Childcare Part 1: Options

As a single mother, I was the only one here to worry about childcare options for my children. I had a lot to consider and, in the end, I became the childcare provider. This short series of articles is geared toward helping you choose the best childcare option for your family, whether you are a single mother or not.

Being single mothers, we do not always have the option of getting Dads’ input when choosing care for our children. If you are lucky, Dad is there to help you decide. If not, the responsibility lies solely at your feet.

It is nerve-racking, certainly, to be expected to leave your child in anyone’s care. It is not always easy to trust people to care for your child, when you have always been the main caregiver.

I would like to discuss the pros and cons of different childcare situations:

Babysitter: Wouldn’t be great to be able to hire an affordable babysitter to care for your child(ren), who is also loving, caring and enthusiastic about the job? Someone to come into your home? To bend to your schedule? To help you in a pinch? To be like a member of your family?

  • Pros: This lucky person would be there most days. You would get to know each other, and they would bond nicely with your children. She/he would take care of them and clean up after them (ideally with the children helping), and make sure that things are done before you arrive home. This would make your life so much easier. They may go by a base rate for all children, rather than a rate per child.
  • Cons: What if they don’t get along well with your children? Can you trust them alone with your children? Alone in your house? This could be costly if you have more than one child.

Nanny: I like this idea, if I could match a person to your family. You would have to choose a live-in or live-out provider, and decide on regular days and holidays off. They care for your children whether you work or not.

  • Pros: This person would be there a lot more than a babysitter would. You could depend ont hem to run errands and such as well.
  • Cons: Her rate of pay would be higher than that of a babysitter, and she would be more intimately involved with the family dynamics. The same cons as with babysitters apply here.

Family Childcare Home: This is what my business is. It makes things a little more convenient for me. Children are dropped off and picked up at my home, and I try to work around the parents’ schedules.

  • Pros: I can be open later than a daycare center if I choose to be. I can provide meals or have parents do so. I will not have as many children as at a daycare center, though your child may have one or more other children to play with while in my care. I can only have so many children in my care at one time. I am not licensed, so I can have two children unrelated to me in my care (Maine), and as many relative’s children that I feel that I can handle. I have a base rate per child. I can be flexible. I work more holidays than I take off. I am open vacations and snow days, and may allow mildly ill children to come to my home on school days. My childcare home is child-interest led, not necessarily learning based. Though children are always learning, no matter where they are. We do many different activities both at my home and in the community.
  • Cons: I am paid weekly, and can charge late fees. I may also choose not to accept a child into my care if payment is late, until I receive the payment in full. I rely completely on my income from childcare. I am not likely going to be as flexible as a nanny with my time, and you may have to drive out of your way to get to me. I will have to take odd days off from work at times, for doctor appointments and such, because I always have children in my care. I cannot always bring them with me. I may not have a set schedule.

Childcare Center: A viable solution to childcare needs. A much needed resource.

  • Pros: Children get to socialize with other children their age. They have a regular routine. They know what to expect at all times. They have many experiences.
  • Cons: Socializing in that big of an atmosphere, mostly with children their own ages, is not necessarily the healthiest way to go about ‘socializing’ a child. Kids are sick more often. Cost is a big factor, and they charge late fees as well.

Now for my experiences:

I started out a single stay-at-home mother. I babysat early on, and then went to work. The day care center had its pros and cons, but was too big for what I wanted. You had to be working steady to keep your slot, which I wasn’t doing all along. I worked there myself for a while. They were good people.

Later while working, I had family members babysitting for me. This was not ideal, particularly in one case. The woman was simply not treating my children fairly, and she hollered at them too much.

I finally decided to provide childcare myself, my sister needed care for her children, as did a friend. This was the best situation for me, and I am still providing care in my home.

Shannon

Please post in the comments if you know about more options, pros and cons. We would like to here them.