As the CEO and cofounder of Winnie, a platform for matching parents with child care providers, I’ve done a lot of research on how parents find and select child care for their children. One big mistake I see parents make is not considering their own needs when determining where to send their child for daycare or preschool. When parents don’t take their own needs into account, they put undue stress on themselves that can even affect their child’s development.
Here are some considerations that can make or break your experience that are often overlooked.
For most families, your child care experience will hinge on the logistics. Finding a provider that supports the hours of care you need and won’t throw your family into debt is table stakes. Also important is their location. Make sure the child care provider is convenient to where you live or work. Long commutes can have a massive impact on happiness, and your child care commute is no exception.
Look for flexibility
Gone are the days of nine to five jobs. With more parents working part-time, non-traditional, or flexible hours, there’s a greater need than ever before for flexible care. If this is important in your life, look for providers who offer drop-in child care. Sometimes this is an added service your regular child care provider offers and other times you can find a separate provider to meet your need for flexible care.
Let child care fill in the gaps
Consider how group child care can enhance or complement the home environment. If your child doesn’t have siblings, a mixed age Montessori program could be a great way to teach them to interact with children of other ages and skill levels. Maybe you don’t have a backyard and your child doesn’t get enough time outdoors. If so, an outdoor-only forest school could really benefit them. Remember, as a parent you don’t have to be all things to your child at all times. Use daycare or preschool as an opportunity to give them something they may not be getting at home.
When choosing a provider, it’s important to think about what works for your entire family, not just the child you plan to enroll in the child care program. By choosing a provider who makes your life logistically easier, provides flexible care when you need it, and can relieve some of your parenting burden, you can lower your own stress and therefore benefit your child.