Childcare/School Close to Work or Home?
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Childcare/School Close to Work or Home?
Hi, I'm a new mother of a 7 week old boy and just moved to
the Bayarea. Im living in Foster City and need to go to
Berkeley for my research work in a month. I cant seem to
decide what would be best for both the baby and me-
Daycare/Nanny share near Campus or Nanny at home. Seems like
such a hard decision to be away from him for 10 hours
everyday! Any thoughts/advice??
Also I would really really appreciate any suggestions for a
wonderful nanny/infant care either in Foster City or Berkeley?
Are you going to go to Berkeley everyday? If you can do some
research from home, then I say find a nanny near home. If you
will be in Berkeley majority of the time then find one close
to school. Then you and the baby can drive in and out
together. Have you checked the child care sites at Berkeley
campus? unfortunately i do not have any recommendation.
Our kindergarten search has led us to a few elementary schools
in San Francisco. The challenge is we live in Oakland and work
in San Francisco and wanted to hear how other families handle
the commute and challenges of living in Oakland but sending
their children to school in SF.
Thanks for your comments.
Curious Commuter Mom
I have the Oakland-SF commute and my sons are in schools in
Oakland. Here'e why and how (and it works for us). I live by
the lake in Oakland and work in San Francisco. First, we all
love our elementary school, Redwood Day School, which is 2
freeway exits away so that is most important. We figured that
the kids' friends would mostly be Oakland based so we'd want
play dates and various teams/activities on the East Bay. And
our jobs could change, but the school won't for 9 years per
child in this case. (The triangle of home-work-school would be
a challenge no matter what. In an ideal scenario all of these
pieces would be in the same neighborhood near public transit but
since it doesn't work quite like that for us, we use a car for
the gaps. The great thing is that both home and school are near
casual commutes for doing either part (driver or rider) in that
and buses go just blocks from each. Parking a non-issue at
both. Then there are about 3 BART stations if I left early
enough (or after 10am) to use parking at any. So I recommend
school on the home side of the bay and getting as strategic
about the commute as possible. GOOD LUCK!
We have a 2 year old who goes to daycare in SF (we're in the
process of looking for east bay options.) It is A LOT of work to
add a drop off in SF (unless the schools you are considering are
near the highway exit or close to your office.) It probably means
that you have to drive and can't use transit. And your kid might
be sitting in the car for up to 2 hours a day instead of doing
homework or afterschool activities. And playdates and birthday
parties will require driving to SF. On the plus side, if you
drive as a family on weekdays you are an instant carpool -- this
is a timesaver on the way in but isn't much of a break on the way
I looked at the old posts on this subject, but couldn't find
anything that addressed our specific situation and concerns.
I'm currently on maternity leave, and will be returning to work
full time in late July/early August, when our daughter is six
months old. My husband and I live in El Cerrito and commute to
Ideally, I'd like to be near our child during the day, so I can
visit/nurse her and ease the separation. Plus, bringing her
into the city with us means we're all on the same side of the
bridge, we don't have to pay to cover commute hours as well,
and we qualify for carpool! However, I can't find a quality
daycare near downtown with any openings (don't know about
hiring/sharing a nanny if there's no place for her to spend the
day), and my long-term job situation is uncertain, so I'm
reluctant to get her situated somewhere and then have to move
Leaving her on the east side of the bay means a much longer
separation (8am-6:30pm or later), the anxiety of being on
opposite sides of the bridge, and much higher costs (esp. since
we'll probably have to hire/share a nanny, since daycare with
such long hours is out of the question, right?) However, having
her close to home seems to be a better long-term option.
I can't imagine that we're the first family to face this
dilemma, so I'd love to hear from anyone who has found a
workable solution that does not involve more job flexibility,
which may not be an option for us.
stuck between the bridge and a hard place
Hi there, we were in a similar situation as you a month ago (we even
live in el cerrito). although we had a great daycare in the City to
back on, we found a great nanny whom we pay over the table, for less
than $12.00/hour, who takes care of our 5 month old in our home. we
found the nanny throught BPN.
she drives to the City on the days I work there, during lunch, so i can
nurse and spend some time with baby. this breaks up my day and i get
to see my baby everyday. :-) it's not really much to ask a nanny to
that, since babies at that age are mostly sleeping and playing and
carried; i.e., they are not crawling or running around and nanny
really have to take baby to the playground or park, so driving to the
in the middle of the day (no trafffic, usually) is not too much to ask.
do pay for her r/t gas and bridge toll.
check out the nanny pay structure in the archives, because el cerrito/
richmond nannies get paid a bit less than berkeley/oakland. a
like this may be doable for you.
one other thing to consider, the worst your boss can say is ''no''-try
if you can work from home one or two days a week. you'll still need
since working and caring for a 6 month old is not really doable on your
own, but at least you'll get to be home.
found a way!
