The Stressful Search For A Daycare In the GTA

The longer I’ve been a parent, the more obvious to me it becomes that stress is endless. From the moment of conception, your mind is constantly racing. Can I eat this? Can I drink this? Can I do this? Can I lift this? Every moment you are constantly second-guessing everything decision you make.

I told myself once she arrived, it would get easier on me mentally. Sure, I would be tired, I would be breastfeeding, but I would have a little more control and that in itself would be freeing.

Boy, was I wrong.

The biggest stress in my life right now is daycare. Apparently, it is well-known to most moms, or at least all the daycares speak to you as though you should know, that you should have your child on the waiting list for daycares the moment you conceive. Before that little bean matures enough for you to even feel safe telling people about your pregnancy, you should be adding Little Baby Unknown to every daycare waiting list in your area to ensure when your child is 18 months (which is the youngest admitting age for most daycares) your child is close to having a spot there.

It’s even worse if you have this ridiculous idea of getting your child into a city-run daycare instead of a private one.

Late to the party, of course, I managed to put little ReeRo on waiting lists when she was a year. I know, I know… what was I thinking?

If I am telling the honest to goodness truth, I wasn’t. My train of thought at the time was that I knew for sure she would be staying home with me for a year, I had a hope she would be home with me until 18 months because I knew she would be my only child and wanted to spend as much time with her as I possibly could. That being said, I thought right before a year would be the right time to look through the options and see what I was looking at in my area and in my price range.

Well, I was pretty much floored as I looked. All the ones in my area with openings are private daycares in which we will be handing out as much as we pay for our 2 bedrooms + Den apartment with our utilities and parking. I was just sitting there looking at website after website not only wondering who the hell was paying this, but how in the world people could afford it.

A lot of people like to sit back and complain about Millenials, but Jesus, the cost of living for us, especially in a city like Toronto, Canada, is INSANE!

If your maternity leave has run out and you are trying to get your child into an affordable daycare spot relatively quickly so you can start working, you’ll quickly realize just how ridiculous it all is.

First; this information isn’t readily available to everyone. When I tell moms who are still in the early stages of their leave about my struggles finding a placement for her, they are in disbelief. A lot of moms who are going about this for the first time are completely blindsided by the cost and waitlists involved in childcare.

Second; if you are a parent who qualifies for subsidized child care, you should know there is a waitlist for approval for that as well. What does that mean? Well, it means that before you even think about getting a place for your child in a subsidy approved daycare (with waitlists that probably triple the length of any other daycare you’ll be looking at), you’ll have to not only apply for subsidy in your district, but also go to an interview, and get approved.

Third; if you are going the route of subsidy, THERE IS A TIMELINE! Once your interview is booked with subsidy, you have to go and be approved. Once approved you have somewhere between 30-90 days to find your child a spot in a subsidy approved daycare or you will be moved back to the bottom of the waiting list!

You’re probably reading this thinking: That seems like a lot of time. 

Let me put my timeline out here for you guys so you can see if it really is enough time (if you were unaware of how long the waitlist was and put your child on those lists late).

I applied for Toronto Child Subsidy at the end of August right before my daughter’s first birthday. At the same time, I applied for Subsidy, I made about 30 calls and put my daughter’s name on waiting lists for daycares in my area. Every daycare that had a waiting list I put her on, this worked out to be 23 daycares of the 30 I called.

I heard back from Toronto Childcare Subsidy in December letting me know I needed to go to an interview in January. Just applying to subsidy took just about 4 months, and that was without even being approved. It’s important to note, that from August to December when I received the letter I hadn’t heard from a single daycare letting me know there was an opening.

The second week of January I called every daycare she was on a waitlist back to see if maybe there was an opening and I just hadn’t heard from them, I also called 15 more daycares, branching out to the point where we would need to travel to get her to daycare and it would no longer be an easy pick-up/drop-off situation. The 14th place I called told me I needed to recall Toronto Childcare Subsidy and go through them in order to put my daughter on the waitlist at that location. It was only at this point I was informed that once I attended my scheduled interview and got approved for Subsidy, I would potentially lose my spot if I couldn’t find her a daycare in time.

This is when the panic began to set in. It had already been five months and I hadn’t heard from a single daycare. That meant I would need to hear back from them relatively quickly after getting approved. I didn’t want to lose my spot and then have to wait another 4 months to once again reach the top of the list.

I called 10 MORE DAYCARES going as far East as Bay St (I live completely WEST and getting there would be a hassle and a half, but I was desperate).

If you weren’t keeping track, that is a total of 55 different GTA daycares called and not a single opening. It definitely has me asking the question if there are enough subsidy approved daycares in the GTA. There is a population of roughly over 5.2 million in the GTA, a good number of those families would require Toronto Child Subsidy for daycare and would be looking in the same places I was for child care. Just how many calls do you have to make before you find that opening, if ever?

How can there possibly be enough daycares for that many children? How can they expect parents to afford to become a single income household when you can’t find childcare for your child to return to work? Is it any question why debt is becoming such a huge issue for Millenials in the GTA and why mental health issues are on the rise?

Personally, I can’t even express to you the added stress and anxiety this search has added to my already stressful day to day life of being a stay at home mom to a very moody toddler. When I am not pulling my hair out, or prying her off of my, I am struggling to try and figure out what the hell is going to become of my life. No matter how much I prepared, I didn’t prepare for this.

The cost of living is constantly rising, being a single income family in Toronto in 2020 just doesn’t even seem possible.

For any parent who has a baby on the way and is reading this, the time to start looking into daycares was a month or two before you read this… definitely get on it before your little bean makes its entrance into the world. Waiting until you’re ready like a lot of first time parents think is the best thing to do, is definitely not the best thing to do.