I thought it might be interesting to talk about some of the ways life in Germany is different then in the States especially as it pertains to motherhood. Since we just went through the process of finding a "Tagesmutter"= "day mother"= "Childcare". I thought I could start with that.
*Here in Germany everyone is encouraged to send their child to a Kindegarten at the age of 3. This is paid for partially by the government (how much the government pays depends on how much you earn but by the age of three everyone gets at least some money towards it) and you can choose any kindergarten you like. As you can probably tell Kindergarten here means something similar to pre-school in the U.S.. There are long waiting lists so most people start looking for a kindergarten 1-2 years before they actually need to send their child to one. Of course you can wait but then your chances of getting into the one you want are much lower.
Before the age of three there is a mixture of what you can do. In the first year most parents have either the mother or father stay home. The government pays for 1 year of "Elternzeit"= parent time, so that all parents have this option. There is a formula for how much money you get a month which is basically 67% of what you earned in the last 12 months before the baby was born however not less then 300 a month and not more then 1,800 Euros a month.
Everyone here also receives "Kindergeld"= Children's Money every month until the child is 18 which is just a monthly amount of money from the government to help pay for things for the child. For the first and second child you get 184 Euros, the 3rd you get 190 Euros a month, and for every child after that 215 Euros a month- but the birth rate here is very low so the chances of seeing a family with even more then 2 kids is pretty low. However all this support means that almost no one has to give their child to a daycare or child minder until the child is 9-15 months old. This also means that if you do want to start working sooner and have your child go to daycare before they are a year old that it can be quite hard to find a daycare which accepts younger babies.
So after the first year many families go back to having both parents work, although often one person only works half time. Between the ages of 0-3 parents can choose between a Tagesmutter=One person watching no more then 4 children in their home or a KiTA (Kindertageseinrichtung)= Daycare (most are owned by the government but there are also private ones and ones organized by parent initiatives).
We decided that we thought having Teddy go to a Tagesmutter would be great. They are more flexible with hours- we only wanted him to go for 2-3 days a week, which probably wouldn't have been possible at a KiTA, and we wanted him to be at first only with a few children in a home environment.
But then came the hard part- actually finding one. I'll explain how that went in my next post on Germany.
*Obviously there are exceptions and lots of rules and guidelines and forms to be filled out for all of the different government funded programs, so everything I am saying is true in most cases but there are of course exceptions for how this all works.