For what feels like the past 12 months, I have been looking for a nursery for my child. With being a working mum, and the return to the office imminent, I thought it best to start looking early. With us still being in a pandemic, of course I was rudely initiated with the fact that there are no nursery spaces on offer, anywhere really!
If like me, you are having to consider your daycare arrangements, and would like to consider putting your child in a nursery, I've compiled below a check-list of things to go through as you consider the various options.
As with most nerve-wrecking decisions that I feel woefully underprepared for, having never done this before, I reached out to my mummy group and other friends to get a sense of what it is exactly I should be looking for.
There is quite a fair bit to unpack, so I'll split this into two posts to make it manageable. In today's post, I will focus on the practical considerations. In a follow-up post I will touch on the financial aspects as well as the environment/childcare philosophy. I hope the checklists prove helpful to you, and do share in the comments if there are other things that you have considered or would ideally like insights on when forming an opinion on nurseries.
- How far away from home and/or work is the nursery and how will this affect your morning routine, daily commute or your after-work routine. Does the location of the nursery make sense for you as a family? Where possible, make sure the nursery is enroute to work, and that you do not have to drive out of your way. That could add to your overall commute time, and make missing pick-up times that much more likely, especially if you have to travel during peak times.
- Are the nursery opening times suitable for your work and commute hours?
- What does the child need to bring with them everyday? Clean bottles if bottlefeeding, change of clothes, nappies (where these are not included in the fees) etc?
- Does the nursery stay open during half-term (school holidays) and public holidays? If not, do they offer an after-school club to fill the gap when the nursery is closed. Do bear in mind after-school clubs come at an extra cost.
- What is their sickness policy? Under what circumstances will you be expected to come pick up your child in the middle of a workday? How feasible would that be for you to do given your work pressures and work location?
- How does the nursery report on your little one's day? More and more nurseries are exploring the use of Apps to keep parents involved and informed on how their young one's day went, and even offer a glimpse of what activities they got up to during the day and a picture here and there of your child settling in well in their environment.
- How can you communicate with the nursery during the day? Is it easy to call in for a check-up on your little one?
- Are nutritious, varied meals provided?
- Are these made on the premises on the day, or sourced in?
- How frequently do they change the meal plan rota? For example, the first nursery I interviewed change their meal plan every six weeks.
- How are food allergies and intolerances allowed for and managed?
- Can children with food allergies and intolerances still enjoy a varied diet?
- What exactly is included in the meals? Breakfast, lunch and supper/tea, as well as two snacks, seem to be reasonable.
- What was your impression of the staff? Were they knowledgeable and friendly? Did you get a positive vibe in your interaction with any of the staff?
- Are any of the staff smokers? If they are, do they manage to keep their clothes smelling of smoke?
- What is their staff turnover?
- Is there a consistency of caregivers for the children, or do staff work on a rotational basis that could mean children end up having to get used to new faces very frequently?
- Is there sufficient diversity in the staff? Can children see themselves represented in the figures of authority?
I hope this is helpful for you, especially if you are a first-time parent having to consider all this. Have I missed anything that you personally care about from a practicality point of view?