Finding the right person to leave your child with can be very difficult, overwhelming, and time consuming. Sadly the last thing that you want to do is have to spend a ton of time away from your child trying to find the perfect childcare. Knowing what you want and knowing where to look for great childcare can help you to be able to get the job done and spend more time with your little ones.
Tips for Choosing the Right Childcare
Tip 1 — Visit!!
Make sure that you visit the childcare center before you consider placing your child there. Visit the center during normal operating hours and visit unannounced. Visiting childcare centers has been one of the best things that I have done. There have been many that sounded great on the phone or looked great on paper where I would not have wanted to leave my child. There have also been some that were so much better than what I thought that they were going to be. Visiting is really the only way to know what the childcare center is really going to be like for your child.
Tip 2 — Watch the Workers with the Children
While you are visiting make sure that you are looking at how the workers are interacting with the children. Pay special attention before your presence is announced. When I was looking for childcare I would go by and watch how the different staff people interacted with the children. I checked different age levels and talked to parents. I also read everything that I could find online both good and bad.
Tip 3 — Commit
Be willing to commit to one center for a certain period of time. If you are looking at having someone come into your home make sure that you get the commitment that you need from them first. You want to have the most stable childcare possible to keep you where you are. I have been lucky in that I have found great commitments with all of the childcare providers that we have had.
Tip 4 — Check Policy
Make sure that you check out the full policy for the childcare center that you are looking at. Ask about discipline and anything else that might be different than what you do at home. Find out how much TV time there is, if there is nap time, and what type of food and snacks are given. I have always asked a ton of questions about everything. I wanted to know what my child would be doing, the timeline, nap times, snack times, meal times, and more. I wanted to know what the procedure was for going to the bathroom and more.
Tip 5 — Be Your Own Spy
Drop by the childcare center randomly unannounced. Spy on them and listen to any concerns or cues that your child might be sending you. Make sure that you do your job to follow up and check on the childcare provider that you using. You can now find a variety of nanny cams that make it possible for you to watch your childcare provider while you are not at home. I find that the best way to do this is to drop by at a random time when you are not supposed to be dropping by. It helps to keep your childcare providers in line when they never know if or when you are going to show up.
Tip 6 — Communicate
Make sure that you can comfortably communicate with the childcare provider that you choose. Ask questions and do not be afraid to ask more questions if something concerns you. Until your child can talk and communicate with you, the childcare provider is going to be the only one communication that you have. I have been lucky enough to be able to communicate with my child and our childcare providers with ease. In fact I continue to talk to a few of the childcare providers that we have had in our home even after they are no longer caring for our children.
Tip 7 — Work with Your Provider to Problem Solve
Next you will want to make sure that you are working with your provider to solve problems. This is important so that you can both be happy with the outcome. It will also help to keep your child in a stable environment and routine. I have always tried to keep an open line of communication with our childcare providers so that I could problem solve and work with them. This has helped me to keep my children in stable environments and situations.
Tip 8 — Trust Your Instincts
If you feel bad about something you need to be able to trust your instincts. I have only had a bad feeling once in a childcare situation and when I did I am so glad that I listened to my instincts. I moved my child and saw an immediate improvement in sleep and behaviors which were the only cues that my young son could give me.
Tip 9 — Be Willing to Change
Stability is very important for children. However if you think that your child is not getting the best care then you need to be willing to change the provider. This can be tough and is not something that you want to take lightly but it is something that can also help you to make sure that you are getting the best possible care for your child all of the time. I have only had one time in my life when it was best to pull my child from a childcare center. I was unhappy with continued issues with the same child biting him (to the point of drawing blood).
Tip 10 — Research
Doing some research ahead of time is very important. For many people there are things that you might not know about childcare in the state where you live. I was personally shocked to find out that in IL church childcare centers do not have to run federal background checks. This means that predators could be finding their way from other states into a church based childcare center here in IL. I was never comfortable with this so I chose to put my children in private accredited centers that ran the background checks that I wanted.