The importance of finding childcare that you feel good about can’t be overstated – it will play a big part in helping you return to work with confidence. And the more time you give yourself to find childcare, the higher the likelihood that you’ll find a situation that best meets your family’s needs. If you haven’t begun your childcare search yet, you’ll definitely want to start now. You’ll want to have plenty of time to gather as much information as possible so you know what all your options are – and there are many – from a large daycare center to a small family daycare, from hiring a nanny to arranging childcare with a family member.
Why does a search take so long?
Finding someone that you trust and who is a good fit for your family’s needs can take a while – because a decision about who your child will be spending time with isn’t something to be taken lightly. A good caregiver can often feel like another member of your family (and a lot of times they are). Beyond the importance of the search, though, when you begin looking for a childcare provider, you can expect to face the following:
- Wait lists: If they’re the right person for the job, there’s a good chance they’re right for other people’s jobs too. Get in early so you can be next on the list.
- Interviews: From phone interviews to daycare location visits, there are a few ways you can get a sense of whether or not a particular caregiver will be a good fit. Anyone who has gone through the hiring process knows how long it can take to schedule and conduct interviews. Think screening phone calls, an in-person talk, and follow-up interviews – all added to your already busy schedule.
- A trial run: You can’t really know if you’ve found the right caregiver until you see them in action. Make sure they get to meet and spend some time with Baby, and leave yourself enough time for a few of these trial runs as well as the time to find someone new if it doesn’t work out.
- Figuring out costs: The math surrounding childcare options can get a little complex, but gathering as much information as possible early on can help steer you in the direction that best fits your family’s budget and personal preferences.
After all that work, you probably get to do it again. Finding great backup care can sometimes be even harder than an initial search, as these caregivers need to be available last-minute. But backup care is important for those days when your usual plan just goes wrong – Baby might get sick enough that you can’t send him off to be at daycare with other kids, or your in-home sitter might deal with car troubles. These things happen. If it happens to you, what are your options? Backup options might include a friend or relative who can help out in an emergency, a childcare agency that can put you in touch with emergency sitters, or an arrangement with your employer or your partner’s employer that allows one of you to work from home.
Benefits of starting the search today
There are even more creative childcare options than you might initially realize, but arranging these can take some time and planning. If your work schedule allows you to have some days off, you might be able to find another family with a similar situation and split your childcare duties. Or maybe you could team up with another family to split the cost of a full-time nanny. You might even find a caregiver who will work for a flat weekly or monthly rate, which could reduce overall costs and make budgeting a lot easier.
Really, you have a range of options. You could use a nanny. You could find a daycare. You could rely on family members, grandparents, or maybe even on-site child care where you work. By starting to consider all these options now, you’ll be that much more likely to make the best choice for your family – and not just a last minute solution that you feel like you had to settle for. And since Baby has already arrived, there’s no time like the present to find him quality care!