As parents, we are responsible for the health and welfare of our children. So, if we’re worrying our child isn’t getting what they need while we’re at work, there just isn’t any way we can fully commit to giving our very best while we’re there.
It’s the very same effect if your child’s care provider isn’t supporting you and your life. If your choice of caregiver doesn’t work with your schedule or causes frictions in other areas, you won’t have the setup you need to be successful.
If that’s not enough pressure, depending on your goals, commitments or lifestyle, you may need more than one option at a time. Plus, as your child grows and your needs change, you may need to rethink your caregiving situation.
With so many options to choose, the possibilities can seem endless – daycare, nannies, relatives, babysitters, au pairs. And, within each category there are plenty of options to compare. For example, there are live-in nannies, full-time nannies, part-time nannies, nanny-shares and the list goes on.
The key will be finding an option or a combination of options that work best for your family and your situation. You and your partner are the only ones who can make this decision, so today I’ve a series of 5 questions that can help you determine the option that will make your life work.
What type of care does your child need?
You know your child. You know what they need. This could be any special needs your child may have, as well as considering their social or emotional needs. You’ll also want to consider what will make them most comfortable. Essentially, the goal here is to determine what environment will best serve your child, so they have what they need to grow and thrive.
But, you can’t just consider what they need today. Your child’s needs will change quickly and frequently, so to keep you from having to adjust your caregiving plans too often, consider the options that will meet your child’s needs for a longer-term. For example, a daycare center that provides care from infancy to preschool may provide the consistency everyone needs.
What type of care will support you?
Sacrifice is a noble act. As parents, we gladly make compromises to best support our kids. But, if we compromise too much, we will do them and us harm. For example, an exclusive daycare may offer incredible opportunities for your child. But if the commute to and from leaves you feeling stressed and spent before you even get to start your workday, you may want to rethink it.
So, take the time to consider what it is that you and your partner need:
- Care on certain days, or starting and ending at certain times?
- Care close to home, work or school?
- Extra help on the homefront?
- Options that can work outside of traditional business hours?
- Specific cultural, religious or language requirements?
- What environment will leave you comfortable and confident so you can focus on your day?
- Overnight care?
What are your care needs beyond working hours?
Figuring out care during your working hours is the priority. But, don’t forget about the other times when you’ll need someone to care for your child. Think date nights with your partner or evenings when you have to attend professional events or if you have an active work travel schedule. These needs may be met by your primary caregiver or you may need additional options to call upon when the needs arise.
What is your budget?
Childcare isn’t cheap. That’s why it’s so important to take a close look at your finances to determine what you can afford on a monthly and annual basis (download this free budget worksheet).
With that sorted, review your options to see which will fit within your budget.Don’t be too quick to take any option out of the running without taking time to crunch the numbers for your specific situation. And, be sure to give yourself a little wiggle room for those additional times you’ll need care.
Lastly, be sure to investigate if you are eligible for any company perks or government programs that can grant you access to childcare programs or help alleviate some of the associated costs.
What are others doing?
Selecting childcare is a very personal decision and what works for someone else may not work for you. Despite that, understanding how others – those who are ahead of you as well as your peers – manage their caregiving situation can be both an inspiration and a guide to help you decide what will work for you.
Is this still working?
I’ve already alluded to this point above, but it deserves to be called out separately. As happens in life, things change. Your kids will soon be ready for school, you may take on a new job at work that requires longer hours, your arrangement with your partner may have changed, or perhaps you’re caring for an older family member. Whatever life throws your way, be sure to check in that your caregiving situation continues to work. If it doesn’t go back through these questions to determine what will better support your situation.
Parenting is full of big decisions and childcare is one of the biggest, my hope is these questions will help you think through your options so you can decide what will make your life work better.
If you have any advice on how to choose between childcare options, share it with us in the comment section below.
Best of luck to you!