According to the Spring/Summer 2001 issue of The Future of Children, 61% of mothers with children under the age of three were employed in that year, which means many of us are seeking childcare for our children. I never realized how intimidating and scary this task would be until my husband and I started looking a few months ago.
I´ve taken several tours and asked many questions, and I´ve also done a lot of research along the way. The following are tips that I´ve gathered during my search for daycare, and while they haven´t alleviated all of the stress, they have helped to lessen it some.
Â§ Plan ahead. Waiting lists can run six months to a year in advance and you don´t want to be stuck making a last minute decision.
Â§ Ask friends and coworkers for referrals.
Â§ Make a list of the things that you feel are important in a daycare or preschool setting (whether lunch is provided, what hours are available, how much you´ll pay for additional time if you have to work late, what type of curriculum or educational program is followed). Take this list with you as you visit each setting and check off what each setting has or is lacking. Compare the lists as you decide which program best fits the needs of you and your child.
Â§ Visit www.childcareaware.org which offers many resources for parents who are seeking quality daycare. You can input your zip code on the front page to find a center near you that will help you locate licensed facilities in your area.
Â§ Visit www.allina.com/ahs/daycare.pdf for a worksheet that you can print and fill out as you visit each center. The worksheet includes information about safety features of the center, licensing, schedules, and discipline, along with much more. Take one to each center and then compare these when you are finished visiting all settings.
Â§ Let go of the guilt. This will be the most difficult thing to do. Whether you have to work for financial reasons or you want to work for personal reasons, you´ll probably experience a nasty little guilt pang in the middle of your ribcage when you think about sending your precious angel off on that first day. Yet after the initial transition into daycare and preschool, parents often hear their children requesting to go to school on days that they don´t have to, because they enjoy the interaction and socialization. Your child will be okay. So will you. You just have to get over that hump.