First I must say that as a working mom who commutes to SF, I do
fully understand your concerns about where you should have
childcare. I think there are some pros and cons to having your
baby on either side of the bridge. My son is at home in Oakland
with a nanny share and we have also decided to send him to pre-
school in Oakland instead of in the city.
First the pros of keeping your baby at home. As a mother who is
away almost 11 hours a day 3 x a week, having a nanny share at
our home has been the best situation for us. I never have to
worry about getting our son ready to be on time to get him
somewhere and if I am sick or need a day off, having someone
come to my home is very convenient. Not to mention, I feel very
lucky that he is always in his home, with his toys and in a
familiar environment. The greatest con is the anxiety of having
your child on the other side of the bridge. Anxiety is something
I live with everyday as I cross the bridge, however, I feel
comforted knowing my son is in excellent hands...part of the
success of going back to work is knowing your child is in the
best hands (next to your own)in day care or nanny care, whatever
care. Also, we have established many contingency plans in case
of fire, earthquakes, etc. For example, our nanny knows where to
go, how to contact us (through out of state grandparents)in the
event of an emergency. I feel some comfort knowing my home is
equipped with all the necessary things you might need in a
natural disaster- if your child goes to a daycare or nanny share
outside your home, you would want to be sure contingencies are
also in place. I feel like I have more control over my son's
daily activities through the nanny as well.
The pros of bringing your child into the city may give you more
comfort knowing he or she is on the same side of the bridge as
you. You have more time with your child commuting (although you
cannot play) However, this might mean getting up earlier to get
the baby ready, if you are sick or need to run errands at home,
you are not going to want to bring the baby in the city unless
your husband can.
I can tell you all family day cares and nanny shares most likely
take place in neighborhoods beyond the Financial District which
might not be as convenient as you were planning to see the baby
to nurse. There are some excellent day care places like C5(near
civic center) and Marin Day School but the waitlists are really
long. I think if you want your baby with you then you should
consider a nanny share or family day care the city. Keep in mind
that that family and nanny will be counting on you to pay
regardless if you need care or not.
In terms of the uncertainty of your job and where you will be,
the daycare or nanny near your home idea sounds like a better
fit in the long term, especially if you are not sure if you will
continue working in the city. You can always change your
childcare situation but I think in the best interest for
yourself and your child, it is better establish a strong long
term relationship between your caregiver and child. If you pull
the baby out of the childcare in the city, be prepared to have
another period of adjustment of looking for new childcare,
getting the baby adjusted and getting yourself adjusted to a new
caregiver. Unless of course you are the one staying with your
Good luck. Going back to work, finding the best quality
childcare AND finding comfort in knowing you and the baby will
be ok are among the toughest issues for a working parent.
My husband and I also commute long distances and have two small
children, so I feel for you! I don't understand why there are
no daycares or after-school programs in the Berkeley area that
stay open past 5:30 or 6. It is really, really frustrating.
When my son was very young, I brought him to the onsite
childcare facility at work on the days I came in to work (in
Mountain View, a 1.5 hour commute one way), and kept him in a
local daycare on the days I telecommuted. That way I could
nurse him during the day. However, it was hard because of the
rigidity of the childcare program (he could only come on the
days he was registered, and they closed at 6pm). So if I had a
meeting on one of the days I didn't have him registered, it was
always a nightmare. But it was great to be able to see him and
nurse him during the day.
Then, as he got older, I started worrying about the effect 3
hours of driving would have on him. Extremely boring! Plus,
it's dangerous to drive in the Bay Area. So we put him in a
daycare in Berkeley and hired a babysitter to pick him up and
stay with him until we got home at 7 or 7:30. Yes, it was
terribly expensive and we're still in debt from it. But what
can you do? I just wish the City of Berkeley would encourage
more business development that wasn't clothing stores.
