Since I’m not planning to be a stay at home mom, the search for daycare for after the baby is born has already begun. And let me tell you: it’s not as easy as you’d think!!!
First, you have to figure out your maternity leave, etc. Belgian law saws your entitled to 15wks, and it is mandatory that one of those weeks be taken before the estimated due date. You also have the option of taking another 5 weeks (within the 15) before baby is born, but I’d prefer to take them when little sprout arrives. So that leaves me with 3 1/2 months after sprout is born, which seemed to early for me to hand him/her over to a creche, so on to option 2: Parental leave. The law says you can ask for up to 3 months parental leave up until the child’s 6th birthday (it says much more than that, but this is the interesting part for me). So what I intend to do is take full maternity leave, then another 2 months parental leave and 2 weeks holiday.
In total, I’ll be taking aprox. 6 months after sprout is born, so I’m looking for a creche for around October 2009. Now, you know things can’t be simple in Belgium… As everything, childcare is divided between French-speaking and Flemish-speaking, with two different organisations overlooking each. Since we intend to raise sprout as tri-lingual (yikes) Portuguese, English, French, we decided to set the Flemish daycare to the side (also, neither us speak Flemish, so it would be an added problem) and focus on the French-speaking. The ONE organisation – http://www.one.be/ – approves and monitors the French-speaking creches and they have a listing of accredited creches, both public and private.
We just started looking at the public ones in our “Commune” (no, not a hippy community, just the smallest form of local government), and apparently the waiting list is never-ending! We have “rendez-vous” (you need an appointment for everything in this country) with all the public creches in our part of the city to try to guarantee a spot, but have already been encouraged to look at private ones as well. The price difference for us actually won’t matter much because in the public system you pay according to your net income and we will have to dish out around €500/month!
The ones we’ve seen so far seem nice, and it is go to know the children are also followed by a doctor and occupational therapist once a week to make sure they are developing well. We have yet to look at the private ones and it won’t be easy with me and dear hubby travelling so much. I was thinking we’d use cloth nappies on our little sprout, but it seems that will be an issue with the creches… so far only one (our favourite – Prince Baudoin) has a pilot project with cloth nappies beginning this year. I don’t know what we’ll end up doing… Any suggestions?
I’ll keep you posted on our progress!