Ever since I became a mum, I worry a lot. I figured that it came with the job; it started as early as that double line appeared on my pregnancy stick.
I had a safe and sound delivery nevertheless, but by the end of my maternity leave, I found myself worrying about a new thing – finding the right daycare for my daughter.
I came to realise that finding the right daycare is another ball game. It requires preparation too. Of course, as mothers we all score high when it comes to listening to our mummy instinct, but besides that, here are five things I learned that may be useful when it comes to choosing yours:
1. Recognise Needs – Your Child’s and Yours
Before you start scouring the neighbourhood for a daycare, learn to identify your needs and especially your child’s.
Location wise, would you prefer it to be near home or office? If you want to breastfeed your child during working hours, then a daycare near to office will probably work for you. Since you are breastfeeding, you may also want to make sure that the daycare is breastfeeding-friendly and know how to handle expressed breast milk too.
In terms of time, always consider the time to send and fetch your child. Ask yourself – how demanding is your job? How early are you required to be at the office? Do you always stay back late?
Does your child have special needs or allergies? If your child has one, make sure that it is acknowledged and it is also worthy to check if they have a policy on it.
Make a check list of the needs that you have identified, so that it can help you prioritise when you are about to make the decision.
2. Outline Your Budget
There may be a lot of daycares to choose from, but their fees vary depending on their establishment and organisation. Public daycares are usually more affordable than private, but remember to match them with your needs.
Set how much you are willing to spend every month and work around the figure. Fees for babies and toddlers usually differ, so be prepared to evaluate that too.
If your child is a toddler, you may want to consider a playschool with a structured learning approach, followed by a daycare in the afternoon. Such arrangements will require more fees. Besides the monthly fees, there may also be additional fees for co-curricular activities and even uniforms.
If you need flexibility with time, check their overtime fees. Overtime fees also vary and they will usually let you know if you ask about it.
3. Pay a Visit to the Potential Daycares
This is the fun part. Pay a visit to the potential daycares in the neighbourhood you choose. Obtain all the necessary information during the visit, like fees and regulations.
Take the chance to observe the place – safety, cleanliness, organization and ambiance are all the important things to watch for. Observe the caregivers and how they handle the children. If possible, meet the principal and have a casual chat to grasp their commitment.
4. Verify Their Credibility
Daycares have become a booming business these days, but not all of them are registered and monitored by authorities like Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, or at least have its own quality control (this may be the case for private or franchised daycare).
To be safe, cross check your shortlisted daycares with the list from JKM and drop the ones without any registration. The list is available from JKM website and is updated regularly.
Registered daycares are ideally safer and have proper standard set in place. For example, the daycare must have at least one caregiver who is a certified first aider and scheduled fire drills.
Some daycares might be on its way to get certified, so it’s up to you if you want to make a leeway or look for another.
5. Play an Active Role as a Parent
Sending a child to daycare is a lot like sending them to real school. As a parent, it is essential for you to play your role.
Be friendly but firm with the staff, try to pay your child a visit during daycare hours (an occasional surprise visit is always a good idea) and be clear about your concerns and expectations if you have any.
Always listen and look at your child, as they may be able to tell you a thing or two about the daycare from the way they behave. An unhappy child could mean that something is wrong and it is always worth checking.
Monitor the daycare if things get dodgy, but if there is no improvement, you always have the option to leave and find a better one that suits your needs.
Ayuni is a mum to an effervescent 3-year-old daughter. She’s currently juggling motherhood and a full-time job while trying to be the next domestic goddess. She blogs about life, parenting and her homemaking endeavours at Mommy Confessionals.
Image credit: Maria Teresa Babies, Archie Monasterial Photography