Wouldn't it be great if they tried to lure software development
firms here with tax incentives if they established onsite
daycares until 7pm?? Hey, that might even reduce Berkeley's
traffic problems if the city created incentives for businesses
that would hire all the intellectuals that come out of the
university and want to live here, so they could find jobs they
could walk to and not have to drive insanely long hours!! But
I digress. :-)
I think when you're still nursing, it's better to have your
child near you as you work. But as the child gets older, I
think it's better for them to avoid the commute nightmare, even
if they are with a babysitter for longer hours. I think it's
worth finding a loving babysitter or nanny, going into debt to
pay them, and giving your children a good foundation.
hates the commute
Hi - this is a tough problem, but it seems like maybe finding
childcare near your home might be a better option and I can
suggest the in-home Montessori daycare I use which is in Richmond
(relatively close to El Cerrito). The hours there are long and
they are actually very affordable. It's run by a wonderful woman
named Denise and her mom helps out too. We've had our 9 month
old there for a few months and have been extremely happy.
We also live in El Cerrito and commute to SF, and we went
through the exact same dilemma when I went back to work after
my leave. I liked the idea of having my daughter nearby, but
after much agonizing, we decided to leave her in El Cerrito,
with a shared nanny. Now, about 10 months later, we are very
happy with this situation. Here's why El Cerrito won out:
1) I'm very happy with a nanny rather than a day care at this
young age. It means fewer colds, more personal attention, and
that my daughter gets to sleep in her own crib for naps. But
of course, there are many reasons for making either decision
(nanny or day care).
2) The good day care centers in SF are expensive, so a nanny in
the East Bay (if you share) works out to roughly the same
3) The one factor that really made up my mind for me was
driving into the city and back a couple times, with her, before
I went back to work. On one of these trips, we got stuck in
bad traffic on the way home, and my daughter screamed the
entire way. It was, of course, very stressful for both of us.
The idea of facing that reality twice a day was more than I
4) Someone I know who commutes into the city with a small baby
told me that, in the mornings, a rear-facing baby has the sun
in his/her eyes all the way into the city. This made her baby
cry every morning.
If you do decide to go with the SF option, and the Civic Center
isn't too far out of the way for you, you may want to check out
C5 children's school.
My husband and I are debating which side of the bridge we
want to send our son to pre-school next fall. We both work
in the city and for fear of the possibility of ''natural''
disasters, we think it might be a good idea to have our son
with us in the city instead of enrolling him in an East Bay
pre-school. Currently he is home with a nanny so we figure
as long as he is at home he will be ok but we worry about
him being in a pre-school should something happen.
Unfortunately the pre-school choices are rather limited in
the city in terms of close proximity to the Financial
I am curious to hear how some working parents face this
possiblity. I am interested if anyone had children in pre-
school during the 89' earthquakes? What did you do? I
realize schools have contingency plans, etc. We have no
family nor very close friends who we can rely on to pick up
our son in case of such an event in Oakland. We realize
that the possibility of earthquakes and getting stuck in
the city is just a fact of life living in the Bay Area but
we just want to consider our options.
When my son was born the year after the quake, both my
husband and I had jobs in SF. We were unable to find a pre-school
in the financial district that was suitable. It is a good idea to find
one close to work as it was very chaotic after the 89 earthquake.
The ferries are still operable, however. Be aware that most
pre-schools close at 6pm sharp and penalize you if you are late,
rightly so. If your schedule is flexible, that is good. The stress to
get back to Oakland in time wore me down and after eleven years
I finally found a job in downtown Oakland. My life is 100% better
and my kids enjoy not being the last to be picked up! Good luck.
We had our daughter in an SF daycare/preschool in the
building I work in until about 2 1/2. The positives were:
I got to commute with her, thus spending more time with
her; I visited at lunch (however this began to cause major
tantrums as she got older and I stopped going); I knew she
was nearby. However, eventually it was clear to me that
the negatives outweighed the positives for her. In
retrospect I realize it was highly stressful - everyone in
one age group in one room together, no good outside area to
play, lots of traffic and fire engines (to this day she is
very sensitive to traffic and siren sounds), and the
commute. She started biting a lot, and I had a small
accident on the way in to SF, and the message finally got
through to me. We changed to a small preschool in Oakland
in a house with a backyard to play in. It was much better
for all of us - she calmed down, we got to know families
near where we live (as a second grader, she still plays
with some of those children even though she doesn't go to
their schools). I knew that the teachers and other parents
would take very good care of her if I was stuck in SF for
some reason. Maybe for calmer children it works better.
