Staggered work schedules with one partner only part-time is the best solution.
Once the children are in school, a teaching career works well....off when the kids are home. Nursing's high demand puts nurses (rn's) in control of their hours with a high pay rate. This, too, seems a decent choice because the high rate makes fewer hours at staggered times very possible.
Thats how we finally cracked the problem, although we still see little of each other. A kind of twisted version of "tag".
I don't believe that anyone worked harder at trying to make the "day-care" thing work more than we did. We have a book with well over 200 names in it of "sitters" we either interviewed and found lacking (sometimes to a criminal degree), and those we agreed to try, only to leave a month or two later.
There seemed to be a common theme amongst persons providing day-care in their homes. It was, "I'm going to stay home with my family. I'm going to have the time to clean my house, cook nice suppers for my husband, and give my children quality time. Oh and by the way, your kids can hang around, (if they stay out of the way). AND THEN YOUR GOING TO PAY ME FOR IT! Oh and by the way, your also going to pay the taxes that I owe on the $400-$600 a week I make doing this, because I will not surrender my SSN so you can claim the child care dredit on your taxes.
We gave up.
After 7 years of trying, we simply found that to do it right, is not possible.
Remember that couple on the east coast that hired a girl from England to live in their home and care for their child? They were both Doctors with thriving practices. They had the money, the resources, and the time to do it right and make child-care work. All they got was a dead baby. Thats when my wife and me stopped trying.
You know what? We ended up making more money out of it! Although the wife went to part time, we no longer were paying the $100 a week to a baby sitter. We were no longer being forced to take a day or two off from work once a month because our kids were sick, or the baby-sitter's kid was sick. We wer'nt paying for Doctor visits nearly as much.
I guess our income was at exactly the right level to make the change work. But my advice to prospective parents is don't have children until you can live on one pay-check. Forget what you see on T.V. or read in the Mags. You must and will settle for your children having less quality care, period.