home parents do it. They're my heros.) One more thing: my son had my full attention his first six months and for 3.5 years all my attention when I wasn't working, so I felt like I needed to give my new baby girl special attention her first six months. Starting January, I'll be spread thin again... Anon
I think it depends on whether your day care provider routinely does part time care for others or not. In our case, our provider only did full time. It would not have been fair to ask her to make an exception as there would be no way for her to make up the income.

I also found out that it was GREAT to have the full time care for my oldest. He was just over 2 when the second one was born and he really appreciated sticking with his regular routine...and it helped me tremendously to bond with the new baby and to have time to recuperate myself.

I did take advantage of my ''free'' time by keeping him home longer in the morning, picking him up earlier and keeping him home some days...but still paid for the full time care.

If you love your provider (which we did...and reading the post after yours shows that they are not all great); then be very careful as you will soon have 2 that need care. Loved Having the Full time Option


Most family daycares can't afford to hold a spot, but some can if you are at least paying for part time. When I had my second, I kept him part time in his day care. My reasons: my first child had my undivided attention while an infant and I wanted my secong child to have as much of that experience as possible too, it provided some continuity for my first child and was easy for him to go from full time to part time and back to full time, the day care provided my first child with some toys and kid interaction he didn't have at home, and finally, it gave me a little more quiet time at home when I was exhausted. glad I kept first in part-time daycare
Hi. I have a 2 year old and a 4 month old, am on maternity leave, and have kept the older one in daycare (although I do pick her up earlier than before). I didn't really have a choice of taking the older one out of daycare since we would have lost the spot, and I did at first feel guilty about sending her away when I was at home. However I am really happy that she stayed in daycare, for a few reasons:

- Getting a new sibling is a big change for a toddler and taking them out of daycare and returning them to daycare in the space of a few months is just too much added stress, if they get picked up earlier then before they do still benefit from your maternity leave (even if you may have to pay full-time).

- The firstborn received undivided attention as an infant, doesn't the second child deserve at least part of a day where they get to have their needs met fully? Even with the older one away part of the day there will be lots of interrupted feedings, lots of times the little one has to wait crying in their crib or chair.

- By having some time alone with the infant you can try to do the bath, one on one interaction and longer relaxed feedings with the toddler out of the house, thus reducing the number of times intense jealousy occurs, you can even try to prepare dinner and do other errands during naps giving you more time with both children after daycare.

- One forgets very fast how much time and energy a newborn needs and although it feels like maternity leave equals lots of free time it really doesn't. Congratulations! Anon


Fortunately, I held onto my full time day care spot for my two year old son when my second child was born. I also had a few months off for maternity leave. Before the baby was born I thought I'd keep the older home at times, but day care was my salvation. It helped maintain routine for my son. (We are very attached to our providers.) It provided time for me to rest and bond with the baby during the day, something I couldn't have done otherwise. I underestimated the value of this until my daughter was born! My older son preferred to be at day care anyway- friends, more stimulation, etc. Maintaining full time care during my leave was one of the best things I did after the second child was born. Another Perspective
Like most people said in the last newsletter, its nice to have daycare to send your toddler to so you can spend quiet time alone with the baby. Good for you, and good for the baby. Good for the toddler too if they are happy and stimulated at daycare. When my 2nd was born, we did reduce older child's preschool to part time (3 days a week, one of the options offered by the school) in order to save money and I did learn to enjoy my days at home with both kids. The preschool did fill the days we weren't using with another part time child. After about a year we increased to full time again. We requested it in advance with the school and it worked out that they had space. (I guess we were lucky in that these schedule changes were happening in September when a lot of schedule changes were happening so we were able to get what we wanted. It also helped that we requested the schedule changes well in advance.) Congratulations and good luck. chris
After reading the last batch of responses, I wanted to share my experience. For financial reasons, we did pull my two year old son out of daycare when I went on maternity leave with our new baby. We had to give up our spot and accept that we would need to seek a new situation when I return to work. I was nervous about being able to manage the two kids and also about giving up our spot at the daycare, which we liked. However, it's been great having the two kids with me. Sure, there are moments when I'm aggravated by my son's antics, or when they both need me at once. But these moments are the exception. Mostly I've loved taking care of the two of them and seeing them interact. The developing relationship between the two kids is wonderful to observe and participate in. Oddly, and contrary to what I expected, I seem to be able to do a lot more this time -- on my first maternity leave I found it difficult to even get out of the house. This time I'm packing them both up and going on all kinds of outings. My son is a very high-energy toddler, needs a lot of attention, but he has really risen to the challenge of sharing my attention, and I think it may be partly because I am asking more of him (asking him to wait his turn, etc., where in the past I always jumped to take care of his needs right away). He sometimes talks about his daycare, which he loved, but whenever I ask him if he wants to go there he says no, so I think he's enjoying this time too. Now that we are looking for new care, because I'm going back to work soon, and I see that there are many good options out there, so I'm confident that both children will be happy in the new placement. Enjoying my brief stint as a SAHM

Change to part-time for toddler while I'm on maternity leave?

Feb 2008

My 18-month-old son loves his daycare in Pleasant Hill, which we chose because it was fairly close to my job in Walnut Creek. But now, I'm going on maternity leave soon and we live in Oakland. I want my son to be in daycare still because he loves it so much. I want to switch him to something closer to home but I feel like we are not very desirable patrons: We want part-time daycare now and full-time daycare in late August (when I go back to work), and we're going to have another baby who will need daycare then, too. What do people do when they go on maternity leave and have an older child? Keep him/her in daycare full-time? Part-time? Do a lot of daycares take younger siblings when parents go back to work? Is it a bad idea to change to a daycare closer to home right before my son's world is rocked by the addition of another baby?


