Not too long ago Ian and I were in a huge fix. We decided that the best thing for our family would be to put our boy into a daycare (*insert the sound of my heart breaking). It was a difficult decision to say the least, insert mom guilt. After some sleepless nights, and stressful days we found THE PERFECT daycare! It was not without a lot of effort, so I thought I would make the process a little simpler for you. You can thank me later!
To start your search you need to ask yourself a few important questions that will help to guide you to your perfect daycare.
- Location – this is important for obvious reasons, we looked into daycare that were close to my husbands work initially. We are a one car family and we had put Emilie close to Ian’s work too. So essentially the kids would be in the same area. After a bit more careful thought, we decided that closer to home would work a little better for us.
- Cost – you need to know how much you are willing to spend on a daycare each month, remembering that usually with daycare they require that you also provide certain toiletries and/or stationary each month.
- Opening and closing times – this is important as DJ would be dropped off first, we needed to find someone who could accommodate a relatively long day.
Once you have these two – you can begin your search. Google is actually not so great with this. What I did was consult the Mamahood Eastern Cape group, which is a lovely go-to group for mom’s who are looking for recommendations from other moms. I got an overwhelmingly awesome response from the mom’s of EC, with daycare and details of their experiences. This gave me my scope.
Armed with some recommendations, telephone numbers and email addresses, I started my search. I emailed every single daycare within our chosen area, and in my mail I asked for information on the school, baby class, and if they had space for my little boy (5 months).
This narrowed our search a tiny bit. I then sat with a pile of information booklets and highlighted things that were important to me. I can’t speak for other towns but in PE schools have an open door policy. Ian and I took our pile of information booklets, and visited some daycares together.
It was a long and draining afternoon.
Grab some snacks, water, pen and paper with you when you go visiting. List the things that are most important for you and your family. That way when you walk in, you already know what you are looking for. Remember to ask questions – its the only way to put your mind at ease!
My list looked like this: (this is NOT in order of importance)
- Staff to child ratio – kept low (this means more attention for Daniel). The legality around this for 0-18 months is 1 staff member for every 6 children.
- Approach-ability of owner/teachers – I’m a new mom, well a mom of a new baby. I wanted someone who understood that more than just making me a number.
- Routine – what does the schools routine look like daily, are they able to tell you what they will be doing with your baby during the day? Is it beneficial and stimulative?
- Feedback – what kind of feedback is in place for me as parent? Am I informed of wees, poos, vomits… eating habits?
- Sleeping arrangements – are there individual sleep areas for each child or will they need to share?
- Pro-breastfeeding – one of the reasons I wanted Daniel at home was because I want to breastfeed him as long as possible. I am aware that not all daycares are pro breastfeeding. It was very important that I found one that was. – This meant making sure of a fridge to store milk, and an understanding of how the milk was given.
- Foods – DJ would soon be eating, and most schools include meals in their prices so it was important for me to know what a “cooked” meal was and included. I thought it would be easier to find a daycare who was of the same believe system as me (healthy foods) than to try to convert one.
- Human contact – this goes without saying. I wasn’t sure how I was going to measure this, but it was something I wanted on the list. So it’s there. Once I had been to a few daycares I knew I wanted him somewhere where they held him when he got his bottle, and put him to sleep. Where he would be picked up if he cried.
This list is long, and after five daycares I was sure I was expecting too much. We persisted right up until 5:30 that evening, with DJ and Emilie in the car. Two schools made our final cut. And we chose our school within the next day or two and have not had a single regret since.
What an awesome feeling to know my boy is being looked after. He is stimulated, and happy. It warms my heart and makes the sacrifice of being a full-time working mommy so much easier to bear.