Let’s talk about child care. If you or your partner are not planning to stay home with your little one, add searching for child care to your list of things to do! Whether you are returning to work within weeks of giving birth or waiting a few years, finding the right child care provider can be one of the hardest and most important decisions you make as a parent.
After one of my best friends guessed that I was pregnant at 5 weeks the first words out of her mouth after squeals of excitement were “get on a waitlist now for daycare.” What? You have to be joking! I am only 5 weeks pregnant. I won’t even need childcare for over a year! I thought she was nuts. Nope. Daycare waitlist are nuts. The center across the street from the hospital where I work has an 18 MONTH waitlist! No joke, it’s been 19 months since I first called and placed my name on the waitlist and I still have not received a call. In the months before Bam Bam was born I researched it all: large centers, small centers, in home daycare, nanny shares, au pairs and nannies.
What I learned:
- Start your search early, especially if you are looking for care in a larger city. Average waitlist time for the centers I contacted in Seattle was about 10-12 months and in the suburbs it was closer to 7-9 months.
- Ask the right questions! Here are some important ones to ask childcare centers:
- Are your caregivers trained in first aid/CPR?
- What type of child development training do you require, if any?
- For Washington State STARS & MERIT are a plus.
- What is your child-to-staff ratio and does this ever change?
- Is your center licensed and/or accredited?
- For Washington State DEL and/or NAEYC
- What qualifications does your staff have?
- Do you do background checks on all employees?
- How often do you clean and rotate toys? How do you clean toys?
- Does every child get their own crib/mat?
- What age ranges are in each classroom?
- What is your discipline policy?
- What is a typical day for the children?
- Do you have a T.V or other form of screen time?
- How much outside time do the children get?
- What is your sick child policy?
- What will the children be eating? Is it healthy and nutritious?
- What is your potty training policy?
- How do you communicate daily happenings with parents?
If a childcare center is not the route for you and instead you want to hire a nanny or participate in a nanny share here are some tips:
- Join local/community groups on Facebook especially mom centered ones/mom support pages. This is actually how we found the small in-home daycare that our son goes to.
- Contact a nanny networking site. Many times nanny service companies can help hooking up families who have similar needs who are looking to nanny share.
- Join Care.com or Sittercity.com. You can post a job and search profiles for free. Also, you can follow local discussion boards and search topics such as nanny shares.
- Put the word out! Let friends and family know what you are looking for and they may be able to help.