Being a working mom with two young children, childcare is something that is always in the front of my mind. Where to put your babies when you cannot be with them is such a hard decision and it is complicated by what you can afford.
I was very fortunate with Mattaya to have a great friend watch her. It worked out well and I was VERY grateful. Mattaya was loved and cared for like I would have done. When we moved from Washington to Montana we put her in a larger center type of daycare. This was not a good move, the way that they disciplined or should I say the lack of discipline was very bad for Mattaya. At one, she was very stubborn and intense. They would tell her to have "gentle hands" but she didn't understand and would still get very aggressive towards the other kids. This caused problems at home as well, however she was only there for a month as my husband and I both lost our jobs and I got to spend the summer at home with my baby! It was awesome, but when we went back to work in the fall, we needed daycare again. We chose an in home daycare and it was good. The discipline worked for Mattaya and she thrived, but things changed and I really wanted Mattaya in a preschool. She was not enjoying going to daycare and she needed more stimulation. Before Kellen was born I started to feel that she needed something different. Then a few situations happened at daycare that made me really uncomfortable and I knew it was time to change places. She started at a very large daycare center and she loves it! She is thriving and gets mad when we call it "daycare" because it is her school. She is often upset on Fridays because she doesn't get to go.
For Kellen I am also blessed to have a very wonderful friend watching him. He does well with her. She is doing me such a huge favor, I am forever grateful!
Here are some things that I have learned when dealing with daycare
1. Things change. Your child may need more stimulation, structure, or a different environment to continue to grow and learn at their highest potential. Your daycare may change. Turnover can be high at daycares and different people have different ways of working. The care your child was receiving at one point may be different then it is at another. You need to do what is best for you kid, so don't be afraid to change where your child is while you are at work
2. If you are using a friend or family, remember they are doing you a favor, even if you are paying them. Don't ask them to do things above and beyond. Your child should fit into their lives and not the other way around. Do not have expectations that will make your friend or family struggle. Even if you are paying them, often it is a lot less then you would for a nanny and they are getting similar care, so if you want things done a particular way you should hire a real nanny.
3. Keep your child on the same schedule on the weekends that they have during the week. It can be really hard to do, but it helps your kids and your childcare providers. I will admit that I am guilty of not doing this with Kellen, but it wasn't fair to my friend. I now try to stick to his schedule as best as I can on the weekends.
4. ALWAYS watch your child for behaviors issues, changes in attitude, etc. This is often a sign that something is not going right at daycare. If your child doesn't want to go to daycare or if you notice specific behavioral issues after they have been there, question your provider about what is going on, if you are not satisfied get your child out!