While you may be in a day dreamy state of sleep deprived bliss while on maternity leave, the reality is you likely have to back to work soon. That means you have to figure out who is best qualified to care for your little one! That is a scary thought for many. You just spent nine months carrying your little bundle safely in your womb and now you have to think about someone else caring for them? That's a lot to take in. Going back to work may seem like the end of the world in your current state but once you find the right child care provider for your family, your anxiety level will go down tremendously. Here are some important things you need to consider when making your decision.
In-Home Care vs. Daycare Center
There is no "right" answer when it comes to choosing an in-home center or a daycare center because there is a number of factors that come into play and it depends on your family's specific needs. An in-home care provider is exactly what it sounds like - in someone's home. Usually (and hopefully) they are certified and have the necessary training and expertise when it comes to caring for children. Quite often, in-home providers are much more affordable than centers but keep in mind they also have a more flexible schedule. With any person or center you interview, ask what holidays or days they have off. Does that fit with your schedule?
Also remember, in-home daycare is usually just one or two people so if that person calls in sick then you may have to stay home from work or find last minute accommodations. Something to look for in daycare centers is the turnover rate. You wouldn't necessarily think that this matters but it does. Is this a good business? Do the staff enjoy their job and what they do? Are they treated fairly? If you plan on sticking with your care provider for a while, your child will likely form bonds with their teachers so you want them to be happy with their job and stick around!
No matter which direction you choose, you will always have your child's safety in mind. Do some research on the provider you are interested in. Search them on the internet. Try to talk to some families that also go through them.
- Have they ever had any serious incidents or injuries?
- Do they have up to code and up to date fire drills, extinguishers, etc?
- Do they follow the staff to child ratio?
- Have they been reported for any health or cleanliness hazards?
- How do I authorize certain people to pick up my child and do you ID them?
- Is there a code to get in?
Help a Tired Parent Out!
Okay, now that we got through some of the big safety stuff, let's talk about convenience! After all, you are a tired parent and you work hard. Your care provider should make life a little easier for you, right?! Here are some things to consider and questions to ask when it comes to convenience:
- Do we have to bring prepared bottles or will you do this for us?
- Is there adequate parking to get in and out of the care location?
- How much and how often do we need to label bottles or fill out forms?
So if you haven't yet done the math - you could just about afford your favorite sports car if you didn't have to pay the cost of daycare! That might be a slight exaggeration but daycare is not cheap by any means. And it shouldn't be! This is a top-quality service that you are paying for! Some care providers offer more than others so here are some things to ask:
- What is included in the cost of care? Diapers? Wipes? Food?
- Do we get any free days? For example, if our child is kept home sick do we still have to pay?
- Is there a discount if we add a second child?
- Is there a referral bonus program?
Let's Talk Food
Your provider may offer food and formula with the cost of tuition and maybe that is something that will really help you out. Most places that include food in the price do not offer organic options. If this is something that you care about then talk to them about bringing in your own food for your child. Some places allow that and others do not. Maybe you want to bring homemade food so ask about that as well.
If your child has any serious allergies then make sure that is communicated as well. You don't want your child accidentally getting fed a peanut butter sandwich if they are highly allergic to peanuts! Even if you write it on their five million forms you have to fill out - just assume that someone hasn't read it and communicate it verbally to the staff as well. Better safe than whipping out the EpiPen!
Curriculum - Time to Explore!
It may seem "silly" or "too early" for an infant to have a set curriculum but it's not! It is actually very important for their development to explore the things around them and be engaged in a variety of sensory activities. Newborns thrive when they can explore black and white bold patterns. Infants 3-4+ months are starting to really develop some motor skills and they start grabbing things with their hands. The world around them is all new and they are taking it all in - one pattern/shape/texture at a time. Maybe around the fall season they can discover the many shapes and colors of pumpkins and gourds. This is one of many examples of important activities they should take part in for their development. Don't go with a provider that is just going to set them in front of the television!
Here are some other things to consider that you may not think of:
- Do you allow glass bottles? Some centers won't allow glass because if dropped it could shatter causing a safety hazard. Fortunately, our Wawita bottles are shatter resistant and have been approved by several centers!
- Can I come check in or nurse my baby on my lunch break?
- Do you have cameras where I can login and watch them play?
- What is your cancellation policy and how much notice do I have to give? (usually 2 weeks)
- Do you have shuttles to and from school when they reach school age?
Thinking about child care can be stressful. Hang in there Mama, we have your back! You may have feelings of anxiety because nobody knows your child better than you do - and you are right, but you have to have faith. Do your research and if you have ANY feelings of concern or doubt than do not go with that provider. You will sit and stress at work all day if you do. It is totally normal to feel anxious to go back to work after maternity leave and the first week back is especially hard. If you have gotten back into your work routine and still have high anxiety then talk to your doctor about postpartum anxiety. Also, talk to your partner to see if becoming a stay-at-home mom is an option that works financially. Good luck in your search!
If you have any questions on this topic please reach out to us! We would love to hear from you. It's always great to follow along on the journey of parenting. Please comment or reach out to us through our Contact page or social media platforms. Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe to us if you would like to receive updates on new blog posts, new product and special discounts!