Other children stayed until kindergarten and had a good
experience. Not everyone feels the same way as I do.
My twin boys are 7 months, and I'm thinking about sending them
to daycare soon. The question is, should I try to find daycare
near home, or work? Home is Hercules, work is Berkeley.
The advantage of having them near home is that my husband could
drop them off, and I could pick them up. We would also be able
to meet other families in the area, which we haven't been able
to do with our busy schedules.
The advantage of having them near work is that I can visit them
during the day, and be close by if there are any emergencies.
We'll be a carpool, too, which is not a bad thing!
I don't know anything about daycare availability in either place
For those of you who have made this decision, which way did you
go, and why?
I work in SF and live in Oakland. Our 1 yr. old is in a great
day care near our house in Oakland. This has worked out really
well for a few reasons:
- I work from home on Fridays so it's easy to drop her off and
pick her up.
- If I'm home sick and need the child care it's very convenient.
- My daughter hates being in the car -- so driving with her over
the bridge would be no fun.
- While I love the idea of visiting her during the work day, I've
almost never done this (I was working from home until a few
months ago). It's just too disruptive. On days when I do have
more flexibility with work, I often drop her off late or pick
her up early to get that extra time together.
- I was able to work out a flexible schedule so that I go into
work early and leave by 4:30pm. So my partner drops he! r off in
the morning and I'm back in time to pick her up from day care
and spend a few hours together before she goes to sleep.
Good luck with your decision!
I chose daycare near home, for two reasons. One is logistics: my
husband can drop off or pick up when necessary. Also, I occasionally
work at home, or take a day off to get my life organized, and then I
have to drive all the way to work to drop my son off.
The other, more important for me, is time. The time I spend in the car
between finishing work and picking my son up is very important for me
to get my head out of work space, and back into parent space. I love
son dearly, but I came rather late to parenting, and I treasure this
amount of private time.
I recommend that they be near home. Why take kids on the
freeways every day? That's an added risk to their safety that,
if it's not necessary, seems worth avoiding! Another reason is
if you're sick sometime and need a day off to recuperate, you
will still be able to take your kids to daycare and get the rest
you need if they're near home.
I chose daycare closer to home. I didn't want my son falling
asleep in the car at the end of the day, which messed up bedtime
for us. There were also phases when he wasn't wild about being
in the car at the end of the day, so I wanted to minimize the
trip. As far as visiting during the day, it probably depends on
the child but in my case, it seemed like it would be upsetting
(for both of us) to visit for a while and then leave again so
there were no advantages in having him close.
Working & commuting mom
I live in Crockett and have worked in both Oakland and
Walnut Creek. I vote for daycare near home. Your children
will spend less time in transit, and more time playing. Both
of my kids went through periods when they truly hated being
in a car seat, so I was grateful to minimize the time! Plus if
you don't have your kids with you, you may (depending on
where you work) be able to take advantage of public
transportation. Finally, if you change jobs, you don't have to
We have always had our son cared for in or near our home. While
the idea of being on the opposite side of a bridge from my child
in an emergency is frightening, on a day-to-day basis we have
found it much more convenient to have him close to home.
Besides the flexi! bility in which parent drops off and which
picks up, consider that near-home care gives you the ability to
leave your child in care easily while working from home
occasionally or staying home sick. Also, a daily commute in a
car is risky! Car accidents happen much more often than major
earthquakes do. And in our case, my husband's workplace is much
closer to home than mine, so in the event of a disaster, it
ought to be possible for him to reach our son even if I couldn't.
I do know people who've chosen care situations nearer to work,
and that can work out well, particularly for nursing mothers who
want to be able to feed their baby during the day, where there
is good daycare available literally *at* the workplace, or in
situations where there are simply more or better or less
expensive care options near work than near home. In your case,
you might consider both and make your final decision based more
on the individual daycare situation rather than narrowing your
choices based on geography.
I chose to have daycare near home rather than near work because:
- I wanted to minimize the kids' time in the car or on transit;
- I wanted to get to know other families in our neighborhood
(this has worked out well as my daughter knows lots of kids in
elementary school that she knew in day care and preschool...and
we know the parents,too.)!
