Going back to work after having a child is a big deal. You’ve had time off to have a baby, and returning to work can fill you with very mixed emotions. You’ll be glad of the mental stimulation of being with adults for the majority of your day, and you’ll be looking forward to having a regular paycheck. However, these positives will be mixed in with feeling anxious about who is going to look after your child, and of course, feelings of guilt that you are not going to be with your child.
The most popular daycare centers will have a waiting list, so start looking a good six months before your return to work. Here are some areas for you to consider before you decide whether it is the right establishment for your child.
You will probably know people who have children at a similar age to yours, so ask them about their thoughts about the childcare providers in the local area. Bad news travels fast, and establishments that have not provided anything but exemplary care for their charges will be subject to local gossip!
Trust your instincts
Aside from local murmurings about individual centers, you must trust your instincts when you visit a daycare center. You will immediately draw your own conclusions as to whether the word on the street has any merit. Your first impression is usually the correct one! Try and arrange a couple of visits at different times so that you have an opportunity to chat with other moms and staff. If the staff don’t appear to be motivated or seem overworked, choose another center to visit. Always ask about staff turnover – it’s a sure sign of an unhappy workforce, and that has a negative effect on the children they care for.
Cleanliness is next to godliness
You know the phrase, and with daycare centers, it is especially true. A good childcare center should be clean and sanitary. Inspect the bathrooms and the food preparation areas as a minimum, but also note whether the trash has been taken out and that the rooms’ floors and toys are clean and managed correctly. When groups of children are together, and in close proximity, illness can spread like wildfire. Ask the daycare center’s manager what they do if there is an outbreak of illness. A good center will have a policy in place for C. Diff and MRSA cleaning to prevent the risk of infection and contamination.
The staff that is employed by the daycare center should be fully qualified to do so. They are going to be the primary carers who look after your child, and it is important that you have confidence in their skills. Interactions should be positive and enthusiastic, but the carer should also be engaged with the children to be able to discipline and control them too. When you visit a center, look out for how the staff interact with the other children and chat with them to see if they share your ideas about sleep, food, and discipline. Staff at good centers will be inquisitive about your child just as much as you are interested in their skills.
It can feel like a minefield choosing childcare, but for it to be a success you need to be confident that you have made the right decision. A center that may be great for your friend’s child may not tick the boxes for yours, so don’t just go with what other people have decided. You know your child, and you also know what will be best for him or her, so couple that with good research and you will find the best daycare center for your child.