Choosing Substitute Caregivers
After many mothers come to grips with the agonizing reality of dual-career juggling, next comes the search for their substitutes and different day care options. The first step for most mothers in this position is to consider the care options that are feasible in their circumstances.
Options for Care
Having your baby cared for in your own home is preferable. The advantages of home care are familiar surroundings, familiar toys, the germs that baby has already learned to live with, no transportation hassles, and your familiarity with the home. Shared care by your spouse is usually best; next comes grandparents or close relatives. Though more costly, a trained nanny, an au pair, and live-in help are other options. But once you go beyond the inner circle of family, relatives, or intimate friends, a seemingly endless search begins.
Shared Home Care
An option for part-timers is sharing child care with a friend – “I’ll mother yours and you mother mine two and half days a week,” or whatever schedule you work out. This deal brings you the advantage of having a like-minded caregiver, and, as in a profit-sharing partnership, each is motivated to give the other person’s child the level of care they expect for their own. Friends with the same due date and back-to-work schedule as yours, and mates in your childbirth class, are ready sources for this arrangement.
Home Day Care (Family Day Care)
In this arrangement baby is cared for in another mother’s home. Mothers often do home day care to supplement their family’s income and to be home with their own children. The same nurturing priorities that prompted this mother to set up this arrangement may carry over into her care of your baby. You can only be sure of this if you know this person well or have carefully checked out her references. But this is not so ideal if the care provider piles in kids to the maximum allowable limit, has weak sick-child policies, and is not an attentive person. An ideal rule of thumb is that one caregiver can usually care for one one-year-old, two two-year-olds, three four-year-olds, and so on. which is modified by the number and ages of her own children. These houses should be licensed, and you should be able to see the license. Remember, licensing deals with safety and medial issues; it does not guarantee a nurturing environment. That is your job to determine.
Four or five mothers of similar values get together and agree to care for one another’s babies in their own homes in rotation. Since one caregiver cannot manage more than two babies under a year, the co-op hires a full-time caregiver as a parent’s assistant. Or several like-minded parents chip in and hire one or two highly qualified and highly paid caregivers to come to one of the houses to look after the babies.
On-Site Day Care
Corporations that value keeping their employed mothers satisfied offer day care at the workplace. If your corporation doesn’t have this setup, lobby for it!
Commercial Day Care
In general, day-care centers are the most challenging for infants under one year because too many kids, too few staff members, and the increased chances of contagious illness at a child’s most infection-vulnerable time.