Are you about to head back to work or maybe just looking for a day to yourself to get all your adulting done? Finding a daycare for your kids can be scary and daunting, and there is a real mix bag of emotions involved! It can be quite the task! So, I’m here to break it down for you. Recently, my kids started daycare just one day a week because I was feeling terrible for trying to get all my work done in bits and pieces every day, taking my time away from them! Daycare seemed to be an amazing solution to giving me 9 hours to smash out everything I needed to and leaving me with more time for the rest of the week to be present with my kids!
Things To Consider
Everyone has their own personal preferences about what they want in a daycare service, so my first tip would be to have a think about the features you want your ideal daycare to have.
- What sleeping arrangements do they have?
- What food do they provide?
- Do you want animals/pets around?
- The type of play equipment available
Once you get this down, it will help guide you to whether you want to look at Daycare Centers or Family Daycare. Personally, I prefer Family Daycare because I like the idea of one educator, no more than 4 kids a day and an environment similar to home, as these daycares are at peoples houses. Also, because my kids are different ages, they would be separated at a center and I preferred them to be together. Family Daycare costs around the same as a Daycare Center, and they are regulated exactly the same as a center. Before my son was born, my daughter went one day a week to a family daycare and I loved it. The educator was like family and she would send me pictures all day, letting me know how my daughters day was going. They had a dog called Fred, and she (yes, a female dog named Fred!) helped Jaxxi learn to walk because Fred would stand or sit completely still while Jaxxi would pull herself to stand and hold on for balance. Fred would stay still as long as Jaxxi wanted her to.
The next step is some good ol research! Get your google pants on and search Daycare or Family Day Care in your area. Go through, look at pictures and reviews. Let your feelings guide to you as to what stands out. Then simply make contact to confirm if they have the availability you’re looking for and arrange a meeting.
For the meeting, take your child or children. Let them play and see how they gel with the educator. Inspect the space, check out where they sleep and play. Ask about the meals the provide and to give you an example of a daily meal plan. This is your opportunity to ask anything you want to know. I also like to confirm they will send me updates through the day via text of how my kids are going.
It’s ok if you go to the first one and fall in love. And it’s ok if you go to five or more and still don’t feel like you’ve found the right one. Leaving your kids with someone else is emotionally difficult at the start, so take the time to set up the foundations to make it easier on your heart.
Alright Mama! Here we go, it’s drop off day! You’ve got this. Make sure you’ve spoken to your kids about where they are going and really amp up how exciting it will be. Maybe pick something you remember them playing with at the meeting and remind them they get to play with that! Jaxxi was obsessed with a cubby house at the daycare we visited, so I kept reminding her she was going to the place with the cubby house and was allowed to play it in! She was super excited! Pack their bags with all the things they need like nappies, spare clothes, drink bottle and any comforters.
Once they are in and settled, here comes the hard bit! It’s time to leave. Kiss your babies goodbye and let them know you’ll be back. In my case, Jaxxi was like ‘BYEEEEE MUM’ because she was itching to get into the cubby house! Jagger however had a little melt down. His face crumbled and the tears streamed. I gave him a huge hug and told him I loved him and would be back soon. The educator picked him up and snuggled him as I left. The key is to leave quickly. I know, sounds wrong! But it’s for the best! Let them know you are leaving so they are aware, but if they start getting upset, just go. Why? Well, think about it. If you stayed, they aren’t going to settle down. And if they do, they will start back up the moment you decide to try and leave again. It just won’t end! If you leave quickly and calmly (keyword CALMLY), the educator will whisk them into the playroom and apply the art of immediate distractions. She’ll then text you 10 mins later, knowing full well you have a typed message sitting there saying ‘Was he ok?’ but waiting for some more time to pass before sending, and she will tell you your child settled beautiful and is now happily playing.
Paper Work Schmpaper Work
Yep. It’s a ball buster. But I thought I would break it down to make the fog of Centrelink claims a little clearer! Here is the step-by-step guide to getting what you need to receive payment assistance from ol mate Turnbull. This will be way clearer than the million re-directs and confusing messaging found on the Centrelink website!
- Locate your kids CRN (Customer Reference Number) – they were given this at birth. It was a nightmare trying to find the numbers on the website, but when I logged into my ‘Centrelink’ app on my phone, it was clearer.
- Log onto MyGov and click the ‘Centrelink’ service. If it’s not there in your Linked Services, you will need to link it. (May the force be with you)
- To the right of the Centrelink logo you will see a ‘Make A Claim’ link
- Scroll down and click ‘Start New Claim’
- Find the ‘Families’ tab and press ‘Get Started’
- Click ‘Apply for Family Assistance’
- You’ll have a questionare to answer so it can determine which claim you would need to make (Why it doesn’t just give you the option to select Child Care Subsidy right away is a mystery to me, but Centrelink like to keep up their brand image of being confusing)
- It will then say ‘You can apply for the following claims’ and include the Subsidy one (No shit Sherlock)
- Fill out the form – be very careful to put your income in correctly. One time I accidentally added a zero to my estimate (which put me on a 6 figure sum, on the higher end close to a million) and it took me two weeks to sort it out, by dragging my kids in to the centre and explaining that if I earnt that much, I sure as heck wouldn’t need help paying for daycare. I could’ve afforded a fucking live in nanny! Once you confirm your details, you can’t go back and edit, even BEFORE you press submit!
- Wait for the claim to be approved.
It doesn’t matter if you have the claim already done before you start the care, because you will need to pay in full the first few weeks, as the educator waits for the other paperwork to process to work out your Subsidy payment. There’s a whole heap to be filled out for them, but they will guide you through it. This paperwork is confirming your child position in their new daycare, the amount your daycare charges, and then matches this with your subsidy entitlement, then applies Pythagorus Theory (I’m kidding) to work out what you will get back. It will be backpaid/applied as credit, so it does work itself out. Just be prepared to pay the full amount for a little bit.
I hope this helped! It’s not my usual type of blog post but I wish I had something like this to read when I began my daycare search!