We’ve all heard the adage “It takes a village.” It’s never more true than in a family with working parents. That village can consist of family, friends, neighbours, and paid caregivers.
While it’s important to have that network in place – people you can lean on when you need them – it’s also important to keep your children protected. Finding care outside of your inner circle can be scary.
For many people returning back to work from maternity/paternity/parental leave means leaving your baby with another person for almost their entire waking day. That’s hard on so many levels. There’s the parent guilt of just not being there, the worry that you will miss all the “firsts”, and fear of leaving your baby with someone you barely know – at least in the first few weeks.
Here are some tips for finding care when it’s time to go back to work:
Call on family Is there a grandparent or close family friend you trust to watch your little one? And would they like to do that a few days a week? If so, go with it! Offer to pay them, or buy groceries for them – whatever works into your lifestyle. This option would likely work well if you do shift work and a traditional day care can’t swing your hours.
Word of mouth Ask around! Take a poll of friends and family who have already been through this stage. You can even get on FB and look for local mom groups or other community centred groups and ask those folks. I know I am more than happy to tell people about the great experience we had with our daycare.
Visit a few locations Ask lots of questions. Get down to the kids level and really have a look around. What is the ratio of children to carers? Everything look safe? Lots of stimulating toys and activities for the little ones? A quiet area for those who need down time or breathing space? And what about nap time – find out the routines. Try to stop by at different times of the day to get a good idea of what goes on through the whole day.
Be open to change Maybe this daycare isn’t on the same nap schedule you’ve established with your little one. That’s okay – kids are adaptable. Emma never napped for me, so I was amazed when our daycare provider told me she was sleeping fine after lunch when the other kids were napping. And it only took a week! Finding care isn’t about keeping everything the same as it is as home – it’s about keeping your baby or child healthy, happy, and loved.
Trust your gut You are the only one who really knows your child. If you don’t feel right, or something seems off, investigate it. Or let that place go. As a parent, you’ve likely developed a finely tuned instinct where your children are concerned. Let that guide you towards making the best choice.
My personal experience:
For Emma we worked her in to day care really slowly. I visited at least twice with her, then left her for a short visit on her own one morning while I went for groceries. We used an in-home daycare so there were only a few kids for her to get used to. Even though there was some separation anxiety, she quickly adapted and soon was happy to go play with the others at drop off.
Now that my girls are older we find we’re calling on family more often to help us keep the kids on their routine. With dance classes 4 nights a week, sometimes we need someone to drop them off, or pick Emma up after we’ve got Rose home to bed. Patrick works at least one night a week, though lately it’s been more. We are very lucky to have family near by to call on for these favours.
My parents live farther away, but they take the girls for a week every summer, and the odd weekend or short chunk of holiday time. It really helps the pocketbook when we don’t have to pay every time the kids are off school but we have to work.
Are you struggling finding care for your little ones? What are your greatest challenges? Share with me in the comments! Then sign up to get my emails so you don’t miss out on any other posts where I share my parenting wisdom.