When that time comes and you need to go back to work after having your little one I am sure the first thing that comes to mind is who is going to care for your precious little ones while you are at work. As someone who has over 10 years of child care experience and also has little ones I wanted to give you some tips for finding that best solution for you.
Here are some options and the pros and cons of each:
1. Family or Friend that will babysit for free. I am sure this is the most ideal option, doesn’t cost you anything and your child is with someone they know. This may be in your home or theirs, depending on what you decide is best for everyone.
Some cons to this are: Since there isn’t a payment they are essentially doing you a HUGE favor and that means they may be a bit unreliable because their own plans may take importance over babysitting. If you go with this option, it is best to have a back up in case the main person needs off something.
Another big con to using a friend or family member for free is that they may not see eye to eye on your rules or what you want for child. Since there is no payment, they will feel this is not really a job and may bend your rules or not do things the way you want. As the child’s PARENT it is important that you stress the things you want and make sure that your child care provider is on the same page- if it is a family member babysitting for free or a nanny that you pay a wage to.
2. Daycare Center. A daycare center is what most working parents tend to gravitate to. While it isn’t cheap, many parents find this to be one of the most affordable options.
Reasons to choose Daycare:
1. You would like your child around other children.
2. Many daycare centers have preschool included so you may choose a daycare center so your child is learning something that will prepare them for Kindergarten.
3. Some providers accept state funded assistance. If you are low income you may qualify for reduced cost childcare through select providers, most of which are daycare centers.
Cons to Daycare:
1. While you would like to have your child around other children, are you sure that the other students at the daycare are the right influence for your child. Many daycares have large class sizes, and since they accept state funded assistance also have many children with home issues that may reflect on their behavior in the classroom.
2. Cleanliness of the daycare is a huge problem. Illnesses tend to spread like wildfire through daycare centers. When you enroll your child it is definitely best to have a plan in place for if they become sick and aren’t able to go to daycare.
3. The daycare may have restricted hours. Unlike a babysitter, daycares often have open and close times, so if you get off work at 5 and your daycare closes at 5, that may cause an issue.
Tips to choosing the perfect Daycare:
Not all daycares are bad, the key is to finding one that IS perfect for your family. After one horrible daycare experience, I was able to find one that was a GREAT fit for us and that we were very happy at.
1. Check out state ratings. I live in Ohio and we have Step up to Quality Stars. This is a 5 star system where a daycare center can earn additional stars by meeting goals. There are VERY few 5 star daycare centers, so finding one of those would be a good start.
2. Know the student to teacher ratio and the maximum class size. The lower the ratio, the more attention your child will get, but also class size is important because if there is a 6:1 ratio, and you had 3 teachers and 18 children in one classroom, that is a lot different than 6 children and one teacher in the classroom.
2. Ask about the cleanliness and what the classroom standards are. Many daycares do not clean the toys every day, well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that germs spread easily with kids and if the daycare isn’t clean, it is just contributing to spreading illness. Daycares that have good cleaning habits will have less illness reports.
3. Find out what the requirements are to be accepted to the daycare. Is there an interview process? Do they dismiss children that are not a good fit for their program or are causing trouble? Or do they accept everyone that is willing to pay?
4. Know your child’s teachers. Make sure YOU are comfortable with them and leaving your child there. Are they patient and friendly or angry and short tempered?
5. Know all policies of the daycare and make sure they coincide with your standards. Some things to consider are: Discipline, Food (What is provided? What are you allowed to send?), Is there an open door policy?, What is the security like at the daycare? (Who can enter the building? Who can pick up your child? Are there cameras to verify if incidents happen?)
All these issues are important to finding the perfect daycare for your children, if you consider each issue and weigh out what you want as a parent, you will know you made the best decision you could for your child.
3. In-Home-Daycare Provider. This is an additional option to a big daycare setting. Just like the daycare, you need to do your research to make sure you do find a good in-home-daycare provider.
In-Home-Daycare vs Daycare Center: In-Home-Daycare is done in someone’s house. They may or MAY NOT be certified through the state. If they are certified through the state they will have guidelines to follow, just like daycare centers. If they are 100% privately run, they will not have these same guidelines, this doesn’t mean they are a bad provider, it just means that there isn’t someone checking up on them. You can ask the provider what qualifications and certifications they have when you are checking things out.
In-Home-Daycare providers can not accept as many kids and that is a huge plus. That means more one on one time for your child vs traditional daycare center.
Nanny: While this may be the most expensive option, if you are able to find the perfect nanny for your family, this is the best option.
Pros to hiring a nanny:
1. One on One attention to your children.
2. The nanny will come to your residence, so the children have the comfort of their own home.
3. You set the rules for the nanny to follow while you are not there.
4. You can include light housework or request meals made if time allows.
5. Since your nanny will be catering to only your child’s needs they can come up with crafts and activities that will suit your child.
6. If you would like your nanny to participate in group play, library time, or other outside activities you can request that and your children will get outside interaction.
Cons to hiring a nanny:
It is expensive compared to daycare.
Tips for finding the perfect Nanny:
1. Interview many candidates.
2. When you narrow to one or two, invite them to spend the day with you and your child so you can get to know them better. You want to find someone that is patient and friendly with your children AND will follow the standards you set for your child’s care.
3. Find someone that has a similar parenting style as you. If they have similar beliefs, they will be more understanding to your requests. YOU ARE THE PARENT and they are your employee.
4. Treat them well. They are taking care of your children, the most important people in the world, so you will want to treat them well, let them know they are appreciated. My saying is if you treat your nanny like family she will treat your kids like her own.
5. Pay them well. Find out what the standard is your area. Make sure you are right on with that or even a little above. I would suggest starting out right on target and give bonuses and raises to show appreciation.
Finding the perfect childcare solution is tough. But if you use these tips, I am sure you will find what works best for your family.