If you had asked me year ago about putting my baby in daycare or staying home with my baby, there would be no question about it; I defined myself as a working woman and going back to work after my maternity leave was the obvious choice. It wasn’t until the birth of my son that the idea of going back to work became a difficult choice, one that I soon found out many new mothers face. So, for the first two months of my mat-leave I put off looking for, or evening considering, daycare because I was determined to find a creative way to stay home with my son for a little longer. With time running out and my creative ideas only beginning to blossom, I was forced to make a practical choice and find a daycare centre that my husband and I felt comfortable bringing our son to.
At the beginning of my mat-leave many people would ask how I was enjoying the time off and my immediate response was always; “I’m loving this, I don’t ever want to go back to work”. Most people would laugh and I began to realize that they thought I was kidding. Well this was no joke; in fact I think that the decision to go back work has been so difficult that I continued to delay the daycare enrolment process just to see if I could find another way to make things work. While I’m often reminded that ‘most’ people have to do this, it does not mean it is a choice I was content with. As time went on, the stress of daycare waiting lists and the realization that my creative plans were still not as lucrative as I had hoped, I began to do what many new mothers are forced to do in the early stages of their child’s life; look into childcare options. Knowing how hard this process can be, I felt inclined to share what we learned in the process.
Consider All of Your Options
There are so many ways to deal with this challenging decision and you want to make a choice that is the best for your family. Be sure to think outside the box here. For example: can you work from home a few days a week? If this is a possibility – be sure to look into it, some daycare centres offer a few days a week as an option. We were focused on daycare centres in our search, but there are so many options for childcare out there, so do your research and find an option that works for your family.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to take a full year for maternity leave, that’s amazing! And, while this might seem like a long time, it goes by quickly. Depending on where you live, some daycare centres can have incredibly long waiting lists, so you want to make sure that you’re keeping all of your options open by starting your search early enough.
You can search daycare centres online and find comments or testimonials that work well enough, but for this particular choice (the care of your child) I highly recommend going with a referral from a friend or neighbour. Not only does this help to narrow your search, it will give you some piece of mind knowing that someone you know has brought their children there.
Take a Tour During Program Times
If there is an option to tour the daycare centre during program times (or daytime hours), take it. Seeing the program in action will help you to decide what you like and what you don’t like. Some daycares offer very structured programming, while others are more laid back; look into these details in order to choose the kind of programming that works for you and your child.
Look Into Subsidy
The cost of childcare, especially for infants, is incredibly high and for many families, unaffordable. Depending on the city you live in there are some subsidy programs that can help with the cost. Be sure to look into these programs on your city’s website and check to see if the childcare centre you are interested in qualifies for the subsidy programs.
Go With Your Gut
This old saying really does apply here. Deciding on childcare for your little one is just as much about the feeling you get from the childcare centre as it is about the research. You want your child to enjoy going to this place and you want to feel comfortable bringing him or her there, so be sure to consider your heart as well as your head when making this difficult decision.
The process of choosing the right childcare for your little one can be an emotional rollercoaster and even when the choice has been made, it’s hard to imagine your child being anywhere but home with you. So make sure that you are comfortable and happy with your choice.
Was finding the right childcare a hard choice for you? Let us know how you found the right place for your little one.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.