Adventures in Childcare: Community Center Gym Daycare Edition

Adventures in Childcare: Community Center Gym Daycare |

With a husband who works 12+ hours a day, at least five days a week, Baby spends the vast majority of his time hanging out with Mama. A difficult sleeper to begin with, previous babysitter’s have not been able to get Baby to go to sleep while I’m out. Add to that his refusal to take a bottle or sippy cup, and you’ll get an idea for how often Baby’s by my side. I know, the problem is definitely more with my attachment then his. I’m trying to let go, get some “me time” back, and expose Baby to some other caregivers.

One idea I tried was to find a gym with a daycare to watch Baby, while I sneak in a workout (or shower, or coffee…). I was looking for a place where I could leave him for 30-60 minutes, one or two days a week. Way back before Baby was born, I took Zumba classes at our local community center. I looked them up and checked out their childcare options first.

The center was pretty close to our house, and I loved that we could pay as we go. Before our visit, I called to see when would be a good time to come in for a tour. Per their recommendation, we headed in on a Monday morning after Baby’s first nap. Our first stop: the daycare center. “Child Watch” was one room with toys along the wall (and everywhere else), filled with a bunch of toddler and preschool aged kids running around playing. I did a quick sweep with my eyes and didn’t spot anything that Baby could choke on (Yay!). There was one other baby, who was chilling on the lap of the only staffer in the room (little ones have to be at least six months old to stay).

The lady staffing the room told me that there were normally two people per shift, but the other person called in sick. Ok, that happens. Might explain some of the chaos. I asked about how they care for babies, and she pointed out some baby toys in a gated off corner, including an exersaucer and other baby containers. She said that she would be there every Monday-Friday, something I appreciated, because I would want Baby to get to know who he was hanging out with. However, she didn’t seem too enthused to be working there, and she wasn’t interacting with the kids in the room besides holding the baby in her lap. So… what would she do with two babies in the room? More?

Breathe. Not the ideal situation I had in my mind, but it could possibly work for an hour a week. We continued on for a tour of the fitness areas. Baby stayed with me, hanging out in his Ergobaby carrier for the ride.

The rest of the facility was gorgeous. Spacious group fitness rooms, a spinning room, a game room, and an indoor pool with lap lanes, zero-depth entry, a lazy river, spa, baby slide and waterslide. The main workout area had weight machines set up for circuit training, rows of cardio machines overlooking the pool, plus a track going around it all and overlooking two basketball courts. My favorite feature was a wall of windows that filled the entire room with sunlight. Ok, so Child Watch might not be in tip top shape, but this would definitely be a relaxing break for me.

We headed back up to the front desk. As I turned the corner, I spotted the Child Watch staffer leaving the childcare room, with the baby she was holding before perched on her hip. She went next door to the three-story playground, like you’d find at a fast food restaurant, where kids can play while parents supervise them. I did a triple take.

The sole childcare provider just LEFT the childcare center. I looked in the window. There were no other adults in the room. Granted, Child Watch was right across from the front desk, but I didn’t see her ask them to keep an eye on the kids. She went back into Child Watch about a minute or less later, but I was spooked. Did I mention that Child Watch is right next to the main entrance of the community center? It might make drop off and pick up convenient, but an escape or abduction could happen just as quickly. There were cameras in the room, but still…

Not safe! Such high hopes, but I did not feel comfortable leaving Baby there. Would it be different if there were two people in the room and one left? Definitely, but then they should have had a system in place for a backup caregiver in case someone gets sick. After I left, I felt like I was trying to rationalize with myself that Child Watch was fine for the short time Baby would spend there, but I just didn’t feel ok with it. It’s not the environment I want for him, and worrying about it would negate any positive effects a workout would have on me.

Thus, the search continues.

Have you left your baby at a gym daycare center? How did it go? 

What would you look for in a gym’s daycare facility?

Photo credit: Hotel Casa Velas

7 thoughts on “Adventures in Childcare: Community Center Gym Daycare Edition

  1. [email protected]

    It’s important to have a comfort level with the people who’ll be watching your child. I haven’t left my kids at a gym daycare, but they go the local Y for half-days and I can tell the people who work there love kids and are very responsible. Also, I’ve interviewed sitters and I actually didn’t hire a girl once because when I asked if she was OK changing diapers, she said “it’s not my favorite thing but I do it.” I like pure, unbridled enthusiasm…even if it’s something as mundane as diaper-changing. If she’s not into her job, my baby will feel it on some level, and that’s no good! Anyway, stopping by from Bloggy Moms. I hope you’ll visit me at!

    1. farrahudell Post author

      Thank you for sharing! I totally agree – I want the person watching my child to be excited about spending time with him, playing with him, and caring for him. Just visited and followed on Twitter – can’t wait to connect and read more!

  2. Rachel

    I have almost sworn off drop-off babysitting entirely, or at least until my kids get a little older (they’re 1 yr and 2 yrs) I, too, tried the local community center, and felt completely uneasy the entire time. I felt a little bit better about the babysitting at a private gym where many of my friends and family are members. But I feel most comfortable working out at home. Whether its on the treadmill during nap time, youtube workout videos, some yoga, or cardio intervals throughout the day, I feel much more at ease this way. You could have a family member or babysitter watch the baby if you need to get out for a bit. I have a babysitter come once a week for a few hours during the day, and its very freeing! One thing I will note, also, is that many children are surprisingly well-behaved when they are out of their comfort zones. I am always shocked when a babysitter would say my child was an angel when I was away, even though they were a terror before and after I left.

  3. Erica Loop

    My son is 12 now, but when he was younger I used to take him to the kids’ room at my gym. At first it was great. The woman who worked the early morning shift (when I’d usually go) really got to know the kids, and took the time to teach the kids too (she would bring in activities, etc.). When she left things really changed. They had a revolving stream of young, inexperienced staff members. One evening I was giving my son his bath and noticed a bog bite mark (human bite mark) on his back. The next day when I went in to the gym’s kids’ room I asked the staff person what had happened. She said she meant to tell me but forgot. I know kids bite, but it was a really bad one. She should have had me paged to come down and get him or at the very least told me.

    1. farrahudell Post author

      Wow. Thank you for sharing what happened. So much depends on who is there with your child. There just isn’t guaranteed quality control with the staff members or the activities that kids will be doing at these drop off type of programs. Even when there is someone great, your story shows that if they leave and they could be replaced by someone awful. That’s another reason why I really do not want to sign a long-term contract for a gym membership.

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