Before you enroll your baby at your closest girlfriend’s daycare, take a moment to ask yourself a question: “Have I considered every possibility?” While it may seem an obvious question, many parents don’t completely understand what “every possibility” means. Nowadays there are much more options than daycare or nannies. However, in order to tap into these fantastic resources, you will need to be open-minded. The best way to decide which type of care is best for your child is to sit down and evaluate all of you and your family’s options. In a nutshell: get creative.
If you are returning to work only out of financial necessity, are you 100% sure that there really is a financial need?
In other words, have you considered cutting some corners? People often assume that having a baby or second child is an expensive endeavor. What many don’t understand, however, is that it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to spend thousands creating the perfect nursery. There are plenty of consignment stores, thrift stores and community websites (such as craigslist) where you could find your dream furniture at less than half the price of buying new. The same goes for baby clothes. People LOVE giving away their baby clothes. Don’t be ashamed to take them, usually these parents are happy to give their old clothes to someone who needs them.
You’re baby doesn’t need much. If you choose not to breastfeed, then you will certainly suffer the costs of formula. Diapers, too, are also an unavoidable expense (unless you choose to do cloth diapers, see Summer Minor’s article ). Beyond the basic necessities, however, there isn’t much that your baby needs. Bouncy chairs, swings, strollers, playmats and exersaucers can all be found through the avenues I mentioned above. Oftentimes, you can find brand new baby items, gifts that parents simply did not want.
Babies keep you housebound. This means that eating out, going to the movie theater and other expenses are no longer an issue. Eating at home and renting movies will also save a ton of money.
Are you sure you need two cars? Do they both have to be brand new? Is there anything in your house that you know you will no longer need? There is no better time to clean out your house for profit than before a baby arrives.
Ok, so you have reevaluated your expenses. You simply must return to work.
Have you considered part-time? Businesses are very accommodating to women returning from maternity leave. From a legal standpoint, they have to be. Beyond that, however, many employers actually WANT to work with parents. Don’t be afraid to ask for some special treatment. Perhaps your boss will let you work part time from home. Or maybe you and your husband can work different hours to minimize time that your baby will spend in the care of another. Why not take the early shift, working from 6am to 2pm, while your husband works from 10am to 6pm? That way your baby would only be in care for 5 hours, as opposed to 9.
Forget daycare, have you considered friends and family who might, for a reasonable fee, watch your baby?
What about your friend’s daughter that is taking college classes in the evening? Perhaps you have a sibling you trust to come watch your baby. Or you could enroll in a mom’s group. Once you felt comfortable with the other moms, trade babysitting credits. You need only google “moms groups” in your area to find some. Or you can try your local library.
Finding the best childcare for your child doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It should, however, take some real work. As a parent, you will find that being flexible and creative will save you a lot of heartache. Start by thinking outside of the box with your childcare. With creativity, you can find childcare that is not only great for your family, but can maximize the time you get to spend with your baby. Is there anything more beautiful than that?