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Work and Life: Let's Talk Child Care

By Molly Thornberg |

Finding childcare isn't easy!

Finding childcare isn't easy!


This is a series of posts on managing work and life after having a baby.  As a working mom, the balancing act of having children (especially those under 1 year) and managing a thriving career is not for the faint of heart.  If you are a working mother with a story, question, idea or opinion on work/life balance, please share in the comments.

No one will ever care for your child like you do.

That saying rang in my head each time I visited a daycare facility before having my first child. New to the whole child care thing, I didn’t know what to expect. Anyone who has toured several daycare facilities before having children, may have had the same reaction as myself — AM I REALLY GOING TO LEAVE MY BABY HERE?

Oh joy. Welcome to the world of childcare and the life of a working mom.

As someone who has struggled with the stresses of leaving a child with someone else as well as having to do a major search for the right solution for our family — I thought I’d share a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.

While I am happy to say the last several years, we have figured what childcare situation works best for our family – it wasn’t easy. We’ve experienced many ups and downs — no matter how much we think we’ve got it down, there never fails to be a hiccup every now and then.

Here are 10 Childcare Lessons I’ve Learned as a Working Mom:

1. When Looking for Child Care — Start with Recommendations

When finding a sitter or childcare facility, start with recommendations from friends. Drop a line on Facebook, send out a quick email: in my experience, this has successfully landed me a few sitters and emergency back-up sitters.

2. Do Your Research on the Sitter of Daycare

Google people. Use Google to research reviews on the daycare, as well as your sitter. Some states provide listings of childcare and daycare providers that are registered with the state, including inspection reports. This is a good place to start in regards to safety  (here is the link to a list of registered childcare providers in Texas).

3. Interview the Teachers or Sitter that will Watching your Child

When touring a classroom, nursery or home facility — talk to the teacher that your child will have. Get a good feel for who she or he is.

4. Show Up Unexpectedly

When my first child was 10 months old, she was at a new home-based child care. During her second week, I had gotten off work early so went to pick her up. I knocked on the door, heard kids screaming and looked through the side panel window horrified. Z was strapped in a booster chair that you use for a table, but placed on the fireplace. She was screaming and the other kids, who were older, were rough-housing. I started pounding on the door until the sitter finally came to answer it. She had been ASLEEP.

5. Be Very Specific in What You Are Wanting in Regards to Caring for Your Child.

If you don’t want your child drinking juice, be clear, as with anything specific you are needing or wanting for your child when in care.

6. Communication is VITAL!

Having an open dialogue is critical with your child’s caretaker. Things will happen, whether it be illness or injury, or your kid may just misbehave.  On the flip side, you may have concerns, suggestions, etc. You must be able to have an open line of communication!

7. Understand Rules and Policies

A few summers ago, our daughter went to a daycare facility — since our normal sitter was full. The daycare expected her to be there by 8:30 am. We received calls when she wasn’t there by 9:00 am. If we had read that rule ahead of time, we would of chosen a different daycare.

8. Money Money Money

Money. Child care costs a lot. Do your research. Daycares vary drastically in cost. Know exactly what you are paying for and any additional fees that may be present.

Be prepared for a hodgepodge of extra fees. We pay for curriculum once a year in addition to tuition. At various times, there are field trips to pay for (when the kids are older). One daycare wanted to charge me for diapers (you had to use theirs), while others wanted to upsell me on video access to my child at all times.

Read: Child Care Costs More Than College

9. Child Care is a Journey!

Be open to change. Finding one solution the first time out that will work for you for the next several years is a rarity. We were blessed with finding a great in-home childcare when our oldest was two years. We have used her with all of our kids, and still have one child enrolled.

10. Do What Feels Right

Follow your gut. If you feel something isn’t right – use that mother intuition!

What Lessons Have You Learned in Regards to Child Care?


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About Molly Thornberg


Molly Thornberg

Molly Thornberg is a wife and mother of four. She worked in web design and social media marketing before quitting to pursue blogging full time. On Digital Mom Blog, Molly shares "geeky" DIY projects, discusses the latest technology news, and talks about her life as a parent. Read bio and latest posts → Read Molly's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “Work and Life: Let's Talk Child Care

  1. Koreen says:

    Thanks for sharing Molly. I have to put my son in daycare next month. Most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.

  2. Joanna says:

    Great list! Communication is definitely key. It’s important to find a good fit. Some childcare providers might take great care of your kid, but not be great about keeping a daily log of every diaper, bite of food, etc. If you are a parent who really values a written report, then that childcare provider won’t be for you.

    When interviewing, it’s important to ask questions! How does your provider handle discipline? What would your nanny do with your child if she had to go to the bathroom? What is your center’s policy on # of teachers per classrom? What do they do if one is out sick? What is your provider’s “sick child” policy?

    On an unrelated note, it’s really nice to see a working mom issue addressed on Babble. So many times here it seems like it’s either a “working mom versus stay at home mom” fight, or else posts that go by the assumption that moms only work because they have to. Drives me crazy. So thanks, Molly!

  3. Bre says:

    I love my daycare. They give me specifics about how my son is doing (grasping toys while on his tummy instead of “Bradley had a good day”). They also dont sugar coat if something is wrong, so I know they aren’t hiding anything from me.

    It was so hard to think about leaving him with strangers, but if you try to develop a friendship (or at least a friendliness) with the teachers and director that way it feels like you are leaving them with friends :)

    One last thing – be sure to say thanks. Once a month we write the teachers a thank you note. If the teachers like you/your baby they are bound to be more attentive :)

  4. Christine says:

    I learned, from choosing a daycare, that if I had the tiniest hint of a doubt about a facility, that I would never send my baby there. Luckily, I found one where I trust his caregivers 100%.

  5. Jessica says:

    Oh my, your story of your first baby being strapped in a booster while the provider slept is exactly why I will do anything it takes to stay home with my babies. I’m so sorry that happened to your sweet one!!

  6. Shandra says:

    That’s a really good list.

    But I would add – once you do establish trust, be glad for bringing more caring people into your kids’ lives. My older son was in an excellent daycare, where my younger son will go when he’s old enough, and before that we had a great nanny. Both experiences enriched all of our days. My nanny taught me some tricks (for example, if you’re taking a young kid out in the snow, you know how the cheeks are exposed and get raw? Put vaseline on them first; it helps protect the skin). My daycare brought out interesting in my son that would never have occurred to me.

    It is not all doom and gloom once the basics are in place!

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