- day care was cheaper in the east bay than in SF
- My ''alone'' commute time allows for some much-needed transition
between work and home;
- on sick days for me, I don't have to travel far to get the kids
to day care, and then I can go home and nurse myself.
- my husband or frends or neighbors can pick up the kids if I
The challenges are
- My husband and I schedule our commute/work
schedules around the daycare/preschool/afterschool care hours
(so we need a day care with longer hours and we are more limited
with our office hours);
- It takes me a bit of time to get from work to the kids if they
get sick, but there has never been a big emergency that needed me
to get there faster.
So all in all, we are happy to have our kids near home
When my baby was an infant I took her to a babysitter near my work and she
would nap the 1 hour trip (each way). My husband also worked nearby and we
would sometimes go out for dinner together and wait out the traffic before
going home. When she stopped napping as much and became more mobile,
the 2 hours seemed like too much to have her confined to a car seat. Also, if
we did get stuck in traffic it was a nightmare to have a crying baby. Also I
would occaisionally work from home and it was great to have her daycare
nearby. I don't know your whole situation, but given that your husband doesn't
work near you (or at least you don't commute together) and you have 2 babies
who are probably just starting to get really active, I would think that on balance
if you can find good childcare near your home that would probably work best.
In 1994, I had to get back to work when my daughter was 4 months
old. I had the same dilemma and initially chose to place her in
a highly recommended day care near the office. After one
month, I moved her to a day care near my home. I did not see
the original posting but the bad thing about having th! e day care
near the office is 1) taking the baby on the freeway, for me was
exposing my child to greater harm 2) When work was busy and I
need more time to finish what I am working on, I had to drop
everything because the day care charges $1 per minute after 6
pm. (This is understandable because providers need to rest and
prepare for the next day) 3) There were times when I picked her
up and then brought her to the office so I can continue my
unfinished work. This did not work well either because my train
of thought has already been disrupted and I had to start all
over again. Plus when she made a fuss, I could not work also.
The plus side of day care near home is 1) If you have to stay
late at work, you can tag your husband to pick the child up if
his work permits. 2) When you are sick and need daycare, your
spouse can drop the child off to daycare on his because you do
not have to skip you! r office daycare and have to pay a second
one near your house. 3) When your baby is sick, daycare cannot
take the baby anyway. So if in the middle of the day they call
you, you cannot tag with husband (if possible) on picking up the
I have to put in a plug for daycare near work! I totally agree
with most of the reasons that people said they chose daycare
near home, but I've been commuting with my 2 year old since she
was 13 months, and here is why I'm happy about it:
(1) I like being on the same side of the bridge with her, in the
event of emergency, or even if she just gets sick in the middle
of the day, I can be there in 5 minutes to get her.
(2) I can work until 5:55pm if I need to, and know for sure that
I'll be able to pick her up before the center closes at 6.
(3) I ride BART with her, and I like it. For the most part it's
fun time that we read, chat, snack, and interact and observe
other people together. It's probably a total of 1.5 hours per
day that I would otherwise not be with her.
(4) Most importantly perhaps, she loves her daycare, and she is
thriving in it. I've thought about trying a daycare closer to
home for the reasons others have posted, but the bottom line is
she's happy where she is. And that's probably the most
compelling reason that I'm happy with the set-up.
SF working mom
I'm interested in hearing others' experiences with commuting
from the East Bay to downtown SF with a child in tow. My son's
father wants me to consider bringing our 2.5 year old into SF
for preschool so he can minimize the driving that he does to see
him during the week. My son's father lives in SF and works in
the South Bay and I live in Oakland and work in downtown SF.
Also, I'd appreciate recommendations for downtown SF preschools.
I commute everyday with my little one and have since he was 2
months old. We take the bus- which I prefer because I can deal
with any issues that arise whereas if I was in the car I would
not be able to do this. He loves the sounds, sights and smells
of the bus. He has a group of admirers who play, talk and
generally entertain him everyday. They have watched his growth
since I was pregnant so it's quite fun for everyone to watch him
grow. I really like the bus- it's cheap, easy and they always
seem to get us to our destination with little hastle or waist of
time. Als I get to spend the commute time with him and I am not
stressing about making it back by the day cares pre-prescribed
times. The only problem I occassionally have is when I have
night time meetings- what to do with the baby since he is
already with me- this can be tricky but so far is th only issue.
