One of the most challenging choices that a parent has to make during the first few years of their child’s life is whether to return to work and who will care for our children while we are there. Of course, for some of us, the decision is out of our hands. Our financial situation forces us back to work, or even to stop working if childcare would be too costly. There are many reasons to return to work, or not to work, and there’s no right or wrong answer. Most of us have to do what is right for our families, and we don’t always get it right.
But, whenever you decide to go back to work, there’s one thing that you will want to get right. And that’s finding the right person to care for your child. The main options are leaving them with family, finding a childminder, or enrolling them in a nursery. Of course, these aren’t the only options, however. A private nanny, a creche at work, or juggling childcare with your partner might also be worth considering. Here are some of the things that you should think about when looking for childcare.
While it would be lovely if money weren’t a problem, for most of us, it is. Childcare can be costly, and even with tax-free childcare, and help from your employer, things can be tricky. Make sure you understand any fees and try to reduce hours by asking family for help, or balancing things with your partner if you need to.
Childminders can be wonderful. But holiday and sickness care can be an issue. If your childminder or a member of their household is ill, they won’t be able to care for your child. If they go on holiday, there’s no cover. Nurseries that are attached to schools might also close during school holidays. Bear all this in mind when conducting your search.
Early Years Education
The closer your child gets to school age, the more important finding an early learning center becomes. But remember, while you will want your child to be ready for school, the best way for children that age to learn is through play and creative self-expression.
You don’t want to be forced to add time to your commute every day to drop your child off (there might be enough of that when they start school), so try to find either somewhere on your way to work, or near to your home.
Make sure you take the time to view the setting even if you plan to leave your child with your parents or another relative. Take the time to make sure their home is safe for your child, and that they have everything that they need to provide regular care.
In truth, often it’s a feeling. We meet childcare providers, we look around different settings, but really, whatever else might be on your checklist, the most important thing is trust. If you are leaving your child with someone, you need to be comfortable, and you need to be able to trust them. You’ll know when it is right.