When I decided to go back to work after my maternity leave, I felt terrified about finding childcare for my daughter. What if my daughter felt neglected? Was I really going to entrust someone else to make the right decisions regarding my child? From mom to mom, here are six keys to finding the ideal childcare situation for your family.
At first, I thought I should hire a nanny. The first person I hired was a girl in her early twenties: I thought having a young, energetic nanny would be a good fit for my curious daughter. On the nanny’s second day to work she arrived thirty minutes late and within two weeks she’d called in sick three times. Then I found Delmie, a referral from a friend, who became part of my family for the next three years. She had 15 years of experience and understood how to take care of my child and how to make me feel comfortable. It was perfect until she announced that she was returning to El Salvador to be with her own grandchildren. In my search for new childcare, I discovered six keys to finding and maintaining an ideal childcare situation:
No matter what type of childcare option you’re considering, finding the right fit can take some time. Give yourself plenty of time and space to feel out different options and to make a decision that feels great.
Know what you’re looking for
Sit down and create a list of what your ideal childcare situation looks like: Ask yourself questions like How do I feel when I come home at the end of the day? How does my child feel? What does my home look like? The clearer a picture you can create, the easier it will be to find someone who fits your vision. Do you want your house to be neat and tidy? You will need to find someone who doesn’t mind cleaning and organizing in addition to taking care of your children.
Do your research
Ask friends, neighbors, and family for their personal referrals. Send emails to every parent you know! Chances are, someone knows someone who’s found a great nanny, babysitter, daycare, or preschool. In addition, ask experts like those at The Childcare Aware hotline (1-800-424-2246), who can give you the number of your local childcare resource and referral agency. Online resources like Peach Head (HYPERLINK “http://www.peachheadfamilies.com/”www.peachheadfamilies.com), Go City Kids (HYPERLINK”http://gocitykids.parentsconnect.com/”http://gocitykids.parentsconnect.com), and the Lila Guide (HYPERLINK “http://www.lilaguide.com/”www.lilaguide.com) are just a few of the places where you can connect with other parents, read reviews, and gather references and referrals.
Listen to your intuition
Your gut instinct tells you a lot, so tune in to it and listen. When I interviewed my first “irresponsible” nanny, there was a little voice in me that questioned her as the right person. That little voice held a lot of wisdom. To get in touch with that voice, you can ask yourself: Do I feel any doubts or fears? What does my body say? Do I feel tension anywhere inside of me? What am I questioning about this person? Most moms I have talked to have always said they just “knew” right away when they found the appropriate person. It was a gut feeling.
Communicate your needs
If something doesn’t feel right, address it immediately. One day, my daughter had a small red mark on her forehead. The nanny had neglected to mention it. I asked her and found out that my daughter had slid off the bed and hit her head. It wasn’t a big deal, but I wanted to be told of any injury big or small. That seemed obvious, but I’d never expressed it. I communicated my frustration and from that day forward I knew about every little scratch, cough, and sniffle. If you have an infant, have the nanny write everything down — from when she eats to when she sleeps to what they did. I made a notebook with things to do for the day, special notes, things that gave her ideas and kept her busy.
Have parent-childcare giver meetings once a week. Ask your childcare giver questions like: How are things going? How is my child doing? What did he/she learn today? Ask her if she has any concerns, and if she’s enjoying her job. Also, find ways to integrate what’s going on in your child’s day into your time together. If they discovered butterflies at their daycare, then read a bedtime story about caterpillars. Little touches can go a long way in helping you and your child feel connected.
My daughter today
My daughter is now entering elementary school and I’m finding that these six keys are still extremely relevant. Each situation presents a new set of issues and fears, but now I know how to ask the right questions, listen to myself, and support myself to make the best decisions for my family.
About the Author
Shannon Bindler does what she enjoys most – she helps people achieve higher-than-normal success. She’s a CEC-Accredited Life Coach with a pending M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. She co-founded Get Up Girl Coaching, a woman’s empowerment company based in Los Angeles, and has a private coaching practice. Shannon is the Deputy Editor for life by me, and a regular contributor to HuffingtonPost.com and FindBliss.com.