How to Find Good Childcare
For some working mothers, finding good childcare is as easy as phoning their responsible, reliable mum to arrange pick up times and organic lunches. For others, finding good childcare is like taking on a whole new project with seemingly no decent answer.
If you fall into the first category and you have excellent childcare (maybe even free! Oh, the envy) in the form of your mother or another family member, you must guard them with your life. Be prepared that, especially if you live in a prosperous area, your childminder may get poached by harassed mothers at the school gates, promising untold riches and a benefits package you could only dream of.
Responsible RelativeFor many working mothers, having a family member look after their child is the best possible solution, as they are likely to have similar views on raising children and tend to be more flexible. However, this situation is not without its problems. Be careful resentment does not build on either side by making the arrangement formal as soon as possible – confirm hours, payment and expectations on both sides.
Personal NetworkSpeaking to friends who also have young children is a good way to get word of mouth recommendations, which is helpful for childminders and day care. While you can get a good feel of a place by making an initial appointment, personal recommendation enables you to hear a more balanced view. Do bear in mind that your friends may have different standards or values regarding childcare, so try to gain advice from mothers who share similar views.
Internet ForumsInternet forums are a great place to find objective information – if you find a forum that seems to appeal to women with similar views to your own, you can ask questions about places that have vacancies and see what responses you get. A further benefit to gaining online advice is that you can decide to take it or leave it, whereas this can be trickier if you ask a friend’s opinion and then do not act on it.
Mother & Baby GroupIf you are a member of your local mother and baby group, this is a mine of excellent information and support. Many women with older children will be able to advise you on good quality childcare in your region and it is also common for one or more women to set up their own day care facility after having a child. These places are also great for building relationships with other new mums and buying and selling baby equipment. Mother and baby groups can be especially helpful for women who have their first baby before their friends start families.
Local CouncilIn order to find the most regulated child care in your region, you can look at your local council website. They will either have online, or can send you, a list of their approved child care services.
Do not just act on this alone though; you will still need to visit the potential childminder or nursery of your child before you confirm that you will take them there. If at all possible, take your child when you go to look at the available childcare to see how the childminder or nursery staff interact with your child. You will be able to tell the response of your child, too, which can be a great indicator of which childcare provision is most suitable.