When Talitha was born I said I wouldn’t use paid childcare. My mother made sacrifices to stay home with us and I grew up knowing the value of a mother’s continued presence in a child’s early life.
However, when Talitha neared a year, I was surprised that a part of me longed to do other work too and that this felt like a good thing. Maybe it was the fact that I was by then getting a bit more sleep – who knows? Me earning a bit extra would certainly help too, even if it wasn’t a full salary.
Deciding to choose a substitute carer for my toddler was a difficult decision to make. I wanted to do it all and seriously struggled with the fact that I couldn’t. So, we were very careful when searching for someone.
I thought I’d share what we considered in the process of finding gentle and responsive childcare.
Go with your gut
The further I go on this parenting journey, the more I learn to trust my instincts. If it doesn’t feel right then something may well be off. Even if it’s not, remaining uncomfortable about your childcare situation just is not worth it. Equally, when it feels right, it’s freeing. Listen to yourself and make as confident decisions as you can for your child.
You want your child to form a secure attachment with their carer. If we lived in a more connected society, our children might spend time cared for by other adults in our communities whom researchers refer to as “alloparents” in an arrangement that’s healthy for all involved. It was important to us to find someone whom we felt could be such a figure in our very young daughter’s life. We looked for someone who shared our ideals and values – someone we could very happily encourage Talitha to love.
Look for respect
Gentle parenting essentially means parenting with respect. A childcare provider who is competent but controlling just doesn’t fit in this picture. We felt that making sure Talitha’s needs were met meant finding someone who respected her. So, we carefully observed the way childminders we spoke to talked about children and talked to our child.
Seek easy transition
Our priority in finding childcare for Talitha was finding the arrangement that would least upset her. We really wanted the transition to be as easy on her as possible. Knowing what to expect is really important to her so finding someone who could provide a consistent routine and generally had a plan for how things were going to go down was important to us.
I may have ended up taking a different route to the one I planned but having taken care to find a gentle childminder, our arrangement feels like a positive parenting choice rather than an awkward compromise. Hopefully, you’ll find the same if you need it.