Congratulations!! You are a new mother! You were either working at a job or not working when you found out you were pregnant. You might be younger or you might be older. You might be single or you might be married. All of these criteria are factors if you are considering going back to work after having a new baby. So you had your baby and are about to come to the end of your maternity leave, when ‘the fear’ sets in. ‘The fear’ is trying to figure out what you are going to do with your baby while you are at work. Don’t worry, every mother goes through this and we all get through it.
What Can I Afford?
The initial thing I personally had to evaluate was my financial situation. There were child care options I really wanted for my children but I just couldn’t afford it financially. Being a single mother, I’m on a tight budget so I had to weigh my decision more on the financial aspect. I would suggest creating a personal income statement to evaluate your current expenses and your current income to figure out what you can afford. Unfortunately this means possible personal sacrifices to make it happen, but it will just be one of the many sacrifices you will make for your children. It will be worth it all in the long run. They are only young once and childhood goes by so quickly. It is ok to be struggling right now because this too shall pass. So let’s now evaluate the different child care choice for working moms that I have encountered.
Child Care Choice #1: Using a Family Member
You must discuss what disciplinary measures that family member is allowed to use with your child (children). You must agree to a payment amount and a schedule and method on when you will pay them and how. I personally write a check to my dad every Friday morning. I pay him $30 per day if he has both boys all day long and $20 per day if he just has one when my other one is at school. Some family members may ask for more or less, so you just need to discuss what is best for you and that family member. You should also discuss whether they will be using their own food to feed your child (children) or if they want you to bring food for them. My dad personally doesn’t want me to send food because it causes jealousy between my boys and my baby sisters. You must create a list of Do’s and Don’ts and discuss this with the family member before you agree to an arrangement. This child care option for working moms is the best in my personal opinion.
Child Care Choice #2: Using a Day Care
When I was married I used a day care for my child (children) for years. If you find a good one, they can be amazing. The hours are normally very flexible and they would take and pick up my oldest son from school. They daycare I used fed the child (children) with their own home cooked food. They had school-like classes to teach the child (children). They had fun play equipment. They had the child (children) take naps. They would help potty train your child (children), which is a huge help for me personally. There were two huge drawbacks for me personally when using a day care option for my child (children). The first drawback was the financial aspect. Day cares can be expensive, especially for two children. I was spending close to $250 per week which was financially draining. I was married at the time so with two incomes, we were able to manage the cost.
The second drawback was the increase of sickness. My youngest son stayed sick the entire time he was in daycare. We finally had to remove him from day care at the advisement of our pediatrician. Questions you should find out regarding the day care you are considering are: Hours of Operation, Location, School Pickup, Any extra fees added to the tuition, Is food provided, and What is the vacation/sick policy. You will also need to make sure your child (children) has their immunizations up to date. Just make sure you do research and ask your friends and family for personal day care referrals. Personal referrals are my favorite way to find just about anything. This child care option for working moms is one that I would have to use again if something were to happen with my current child care arrangement with my dad.
Child Care Choice #3: Using a Nanny, Au-Pair, or Babysitter (In-home Care)
Personally I have used a nanny before and I loved it. I used a lady that I had gone to church with for years. When we had to remove our child (children) from daycare, this is the option I went with. She used to come to my house to watch the boys and then I started taking them to her house. I have never used an Au-Pair (live in nanny, usually a foreign-national domestic assistant). I personally call a full time babysitter a nanny. People that nanny for a living are normally going to be more expensive than a babysitter that maybe you only use in the summer, on the weekends, etc. This child care option will probably cost you the same if not more than a day care option. You would need to clarify the same information as I mentioned earlier when considering a family child care arrangement including hours, disciplinary measures, payment amount and method, food, and a list of Do’s and Don’ts. This child care option for working moms is the second best in my personal opinion if you are able to afford it financially.
What is Your Backup Plan?
You must have a child care backup plan in place. If your children get sick or if your family member, nanny/babysitter, or au-pair gets sick, you must have a backup plan. I personally am blessed to have a job that will allow me bring my child (children) to the office for the day if I need to. If your job does not allow you to do that, then you should have someone else (that you have a prior agreement with) that you can call to watch your child (children) for the day. Otherwise you will be forced to take a day off from work.
What is Best for My Family?
Another very important thing you need to consider when choosing a child care option is what is best for your family and your child (children). Listen to your child (children). Let them tell you their likes and dislikes. Try to brainstorm to see if you can do anything to help make their dislikes better for them. Listen to their interests so you can encourage them in that area. Listen to their fears so you can calm them in that area. Communication is the key to having a healthy relationship with your children, especially since the time you have with them is limited as a working mom.
There is one last thing I would like to share with you that I do every day. Always tell your child (children) you love them every morning when you leave them and always be excited to see them when you pick them up (whether you have had a bad day or not). Your child (children) can feel when you are upset and negative energy is contagious and will almost always guarantee a rough evening with them. Try to put all the stuff you are dealing with at work and in your personal life ‘on hold’ and put on your ‘Mom Hat’ during your drive home. Think about them and focus on them in the evening. This is a special bonding time and for me personally the longest time of the day that I get to spend with my child (children). Make the most of the short time you have with them. You can vent about your bad day after you put your child (children) to bed for the evening.