Parents deal without daycare

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — At Woodhaven Corp., Sesame Street played on a small portable television, toy blocks and a small fire engine littered the floor and 18-month-old Lehmann Novak waddled around the office.

Lindsay Novak’s office was transformed into a playpen, when she had to bring her son to work after Hurricane Gustav caused First Presbyterian Church’s day care to close.

Lindsay, the office manager at Woodhaven, sends her son to First Presbyterian Church’s day care.

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“It’s really just been a hassle to try to keep him occupied and get my work done,” Novak said, as she chased Lehmann around the office.

“You answer the phone and hear Elmo screaming in the background.”

Taking Lehmann out of his regular routine has also been difficult, she said. Especially with him not getting regular play time that he gets at day care.

“Toddlers normally don’t do that good when you get them off of their schedule,” she said.

But he did manage to entertain himself, most notably with Sesame Street.

“The portable TV is an incredible invention,” Novak said. “It’s a life saver (for) mom’s sanity.”

And Novak was not the only parent who had to deal with a loss of childcare. Many of area’s day care centers closed because of the storm, even though parents had to return to work.

Grace Child Development Center, a part of Grace United Methodist Church, closed Monday and plans to reopen today, director Jan Huff said.

“I had one (parent) call me about 6:40 this morning asking if we were going to open because she had to go back to work,” Huff said. “It’s hard to find someone to keep your child if the day care is closed.”

Luckily, many of the parents were off of work for the past few days, so finding child care was not a problem, she said.

Grace Child Development Center was out of power until Thursday afternoon, which meant they had no lights, phones or air-conditioning. They also lost all the food and had to completely restock on groceries, Huff said.

“For the safety of the children, there’s no way we could keep the day care open,” she said.

Huff didn’t know if the children would be excited about returning to day care today, but said she was sure the parents would be.