We left our son in preschool, with his same schedule, upon the arrival of our baby. He only had to deal with one major change to his life, rather than two. It also allowed me time alone with the baby. There were times when I wondered if I should've kept him home more to bond with her, but they have such a loving relationship (peppered with sibling rivalry, of course) that I can't imagine would be that much better had I kept him home.

As for whether your daycare will accept your baby when you go back to work, that should be an easy question for them to answer (most make siblings a priority if there's room). And since you'll be returning to work, it seems the same rationale for attending the Pleasant Hill school would apply. It might be a pain driving from Oakland to PH when you don't ''need'' to, but who knows? you may find it to be one of the highlights of the day when the baby falls asleep in the car and you have some quiet time to yourself (albeit driving). anon


I have a 3 year old and 2 1/2 month old. I highly recommend keeping your son in daycare if you can afford it. We had various recommendations on how to best adjust our son to his new sister. The best advice we received was to keep him in his routine as much as possible. Switching daycares at this time could be a bit tough for him to handle as he adjusts to his life being changed with the addition of a sibling. I would also start at looking for daycare for your upcoming new baby. I had a difficult time finding anyone licensed to take an infant, the waitlists go into the summer for the bigger facilities (I live in the Alameda area). Good luck! Anon
Since your son loves daycare, I would switch him to a place closer to home and see if he loves the new place just as much as the old place. He might like it even better! And, since he loves daycare, I would let him stay in daycare while you're on maternity leave. If he decides that he liked his Pleasant Hill daycare more, you can always move him back there when you return to work. I don't know why you think you are not a desirable patron; a patron who will soon double her daycare business sounds very desirable to me. Love daycare
Don't switch your son's daycare, especially since he loves it there. You'll want to keep his schedule as normal as you can, especially after the baby comes because it will be a HUGE adjustment when #2 comes along. He'll probably be ready to go back quickly after the baby's born (within a few days), so be prepared to let him. mom of a 3 yr old & a 1 yr old

Daycare policies about paying while you're on vacation

May 2007

I am wondering what Daycare Vacation policies are out there. At our daycare, you pay 50% of the tuition for the days you are gone. I think that's reasonable. However, that only holds true for 2 weeks. If you go away for more than 2 weeks in the year, you then pay 100% for the time you are away. Is this common? What other policies are out there? Concerned Parent


Wow, that's super generous. All day cares I know charge 100% all the time. Doesn't matter if your kid attends or not. anon
it sounds like you have a great set-up! our daycare charges us 100% all of the time, i.e. if we are gone for 1 week or 4 weeks, we still have to pay the full monthly fee. Anon.
Assuming your child is in a group setting, I think it's typical to pay full price while you are on vacation (that's the case where we are). After all, the daycare providers are not on vacation. Imagine that your child was 6 and replace ''daycare'' with ''private school.'' You don't get a reduction in tuition for taking your child out for a 2 week vacation, since school is still in session and teachers must still be paid. Stephanie
2 weeks at 50%, over that, you pay %100 seems reasonable to me. If you rent a house, you pay rent when you go on vacation. If you have a phone, you pay the basic cost whether or not you make calls. The people who work at your day care need to get paid whether you go on vacation or not. You are paying for the option to have your child cared for. You are paying for them not to give your spot to somebody else. If this is not working for you, maybe you need a much less formal child-care set up. anon
Wow. Consider yourself lucky. My daughter has been in three different daycares and we had to pay 100% tuition at all three when we were on vacation. The daycare she is in now allows you to try to sell your vacation days to other parents or swap, but this is the only daycare that I've heard of that allows it.

Do we have to pay during the 10 weeks we have off in summer?

Nov 2003

I am currently looking for a family daycare for my 7 month old, and a question has come up. My husband is a teacher and is off for about 10 weeks over the summer. It seems silly to keep him in daycare during that time (or maybe on a very limited basis), plus, my husband wants to be able to spend time with him. Will we be expected to pay our full rate during the time we take off in order to hold our spot, or will most providers be willing to work out something so that we pay a minimal amount to hold the spot during the summer? Thanks!


I have been a daycare provider for over ten years. I do require parents to pay for any vacation time they take in full. I am a single mother with three young children and my daycare business income is my bread and butter. If different families paid suiting to their needs, I would never know how much income I had to rely on. Also, I find that when parents see that their child/children are in such a quality environment, getting so much love and learning, and having so much more than just their physical needs met, they don't mind (afterall they get paid vacations). I have had many moms who have taken maternity leaves and pay regardless if their child attends daycare or not. Dedicated Daycare Provider
I am a teacher and have two children in childcare. I pay for childcare for both of them during the summer months.

My youngest is cared for in a home. The woman who cares for him depends on her pay for her living. I feel it would be unfair for me to expect her to take a pay cut every summer just because I choose to not send my son. If she is holding the spot for him she should get paid for it. One summer she did offer to give me a cut rate if she could find another child to take the spot temporarily. I thought that was fair, but no temporary child appeared.

My oldest is in preschool. I assumed that their rules would be simillar to my home daycare provider. (It is... they have a budget too. Their costs don't go down just because I am not sending my kid. I would in fact have to unenroll him from the school. The head teacher was surprised that I didn't do that just for the summer. Apparently, at the school he is in there are several teachers who do just that with their kids. And, chances are that I wouldn't have a problem re-enrolling him once the school year begins, but starting the school year without childcare is a risk I am not willing to face.

Truth be told, I have enjoyed having the flexibility that keeping them ''in'' childcare has provided. I am free to send or not send them as fits my plans. Sometimes I send one and do something special with the other. Sometimes I send them both and get a project done that I can't do when the kids are around. We spend lots of time together too, but we have more options. teacher mom


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