Picking the perfect childcare for one child can seem like an impossible task. How can you find someone that you trust, who is in line with your child-rearing philosophies, and is affordable – all while trying to raise your child and find time in the middle there to go to work or school. The challenge gets even more difficult when you add more than one child to the mix. Do you utilize the same childcare that you did for kid number one and end up paying double, or look for a new option? Here are a few tips and tricks to make finding childcare for two children a little bit simpler.
Figure Out A Loose Budget
How much money can you afford to pay for childcare if both you and your partner or spouse are working? Now, we’re not talking about scraping for every penny and spending more than you can afford to have someone watch your children during the day. Take a realistic look at your budget and figure out how much you can afford to spend on childcare. The cost will depend on the state where you live, the structure of your family (I.e. single parents vs co-parents) and your income. On average, most parents pay between 7 and 19 percent of their median income on childcare, though that number can rise to 25 percent or higher for single parents. If you are choosing out-of-home childcare, such as at a daycare center, expect the amount that you spend on care to multiply with each additional child.
Investigate Your Options
Step two is to figure out what options you have in your area. Look into daycare centers, in-home caregivers like nannies, and even au pairs before you make your final decision. Daycare centers are often the most utilized childcare option, simply because you can find them nearly everywhere – and it can be easier to find a child care center that is willing to work with your parenting style, whether that means organic snacks or cloth diapers. A nanny can be a great option for families with multiple children – you don’t have to pay extra for having more than one, but you are responsible for payroll and ‘nanny taxes’ which can make hiring a nanny more expensive, and leave you scrambling around tax time to make sure you have all your T’s crossed and I’s dotted. An au pair can be the best of both worlds – an 18 to 26-year-old woman from Europe comes to live with you for a year, care for your children, and help with minor housework. Not only do you have the benefit of live-in help, your children get the benefit of learning about a new culture or different country first-hand. For most au pairs, you are responsible for their room and board, in addition to a weekly stipend and educational expenses.
Visit and Ask Questions
Whether you’re choosing live-in childcare or a daycare center for your children, it’s important for you to ask questions – as many questions as you need to feel comfortable leaving your children with these individuals for an extended period of time. Ask questions about the food they serve, what their philosophy on childcare is, and how much individual attention each child gets. Ask about their policy for sick children – whether they need to stay home or are allowed to come to the facility. Ask about their immunization policy – whether or not you choose to immunize your children. Ask about potty training, sanitization, transportation, or anything else that might impact your children during their time there. Pay careful attention to the answers that you’re given, but also pay attention to the questions that they won’t or can’t answer. What a child care provider doesn’t say can be even more telling than what they do say, so be mindful of both.
Trust Your Gut
Mainstream media might make fun of the mommy instinct that tells you when something is wrong with your child, but your gut can be one of your best tools when it comes to protecting your children. If something feels off, whether it’s a feeling you’re getting from one of the care providers, or a vibe you get from the facility itself, don’t ignore it. Don’t hesitate to walk away if something feels wrong. As a species, we’ve become so civilized that we often ignore our instincts, but they are arguably your best tool for keeping your children safe so don’t just brush it off if you’ve got a bad feeling about something – you’re probably right. In today’s world, where both mom and dad have careers, childcare is a necessity for a lot of families. Explore all your options before you choose one, and make sure you trust your gut. You are the first and last line of defense for keeping your children safe while they’re out in the world. Trust your instincts, and they won’t let you down.