It’s one of the biggest challenges working mothers face: deciding on childcare. It’s already difficult to trust someone with your child but there are so many other factors to consider when determining the type of care that will work best for your family. Here are our tips and suggestions when making this important decision.
Type of Care and Schedule
First you need to determine what kind of care you need: full-time or part-time. Do you need childcare five days a week or just a day or two? Next, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of in-home childcare versus a childcare center. It’s common to find a caretaker who watches over a few children at a time in his or her home.
The advantage of a caretaker is that he or she may be able to provide more one-on-one attention and it often feels more like a family member is caring for your child. The disadvantage of an in-home caretaker is that he or she may become sick or take time off to go on vacation, likely leaving you without childcare. While the advantage of a childcare center is they often possess more resources and a larger staff, and they may even provide meals and education. Childcare centers are more regulated and have standards they must meet, guaranteeing a certain level of cleanliness and care.
The cost of childcare can be staggering. New parents are often shocked to discover the amount it will cost for daily care of their child. Setting a realistic budget for your family is a huge factor when deciding on childcare. Are the childcare centers near you more affordable than an in-home caretaker or nanny? Can a family member or friend care for the child one day a week, leaving you to pay for childcare for just four days a week instead of five? Does your workplace offer a Flexible Spending Account? If so, you can often allocate up to $5,000 before taxes for childcare expenses.
This may seem obvious but do your research. The first thing you should check is whether the center or caretaker is licensed! We also suggest asking fellow parents and friends for their recommendations, checking Yelp and then making a list of possible options. Things to keep in mind are reliability, flexibility, whether they provide education and the state of their facilities. If you need to pick the child up at 6pm each day instead of 5pm, will you be charged extra? If you need to switch which days you are utilizing childcare, will there be a penalty?
Tour and Interview
Take advantage of available tours and be sure to interview the childcare centers and in-home caretakers. Be sure to ask about any extra charges or requirements they may have. We suggest asking whether they provide meals, snacks, blankets, bibs or some type of education. You may be surprised with what some centers or caretakers may offer.
Get on Wait Lists
The earlier you begin researching and interviewing options the better. Some childcare centers are in such high demand that you will have to be put on a wait list. Our philosophy is that it doesn’t hurt to put your name down on a wait list. It’s better to have back-up options than to be left without childcare.
Wishing you a smooth transition into childcare! Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips or advice for mothers seeking childcare options.