If you've recently become a single parent, whether by choice or circumstance, you may be struggling to manage all the parenting and household tasks that were once shared among two people. Being a single parent can also require a more accommodating daycare situation, especially if you work a full time job or multiple jobs that require long hours. Even if you're happy with your current daycare situation, it's important to periodically re-evaluate to ensure your daycare provider is meeting all your (and your child's) needs. Read on to learn more about the best daycare options for newly single parents.
What factors should you consider when evaluating daycare as a single parent?
Depending upon your work schedule, you may need to select more than one daycare option to accommodate the hours you need. For example, a daycare center that closes before you get off work can be supplemented by a by-the-hour babysitter who picks your child up from daycare, takes him or her home, and starts dinner. Those who work on the weekends or have swing shifts may also need to arrange care outside the normal 9 to 5 workday.
In many cases, an in-home care provider will be able to ensure you're covered (and aren't penalized for getting stuck in traffic on the way to pick up your child at the end of the day), but can come with some additional complications, detailed below.
One of the primary advantages of a daycare center is its reliability -- when you have multiple child care providers and substitutes, you don't need to worry about your daycare shutting down for a few days when the owner gets sick. While this doesn't rule out in-home care providers by any means, you'll want to make sure you line up a backup (or two) to ensure you're able to continue to work even when these types of hiccups happen.
It can also be important to make connections with local care providers or daycares who handle sick children. If your child comes down with an illness that is communicable enough to restrict him or her from attendance at a center daycare, you may not be able to afford to take time off work to stay home -- and without a relative or neighbor to care for your child, you could be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Choosing someone who is equipped to deal with sick children can ensure all your care bases are covered.
Even if you're not having trouble adjusting to your new budget as a single parent, it can be worthwhile to evaluate your options when it comes to financial assistance. Should unemployment occur, you may not want to pull your child out of his or her daycare while you search for a new job, which means being able to quickly take advantage of the programs available can keep you from falling behind on your bills while avoiding disruption in your child's life.
What tend to be some of the best daycare options for single parents?
The right daycare option for you will largely depend on your job flexibility, schedule, and the amount of physical and financial support available from your child's other parent. However, both daycare centers and in-home options (including nannies) can be ideal for single parents, as long as you've fully thought through all the factors and determined which arrangements would provide you with the most peace of mind while ensuring your child's needs are met. It's always good to have several backup options in mind, regardless of your situation, to ensure you're never caught without reliable and safe childcare.