Mike Taylor is Mr. Mom. His wife works all day and he works early, giving him a lot of time at home during the day with their twin 4-year-old daughters.
He takes the girls, once in a while, to First Christian Church's Mother's Day Out childcare program, on the corner of S. Broadway Ave. and Loop 323. While they are there, Taylor takes a nap, does chores and some honey-do's for his wife, reads and bathes.
"I have never once worried about the care they get because we knew right away that the people that take care of our girls are spectacular," Taylor said. The girls love their teachers and spend 30 minutes when they come home talking about what they did, he said.
Tiffany Monk, a full-time college student, whose husband works, has been bringing her 2-year-old son two or three times a week since he was three months old. While he is there, she said, "I get to do all my homework, take exams, go to class, run errands, go home and clean."
She added, "It's well-priced. I've taken him to other places and I didn't like them at all. They (First Christian staff) are very personable and friendly. They actually care about him. It doesn't feel institutionalized."
Lori Rumbelow brings her first grandbaby a couple of days a week. "He loves it. He loves his teachers, the staff, everything. The care is excellent," she said.
Sometimes the reason a child is brought in is the father has a day off and the mother wants to go out on a date with him. A lot of waitresses use the service. Usage picks up during the Texas Rose Festival.
Mothers, stay-at-home dads, grandparents taking care of their grandchildren and others are attracted to First Christian's Mother's Day Out program that serves the community, not just church members.
They get in on a first-come first-served basis each day and only pay for the number of hours children are left at the facility that day. If they do not come, they do not pay. Reservations are not accepted and clients don't give notice they are coming.
There's often a crowd early weekday mornings at the north entrance to First Christian because clients know they will be turned away if the number of children brought any day exceeds the 91 the church is licensed to serve in six classrooms.
As early as 7:45 a.m., people show up, waiting to get in and sign up. First Christian's Mother's Day Out opens at 8:30 a.m. and recloses at 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, for infants and children up to 6 years old. It closes on the same holidays as Tyler ISD and is open only three days a week in the summer.
Clients pay a registration fee of $50 per child, per year. They sign in whenever they bring their child, giving the child's name, age and emergency phone number. The daily fee, which is collected when they pick up their child, depends on how many hours a child is left there and the age of the child.
For children older than 18 months through age 6, the fee is $24 for the first hour, $34 for the whole day and $10 more per sibling. For infants through 18 months old, an additional $3 is charged. The fee will go up $1 across the board in January to give the staff a raise because it has been three and a half years since their last raise.
"We want Mother's Day Out to be a service and something that parents can afford. We are not trying to make money. We are nonprofit," said Carolyn Wallace, director.
"As long as we can pay the teachers and buy supplies, that's all that matters to me," Wallace said, pointing out money generated pays for salaries and supplies. First Christian Church provides the facility and pays electricity and water bills.
Wallace has worked in Mother's Day Out for 42 years. She became director in 1977 and successfully worked for licensure in 1980 by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Up-to-date immunization records are required for each child and they must bring their lunch and a snack.
How much families utilize the service varies - some come every day, others two or three days a week and some come only once a month. Some have used First Christian's Mother's Day Out a short time while others have brought children for many years.
They are drawn by the convenience of the location, by the good reputation of Mother's Day Out and by the care they see given children.
"I used it 11 years with my two children. It's a very, very trustworthy and old school. You can take an infant there. It is probably the best care in Tyler for babies," said Samia Smith.
Leslee Hart's older son went four years before he started school while her younger son, 3, has gone since he was a baby and already knows shapes and letters. He has learned to put away his toys and blanket and to put things in his backpack. He is eager to go every day.
"The teaching is fabulous and the staff is wonderful," Hart said.
James Devine, a stay-at-home dad, said he cooks, cleans and sometimes takes a break from reality while his 2-year-old son is at First Christian's Mother's Day Out twice a week.
"I wouldn't take my kid any place else. These ladies are fantastic," Devine said.
Most of the staff has been at First Christian eight to 15 years, Lacy Robertson, who brings both of her sons twice a week, said. "They (the staff) love kids. You can tell," she said.
First Christian's Mother's Day Out child care was started in about 1966 as a service to the community and an outreach of the church to help mothers that needed someone to take care of their children while they went to the doctor, dentist, store or just needed a day out, Wallace said. Back then, most mothers did not work.
Now, the clientele includes mothers but fathers, grandparents, guardians and others.
The drop-in concept and ages served have remained the same through the years. In the beginning, the service was provided only two days a week for four hours a day, but later was expanded to five days a week and the hours that it is open increased to six.
Children are grouped: from 0 through 11 months, 12 to 23 months, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds and 4- and 5-year- olds. Although Mother's Day Out is licensed to also serve 6-year-olds, they are usually in school and only come in the summer.
Activities assist in motor skills and physical development. Children participate each day in music, story time, learning centers, free play and recreation. There is also a weekly chapel service and a Christian atmosphere, but First Christian does not impose its beliefs and faith on Mother's Day Out clients.