In many areas of life, we’ve figured out how to maximize our experience and do things in the “best” way. For example:

Book a flight 64 days before your departure date.
Buy a car towards the end of a month.
Try to get pregnant 2-0 days before you ovulate.

But when’s the best time to find child care? Is there a specific season that’s better?

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The answer: before you need it. Here’s why:

It’s An Important Decision

As a parent, you care about not only your child’s general well-being, but also the influences they have in their life. You know that modeling is one of the significant ways in which children learn—and therefore, it matters what’s being modeled for them.

The choices you make about child care can reflect the values you hold as a parent, and those types of decisions are rarely made flippantly or on a whim. When something matters to you—like how your child is spending their time—you’re going to want to make sure you have the space to make the decisions that are right for your family.

There’s Some Work Involved

This is the last thing any parent wants to hear, but the unfortunate truth is that finding and securing child care for your family takes some work.

Practical Work

The practical work involved in finding child care might seem overwhelming once you start to think about it, but that’s when you can lean on friendly resources that will help to lay it all out. Deciding between in-home or center-based care is typically your first step. If you decide to hire a nanny or a babysitter, here’s the typical process:

Emotional Work

Something that tends to be neglected (or not acknowledged) is the emotional work that goes into finding child care. In its essence, finding child care is finding someone other than a parent to care for a child. And giving up that control doesn’t exactly come naturally—and rightfully so!

While there are plenty of resources available in the practical work of finding care, the emotional work is left to you, your partner, and maybe your therapist. How are you preparing yourself to build trust with another adult to care for your child? Finding that answer takes time.

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Care Providers Are People Too

One thing that should always be in the forefront of parents’ minds when looking for child care is that the person or people that end up caring for your child are also human beings with full lives and needs of their own.

Whether you need part or full-time help, that person needs to:

  • Negotiate and balance their schedule with their work hours
  • Make enough money to make a living
  • Care for their own family (potentially their own kids)

When you plan ahead in finding child care, you’re more likely to find the right person for your family who’s available for when you need help. When you’re rushed for time, that’s when you find yourself hiring someone who might not be the best fit—and you’ll inevitably find yourself going through the same process again sooner than you thought. So even if you don’t need care now, start your search to create a team of people you can call on when it’s time.

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