Looking for daycare…

I understand this may not be a concern for everyone, but even the ones without children could read, just for laughs.

Looking for daycare is challenging even in your own country, but it’s one of the expat’s nightmares. Trying to find the right school, at the right location, for the right price… can be a real challenge!

Our baby has 18 months and went to daycare since the age of 1 year. Now, in Ukraine, we found out (the hard way) that people are not used to sending their children to daycare till they are 2 or even 3. That means there are a lot of parks and playgrounds, a lot of development centres (which parents, but it is mostly understood mothers, attend together with the children), but not full-time daycare. That also means that the ones that exist are mostly addressed to expats, which makes them more accessible language-wise, but come up with other strings attached.

The first one I visited was very much similar to the one my daughter had previously attended in Belgium… so far so good. But when I made the tour, I also met the two caretakers, out of which one was supposed to speak in Ukrainian to them, and the other in French. What struck me was that the latter was not even a native speaker, and although sweet and nice, she thought I was French…

The second one was the „apartment” kind of creche, which received a maximum of 8 children. The lady running it was very nice, spoke perfect English, but it is unfortunate that the age gap between children is too big. My daughter would be the youngest, the next in line would be 3 years old, therefore 1 1/2 year difference, with the other children even older. While it may seem a „family” kind of atmosphere, I noticed them during a music class. Though my daughter enjoyed the activity, she could not keep up with the others, and the rest were not waiting for her, which frustrated her.

Oh well, these are experiences, and it is funny how it depends from one culture to another, from one time to another, as I concluded after a very interesting conversation with the headmistress of the last nursery I visited. I recalled that when we first took our baby to daycare in Belgium, they were surprised she had not attended daycare before age 1, and my daughter had a sort of interview to see of she would adapt, whereas here, everyone was surprised that she had already attended nursery! The lady replied by explaining that during the communist period in Ukraine, women were allowed very little maternity leave – 3-4 months (most like in Western days today!) – therefore nowadays, as a sign of the post-communist era, they can take up to 3 years.

I find these differences fascinating, because in a way the first months in the relationship mother-child are fundamental. The child would find it normal I believe however he/she was brought up, but it is interesting that even though we live in a modern, technological era, we don’t have the right answers. How much time should working mothers be spending with their children? Are the reasons purely economical? How come the communist regime had this point in common with modern democracies, while post-communist states tend to give more importance to family time?

I do not have answers for these questions, of course, but these are the sort of questions that were running through my mind during the „daycare-chase”. We have not reached a decision, and that is fine. Everyone is different, and there is no perfect system. It is just important to accept that.

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