For most parents, child care is sought out because of necessity. I didn't realize how important and complicated the process was until we were knee-deep in reference checks and interviews. Whether it's a 9-5 job or simply a much needed date night, finding the right person or entity to take care of your child is an important process.
Determine your needs. If you will require 30-40 hours per week of child care, it might be wise to consider a preschool or child care center with an organized program. On the contrary, if your child care needs are sporadic or flexible, an occasional baby sitter might be more appropriate. Sitting down to discuss or write down your exact child care needs will help focus and guide your efforts to find the solution.
Do your homework. Does the preschool you're looking to place your child in follow state-mandated ratios? Have you completed a background check on the nanny you're looking to hire? Does the teenager you're speaking to about babysitting for the occasional night out have experience taking care of infants, todd
lers, or preschoolers? Be sure to research your options carefully so that your child is cared for in a safe, healthy, loving environment.
Be cost conscious. With pencil in hand, calculate the true cost of child care versus the amount of money you'll earn from employment. For some families, full-time child care, particularly for more than one child, may negate the earning potential of one parent. Evaluate your budget and determine if other cost-saving measures can be implemented so one parent can stay home if desired.
Go with your instincts. Sometimes, I'll meet someone and we'll click, a friendship developing almost instantly. Other times, a connection is just not meant to be. Give yourself the time and the freedom to interview and meet with several facilities and potential child care providers. If you're undecided, take some time to think over the situation and plan to meet again.
Get recommendations. For six months, we employed a part-time
nanny, recommended by a fellow mom at the playgroup our children attended. Friends, family, neighbors, and fellow parents can serve as a resource for a nanny who may be looking for additional hours, a local preschool you may not know about, or a fabulous home day care program.
Schedule a trial. During the interview process, I scheduled a trial day with the nanny to observe how she interacted with my son and how my son responded to her. Similarly, many preschools and formal day care programs will allow a trial day to help make a decision about the facility. This is your time to observe child/provider interactions, routines, cleanliness, and more.
Entrusting your child to another is a difficult decision. As a parent, I want to find someone who I trust will care for my children in much the same way I would. After I've spent time researching the right option, I have to trust that I've made the best decision possible. Knowing that my son's preschool has an open door policy assures me that at any moment, I can drive the short distance to his school to check in. Surprisingly, I've yet to feel compelled to do so; hence I know that he's in good hands.
By guest blogger, Caryn Baily, Rockinmama