How working moms find childcare that works for them

This week will be my kids’ last day of preschool.

Of course, Henry will return this fall, probably with his baby sister Audrey in tow. Daphne will head off to Kindergarten.

For the first time in their lives, they will be home for summer.

find childcare

The funny thing is, neither of them are exactly sure what this means. They don’t understand what taking a break from school is, because they’ve been in childcare for as long as they can remember.

As a working mom, I’ve always had to drop my kids off in someone else’s care so that I could go to work. Even when I made the decision to go out on my own a few years ago, I still relied on part time care in order to build my business with some kid-free time.

Since we’re counting down the months until Daphne starts “real deal” school, I thought it was about time my kids experienced a “real deal” summer. I want their skin to wrinkle from so much pool time. For them to lose track of what day of the week it is. And to {hopefully} sleep in, wear pajamas at lunchtime, and feel what it’s like to be bored from time to time.

That’s not to say that I won’t still need help.

This summer, we’ve hired a nanny who will come over every day so that I can keep consistent office hours. I’m thankful that we found a sweet college girl who can offer my kids a fun summer, while allowing me to get my work done and spend more time with them. After all, that with my motivation for working from home in the first place!

Over the years we’ve used daycare centers, in-home care, traditional preschools, grandparents, and now a nanny. Each of them have had their benefits and challenges, ranging from affordability, stimulation and personal attention. I’ve learned that childcare is hardly one size fits all!

Finding help with my first was one of the most stressful parenting decisions I’ve ever had to make. But over the years, I’ve uncovered several resources and tips that make choosing a childcare solution much simpler.

I’m going to share some of my best ideas on how to find childcare that works for you now.

The hybrid

When you begin your childcare search, you may think that a Monday through Friday option is the only way to go. But when we first had Daphne, we were super fortunate to find some part time care at an in-home facility that we loved.

To fill some of the gaps in our full-time work schedules, we had help from family, which was wonderful. My mom watched both Daphne and Henry at least one day a week for the first several years of their lives. Not only were we able to save a little bit of money by relying on family, but the bonding that my mom was able to do with her grandchildren was invaluable to them all!

This left us with one additional day to find help. I turned to care.com where I was able to research people online, look at their references, and narrow down the search pool. I got several candidates on the phone and luckily we found someone that we felt like would be a wonderful fit for our family.

By using a variety of resources to meet our childcare needs, we could save money, spend additional time with family, and know our children were in trusted hands getting one on one attention. It did take extra attention to detail to remember the different daily routines.

Ask for exactly what you want

We’re living in the age of influence marketing, and what better way to review testimonials than from other moms we know and trust!

I found my kids’ latest preschool from word of mouth. After touring, I felt like it would become a good fit for our children. I told them that full time care Monday through Friday was simply too much for us. By telling them what would work for us, we were able to negotiate a schedule that met our needs.

If you don’t have anyone to ask in person, there’s tremendous support to be found in local Facebook groups. When we moved to Texas, I immediately joined several neighborhood Facebook groups so that I could ask for recommendations on everything from pediatricians to repair man to things to do when it’s raining. If you aren’t already a part of some, try searching for the name of your neighborhood or city in the search bar and set the results to groups only.

When we decided to pull our kids out of preschool for the summer, this was just where I turned to find our summer nanny. In a local Facebook group, I posted an “ad” for exactly what our family was looking for – I listed our pay range, the hours needed, and even described our family and what I’d like the nanny to be doing with my kids this summer. In a matter of hours I had over a dozen people interested. I was able to narrow the inquiries by requesting that they follow up with resumes and referrals to my email. From there I interviewed a handful in person until we found the best fit for our family.

By setting the expectations up front, I only interacted with serious candidates who were willing to go above and beyond our family’s needs for a predetermined pay. While we are shelling out a little more cash per hour, I no longer have to worry about getting my kids ready for school or preparing meals in the morning. Plus, I know they’re having a blast doing fun activities planned just for them!

Think outside the childcare center

One of the things that was frustrating for me when we switched to a more traditional childcare facility was the lack of flexibility. I had to pay for the full day and the full week regardless of my intent to use this full time. And any working mom knows, childcare is expensive!

If you’re struggling to find exactly what you need from a preschool or daycare, consider setting up a co-op with friends, family or neighbors. This sort of arrangement is perfect for moms who work from home or work part-time. It’s a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” agreement in which both moms take turns watching each others’ kids while the other one works.

No matter what route you go with your childcare needs, it’s important to remember two things: trust your gut, and you can always change your situation.

Finally, try to remember that your child will be just fine. This is probably the hardest one to get over as a working mom, but it’s true! You are a fabulous mother and you are doing wonderful things for your family by working.

How did you find childcare that worked for you?