I knew after I had my son I would be returning to work and I was going to have to find childcare. I had no idea how tedious this could be. Finding the right provider is stressful.
I didn’t realize when I first started my search that I probably should have been on a waiting list before we conceived. I didn’t know what questions to ask or what to look for or how to even go about finding childcare. Once my search started and I began understanding all my options I realized it could be more complicated than my new car seat manual.
The options you have to choose from can be exhausting; for example there is family care, private babysitter, nanny, day care, registered day home and private day home. Once you decide on a form of provider you have decide on the parameters of care. Should you buy an opening or purchase hours every month? Will they provide meals or will we be required to pack a lunch? The list goes on and on. Finding childcare in our area with available openings is rare, it seems as though everybody is full to capacity.
I started my search over a year ago and had found someone who I knew and who I was very comfortable with. I had thought my search was over and then three weeks before I returned to work those plans fell through. I now had a little less than three weeks to find alternative care. I grabbed my phone and started contacting all my friends and family see if they knew anyone, a few people offered leads but those providers were all full. Finally a week and a half before I returned to work I was grasping at straws and I quickly put a call out for a great day home on a local childcare site. Within three hours I had five messages so I went to four interviews and still nothing felt like the right fit. For the fifth interview my husband and I went to meet with the provider and I instantly knew she would be perfect for my son. My instincts were correct and for the past year my son has been attending the greatest day home possible.
Then a few months ago we were notified our current day home would be closing. Our provider has taken a different career path and while I am happy for her I am devastated for our family. I thought initially finding care would be the emotional struggle because I didn’t know what to expect but finding care after having someone like our current provider is much more arduous. Our current provider has set the bar so high that finding someone who is similar is not an easy task. She has become a huge part of our lives, she cares for my son when I cannot and she loves him like her own, she kisses the boo boos and wipes away the tears and she was just as excited when he started walking as my husband and I were. My son adores her; he is excited to be dropped off in the morning and always has to get a kiss before we leave at night. She is everything I wanted for my son and our family when I returned to work.
I started a new search when we found out she was closing and while I have found another great day home that I am confident my son will do well in, it isn’t the same. I know for both my son and I there will have to be an adjustment period and after a while our new day home will become loved like our current one.
I know there is a debate out there about whether you should place your child in a registered day home or a private day home or a day care. Let me tell you from experience what I have learned; the setting of the care was not important to me, I was searching for a person. I needed to find someone who fit us, someone who would care for my son like their own, someone who would understand him and his quirks and someone who would understand when he needed an extra cuddle or when he needed to be told no. We have had the privilege of experiencing this for the past year and while we are now making a change I hope my instinct was right about the next provider just like it was with the first.
Christina Komives is the sales manager for The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.