There are three "center-based" child care options within walking distance to my house. All three are parent cooperatives. This means that, in addition to paying lots of money to keep your child warm and safe while you go slave to pay your mortgage, you get to "help" at the school. The amount help can vary from center to center, but the time commitment is substantial in any case. The "help" is mandatory. If you're sick, or your kid is sick you're expected to hire a sub, or swap with another parent at the last minute.
At first I loathed every minute of it. September is always a really busy time at my job and being 2 hours a week late once a week was a real burden. Also, most of the parents at Eric's school are rather lackadaisical about getting their kids to school in the morning. They stroll in well after 10. So, sometimes there were 3 adults and 3 kids in the classroom for the first hour. Consequently, there wasn't much for me to do but sit around and I resented it. But by mid-October things had eased up at work and Rich, seeing my stress offered to take every other week instead of every third. This helped immensely.
But now I've really started to enjoy it. It doesn't seem too decadent to be late to work one day every other week. I like knowing the kids in his class. Eric still isn't at the stage where he comes home and tells us stories about his day, so it's nice that I can be there to understand the dynamics he deals with. It's a nice group of kids. There are a few bratty ones, but I don't think they're spoiled, I just think the were born with the "princess" gene. It can't be extracted, only managed and we do that.
Plus I realized that if I want childcare in my neighborhood, this is just the way it's going to be. Parent help on a weekly, or almost weekly basis and committee work outside the classroom, with no monetary compensation for the work. But my child is happy and safe and in the hands of professionals who take what they do very seriously. I think for now it's a good trade off. I don't like the mandatory nature of the parental involvement. Since it's not necessary for us to be there for the school to function, I think we should get a couple of 'sick' days or off days. The teachers certainly take them whenever they want to. But in general, this is fine for now. Not sure what I'm going to do when the baby comes and they probably won't allow me to bring her to parent help. I'm sure there will be a whole new rant about that...