If you’re like me, then you have needed someone to care for your kids while you work. I’ve done more research than you could shake a stick at to find the right one… or one that just had openings.
Here are some off-beat things I check for when selecting a daycare.
1. Does my child like the facility? This is important. It’s going to be different. It’s going to be strange, but I’ve always made a point of taking my kids with me when selecting a daycare. If they’re old enough you can even ask them, “What do you think?” Sometimes a daycare will even let you drop your child off for half a day to see how they react. BabyGirl did this when I selected a place back in November. She loved it and couldn’t wait to start. Unfortunately several months later the daycare turned out not to be the best fit for us, but that leads us to the rest of my criteria:
2. Do the kids all have crusty snotty noses? This can be observed when you visit but can also be seen after you’ve selected the daycare. If the kids are left to let their snot dry it makes me wonder what else is let go. Constant diaper rash is also a concern. If your child is not being wiped well enough or being changed often enough they can get diaper rash a lot. These should be well within your scope of expectations for your child. There’s also the hygiene issue. If kids have snot on their faces, then they have germs just sitting there waiting to be smeared on a toy or other child. Yuck.
3. Are the babies in the infant room always crying? Babies cry. I get that. But your mama instincts will tell you if something is up. I’ve visited many daycares and there are some where the babies are constantly crying. Someone is not getting the attention they need, they’re uncomfortable or they’re not having their needs met in some way. Our current daycare? No crying. I’m sure they cry when they need something, but there isn’t crying the whole time I’m there. This is very good. I’ve been to several daycares where they are screeching the whole time and it breaks my heart. Babies know.
4. How does the facility feel to you? This is the most important gauge. When you walk in, do you feel comfortable or does it make your skin crawl. You don’t have to justify walking away if it makes you feel uncomfortable! I’ve walked into a place and my spine stiffens and I go into Caution Mode. I feel almost nauseated. That’s a no for me. If it feels like a prison – No. Do the kids seem happy or resigned? Kids shouting for joy and having a blast – Yes. Your kid is straining against your hand trying to get into the action? – Yes. Asking when they can go back? – Yes. Are the rooms colorful? Are there plenty of toys? Lots of variety? What is their curriculum? How long has the teacher been there? If there is high turnover, you have my permission to say, No!
I love our current daycare. The teachers are consistent, caring and the facility feels like a second home. They share my faith beliefs and teach my kids the same. BabyGirl loves the daycare and continues to have a great drop off and will sometimes finish her “castle” before running to me when I come to pick her up. That’s another one of those things that puts me at ease. She is content there and enjoys it, enough so that she doesn’t need to be “rescued.” It’s just a normal part of her day to play with her friends.
Drop off is hard and every kid is different. Drop off is usually easy for the first day or two and then for the next week or two is really rough. They cling and cry and say they don’t want to go. With a great fit at daycare, this will usually disappear when they realize that you do indeed return at the end of the day.
That being said, the daycare we went to last year was good for a few days and turned out awful for the next five months (violations in #1-3). I knew it wasn’t a good fit so she went on a waiting list for our current facility. I called every week asking if there were any openings. One day a couple of months later we received the good news. I turned in the two weeks’ notice to the daycare (don’t ever feel bad for doing this! Do what’s right for you and your kid!) and we haven’t looked back. Drop off at Daycare #2 was amazing from day one! No tears. Only excitement! We found the perfect fit for us and I wish you luck in finding the right daycare for you, too!