by Vanessa Manners, Kimley-Horn
At some point during your pregnancy, once the initial excitement subsides, you realize you’ll have to find adequate childcare for your burgeoning bundle. No big deal, right? Absolutely wrong. This dreaded decision was one of the most stressful that I have faced thus far in my mommyhood journey. Do we go the nanny route or opt for daycare? How do we choose the Best.Facility.Ever for our most precious gift? Wait…it costs how much?!
There tends to be a deep divide in the world of working moms, splitting us into two groups – those who choose nannies and those who choose daycare. No matter which way you go, you will certainly wince when that money disappears from your bank account each month.
While I can’t speak from experience about the nanny route, I’ve found there are many benefits to group daycare:
» Typically costs less than a nanny
» Those initial frequent illnesses will eventually taper off, and immunity is stronger by elementary school age
» Socialization occurs on a daily basis
» Facilitation and assistance with growth benchmarks (e.g., potty training, learning the alphabet, basic math skills), as well as preparation for kindergarten
» Facilities are highly regulated by the state and, therefore, are frequently inspected and have rigorous standards to maintain
» Reliability – there are always backup staff at daycare facilities if a teacher is sick or can’t come to work
So how do you decide which center is best for you and your family?
- Crunch the numbers. What can your family afford? What are you willing to spend? If your company offers an FSA, the childcare flex account option allows you to put aside up to $5,000 ($2,500 for married individuals filing separate returns) before taxes to pay for dependent care expenses.
- Choose your location. Would you rather have your child closer to home, closer to the office or somewhere in between? Centers closer to the city are often more expensive than those in more suburban areas.
- Do your research. Start your search as soon as possible (and most definitely before the baby is born). Seek out recommendations of friends, coworkers, your pediatrician and/or neighbors.
- Tour and interview in-person. Nothing will give you a better idea of what the center is like than to see it in person. Ask plenty of questions and pay close attention. What is their teaching philosophy? What is their holiday schedule? What is their vaccination policy? What’s the child-to-teacher ratio? Do the kids look happy and is the facility generally clean?
- Get on a waitlist (or two). Keep a copy of your application, pay any necessary fees, and call on a monthly basis to inquire about your status. Once baby is born, consider stopping by to introduce them to the center’s director.
Once you’re financially (and emotionally) tied to your decision, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Stay healthy. Sick kids aren’t exactly welcome at daycare. And several days at home with a sick kid will inevitably lead to sick parents. Despite many claims that children don’t need baths daily, it certainly won’t hurt your little petri dish. We also have our boys on a daily probiotic, multi-vitamin, and immunity supplement.
Be kind. These people work for you, but they also work with and for your child daily. Ask questions, express your concerns as well as your appreciation, and always be kind. The individuals who work with kids all day every day are doing yeoman’s work and could be considered angels on earth as far as I’m concerned.
Trust your instincts. If things are going great and you and your child are both happy…AWESOME! But if you ever question your child’s safety or feel uncomfortable, look for a better option.
Vanessa Manners is a senior marketing coordinator with Kimley-Horn. With 10+ years of experience in the A/E/C industry, she supports the firm’s land development practice in the Southeast. Vanessa is currently co-chairing the CREW Network Wine Tasting Event for 2017, serving as a committee member for Atlanta CREW’s Leadership program for 2018, and sits on the CREW Network Communications and Editorial Committee. She is a graduate of Atlanta CREW’s Leadership Class of 2016.
Vanessa and her husband, Jason, have two little boys.
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