Are you finishing up your maternity and planning on going back to work? It can be a stressful time for new moms and seasoned moms alike. Knowing that you will be placing your child in the care of someone else can be unsettling, especially after being home with them. When deciding on a daycare there are a few things to consider, which might make it easier to choose.
Type – What do you feel comfortable with? Would you rather have a daycare or day home? Weigh the pros and cons of both. A daycare may have a more fixed schedule and possibly more kids per supervisor than a day home. Kids in a daycare centre may be exposed more to illness. Would you feel comfortable with your child in the home of a stranger? Daycares can ensure that only those working are around your child, while in a day home, people other than those providing care can be around.
Cost – The cost of daycare can be a big deciding factor, especially if you are on a fixed budget. Choose a daycare within your price range, but don’t skimp on paying money if it means your child will be getting lesser care. Your child may be spending a good part of their day at the daycare so ensure that they are taken care of.
Location – Where a daycare is located can make your life easier or harder. Choosing a daycare that is close to home or work, may help ease your morning commute and allow for less time on the road. Choosing a daycare far away may be a good idea though, if you feel the care is superior to those close by. Remember that you will be making a trip to and from daycare almost daily. Ensure that it has good parking and is easy to get to. This will make pick up and drop offs much easier.
Food – Is food provided or are you responsible for packing food for your child for the day? Having food provided can be a convenient option, but it may also cost more. Choosing a daycare where you pack your own lunch may be good if your child has certain dietary considerations, that a regular program may have trouble providing or accommodating. Also be aware of the quality of food provided. Do they follow the food guide? Who cooks? Get a sample menu and make sure you are comfortable with what they will be serving your child.
Philosophy – How does the centre view children? Do they encourage staff to interact with the children? How many children per supervisor? How do they deal with kids? Do they use timeouts or other forms of discipline? Do they plan activities and teach certain concepts or do they let kids play through learning? Try and figure out how the center runs and what they believe. Make sure that the beliefs line up with your own. If things are drastically different between daycare and home, it may be more difficult for kids to adjust
Reviews/Recommendations – Try and talk with other parents who are using the daycare, or look for reviews online. Do other parents recommend it? What are the concerns of those who don’t recommend it? Use these to help you decide on the quality of care and possible pros and cons that the specific daycare offers.
Go for a Visit – Be sure to visit the facility and meet the people who would be working with your children. How do they interact with the kids while you are around? How does the staff treat you? Make both an announced and unannounced visit so that you can get a realistic opinion of how things work.
Licensing – Ensure that the daycare or day home has proper licensing through your city, province/state or country. Be wary of those that are not licensed, especially if you do not know the care providers personally. Those licensed have more to lose, as if they do not follow the licensing rules they could be shut down. Sending your child to an illegal operation is probably not in your best interest.
At the end of the day remember do what feels right. If a certain place doesn’t make you feel comfortable, than go with your gut. Finding a daycare that you feel comfortable with is half the battle. Remember no place may be perfect, you may have to make some sacrifices or learn to deal with certain things. Have an open dialog with any place that you choose. Building a good relationship with your child care givers will pay off in the end!
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