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It is a tough decision whether to stay home with your kids or to return to work. Then if you return to work, you have the even tougher decision as to who will take care of your kids while you are at work.
Daycare is an option for many families and it can be overwhelming. When I was pregnant with my daughter and planning to go back to work part time, looking at daycare facilities and trying to see if she would fit in there was so difficult. Then after having her and visiting the daycare I had chose again was so emotional as I couldn’t imagine the thought of leaving her.
There are several questions to ask yourself before you even start looking for a daycare, such as:
- What am I looking for? More of an in-home daycare or more structured daycare?
- What is my budget? What am I willing to spend on daycare expenses?
- What hours am I looking for? How many days a week am I looking for?
Once you’ve determined what you are looking for, online is a great way to search for potential daycares. Another way is through either a local mom group on Facebook or through friends who already have kids. There is nothing like having firsthand reviews and experiences of a daycare. You can get the good, bad and ugly that way!
Once you’ve found some daycares you are interested in, it’s beneficial to go and visit them. That way you can see how they work and can ask questions. You should plan to do this at least a few months prior to needing a daycare. Here are some standard questions to ask while on the tour of a daycare:
- How do you communicate with the parents?
- How often and how are toys cleaned?
- What is included in the price? Diapers? Wipes? Snacks?
- How is the facility or space kept secure?
- What is the teacher to baby or child ratio?
- What does a daily routine look like?
You should likely start looking for a daycare at least a few months before you need it – sometimes spots can fill up and you don’t want to be in a position where you can’t find one that meets your needs.
Looking for a daycare can make you anxious, especially as a new parent, but go with what works for your family and what feels right. Ultimately, you want to feel comfortable with where you leave your child.