When it comes to going back to work or even getting a few hours of peace a day, there’s an endless debate online between parents over the merits of enrolling one’s child in daycare, having a trusted friend, neighbor or relative watch their child until they are old enough to attend school or hiring a nanny to keep an eye on the little one while their parents are at work all day.
My parents opted out of daycare for both my sister and myself; my great-aunt on my mom’s side watched me until I was old enough to attend kindergarten at the local Catholic school in our neighborhood.
By the time my sister was born eight years later, my great-aunt had already passed away and my mother took great pains to research a trustworthy babysitter since all of our other relatives worked at full-time jobs and couldn’t watch her. She was lucky to find an older woman named Madeline, since she wound up becoming our surrogate grandmother.
For mothers that decide to go the daycare route, there are plenty of options, such as the ones listed below, to pick from when it comes to researching the local facilities in the area or helping the little one transition to the new schedule.
21 Don't Wait To Research Daycares
Care.com notes that mothers don’t have to wait until the last minute to start researching daycare centers in their area; they can start looking into them a few months before their little one is born.
Since some daycares can have a waiting list that spans up to six months, it is good to be prudent and start researching now, so that there isn’t a mad rush to figure out which one would be a good fit for the kiddo.
20 The Choice Between Daycare And In-Home Care
Care.com points out that daycare isn’t the be all, end all of options for working mothers that need someone to look after their children when they get back into the daily grind.
While daycare is an excellent choice for many children, there’s also the option of hiring a reputable baby sitter for in-home care.
When my mother went back to work after I was born, my great-aunt was my baby sitter until I was old enough to go to school. Unfortunately, my great-aunt passed away before my little sister was born, and so she had to hire a baby-sitter. My sister’s sitter was a great woman that was like a surrogate grandmother to the both of us, and even though neither of us ever went to daycare, we learned a lot from the two women that watched us.
19 Picking The Right Daycare For Your Kids
Childcare Aware writes that there are several different types of care centers available, and it’s important to not only research the facilities, but weigh the pros and cons to see which one is best for your child.
In general, there are the traditional daycare centers that operate out of commercial buildings, which is what everyone thinks of. But there are also in-home daycares and pre-school programs, both of which are also suitable options if your child is the appropriate age for them.
18 Ease Your Kiddo Into Daycare
It can be tempting to listen to old-timers’ advice and just steel yourself to ignore your child’s tears when you drop them off for a full day of daycare, but that’s not your only option.
In fact, Babble points out that many experts claim that it is better to start off slow and steady when it comes to transitioning your little one to daycare.
For example, you can have your kiddo go to daycare part-time for a few weeks or even stay with them for a few hours for the first couple of days.
17 Creating Rituals For Daycare
Plenty of children get separation anxiety and freak out when their parents leave, but you don’t have to let them tough it out on their own for the next few weeks.
Babble recommends explaining the daycare’s daily schedule to your little one so that they’ll be prepared and create a cute little goodbye ritual to ease their fears. For example, you can give them a certain amount of hugs before you leave or allow them to wave to you until you get to the car.
16 Comforting Your Little One
In order to help your little one adjust to going to daycare, Babble.com recommends allowing your little one to bring a special item with them so they won’t feel so alone.
You can choose to allow them to bring a stuffed animal, their favorite blanket or even a cute framed family photo.
For babies, you can go with the picture route or bring your shirt or your significant other’s shirt to put with them in the crib so that they have a familiar smell near them.
15 Emergency Contacts And Those Who Should Never Be Called
Babble.com points out that most daycares require you to list one or two emergency contacts. Ideally, it should be someone like a significant other (or a spouse) as well as a grandparent or even a trusted aunt or uncle.
You can also choose to include a list of people that you absolutely do not want to pick your kiddo up from daycare. Whether this is the obnoxious mother-in-law or the annoying uncle, you are well within your rights to inform the daycare who is approved to pick your kid up and who you don’t want anywhere near ‘em.
14 Keeping An Eye On The Daycare
Aside from the obvious suggestions of making sure that the daycare you are looking at has plenty of engaging toys for your child or researching their licensing agencies to see if other parents have filed a complaint, Care.com notes that moms also have the option to stop by unannounced in order to keep an eye on your child and see how the staff and management react.
If the director has poor communication skills with the parents, the staff doesn’t like unapproved drop-ins or the providers can’t seem to handle the children when you stop by, that’s a big red flag and you might be better off picking another place.
13 Preparation For Daycare By Using Books
There’s tons of different advice about how to get your child used to going to daycare, but Family Education notes that one option moms have is to purchase age-appropriate books that specifically mention the main character going to daycare and having a positive experience.
The upbeat books, plus parents taking the time out to stay positive and discuss their child’s feelings after they read the story, can go a long way in reassuring a little one that is apprehensive about starting daycare.
12 Ease Your Little One In Slowly With A Part-Time Schedule
According to PopSugar, moms can also help their little ones get used to the idea of being away from them and their home by easing them slowly into daycare.
