Finding Your Ms. Phyllis

The thought of finding a place and people to care for your child while you go to work all day is one that no mother looks forward to. And because finding reliable, safe and affordable care for an infant is even more difficult these days, the search for child care must start well before you even meet your sweet little baby. I remember six years ago when my husband, and I started searching for care for our first baby who was due that July. I had a spreadsheet going of possible in-home providers that I had found online, as well as a list of every possible center within 10 miles of our house. 

And when it was time for our first visit, we went to an in-home provider because that’s the type of childcare provider I had in my own childhood and our provider was like a grandma to me. I was sure that was the type of environment I wanted my future baby to be in. Someone to give him that one on one attention and snuggles and share with me about his day, etc. That first visit was not as I thought it would be. We left after about a 10 minute walk through of the house and I got in the car with my husband and started bawling. It was NOTHING that I thought it was going to be. The caregiver and her husband were NOTHING like I imagined them being. I knew that I couldn’t leave that baby in my belly with them all day everyday. In short, they were a far cry from Ms Phyllis and her husband, who I spent my early childhood with.

After that visit, I crossed off all the in home providers on my list. I decided that my baby had to be in a daycare center for several reasons. One of them was because in the center environment there were many more eyes watching all the different providers that would be with my child. I did not realize it back then, but looking back I realize what I lost in that first in-home visit was trust. I did not get a good “vibe” from those particular providers, I didn’t feel like their home was as safe.

So, we did the day care center thing and it worked out fine for my oldest son. Then I got pregnant with my daughter and just signed her up at the same center as her brother. She started in the infant room at 8 weeks. We found in that year there was very little consistency in teachers, and she was horrible at napping due to lack of schedule. I decided to reconsider and try an in-home provider if we were to have a third kid.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy to find one perfect for us, but I started that spreadsheet again. I got on care.com. I Googled in-home daycares every chance I got. My husband decided to post on our neighborhood page we were looking for recommendations … and that’s is how we found Ms. Marie. And while she didn’t have a definite spot available when I first called, I didn’t lose hope, because I had a really good feeling about her after our discussion on the phone.

After she invited us to come visit and meet with her, we walked out and got in the car following our visit and was almost in tears. But this time it was the good kind of tears. He asked me what was wrong and I told him, “I think I just found our Ms. Phyllis.”

Ms. Phyllis was the provider that I went to when my family first moved to Shawnee, Kan., when I was around two years old. I was in her care from the age of two until I went to school full time in first grade. She ran “Kidsville” in her basement with many other young kids. I still remember her basement and her backyard. I remember her bathroom because she was the one that got me dressed in my “I’m a big sister” pale yellow sweat suit before my grandparents picked me up to take me to the hospital to meet my baby sister. We went to visit her often at Halloween even when we were older to show her our costumes.

Our families kept in touch, and she even came to my wedding in 2010 with her husband, whom we called “Grandpa Ed.” She was one in a million, and I know I was so thankful the role she played in my life and my sister’s life.


Ms. Phyllis was the best there was (the early late 80s were amazing!)

My third kid (also known as Mikey), has been in Ms. Marie’s care since he was 11 weeks old. He’s 18 months now, and the thought of moving him to the center where my older two kids attend preschool  makes me want to cry because in the short time we have been with Marie, she’s become like a family member to us. Not only did I walk in to her loving on Mikey all the time when he was a baby, but she got him on a schedule as an infant that was a lifesaver for me in our crazy house. She seems to always be in tune with when he’s getting sick or not feeling right. She helps me be a better mom (she has six kids of her own so I ALWAYS take her advice!). She cares about all the kids she takes care of like they are all her own. I am beyond grateful that we found Ms. Marie, and she’s a part of our life – and so is Mikey!

     
Ms. Marie and Mikey | Her annual Christmas party she throws is amazing too!

So what is the point of all this? I wish someone would have told the 2012-first-time-expecting-mom I was to not give up hope so soon to find an in-home provider for my children. I clearly let one not-so-great visit to a provider determine my feelings for all in-home providers. Trust your instincts and feelings. Ask the right questions, but be confident in your mom instincts. And if you’re looking for a provider, I hope that you find your own Ms. Phyllis (or Ms. Marie), because it is truly life changing for the whole family.

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