Choosing a day care provider is a daunting task for new parents. The first time around it was overwhelming, to say the least. I didn’t know where to start, what to expect, and how to go about making such an important decision
The second time around, we’ve got a handle on things…and we didn’t have to wait until our second child to perfect this process. Our son, Avery’s, daycare informed us they were closing – in less than 3 weeks! We put on our thinking caps and running shoes and within a week, we had him enrolled in a new daycare. Call it a blessing in disguise, because we are thrilled about this new daycare and can’t wait for him to start!
So, how did we go from no daycare to the perfect daycare… in just a week?! A little luck, yes. A dash of good timing? Yup. Add two devoted parents, and it was a recipe for success! After going thru this TWO times before our son turned 10 months, we’ve perfected the process…
#1 Start Early!
What scared me most about finding a new daycare, was finding one in time. Some places have year long waiting lists (seriously!) – which is why I freaked when we had only 3 weeks to find a new one. After sitting down that night with my husband, Vinay, (and a bottle of wine) we decided to hit the ground running the next morning and exhaust all possibilities to make this happen…
#3 Look Everywhere!
But before the night was over, I had my first opportunity to start getting the word out. I saw my neighbor and gave it a shot in the dark. That resulted in one post-it with a name and number. The next morning between conference calls and working, I googled my heart out – sent emails to all possible places, made some calls, and told everyone I saw at work. Another shot in the dark, but my coworker forwarded the message along to his daughters and the next day they had a name and number for me too.
#3 Narrow Down Your Results
With our limited window to find a daycare fast, we had to narrow down all places we found. How? We used these factors:
- Type: nanny, in-home daycare, center/facility
- Tuition Cost
- Staff/Child ratio
These factors quickly knocked a few off the list because they are available on a website or can be answered with a quick phone call. Most places are super-pricey… so they were off the list (Sorry, I’m not paying $2,000 a month for childcare!) The closer the place is to our home and commute route, the more appealing because Avery doesn’t care for car rides and the longer the ride, the more crying and squirming from the back seat. We had to make sure they were open early enough for drop off, and open late enough for pick up – This wasn’t a big issue because we were planning for Vinay to do drop off after I head to work, and I’ll pick up before Vinay’s day is over. And with that, we were down to two potentials… both of which were the shots in the dark to my coworker and neighbor!
#4 Visit Potentials, and Ask Questions!
This is where I have to add the most important thing I learned during this process – don’t knock it before you try it! We thought we wanted an in-home daycare, but after touring one in-home and one center, I knew I liked the center MUCH more.
When we toured the in-home daycare, we liked the ‘gram & gramp’ type couple that ran it, the homey feeling, the location – 5 minutes from home, was financially possible, and hours met our needs. However, we didn’t like the lack of safety… there were no safety gates or locks on cabinets and there were two infants starting in the fall in addition to the 6 kiddos there already were, so how much attention would Avery get?
The tour of the center was awesome. Although the number of children was 45, there was 1 teacher (early childhood education) and 1 assistant per room (6-8 kiddos), so we knew Avery would get tons of attention. The hours and location met our needs. The price was a little more than the in-home daycare, but not out of our price range. And what impressed us the most was the curriculum based around play, the enthusiastic staff, big outdoor playground, safety gates and locks on everything! I loved the idea that Avery would be learning, not just being watched.
After our tour we were practically decided on the center. But I still followed up with references…
#5 Call References
I was given 3 numbers. I called all three and got rave reviews. One mom told me “I give (center name) almost full credit for my kids knowing their ABCs, colors, and shapes” Another stressed the sense of community and how you meet and get to know all the staff after some time, so when your child switches to a new room, you already know their new teacher. Making those 3 calls sealed the deal.
#6 Decide & Stay Involved
After touring the two options Thursday & Friday, we let it sit for the weekend, and on Monday, we were still sure, and thrilled actually, to make the call and reserve the spot! Now, we’re counting down the days before Avery starts his new daycare. We know it’ll take some adjusting with pick-up and drop-off and his schedule, but we’re determined to stay involved. Avery will get ‘report cards’ to note his eating, sleeping, diaper changing thru the day – and we were so impressed with the staff that we know the communication will be great….
And with that, our daycare dilemma was dissolved!
What was the deciding factors that sealed the deal for you when looking for a daycare provider