Leading up to the birth of your newborn, one of the most significant decisions that you will make as a mother and father is who will be taking care of your child. I say the biggest choice because let’s face it, not all of us can be stay-at-home-parents, and when you are working you spend 40 hours out of the week away from your children.
If you want to get down into the weeds of it, you have an hour on most mornings spent with your children, and even then it isn’t quality time spent with them. Then by the time you get home and eat, homework (for those school agers out there), showers, and your bedtime routine, you only get 2, maybe 3 hours with your children a night.
Who your children are spending the rest of the 8-hour working day is a choice that many of us have to make. This will be the person or group of people who are going to know your child, almost better than you do.
This is going to be the person that you are going to have trust, making sure that you can count on either your sitter or daycare center to tell you when something is wrong. These are going to be the people who will be speaking to you when your child isn’t feeling well when they (your child) are unable to communicate with you.
From our experience, as we looked for daycares now for two children there are several factors that you are going to want to look into when you are choosing that person or center that is going to take care of your newborn.
Start Looking NOW!
The reality of it is, depending on where you live, there could a waiting list longer than ten months to get into the center that you would like your child to go to. Yeah, that’s right ten months, longer than a pregnancy. It might seem that you have to get yourself on a waiting list before your child is even conceived, and in many cases that could be.
The center that our youngest, Joseph is in now, we waited close to a year for him to get into. I don’t want to say we settled because we did enjoy our provider before the center we are in, during the time that my wife and I went back to work but we needed to find someone who we could trust in the meantime while waiting who had a spot available for him.
When you visit a center or someone’s home who will be taking care of your child, more than likely you will be focused on the conversation you will be having with the provider and the questions that you have a head time. By looking down, you will see how the provider interacts with the children. You will start to look at the toys that the kids have to play with and the amount of room that they will have to run around in when they eventually start walking.
This is where a good team approach comes in handy. Before walking into a potential provider, make sure both you and your partner understand that you need to look around and see what the provider has to offer for their child. You will both be looking at things differently and come away with seeing different things that could ultimately make or break your decision.
Besides the feeling of your child is safe with the provider, you are going to want to make sure that the facility itself is secure. Be it in a home or at a center. Look around to see how difficult it would be for someone who doesn’t belong to get into the children.
In our experience, there are several different ways to prevent a stranger from entering a center. There have been places that would just buzz you in without knowing why you wanted to come (that is if they could not see you at the front door), we have had to enter a four-digit code to unlock the door, and at our current center it uses fingerprints to get check our child in and out that also opens the door. Not only that, but if you don’t have a child or work there, and have to be buzzed in the front desk is right next to the front door with a window so the provider can see who you are and ask what you are doing there.
While it might seem a bit overboard you certainly make sure that your child is safe when it comes to whoever your daycare provider is.
Without even realizing it, you are going to want to know what your child is doing all day. Are they just going to be playing with toys and crawling around, or will there be provider interaction that will stimulate their minds to help them grow? Is there a set schedule that your child will be following throughout the day? Is there time set aside to help them develop besides playing?
Many centers and even in-home providers will send you home with a paper copy of their daily schedule that will give you an idea of what your child will be doing while you are working away to afford for your child to go to the daycare.
This is a big one depending on your location. I’m going to our current provider and situation as an example. We are spending more than our current mortgage payment to send our youngest to the center he is at. On a monthly basis, when the tuition hits our bank account, we take a hit. And it hurts, but there is one thing to remember, this cost is short-lived relative to the time that your child will be alive. The first few years of your child’s life is crucial to their development, and you are going to want the best for them, even if that means you have to live paycheck to paycheck until your little one hits a school.
The internet makes this so much easier. Most centers have a Facebook page that they make announcements on such as closings and special events, and Facebook has user reviews. But along with Yelp, you will want to take these with a grain of salt. While one bad review can ruin your thoughts of a center, you will have to bear in mind that whatever the reason for the bad review was, it could have been an extenuating circumstance that caused it. There could have been a misunderstanding between the provider and the parent which caused the parent to speak out.
But you will want to hear what other parents say about the potential provider if you either don’t know many people in the area that you can ask or are new to an area. This is an excellent way to hear what others say.
A lot can be said for your gut. What is your gut feeling about a place? Did you feel right at home when you walked in? Did you feel comfortable with the people that would be taking care if your child? Was their one thing that concerned you?
Picking out a center or in-home provider to be your child’s daycare is a lot like picking out a new home when you know, you just know. While there was one thing that concerned my wife and me with the center that our youngest is at now, we were able to look past it, and now it has become a non-issue. Go with your gut and if a place feels right… a place feels right.
Be Open To Change
There are going to be times when a daycare doesn’t work. Your child will be bullied, and the center won’t do anything about it. Or there will be times that a life event happens like a job change and you will no longer be able to afford the daycare and have your hands tied into looking for something that is a better fit for your family. Providers and centers change as well, and a change in management or a centers policy could change your thinking about the current place your child goes to.
While you may love a place, it is essential to understand that things change and sometimes you and your child are not a fit for your current daycare situation.
Many factors go into picking out daycare for your newborn. It is potentially one of the most significant decisions that parents make when they find out that they will be welcoming a new person into this world, and hopefully, you will find a place that works best for you.