Updated: Jun 12
Written by: T.M. Brunson
I did everything like I was brought up to do. I studied hard. Went to college. Got a good job. Got married. Bought a house. Had kids. Got a dog, a cat, and two fish. I just didn't have that white picket fence.
But I learned a few things along the way that no one told me about. And I want to pass along that knowledge to you so you won't be left in the dark and wondering, why didn't anyone tell me that before?
Like when you purchase a house, there are things you must think about before you go through with said purchase when you have kids. I will discuss one of those things in this post.
3 Things You Must Think About Before Finding a Place to Live
1. Do the schools in the area have a good rating?
This never even occurred to me when I bought my first house. I was just looking for a nice-looking house in a decent area. And I found one in the same development where actress Meagan Good lived. I figured, if she felt good enough to live there, so should I.
Then, I had a baby.
I brought this tiny, little human home. As soon as I got out of my car, my neighbor (who I had only met a week prior) came outside and asked, "What're you going to do with her?" I didn't know how to answer that because, honestly, I didn't know.
I had just been cooped up in the hospital for five days after a c-section. I was in tremendous pain. And this little baby was depending on me to feed her without the help of a lactation consultant. She expected me to change her diapers. She expected me to know her cries and figure out what was wrong with her when she started wailing...
I just didn't know.
But guess what? I figured it out. It all took time, but it all worked out. She was a pretty easy baby. When she woke up, she didn't cry. She just waited patiently for me to get her. She would just coo to herself. She was a loner. (Still is!).
All my friends said that I lucked out because that wasn't normal. I figured it had something to do with what I was doing with her. Maybe they didn't talk to their child the same way I did mine... I learned, later, that it was just the baby. It had nothing to do with my parenting skills. LOL
So then, this little baby gets bigger. By the time she was 14 months old, her sister enters the world. Now I have two babies. And this second one—she was a doozy! (Still is!) She cried when she needed anything. She cried when she woke up. When she was hungry. When she needed to be changed. Or if my grandmother was looking at her.
Then, they both became toddlers. And their father and I realized that they needed to socialize with other kids.
I started calling daycares in the area and to my surprise, I found out that there were WAITING LISTS! I'm like, WTH? It's DAYCARE!
But guess what? It's a thing—especially where I was living in Southern California. People had their kids on daycare lists as soon as they conceived so that by the time the baby was ready for daycare years later, they had a chance of getting them in.
I watched the movie, "Baby Boom," starring Diane Keaton, a million times and thought that part of the movie when they talked about daycare and being on waiting lists was a joke.
But guess what? It's not a joke!
And then not only do you have to get on waiting lists; but you also have to see if the daycare feeds the kids or not (for the astronomical tuition that they ask for). Some of them want you to pay a lot of money and you still need to provide food on top of that!
You must check if they are clean. I walked up into one daycare and it smelled so musty... I was like, Nope. I'm not leaving my babies here.
Trust your gut.
Make sure you get a good feeling about the facility itself, the teachers/caretakers, and just the vibe, in general. We lucked out and was able to put both girls in the same daycare in Toluca Lake, CA. It was only 10 minutes from where we lived in North Hollywood.
Two years and one more baby later, our oldest was ready for kindergarten.
But we weren't sending her to the neighborhood school! That school looked so grimy and BIG. My little four-year-old was going to get lost in a school like that. Plus, the daycare told me she was ready for kinder, but she wasn't five yet. I found out that that's an issue for a lot of schools.
So I had to do some research. Like, real research. I had to find and tour private schools that were in nearby cities. But the ritzy schools where actors and their kids went to like the Campbell Halls, Wesleys, and Buckleys were way out of my price range even though I was in the six-figure range.
So then I started looking at schools near my job because you could put kids in school in the city where you worked. However, the waiting list for the Disney School (yup, I used to work for The Mouse), was THREE years! I put her (and her sisters on the list) but that wasn't going to help me now.
Then, one of the other parents at Joyce's told me about a school in Glendale, CA that was a Spanish Immersion Magnet School. The school was divided into half English and half Spanish—so the kids who lived in the area and didn't want Spanish immersion could automatically go to that school. For the Spanish side, it was split between native Spanish-speaking kids and non-native kids who entered a lottery to get in. But once you're in, you're in!
Since #1 (yes, I number my kids...there are a lot of them!) was only four, she needed to be tested to see if she was ready for Kindergarten. We didn't do anything special to prepare her. She was already watching "Your Baby Can Read" and Elmo taught her a lot on Sesame Street. She passed the test with flying colors!
So then, we just had to wait to see if she was chosen in the lottery. And, we got the letter in July 2010 (a month before school began and before I had #3) that she was accepted into the Spanish Dual Immersion Program. All of her classes were going to be in Spanish. It was going to be a rude awakening for her (all of us!) but so beneficial.
Kids are sponges. And to soak up this language, especially where we were living, would really help her down the line. And once she was in, it would be easy for her sisters to get in because they gave siblings first priority.
She thrived in this school. She had no idea what her teacher was talking about, but just like with learning English, she figured it out.
And it was interesting to see, when she learned how to read, how she sounded out her words. Like if we were passing Popeye's, she would pronounce it, po-PAY-yays. Or if we were walking by different cars (she had a fascination with cars), she would see a Toyota and say: taw-YO-tah.
Her brain thought differently and it became second nature to her. When #2 finally went to the same school, she picked it up easily as well. As they got older, their classes got harder, but they were still getting A's and speaking Spanish fluently.
So do your research. You never know what you may find. Check out Pt2 of this blog for the last two things you should know before finding a place to live.
Question of the Day
For our not-so-new mommies, how was your experience finding schools for your little one?