Recently, this has been a question I have gotten many times so I wanted to share my experience. I had planned on my return to work when Avery was about 6 months old and that’s when my research began. For some areas, wait lists for some daycare centers are quite long so best to find out how far in advance your research needs to begin for your area.
Once I wrapped my head around returning to work and needed childcare I started my research with center vs. home based. I have absolutely nothing against a home facility, I know many who swear by them. I just quickly discovered that for what I wanted the experience to be like for myself and Avery that a center was my better bet. I liked that there were separate classroom progressions based on her age which came with new teachers, I liked that she was out of a home based learning environment and now feels as though she is going to school to ease that JK/SK progression and I like the classroom monitoring app, that I can look at through my phone app at anytime during the day. I also knew that having Early Childhood Educators (emphasis on educators plural) as I know that everyone enjoys and deserves vacation time but the truth is, it won't always line up with mine.
After realizing that the childcare center was the route I wanted to go, I started interviewing. I think I went to 8, even though the last 2 were simply because the appointments were already booked because like anything else, when you know - you know! Each center I went into had their own procedures and handbooks but to be honest - they are all a lot alike. You need to walk through, meet the teachers, observe a class, try and find a parent of another child to talk to and most importantly - go with your gut! There were centers I walked through and knew within minutes it wasn’t the one. Quite like the one I chose, I knew within minutes. Prepare your questions for when you have one you like - flexibility, cost, sick policy, drop-off and pick up times, security etc.
We went through the “trial days” where day 1 I sat in there with her for 2 hours and then day 2 I left her there for 2 hours and came back and I could tell she wasn’t upset which was the best part. Now, don’t get me wrong - we have tough days even still that she doesn’t want me to go or she’s having an off day but I can honestly say I’ve never had a single day where I felt as though something was “off” and most days when I pick her up I have to chase her around because she doesn’t want to leave.
My best advice is go with your mom gut. It’s a very real thing!