I think it's been good for my son- he gets lots of interaction
with other people and is more adaptable I belive because of his
daily exposure to the ''outside'' world. I have a nanny that comes
to my office and takes him for walks and brings him back for
feedings. This works in my two person office but I realize would
not work for everyone.
I commuted from Crockett to SF with my son for about 3 years
and a bit of advice I would give would to be to use a sling,
not stroller when using bus and BART. (I kept a stroller at the
office) My son never got so heavy I couldn't stand to sling him
for the entire commute. If it is crowded and you must stand, it
is so much better to not have to wrestle with a stroller. You
can also easily and discreetly nurse when necessary, saving
your fellow passengers' ears. I found other passengers would
usually offer their seats to us when the bus was crowded.
Getting an offer of a seat on the BART was rare. I loved having
my baby near me in SF and I'm really glad we had that
There is a preschool in my building at 75 (and 95) Hawthorne,
between Howard and Folsom. It is called Healthy Environments
Day Care, I think. A lot of folks from the Environmental
Protection Agency use the facility, but anyone can apply for a
spot. I believe they go from infants through preschoolers
still. They just added a new play ground in the middle of the
block in a private courtyard. You should give them a call and
make an appointment for you and your child's father to visit
some time. Sorry I don't have the phone number.
You don't say whether you drive to work or take transit into SF.
I commuted with my son from 6 months to 2 yo, taking the bus at
first and then switching to driving, which became easier for me.
If you are carpooling, it is okay. If not- it can, and often
is, a total nightmare. Traffic home in the evenings is often
even worse, and my tot didn't like it when the car wasn't
moving. I can recommend a great preschool downtown, though.
It's called Healthy Environments Child Development Center, and
it's run by Easter Seals (nr Second and Howard). Very expensive,
but a newer facility - the most spacious (and clean) daycare
facility I've ever seen, with lots of toys, well trained staff,
and age-appropriate activities. They also now have a secure
outdoor play area. They have long hours, and also provide hot
breakfast, hot lunch and snacks. (Our child was very happy
there, but ultimately we decided we'd rather he have more play
time and less car time, so we switched him to a center close to
home). Good luck with your decision.
I would like opinion on sending the kid to preschool close to work or close
to home. I live in Alameda and work in Richmond. I have applied the
university preschool in Child Study Center for next year but i turned in
the application late, so i don't know if my son can get into it. Also, my
workplace may not be moved back to campus in 2 years. I heard that the
Child Study Center is great, but I just wonder whether parents prefer
sending their kids to place close to their home or workplace? In
addition, any recommendation of the preschools in Alameda? Thanks!
I live in Alameda and work in Berkeley. I decided to send both of my girls
(ages 6 and 3) to daycare and preschool in Berkeley--near work. Initially
the decision was made in order to make it easier to pick them up in the case
of an emergency. There are other advantages. My oldest attended the Child
Study Center for preschool and working close to the preschool made it easier
to participate in activities (visiting for lunch, helping on field trips,
having conferences, etc.) so that I didn't have to take a whole day off of
work. I also treasure the conversations that occurred during the 45 minute
commute to and from school/work each day. Whether it was singing songs
together or talking to her about her day at school or whatever, the commute
time was at least time together. Now that my oldest attends the public
school in Alameda, it's much more difficult to attend her midday school
activities, and I really miss the commute time together. I often feel
guilty about the length of time we're not together now that her time at school (and before school
and after school care) is now an hour and a half longer.
Of course, there are advantages to sending your child to preschool near
home. This can be great if you are ever sick and need to drop your child
off at school and go back home to recuperate. It can also work for midday
activities if you have flexibility in your job so that you can work from
home on occasion. If you are planning to send your child to elementary
school in Alameda, the other advantage is that there is a better chance that
your child may know some of his classmates if he attends preschool in
Alameda, too. When my oldest started kindergarten, she needed to make all
new friends as none of her CSC classmates lived in Alameda. This wasn't a
problem for her as she makes friends easily. But there are a lot of kids
who became friends in an Alameda preschool (primarily Gardner), which made
it easier for them when they started kindergarten.
As always, it depends on you and your child. Feel free to e-mail me if you
have any questions.
