I was extremely fortunate that after the birth of our daughter I was able to take a year off from work & stay home with her during such a crucial period in her life. It offered me the opportunity to be there for all of those beautiful milestones that I might have otherwise missed out on. It gave me the ability to nurse her for a full year, to take daily naps with her, to grow our bond & to just soak up every second of her short infanthood even with all of its difficulties. What was even luckier than that was when I was ready to re-enter the workforce I had a mother-in-law that was willing to take on our child care responsibilities.
Under her Nanna’s care, Mai flourished. Together they would read books, go the park & library, do puzzles and built forts. Our daughter is bright, imaginative, caring and so happy & I know that it is largely in part of her time with her Nanna. There was only one thing missing during these past 2 1/2 years, social interaction. Sure we would play with her friends on occasion, but being an only child I found that Mai lacked a certain understanding in regard to waiting her turn, not always being the center of attention and sharing.
When we made the decision to put her in daycare a couple of days a week, I am not going to lie it freaked me out. It still is and she hasn’t even started yet. Being the helicopter mom that I am, I am extremely paranoid about entrusting my heart to a stranger. Choosing a daycare has been very stressful. I found that many were full or that they didn’t have the days available that I needed or the hours did not work with our schedule. Then I also found that I myself had reasons that I did not like the facilities. When you are picking a place that it going to be caring for your most precious of packages, you better be sure. It turns out I found one that I liked. I interview with them next week.
Here is my checklist in finding a daycare…
1. Figure out what is most important when choosing a facility. Is it distance, cost, curriculum, # of children? For me I wanted her to be in a smaller more intimate daycare where there was more attention to each child & the same educational values as we have with her at home.
2. Make sure that they are licensed & accredited. You can find this info online by state. Believe me that I stalked each daycare to make sure they were legit.
3. What hours do they operate? Is there a fee if you run behind? I discovered that many of the daycares hours were outside of our needs. With my husband and I’s schedules we would have to juggle a few things to make it work. What I did not realize is that some places will charge you an additional fee for picking up your child even a few minutes late.
4. Do they have a set nap schedule? This is something you should find out ahead of time. Mai is on a nap as she gets tired schedule. Many daycares have a set nap schedule. If you are thinking of putting your munchkin in daycare you might want to start them on a mid-day nap schedule right away to make the adjustment.
5. How many children do they have & how many workers? I opted for a smaller home based daycare. The one I am interviewing with next week only has 4 children at a time.
6. What kind of activities do they do? I was pretty certain that I found a winner when I saw all of the things that this child care professional did with the children. She puts a lot of focus on nature activities, does nature walks, lots of crafts and alphabet & number lessons. When I saw the photos on her site, it looked like things that I would do with Mai.
7. Meet the caretaker in person & check out the facility. This I will do next week. We have spoken several times on the phone.
8. What is the daily menu for meals and snacks? If it is Pop Tarts and Spaghetti Os 5 days a week than it is not for me.
9. Do they have a policy on toilet training. We are still in the process of potty training. We have taken a more natural approach and have been doing it slowly. Some daycares will not accept a child that is still in diapers. Be sure to find this out up front.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask a million questions. If they don’t want to answer then you probably do not want them there anyways.