the sparkly life: Here's How to Choose the Right Preschool If You're a Working Mom

Monday, April 9, 2018

Here's How to Choose the Right Preschool If You're a Working Mom

kindercare tribeca

Being a mom is tough. And being a working mom is even harder. There's the futile attempt to balance it all. There's the fatigue. There's the inevitable spit up or random Paw Patrol sticker on your work clothes. (...That you notice only after giving a big presentation, of course.) And perhaps worst of all, there's the near-constant guilt brought on by the gnawing sense that you're missing out on things because you can't be there for every single precious moment.

The guilt starts the moment you have to leave your child with someone new to go back to work after maternity leave (one of the hardest things you'll deal with as a mom in those first few months!). And I'm here to tell you that, yes, that guilt is still there, years later, even when your kids are in pre-K and second grade! 
kindercare tribeca

I'm also here to tell you that those guilty feelings can be greatly alleviated by finding a great childcare provider for your baby, and later a wonderful school for your kids. Yes, it's still tough, and no, it's never easy, but when you know they're taken care of, you'll feel better. I promise. 

For today's post, I've partnered with KinderCare Education, a child care provider and learning center with locations across the country (including a beautiful, brand new Learning Center here in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood!). My children did not attend KinderCare, but I love their inclusive approach to education, and I very much share their goal of raising children to become lifelong learners.

kindercare tribeca


So if you, too, are a working mom, here's five things I suggest thinking about when choosing a child care center or preschool for your kids:

1) Make sure you love where they're going to be spending their day.
This one seems obvious, but it's really a non-negotiable. If you're feeling iffy about the nanny, daycare center, or school where you're leaving them, you'll feel bad every time you drop them off. Choosing a preschool is an incredibly important decision that affects the next several years of your child's life, so make sure you love the one you go with! I always felt so incredibly comfortable with our nanny--and, later, with the preschools we chose--so that was one less worry for me. Look for caregivers and teachers with loving personalities who are experts with kids. Seek out great, well-maintained facilities with stimulating toys and a strong preschool curriculum. I always knew my kids were loved, safe, happy, and engaged with the people they were with, and the environment they were in, and that made all the difference. 

2) Look for a school that provides constant contact. 
When it comes to my kids, you can't share too much information with me. I've always hated the feeling of sitting in my office, and wondering, "Did my baby eat well today?" "My kid was crying when I dropped her off--is she still upset?" "It's 12pm, WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING WITH HER NOW?" My nanny was great about texting me photos of my kids throughout the day, and I was lucky that the school we chose for my daughter's first preschool sent us a daily email update, complete with photos, that detailed her day. But I really love KinderCare Education's approach: They use an app to provide updates, photos, and videos to parents throughout the day. (How cool is that?) You can even sign up for push notifications if you're the type who wants to be alerted IMMEDIATELY every time your baby takes her bottle or has a poopy diaper. 

school chalkboard sign

3) Extended hours are key.
What working mom hasn't felt the stress of being stuck on a stalled subway (or in rush-hour traffic) watching the minutes tick by and knowing you're going to be late to pick up your kid? That's why picking a school or childcare center with extended hours makes a huge difference. Our current school has extended hours from 8am to 6pm, which is good, but honestly not great. (I've never worked somewhere where it wasn't frowned upon to leave earlier than 6pm, so everyone I know has to have at least a part-time babysitter who can pick up the kids after school and watch them until the parents get home.) So I was honestly floored when I saw that the KinderCare Tribeca Learning Center's hours are 6am to 9pm! Hours like that mean that you wouldn't need the afternoon nanny or babysitter, which is kind of amazing. I also love that they offer optional on-site after-school activities (think music, soccer, etc) to keep the kids busy for those extra hours between the end of school and pickup time. 

4) Meal services make your life infinitely easier.
I have the fancy lunchboxes. I've given up precious sleep to wake up early and pack lunches. I have the requisite Pinterest board with cute, interesting lunch ideas to entice my picky kids to eat. But you know what is so much easier? Having the school do the work! That's why I highly suggest choosing a school that offers a meal service. (KinderCare's Tribeca Learning Center does this, and our own school does, as well.) With the one at my kids' school, you can pick from dozens of healthy lunch options in advance, and then they're waiting for the kids at school each day, and let me tell you, this has been such a gamechanger. Your kid gets a healthy, hot lunch--and you don't have to slave over putting it together yourself. We love it so much that we actually get the school lunch every day for my daughter, and twice a week for my son. 

tribeca kindercare

5) Open-door policies are a must.
If any school or childcare center is weird about having you visit the facility, consider that a red flag. You want to be able to stop in and see what's going on whenever you feel like it, and any good school or daycare should make you feel welcome to do this. At Kindercare, parents are encouraged to come in to visit their kids at any time, which I love. Moms can even stop in over lunch (or whenever) to breastfeed their babies, which is just amazing. I so wish I had had that option back when I was still nursing! Going back to work would have been so much easier if I had been able to visit for a midday feed or a quick snuggle. Oh well. Maybe for baby #3. (KIDDING!)

If you'd like more information about KinderCare Education or its new Tribeca Learning Center, (which, opens April 16th, and honestly, is amazing--huge, spotless, and beautiful), click here!

Thank you to KinderCare for partnering with me on this post.


8 comments:

Crysta Parkinson said...

These are great tips for helping to choose a childcare center. It is really important to love where your child is spending their time, even if just for the sake of your peace of mind!

Geethica Mehra said...

Choosing a good pre school is important. They shape up the basic habits in your child. As a parent we should always research wel and then put them in a good school.

Brittany said...

I think the daily emails and pictures would be so helpful. That is great that schools offer that

What's up dearie? said...

I know... its very hard sometimes find the right one. I am in the same position.

Nakia said...

Great tips on choosing childcare. I remember when I was a single mom searching for childcare. It broke my heart but its extremely important to find someone both you and your child will love.

Angie said...

Choosing a good care center and school for our kids is very important. This is a great list and good points to keep in mind when picking one.

Rachel said...

The only bummer about our preschool is it it isn't year round. It does work out because my youngest just goes with my older kids.

Kat Califf said...

These are great tips. I think it's so important to put a lot of research into choosing the right one for your child and for you.

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