One of the things I worried about the most towards the end of my pregnancy about bringing home a baby was what we were going to do with him when I went back to work after 12 short weeks! I believe this is something that a lot of moms stress about so this post with my experience using a home-based childcare scenario will kick off a series of posts on how other moms made different child care decisions. I hope that these experiences will help you learn about some of the options that are out there.
We automatically assumed that we would enroll Aiden in some kind of daycare. Dan does not have a typical schedule. He works evenings and his days off are weekdays so there wasn’t any reason that we would need him to go to daycare five days a week. The problem is, sometimes he has court so we would need someone to watch him on those days. We soon realized that daycare would not be a great option for us for several reasons:
- They are not flexible. Most daycares we looked at had a 3-day or 5-day option per week. It didn’t matter if you needed fewer days, you still had to pay for the 3 or 5 day tuition.
- Expense. It was difficult for us to justify the expense of daycare when Dan is home most days. Also, we live in a really expensive area so “tuition” is really crazy.
- Getting into a daycare. The thought of childcare was overwhelming to me during my pregnancy so rather than research and create a plan, I put it off. I found out later that many daycares in the area have waiting lists, so even if we wanted to do daycare, there is a good chance we wouldn’t get into a good one. Don’t worry, I am already looking at preschools 😆
- As a first-time mom, I had a hard time wrapping my head around my barely out of the fourth trimester baby being with a whole room of babies. I don’t judge any moms that do daycare and I know that there are so many benefits to attending daycare as far as socialization, learning, and there are wonderful daycare teachers, but I just didn’t feel it was the right fit for us.
Luckily, I have a friend who had a wonderful experience bringing her daughter to a woman’s home for almost two years at that point (and actually knew the woman for much longer). This woman happened to be looking to take on a baby so I called and made an appointment to meet with her at her home a couple of weeks before I went back to work.
Dan and I brought Aiden to meet her and we had several questions ready. I do have to say that I really trusted that my friend would not allow her daughter to go to anyone who was not amazing so if I were to do this again with a person who didn’t come so highly recommended, I would probably have many more questions! It was very strange to hand Aiden over to a stranger even while we were sitting there, especially because we knew it was an interview of us as much as it was of her. We talked for a little bit while she held Aiden and then we left. Dan and I both felt good about the visit so a few days later she took Aiden for a few hours as a trial run. Everything went well so we decided to start with two days a week once I went back to work. Dan actually took the last two weeks of his paternity leave when I went back to work to help with the transition so that gave me piece of mind that he was home *in case* something went wrong which, of course, it didn’t!
We have been doing home care for a little over a year now and it has been wonderful. I am actually working full time from home and he still goes three days a week so I can actually get work done! The biggest benefits of home care, for us, are:
- She takes care of three kids during the day. Aiden is the youngest. This means he is getting the opportunity to socialize with kids and play, but there aren’t many babies competing for attention. The other kids are 2 and 3.
- Flexibility. This is a big one for us. There are days when I have to pick Aiden up late, or sometimes we need to switch days or add a day. Occasionally there are last minute changes. This is rarely a problem.
- She speaks Spanish. She speaks Spanish pretty exclusively to the kids during the day. Research shows that the earlier kids learn a second language the easier it will be. I travel internationally for my job and I wish I would have taken the time to learn a second language so it is important to me that Aiden has that opportunity early on.
- Affordable. We have found this route to be more affordable. We are paying for the hours we really need and we are not paying tuition just an hourly rate.
- Knowing the person watching my baby. As I stated earlier I was so nervous to leave Aiden with anyone. I love that I know who is watching my baby during the day. She sends me lots of pictures and text messages throughout the day with updates and is almost like an extension of our family. I don’t have to worry about staff changes. If she ever has to leave us, I will be able to interview and hire a new person.
How does one find home care? I recommend talking to mom friends in the area for a recommendation first. Local mom groups are another good place to start. For example, I am part of a local yoga studio with a parents Facebook page that is often advertising home care providers when their children outgrow the need for childcare. Next, check your local government’s website. They may have a searchable database of licensed home care providers in the area. You could also check websites like care.com for home care providers.
Home care is definitely the best option for my family but it might not work for everyone. Watch for future guest posts about other moms’ child care experiences!
What type of childcare did you use? Did you have a good experience?