Monday, October 13, 2014

Deciding on an In-Home Daycare Provider

Before I was even close to having kids, I knew I would send my own to daycare when the time came for me to return to work. They would have fun and meet friends while my husband and I could go do other things, like work and stuff.

But then I had kids. And I didn’t want to let them go. Ever.

After all this time of thinking it would be a breeze to “send my kids to daycare,” just the slightest thought of sending them away and not being with them all day long drove me nuts.

I had the gift of staying home from my full-time job (in an office half an hour away from home) for an entire six months after my twins were born. I felt extremely lucky to have so much time with my monkeys and it helped me deal with their month-long stay in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). My husband stayed home for two months, but then I was solo from then on.

Then those six months flew by, exactly as others warned me they would. Living in a dual-income home, I needed to return to work full-time. Daycare was the most likely and affordable option for us, but it would mean someone else would care for our babies nearly 10 hours a day. My heart was crushed.

Fast forward eight months later and I cannot believe that I am actually very pleased to share how wonderful our experience has been with an in-home day care. Things have been great; the boys enjoy being at their daycare and we feel very happy knowing they are safe and well taken care of. Drop offs have been a breeze, but I think that’s mostly due to the fact that they began attending at six months old and hadn’t developed separation anxiety yet (they are now very clingy one-year-olds, but that’s a different story). Here’s the first “project” the boys created for me at daycare. I sure did display my new frame at work the very next day!

Now that you’ve seen the emotional turmoil I dealt with in making this decision, I’m actually excited to share what I’ve been through because I know how scary, confusing, and frustrating the search for the perfect provider can be. While there are various types of care available, this is my experience with selecting an in-home daycare provider.

The most important factor for us was selecting the right provider. Her outlook, attitude, and values mattered so much to us and we felt that subsequent factors would be grounded upon who she is. Some of those other factors did influence our decision such as cost, location, and the physical daycare environment itself. But nothing beat the general “feel” we got from meeting a provider in-person and getting to know her (or him, although we never met a male provider) is.

With each provider we met and interviewed, I always had a prepared list of 101 things I wanted to ask and know. I am quite the over-planner and can never stop researching something once I am interested. However, I learned that while it is important to get some of the important questions answered, it’s not crucial and even less stressful to just have an initial conversation that is in-person and very casual. Follow-up meetings would take place if they needed to and if we were really seriously considering the provider.

Naturally, despite this “casual” conversation I speak of, we tended to get the following questions answered: Who is this person? What does she (or he) believe in? What does she feel is most important in raising babies and children? What experience does she bring to the daycare? Does her personality mesh with mine? Do I feel comfortable communicating my needs and concerns with her?

While this list of questions could go on, I was surprised how many of them were answered simply by starting with, “Hello, we’re interested in care” and the rest followed effortlessly. That is, the flow of the conversation was directly correlated with how well the individual “fit” our needs and wants in a daycare provider. When a provider was not very enthusiastic about her daycare and did not provide a lot of information about her experiences, the conversation went downhill fast. But when a provider was engaged, passionate, and very positive with lots of stories to share with us, the conversation was so pleasant and reassuring.

In addition to interviewing several different providers, it helped to write down our immediate thoughts, feelings, and concerns about a provider after meeting for the first time. We followed up with subsequent phone calls and in-person visits to dig deeper into who she is and whether or not we wanted to select her. I even asked for references to hear about other parents’ experiences and get a different perspective on the provider.

The actual transition to daycare was made 100% more smooth with a trial run that we did the
week before the boys officially started. For a few hours each day for three days, we brought the boys to the daycare to get them exposed to their new environment and troubleshoot the routine with preparing them to go and knowing which supplies to buy for the daycare. More than it helped the boys, it helped me tremendously. This helped comfort me a lot when I was already facing so much emotional guilt and anxiety leaving the boys. By the time they began attending daycare full-time and I returned to work, I did not have a single tear. I missed them dearly and my heart ached, but I was so at ease and glad they were in a good place as I was able to work and provide for them.

If I learned anything from our daycare provider hunt, it was to always go with your instincts. You know your baby the best and you should only do what you are most comfortable with. Sometimes things don’t work out and you may settle for a provider who is not your first pick, but keep on searching because things always change and daycare slots open back up and you will be glad you persevered! While small things can often seem like big things, I often remind myself how fleeting these years are and not to worry too much. After all, the babies didn’t read the handbooks on parenting, so we are doing great in their eyes!


If you have a question for Sharisse, CLICK HERE to email her!  You can also visit her blog: SharissesPieces or find her on Instagram: @sharissespiecesblog


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