Posts Tagged ‘childcare’

Finding Daycare

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

IMG_7680Childcare can be a source of stress or support once you return to work. Finding the ideal provider of that care can be difficult. In my attempts to find the “best” for us I learned a few things along the way.

Childcare facilities often refer to themselves as daycare or preschool. These terms are very loose and unmoderated. Generally a daycare offers longer hours and remains open year round. They cater to a larger age range from shortly after birth sometimes up to after school care for elementary-aged children.

Preschools often focus on teaching specific curriculum or from particular teaching philosophies. They are often (but not always) on a school schedule, have certified teachers, and cater to 3-5 years. Mother’s Day Out programs generally offer shorter hours than preschools but may be sufficient if looking for part-time childcare. In-home care, whether in someone else’s home or a nanny in your own home, still apply to the below considerations.

  • Inquire about turnover. Ask how long teachers and aides have been there as well as how many years of experience they have. More years of service does not automatically mean a higher quality teacher, but it is one consideration.
  • Ask around. Word of mouth can give you an insider’s view. While online reviews also help, keep in mind people who feel most strongly (often negatively) seem to write reviews most often. You also can’t easily verify positive reviews so there’s no way to tell if the reviewer actually utilized the daycare or if staff or staff’s loved ones wrote up glowing reviews.
  • Don’t wait. Some places have waitlists, so inquire early once you know you need childcare. The more children you have the more important this can become as you may have to wait for openings in more than one class (if a preschool).
  • Visit during business hours. Try to check out the facility in action. Does it appear organized? How does the provider-child ratio look in reality? Are things clean and orderly? Do the children appear happy and content? Do providers get down to your child’s level when meeting him or her?
  • Drive the course at drop-off/pick-up times. You’ll be dropping off and picking up your child daily. A location far off course can add an extra half hour to your day. For example, our children were in childcare located in an elementary school. The extra time to park, walk them inside, and manage the hallways full of arriving school kids added 15 minutes to every morning drop off.
  • Consider cost and resources. Childcare is expensive no matter what. Everyone’s budget is what it is. Choose something you can sustain long term. Inquire with your place of work to see if they offer discounts for childcare or even in-house. For example my husband’s school district offers childcare at some schools for employee’s children. Remember that some places, especially preschools, like to provide something extra for teachers around the holidays, teacher appreciation, or end of school times. Ask about what snacks, supply fees, or other additional expenses you need to consider. The less you pay the less they have for resources and teacher pay. Less pay does not always equate to lower caliber providers but it can.
  • Learn about accreditation, licensure, and certification. Each state varies in its licensure policies but be sure your facility’s health and safety licensing is up to date. Accreditation is an additional step not always necessary but speaks to a higher standard. Teacher certification is found more often in preschool oriented facilities.
  • Cloth diapers. If you are committed to cloth be sure to ask if your childcare provider is willing to use them. If not, you can consider educating them if they are interested. Know your state’s policies regarding cloth diapers in public facilities.
  • Allergies, development needs, or other considerations. If your child or family has needs particular to your situation, be sure to inquire both directly with staff and indirectly by word of mouth about how they might handle your specifics. If you regularly get caught up at work and may be delayed, see how they handle late pickups.
  • Sick kiddos. Sickness can quickly spread in the childcare setting. Though tough policies around sickness can cause additional difficulties for parents they can also prevent illnesses from spreading. Ultimately this can result in fewer days missed overall. Ask about and read through their handbook concerning sick days and what constitutes necessary absence of a child. Think of common scenarios like pink eye, fever, upset stomach, and returning from an extended illness of several days. When is a doctor’s note necessary? How long must the child be fever free? Do you have to pay for days your child misses?
  • Good fit. Last, and possibly most important, consider the fit. Do you feel at ease with the teachers? Does your child? What is important to you? For example, if extended hours are critical look first at that. If school prep tops your list, learn about their curriculum, how structured their day is, and how they incorporate creative play.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

The Benefits of Daycare

Friday, February 26th, 2016

The Benefits of DaycareAfter the birth of my first born, I had to go back to work at 8 weeks postpartum. It was my first experience with leaving my precious bundle and I was scared. Would he be okay without me? The first few months were tough, but we managed; eventually managing for two more years. Juggling a lot of responsibilities was tough, but looking back, there were many blessings that came with our daycare experience.

As mothers, we often have a gut reaction to leaving our children with anyone but family; Fear, guilt, stress.  I’ve learned, however, that whether you are a stay at home mom using the gym daycare, someone who uses a licensed provider daily, or even if you occasionally use it for mom or dads night out, leaving your child with another trusted adult can reap many benefits for both you and your child.

