I would hate to think that I am the only parent who is confused and lost when it comes to making the right choices for their children. There is never a shortage of advice from anyone and everyone. Friends, families, even strangers are ever-willing to give their titbit of wisdom. It is a typical case of information overload if there was ever one!
Advice on raising children is everywhere, and it’s all contradictory, and naturally as contradictory as things go, it is very subjective. So be very careful which guide you follow.
Unfortunately as far as references go, there is no bottom line, no official guide, and no absolute authority on raising kids, so there are literally hundreds of books on how to be a good parent and raise children right. One book says if your baby cries, pick them up. Another book says let them cry it out. A third book says pick them up once, and then let them cry it out. A fourth... well, who knows --you get the idea.
One critical decision you will have to face as a parent, at some point your child will need to go to daycare, nursery, kindergarten. At whatever age you choose (or have to) you shall have to entrust someone else to care for your child and more often than not, that person will be a near stranger.
As all parental decisions go, the primary consideration is the well-being of your child or children. But when it comes to child care I find that you also have to consider your own peace of mind as a parent so that you can better cope with issues that come with trusting a stranger with your child - After all we do advise our children never to talk to strangers on a fairly regular basis!
As a working mom, I’d like to share a few guidelines that worked for me. First of all, you need to work out how much your budget is. How much can you reasonably afford to spend on childcare and still provide your child with the best you can within your means? And while you are working out costs, remember to include the cost of commuting to and from the childcare centre you choose. You may find that your choice of daycare or nursery is quite a distance from you that your monthly transport costs are way more than what you pay for the childcare itself. This is not unusual but it is clearly not a practical option unless money is no issue.
Try to visit the day care during the hours your child will be there. That way you will get the chance to see the centre the way it is when your child is there. I could not believe how quiet and relaxed my son’s daycare was when I visited before he joined. But it was chaotic, crazy, and loud when we picked him up that first day. I was so overwhelmed until I realised that he was taking it in good stride. In fact he seemed to feed off the energy although he kept his distance from the ‘screamers’.
Do a few trial runs of dropping off/picking up your child at a few different times. I found that our daycare was different at different times of the day and I got a better feel for what was really going on after I saw a few different times. For example, things were quiet and controlled during naptime, but around 4-5pm when parents started picking up kids, there was utter chaos and kids screaming everywhere.
In the end, trust your instinct, with a healthy dose of paying attention to your child’s response to the new environment.