When to look for child care depends on what kind of care you choose. Early in your pregnancy is the perfect time to make that decision.
Obviously, COVID has changed the worlds of child care and work so it may take even more planning.
Day care or in-home?
If you haven’t already decided whether you want in-home care or to try day care, make yourself a cup of tea, because it’s time. If you decide to bring someone in, you can put off your search a bit longer. However, if day care works better for you, you’ll want to start doing your research – and even reserving your spot – now. Most day cares have a waiting list. And, while we are still in the throes of COVID, many centers around the country could be taking fewer children or have staffing challenges.
If you will still be working from home after the baby comes, it can be tempting to think you won’t need help. More time with the baby…save some money…win/win, right?
Chance are, no.
First, depending on what you do and how you work best, you will be getting interrupted often and on an unpredictable schedule.
Second, it’s best to start the habits now that you intend to do moving forward. Even if you use day care or bring someone in for just a couple hours a day, it’s good for you and the baby to get used to the routine.
Finally, hiring someone when you still will be home also lets you “test drive” them to make sure they are the right fit for your family.
If you decide to look for a day care, check out, Winnie, a woman-founded business that provides details, links, and reviews of local day care centers all over the country. After you find a place that covers your needs and visit, consider posting on Nextdoor or in a local Facebook community to get feedback from other parents. That way you can dive in more specifically to their praise or concerns than you can with static reviews.
If you prefer in-home care, good news! You can relax as you have a bit more time. Generally you want to start looking for your nanny about 4-6 weeks before your due date.
Of course, it can’t hurt to start looking – and getting familiar with the best ways to find someone. After all, this will be the most important person you ever hire.
There are numerous babysitting sites that you can use to find a nanny. However, if you prefer a site that specializes in Nannies and focuses on quality and experience, consider NannyPod, NannyLane, or NannyPoppinz.
NannyPod provides personalized consultations to help you find a perfect match for your family. NannyLane appears to provide a more traditional online matching service, and offers “hiring assistance” for an increased fee. NannyLane also offers the option of looking for a “nanny share” which can help keep costs down and let your baby socialize early. NannyPoppinz offers the option of finding a nanny directly through them or connecting you to an agency near you if you prefer to have someone local help you find the ideal fit.
What is an ideal fit?
Just like Jane and Michael Banks, it’s important to have a list of your “musts” and “must nots.” You want to be clear on your requirements for the person spending time with your little nugget. As you’re beginning your search, set aside time to make those two lists and the “nice to haves.” Maybe you want someone who sings. But is that a requirement or a “preferred.”
And be honest with yourself. If there are habits that just annoy you, don’t hire someone with them. Even if it seems “nit-picky” to you at first, it’s important to building a healthy long-term relationship that you’re honest with yourself about your absolutes.
Once you have your list, check out the sites above, start plugging in your requirements, and do some early “window shopping” to figure out which apps or other options are the best for your needs.
Whatever option works for you, we hope you find your very own Mary Poppins.