The first time you leave your child, it is just plain HARD

The first time I left my youngest at our gym daycare; I hemmed and hawed, despite the fact that I felt comfortable with the employees and the facility.  Baby R seemed so little. I had convinced myself He really loved being with just me. He wanted his blanket and his baba just so. And of course, I worried what if he got SICK?! I managed to do really well at talking myself out of it.

If you are planning to use daycare for the first time, do a dry run with no expectations. If you are returning to work, try to start mid-week so that it doesn’t seem so daunting. The first time will be difficult but you are most likely more concerned and upset than your children. The first time is hard but it gets so much easier.

Relying on other adults instills confidence in your child.

R started going for an hour to the gym kidstime when he was just 4 months. As the weeks went by, he became familiar with the ladies, he knew the environment, and he became more comfortable. He knew that there were other adults that would take great care of him besides me. As he grew, there were times when it stung a little that he wasn’t clinging to me but it simultaneously gave me so much pride. He did not rely on me for his happiness. He knew he was okay. He was confident.

That confidence has grown as he has grown. R now has no problems trying new activities without clinging to me. He feels confident enough to introduce himself to new people. I fully believe that this is because daycare taught him security even when I am not around.

Socialization is good for both mommy and kiddos.

As humans, we are social creatures. We need our group and our tribe even as little people. In a safe and structured daycare setting, young children have the opportunity to practice problem solving, communication, and develop empathy for others through play. They can learn about their world. They also develop cognitively from being around their peers. Daycare can be an enriching part of your child’s life. It can also be enriching for you. It is healthy to have the opportunity to socialize with co-workers, friends, and other adults.

Reconnecting with yourself makes you a better momma

Whether you are a working momma or just using the gym daycare like I was, reconnecting with other parts of yourself is important.  For me, using my gym daycare made me realize that it took just one hour a day of exercise for me to be a sweeter, kinder, more loving momma. It helped me focus and reconnect.

Whatever your motivation is, if you find yourself needing to use a daycare provider, know that if you have found one that is safe and loving, your child’s experience can be an positive one that has lasting effects.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, green tea, long runs, and snowy winters.

 

Returning to Work After being a SAHM

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Returning to work after being a SAHMI stayed home for almost three years after I first became a mom. For most of that time I spent few hours each week doing small projects, but essentially I stayed at home. Money was always tight; we lived on a fairly strict budget, but could afford eating out once or twice a month and small luxuries like that. I recognize for some families going back to work isn’t a choice.

For a variety of reasons, I returned to work in August for a one-year opportunity. We very thoroughly considered the impact of my return to work, both the benefits and challenges. I’m a detail-oriented mama; I’m not one to jump in without thinking it through. Still, there were a few things we underestimated.

  • The morning routine. Oh my goodness, the morning routine. Before, we’d stay into our jammies until nine and I’d shower as I saw fit. Some days we even stayed in PJs. Preparing lunches, providing breakfast, getting everyone dressed while getting myself dressed, the whole into-the-car-and-back-out routine—the day-in-day-out routine is enough to drive me mad right around 7:30 AM, several days a week. I strategize and prep things the night before; I tried packing a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday; I lay out clothes before bed; I put my make-up on after I drop the kids off to childcare. Still, mornings are truly a doozie.
  • The childcare shuffle. The sheer time alone of driving one measly mile out of the way to childcare, getting out, taking the kids in, talking with the teachers as needed, and then repeating in the afternoon takes an extra 20-30 minutes a day. One mile seems like so little, but a stop light, stop sign, school zone, school buses, and school crossings make it feel like time moves faster in this one mile strip of the time-space continuum.
  • The tax double whammy. I anticipated our taxes would change this year. I attempted reading tax code and playing in Turbo Tax with a few ballpark figures. I underestimated by so little and it affected us so much—the loss of a tax credit and the just-barely bump up to a new tax bracket literally affected us by several thousand dollars. Given my modest wage, this was a painful blow this spring.
  • The sickies. We have never been so sick as a family. I did the math—85% of my paid time off revolves around sickness. It’s one child, the other, myself, or a seemingly endless combination of us three. My husband also missed work at times to care for the boys. A few days I even stayed home without pay. Though my company understood, I simply did not have time I could take. For example, we missed six days of work due to a one-day fever and two-day bout of diarrhea; our boys did not plan well enough to be sick at the same time. Childcare generally requires 24 hours of wellness before a kiddo can return. Maybe this will make our immune systems stronger in the long run, for now it means this mama usually doesn’t have vacation plans on her vacation days.

So there you go. Maybe you had a different experience. Perhaps some of these won’t apply to you. I surely hope they don’t! In the long run, I’m still satisfied to have worked this year for a variety of reasons, but I also look forward to going back home full time (which also has its challenges, I know!).

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.