You’re just back to work from parental leave after a baby, and already you need a day of back-up care. Or maybe you’re still on leave and want to use back-up care as a child care trial run. Or perhaps it’s been a few months and the nanny’s off when there’s a big meeting you absolutely, positively have to make.
Even if you’re an experienced mom who has been down the back-up care road before, you want to feel like you’re prepared. Here are a few suggestions to make it a great day for both you and your baby:
Get your paperwork in order. A day in back-up care requires some paperwork. And a dash to fill out onsite can distract you when you want to be focused 100% on your baby — and the caregiver. Make sure to register ahead to make the process easy. Then log on for documents you’ll need (immunization records, emergency contacts, medication information, etc.), and where to find them. Finally, download, print, and fill out ahead of time.
Ask what you want to know. Are there things you need to bring? Are there rules around feeding, pacifiers, or napping? Do you have questions about the provider’s credentials or safety procedures? This is the time to ask. The more information you have, the smoother the day will be. Collect the details and pack up the night before.
Be up front about what you want caregivers to know. It’s distracting to try to keep mental lists of all the things you want to remember to tell a caregiver — sleep schedules, burping, or moods. Lighten your mental load: write it all down, no matter how seemingly small. Then talk with the contact center or caregivers about any and all concerns. Back-up providers will understand; this is what they do, and there’s nothing they haven’t heard before.
Leave time for a tour. Most centers will start the day by showing you around. Build in time for it. Getting to know the people and location will give you a clear picture of your baby’s day, and add to your confidence about the experience.
Finally, ask when you can expect to hear from the provider. Knowing when and how you’ll get a status update will keep you from anxiously staring at your phone.
And remember that new parents and first days are a back-up caregiver’s specialty. Don’t be shy about asking for what you need — making parents comfortable is what they do. Here’s to a great first day!