Whether your child goes once a week or three times a week, a slow transition to daycare works best since there are some kids out there that aren’t emotionally ready to be there for five days a week and might have a difficult time adjusting if they’re just tossed into a brand-new environment by their parents.
11 Don't Just Rely On Word-Of-Mouth, Use The Internet Too
Care.com notes that while finding a daycare via word-of-mouth from other parents that live in your neck of the woods is the usual choice for most mothers, it is always good to look into those claims yourself by researching the facilities online to see if there are any negative reviews on the Internet.
It is also a good idea to make sure that the facilities are up to code and a licensed provider runs it.
Since license requirements often vary from state to state, you can always research the specifics for your area and make sure that the daycares you’re investigating are complying with the laws.
10 Utilize Technology To Create A Daycare List
Being a parent, especially if you’re going back to work after your maternity leave, means living a hectic lifestyle. There’s a good chance that you’re going to forget all of the mental notes that you make for yourself throughout the day.
Babble recommends that mothers utilize technology and write down a checklist, on your smartphone or computer, of all the items your little one needs to bring so that you don’t forget anything. For toddlers, it’s important that they bring blankets for nap time and a set of extra clothes. Infants usually need extra bottles and pacifiers.
9 Ask The Provider For Advice With The Transition
When it comes to battling separation anxiety with children that are attending daycare, most parents will turn to family, close friends, their pediatrician or Internet groups to get some advice on how to handle this problem.
Today recommends that moms also chat up the daycare staff and ask if they have any tips to ease their little one’s separation anxiety.
Many providers would be happy to have a parent pick their brains and do everything they can to ease the stress of change.
8 How To Phrase The Goodbyes Properly
The popular mental image of a parent leaving a child at daycare goes a little something like this: The kiddo is throwing a temper tantrum while a clearly distraught mother is hugging them tightly and saying something along the lines of “Stay here, Mommy will miss you.”
PopSugar highly recommends that mothers do away with the theatrics when it comes to dropping children off at daycare. In fact, staying upbeat, positive and carefully framing their goodbyes so they don’t say something like “I’ll miss you” are a much better option to soothe an anxious child.
7 Leaving The Facility When There Are Tears
There are a few different ways to handle the tears from separation anxiety. Parents.com recommends sticking to the routine and giving your little one a rundown of what their morning will look like in order to head off any tears.
Family Education feels that it is best to reassure your child that you’ll be back after a specific time and get your child interested in an activity before you leave.
Regardless of which option you decide to pick, both will go a long way to creating a positive association with their new daycare and heading off any potential separation anxiety.
6 Easing The Lines Of Communication
Babble advises parents to keep their tone positive whenever they talk to their children about daycare right before they start so that your little one doesn’t pick up on any anxiety emanating from you and make a negative association with the place before they even arrive.
It’s also a good idea to constantly talk to your child about how they feel about going to daycare before they go to bed and allow them to express their feelings by drawing pictures on their off days.
5 Creating A Sleep Schedule For Your Little One
Many parents would implement a new sleep schedule for their little ones a couple of days before their child is due to start school or daycare.
While that might work for some kids, Family Education writes that another option is start them on their new sleep schedule a few weeks before they head to daycare.
Since toddlers and infants need more than 10 to 11 hours of sleep, ideally parents should sit down and plan out how much time they realistically need to leave the house on time. Have that be your little one’s wake-up time and then count backwards from 10 to 12 hours in order to figure out their bedtime.
4 Dropping Your Little One Off At Daycare
A child feeling distress when their mother leaves the daycare is perfectly normal, but there are several techniques you can use to smooth things over when you leave. Family Education recommends firmly saying that you need to go before giving them a big hug, but if they’re resistant, the caregiver should step in and redirect your little one’s attention by engaging them with a specific activity.
If your child throws a tantrum when you leave but the tears dry up when you’re gone, you can also try breaking the cycle by having a trusted relative drop them off at daycare for a week or so.
3 You Don't Need To Wait Until Your Kiddo's A Toddler
When most people think of daycare, they think of toddlers playing with building blocks or huddling together for naptime, but you don’t have to wait until your little one is a bit older to enroll them into daycare.
Babble says you can enroll your child before they hit six months old since babies at that age don’t experience the same kind of separation anxiety that they do at older ages.
It’s also perfectly fine if you want to wait until your kiddo has grown a bit too.
2 Cost Of Daycare
Care.com notes that parents shouldn’t enroll their child into the most expensive daycare in the area without thinking. It’s best to meticulously research each and every single one, including the cost.
You might also want to weight the pros and cons of the daycare if you have more than one young child at home.
It may be more cost-effective to simply hire a baby sitter to watch them while you’re at work until they are old enough to go to pre-school.
1 Immunization Schedules
Michigan Live highly recommends that parents looking into potential daycares and asking them what immunizations are required (like measles or mumps) as well as asking how many of the children that attend have actually had the required vaccinations, since some parents might opt out of them for medical or other reasons.
You should also research the center’s vaccination rate and pick a daycare that has a 95 percent rate to truly weed out any chance of your little one coming down with something.