Finding the Perfect Childcare {FREE Printable Checklist Included!}

Disclaimer :: Primrose Schools sponsored this blog post; however, FWMB contributor Laura crafted its contents based on her own experiences as a parent of a child who attends Primrose Schools.

I’m the daughter of two working parents. Since I was a baby, I was cared for during the day by people who weren’t my parents. The first was Nancy, our sweet elderly neighbor who let me watch Scooby Doo and Bozo the Clown. But later, and most memorably, I spent my days playing tetherball, eating bologna sandwiches on field trips to the park, and playing “store” using stickers for money at a formal childcare center about 10 minutes from my home. And while I would have loved to spend the day with my parents, I have to admit that I probably got a lot of skills and experiences through daycare that I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

Even with this background, I struggled with the thought of going back to work after maternity leave and trusting someone else with the care of my child. In fact, my husband and I were both so nervous about the prospect that we even drove an hour (to and from) grandma’s house for three months before we decided it was finally time to find alternate childcare. The fear is real, mamas.

But, it doesn’t have to be paralyzing. In our experience, it’s all about knowing what’s important to you and finding the best fit with those values. For us, there were a few things at the top of that list. 

Safety. It was important to me that above all else, my child is safe. Not just physically safe, which of course is critical, but emotionally safe too. To us, that meant looking for an accredited childcare center. There’s something comforting to me about knowing that my child’s care providers are held accountable to established practices and standards, and that those practices and standards are regularly reviewed.

Curriculum. I’m not talking flashcards and memorization drills, which kind of make me cringe just thinking about them. I’m referring to a plan and some structure for learning. From birth, little brains are veritable sponges for new information, concepts, words, and ideas. I wanted childcare that recognized this unique period and was geared toward children’s natural curiosity and hunger for learning. At the Primrose school where my son currently attends, each week is geared toward learning about a different theme — this week is Western Round-Up. Gotta say, I would not have been able to pull that off at home!

People. This one was BIG for me. As a psychologist by day, I pay a lot of attention to people. I found myself asking these questions:

  • Do I trust these people?
  • Do I get the sense that my child’s teacher has his or her best interests at heart?
  • Is my child’s teacher loving, approachable, and emotionally stable?
  • Can I picture this person comforting my kiddo when he falls and gets a boo boo or has a tough time giving up a toy?

If the answer to any of these questions was no, I just couldn’t feel comfortable leaving my son in their care. 

So, ultimately, when I was ready I called around and scheduled in-person tours of multiple child care centers. Honestly, I wish I had faced my fear earlier and done this BEFORE I ever had a baby because space and availability at most quality child care providers can be limited. But, in spite of my avoidance, I believe we lucked out and found the perfect fit for us.

When I visited Primrose Schools, I left feeling calm. Not only was the environment bright, but the teachers and staff seemed genuinely happy. I met the “baby whisperer” in the infant room who clearly enjoyed her work, saw evidence of fun and learning all over the walls (handprint paintings galore!), and left with many a pamphlet about the school’s mission, values, curriculum, and menu. 

So, when the opportunity to write about Primrose came up, I jumped at the chance because our family has had such a positive experience. Perhaps the best example of that was recently when we had a second child. Even before she was born, the Primrose family embraced her. Just last week she tagged along to pick up her big brother at school and one by one her future teachers filed out to the car to fawn over her. She is loved already. And although it’ll break my heart to leave her at the end of my maternity leave, I know she will be in excellent and trusted hands while I’m at work. And that is the comfort I need in order to be able to do my own job effectively. 

Certainly every family has different needs and values when it comes to childcare. No matter what option you choose, Primrose has great resources to help parents make the right childcare decision for them. I only wish I had this Quality Child Care Checklist when I was looking. It helps you think through all your options and the questions you should be asking.

Happy hunting!

Graduate school brought Laura from her beloved home state of Colorado to Texas (hard to beat the Rocky Mountains!), and meeting her beloved husband Jonathan convinced her to settle here. Now the two are overjoyed and exhausted parents to sweet Christopher (2015) and a little girl on the way (2017). In addition to her role as a mama, she also works full time as a clinical psychologist working with military veterans who continue to amaze her with their strength and humor. When she’s not busy juggling career and parenthood, you can find her cycling, enjoying local culture (and food!), baking, “hiking,” and embracing her love of travel.


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