I can't answer your close to work vs. home question (since my
preschool/daycare is both; I'm very lucky), but I can recommend Peter Pan
School on Mariner Square Drive in Alameda. It is the bigger of the two
preschools (the other is on Santa Clara, I believe), but it just seems
happily busy to me. My son has been going there since he was 4.5 months old
and I think neither of us can wait until he joins the 2-year-old class there
(in just 2 months). The teachers are loving and straightforward and there is
very little turnover. My one complaint is that I wish the food were a little
healthier; but as a friend says, her two girls, who attended Peter Pan, grow
wistful years later about the food. They do enjoy it. :)
Good luck with your query/search.
My daughter is 12 months old and started daycare three days a week in
mid-August (when she was 9 months old). My husband and I live in
Marin - I commute to Berkeley and he commutes to the City. Our first
choice for childcare was a center in Berkeley two blocks from my lab,
but it had a six-month waiting list so we found a place in San Rafael
about 15 minutes from our home. It has been a rocky transition for
her in daycare (after being with either me or my husband full time).
For the first 2.5 months she cried miserably when we dropped her off
which, even though we knew that this response was generally normal,
made us really uncomfortable. We also have some small ambivalences
about the director of our current center and there is one care-giver
that we don't especially like that much, so the combination of the
guilt/fear/pain her crying caused us with the concerns about the
center made for a bad situation. However, in the last two weeks she
has completely turned around: we drop her off, she begins playing
and seems completely unphased by our departure; plus the staff says
that she has been playing well all day, that she naps better now and
is generally having a good time. Our relief has actually softened
our opinion about the center - still some hesitations, but now that
she is getting along so well we feel like we can deal with our
concerns more in the background. My question to all of you relates
to this: the Berkeley center has informed us that there is space
available beginning in December. It has an excellent reputation, two
of my colleagues have their children there and rave about it, and
it's about the same price as our current center. What is more
important? Having my daughter close to me during the day (rather
than 45 minutes away) but having to ride in the car for so long each
day? Getting to know families closer to our home, plus having the
opportunity to use childcare even if I'm not going in to Berkeley?
We are visiting the Berkeley center this week to see how our daughter
likes it, but unless it's obvious that the center is significantly
better than our current place I fear that another transition would
push her too far and we'd go through another terrible few months.
Sorry this became so long! If you got to the end of this and have
any thoughts and advice we'd love to hear it! Thanks.
I decided to go with a preschool close to home when I had to make a
similar quick decision. It has proven to be the best decision for us
and we have gotten to know families who live in our immediate
neighborhood; families we see frequently at the local park and whose
houses we can stop by on Halloween. One family lives on our way to
the park, so we frequently have helped each other out with play dates
at either house as well as at the park. I originally made the
decision because of the convenience if I ever want to work at home
and therefore didn't have to drive into Berkeley to drop her off at
When my child was younger (up to 12 months), having him near my work
was essential because I was breastfeeding and liked to drop by and
see him every day. When he turned 12 months, he began having
separation anxiety such that I stopped visiting him because it made
him too miserable to say good-bye to me twice each day. Last month
I moved. My commute with my now 21-month-old doubled to 40 minutes
and became unbearable for both of us. He was bored and whiny, I was
distracted and becoming an unsafe driver. Hence, last week I moved
him to a daycare near my home. Our commute is now only 15 minutes,
and since I no longer visit him during the day, it doesn't matter
that he's not near my work. Plus, if I get sick, it will be much
easier to drop him off at daycare and return home to recuperate. My
advice is to keep your child at the daycare near her home.
Transitioning to a new daycare center is extremely anxiety-provoking
for both the child and the parents!
You might want to start looking for a good preschool in Berkeley ahead
of time and hold a spot early. Transition in the summer is always easier
than the winter. For a 2.5 - three year old, you can sing together, or
carry on a good conversation in the car.
I can see the reasons to have your child close to your work, you can
participate some school activities for a few hours, classroom visits,
have lunch with your child at school once in a while, and you can get to the
school sooner in case of emergency. You might want to consider to have
your child to go to schools near your home once he/she is school age.
In response to Rachel, moving from Minnesota, who wonders whether to look
for childcare close to her home in Orinda or close to work on campus.
For me, it made sense to
have my daycare close to my home so I could sometimes leave the child when
I was sick or needed to do other things besides work. The only down side
is that I was separated by about half an hour in case of emergency but,
fortunately, my provider was very competent and it never turned out to be a
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