Today was a big day for our little family. We signed the papers with our new daycare provider, and Marlow will be starting full-time come February.
Michael and I hmm’d and haw’d for a few months debating what we wanted to do regarding childcare. Being that we have no family in our city, it isn’t as easy as just dropping her off at grandma and grandpas for a few hours. We truly do have to rely on someone else taking care of her so I can return to work.
Finding childcare in our city is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I have applied to every single opening and wait list I could find since I was pregnant. Most lists are between two to four years long. That is absolutely insane!
I had to get creative. There are other options for childcare, and a nanny is a big one that many people rely on. After I got quoted over $3,000 per month for a nanny – heading back to work started to look pretty impossible.
This past couple weeks I got an email back from a lady saying that she had an opening and would love to talk more about what we were looking for. That initial interview seemed to go pretty well, so we set up a face to face meeting at a local coffee shop.
After meeting her in person, I knew she was going to be a great fit for us. We met with her again today, and signed the contract and got a tour of her space. Marlow made herself right at home and started pulling out all of the toys.
Not wanting to sound like an overprotective mother, I did some research about what we should be asking her when we interviewed her so I came to the meeting prepared.
I have compiled a list of important questions to ask home daycare providers and wanted to share it with you in hopes of making your childcare experience a little lighter because I know first hand how emotional it can be.
Questions to ask Home Daycare Providers
First things first:
- How long have you been a daycare provider for, and what qualifications do you have?
- What hours do you provide?
- What holidays do you take throughout the year?
- What other days are you closed?
- What is your sick day policy?
- Are you flexible with pick up and drop off times?
- Do you have recent references we can contact?
- What sort of activities and schedule do you do with the children?
- Do children need to be immunized in order to attend?
- What is your space like? Is it safe for all ages?
- What is the monthly/daily cost?
- Is there a late pick-up fee?
- Do I pay when my child is sick?
- Do I pay while you are on vacation?
- How does the billing work?
- What do I need to bring daily for my child?
- Do you supply diapers and wipes?
- What items can I leave at the home for him/her?
- Do you supply snacks?
- Do you have an emergency/earthquake kit?
- What do you expect from us to make transition easier?
- Do you allow parent visits?
- Can mom breastfeed baby during her break at work if timing allows?
- At what point during the day would you call a parent to come and pick up our child early?
- How do you keep us up to date with daily reports of our child and their day?
- What are your emergency procedures? Will we have a meeting place?
Are You Overwhelmed Yet?
I totally agree, that list can look a little on the intimidating side. Just remember that this is someone you are trusting to take care of your most precious little ones while you are at work. I would be concerned if you didn’t have a lot of questions!
There are a few points I want to make though, and one is to make sure you get a tour of the primary childcare space. This is especially important if you are choosing a home daycare, because you never know someones living conditions.
Which brings me to my next topic…
What to Watch out for on a Daycare Tour
When you are invited to see the daycare space, take your time. We spent at least an hour in our care providers home looking around and getting comfortable. Our provider was very open about the things she does in order to baby proof her space, and was very open about showing us everything.
Things that you may want to watch out for, and may be definite red flags are:
- Is it unsafe for children or messy?
- Is there too many children?
- Are there any off limits spaces that they refuse to show you?
- Do you get a bad vibe when in the space?
- Did you feel rushed during the tour?
- Did they interact with your child during the tour? Or not?
Anyone with good mothers intuition would be able to pick up on these things (I think) quite quickly, and it is absolutely OK to ask more questions or for verification if you feel like you need to.
The Decision is YOURS!
Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t find a great match right away, and definitely don’t feel bad about crossing ones off of your list. Get on all of those waiting lists, look on different sites such as Care.com. Craigslist in some areas can also be a good resource for childcare.
This can work both ways though, if you seem to find a good fit right away, it wouldn’t hurt to throw out some feelers just in case something falls through last minute. Having two or more centres to compare against each other may help you with making your final decision in the end. Which one checks off the most of your boxes?
I think I am still trying to process the thought of Marlow actually not being with me everyday. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think that reality has set in yet and I am sure I will be a blubbering baby after the first drop off. I haven’t left her for more than a couple of hours (like two) since she has been born.
I will be posting our journey and sharing our experience as the day quickly approaches, so make sure to check back in February for all of the details!
Have you taken your babies to daycare? I would love to hear your experience – good and bad! Feel free to share your comments or encouragement down below!
If you are not nearing the daycare stage yet check out these articles great for moms at home on maternity leave!