Your “MUST TO KNOW” about childcare
Updated: Jan 25, 2019
Leaving your child in someone else’s care is a hard decision. You probably can’t even imagine this situation when you’re first holding your little bundle of joy in your arms. The bad news is that in Australia you have to think about this scenario way before you give birth to your child. Wait lists are super long, at some places we’re talking about a year + waiting.
So my very first recommendation is that you have to think about your future plans when you sign off your maternity leave paperwork. If you know you’ll be back to work within a year, it’s time for action! My favourite place to start your search is the CareforKids website. You can learn about the different types of cares, you get almost 100% accurate information of availability in the centres with pricing, FAQ-s and you can see the government ratings of the centres as well.
But when is the best time to start? There is no best scenario here at all. It’s absolutely up to you and your family’s needs when you start. It will definitely be challenging the first time you leave your child at daycare but eventually, every child settles in sooner or later.
The most important question: How to choose the best care for your bubba?
If we are talking about formal care, you have these options to choose from:
1. family daycare: an approved educator is looking after children in her own home
2. long daycare: centre-based care for children up to school age
3. occasional care: centre-based care for parents who don’t require full-time care
4. home based care: someone you choose to look after your child in your own home
What’s the best option? Again, it’s up to you and your preference. There is no right or wrong! Do your research, check out all the options and follow your gut instincts. That will always guide you in the right direction. Very important though, wherever you go, keep your eyes wide opened and ask the right questions.
Let me help you with the most important things to ask and observe:
The first impression as always counts the most! Check the cleanliness and safety of the place. If you see anything that concerns you that’s a sign and trust me, you won’t have a peaceful moment when your child is there because you’ll always think about potential accidents. Ask the centre manager about accidents/incidents in the centre and the source of it -that will give you a lot of information as well. Find out what policy and rules they follow when incidents happen.
Try to observe the staff members and how they interact with each other. If the carers have a good relationship that’s amazing! Ask the manager about how long these people are working there- that’ll again explain a lot. You definitely want a place where the carers last long so your child will see the same faces every day. Ask how many children they have per carers. Less is more!
Watch how the director and the educators interact with the children. You want to see that they genuinely care about them. Also, you’ll understand a lot by looking at the kids’ behaviour. If they’re happy and contented, it means that they feel good where they are and there is harmony there.
The manager will try to wow you during the tour but try to talk to the carers directly and ask them about the daily routine, sleeping, eating, etc. Very important to ask how they help the new child to settle in? Do they implement your routine for the kid or they have their own? You want to make sure that they do everything possible they can to make this transition smooth for your little one.
How do they involve the parents in the kids’ daily life? Do they have a newsletter? Are they sending photos to you? Email you? You don’t want to miss out on anything important or fun stuff so it’s good to know.
What activities and developmental programmes do they do daily? You want your child to learn new things. Is the centre interesting enough? Are there enough toys? Is there outdoor area so the kids get fresh air? If yes, what time they take them out? Do they apply sunscreen on them?
How many meals are a day included in the price? What does the menu look like? Get a copy! Do they cater for special dietary requirements? Who is supplying the milk and bottles?
What are their opening hours and what if you’re late? Do they charge and if yes how much? Find out if someone else can pick up your child and how that is monitored?
For me, the most important thing was to watch my son’s reactions to the environment and around the staff members. I had 2 places in mind for him. I took him to one and he behaved like I’ve never seen him before. He started crying and wanted to pull me out of there. He turned his head away from everyone and stood in the corner and didn’t want to leave me for a second. That’s definitely not him and that was a big sign for me. This won’t be the right place for him.
The same day I took him to the other place I liked and he acted in a completely different way. He ran away from me, started exploring and engaging with other kids. Grabbed the hand of a carer and I could leave him there for almost an hour while I was touring around the centre and he didn’t even look for me. He was so happy and he didn’t want to leave at all. He was happily waving to everyone and smiling at everyone. That’s how we chose the place for him. I let him choose what he wanted.
I strongly recommend you always listen to your instincts and watch your child’s cues. By doing this you can’t go wrong. Please please, please! Don’t let anybody influence you when you’re making such an important decision!
I wish you the best of luck and please don’t forget to share your success story by commenting below.