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Purposeful Parenting

How to Choose a Good Daycare

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How to Choose a Good Daycare
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Choosing a good daycare can be incredibly overwhelming. Most of the time there are either too many or too few to choose from. How can you know which daycare will be right for you and your little ones? Follow these tips to help speed the process along.

How to Choose a Good Daycare

Grab Referrals From Friends & Family

Does someone you know utilize a daycare provider in your area? How do they like it? Have they had positive experiences there? How do their kids seem to do with the providers?

Always be sure to ask your friends or family if they know of a reputable daycare center or provider in the local area. You might be surprised with the information that they provide. A friend or family member’s recommendation can often be trusted more highly than an online review.

Licensed & Certified?

Does the provider possess a valid license from the State that allows them to provide childcare? This license is to protect you and your children from individuals who are unfit to perform the duties associated with caring for children. The license should be on display where all patrons can view it.

What about early childhood education certifications? While these certifications are not necessarily a “make it or break it, must-have” for some parents, they are worth considering. If the daycare center regularly staffs providers with these certifications, you can feel more secure in knowing that your child is well cared for by individuals who have experience in this career field.

Children to Providers Ratio

When visiting the daycare center, take careful notice of the ratio of children to providers. Do the providers seem overrun or frazzled? Are the children in control, or do the providers have a handle on the activities? This is an important aspect to consider when choosing a good daycare provider.

Child to Teacher Ratio

In a perfect world, there would be a 1:1 ratio of children to providers, but unfortunately that is simply not possible for most daycare centers. Consider instead the ratio of 3:1, or three children for every provider. This ratio is quite manageable for most providers and is often the norm for most daycare centers. Any ratios that are higher than this can become unmanageable for providers, and can become unsafe for your little ones.

Safety & Cleanliness

Is the center clean? It should not only look clean, but smell clean as well. Obviously, there might be an unpleasant smell here and there (there are children here, after all), but the providers should be making a point of keeping the entire center clean and organized. This means keeping the toys and surfaces clean, as well as the children.

Consider especially the kitchen/food preparation areas and the bathrooms. These areas are germ havens if not properly cleaned and disinfected. And since everyone knows that children are basically little germ soaked sponges, these areas need to be regularly cleaned after every use.

Clean and safe daycare

In addition to cleanliness, a good daycare center should be safe. This doesn’t just mean that the little ones are properly corralled and kept away from sharp objects (although, they should be doing this too…). It means that there are proper procedures in place for any sort of emergency. There should be first aid kits available in every room of the center, as well as fire extinguishers in the kitchen/food preparation areas, childproof locks on cabinets, outlet covers on exposed outlets, and baby gates in areas where crawlers should not be visiting.

The providers should also have emergency procedures in place for disaster type situations, such as fires, floods, hurricanes, tornados, and the like.

Go With Your Gut

In visiting various daycare centers you may have better feelings about some than others. A daycare center can have all of the certifications and learning opportunities available in the universe, but if your gut says no, listen to your gut. You should feel comfortable leaving your kiddos with your daycare provider, and ultimately your childcare provider should be keeping your little ones safe and loved. If your gut is set on a specific daycare provider, be sure that they meet the following requirements:

  • Must have a valid license to practice childcare in your state.
  • The environment must be safe and clean.
  • The ratio of children to providers should be low.
  • You trust the providers.
  • The providers are passionate about providing childcare that meets or exceeds your expectations.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Jamie

    July 25, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Great tips! Thank you for linking up to the Merry Monday Link Party!

  2. Kyle Wayne

    May 17, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    I like the points that you make about children to providers ratio. The fact that the children are under control and the providers seem calm seem like they would be good indicators of a quality daycare. I am looking for a program to help with my son’s social development and I will be sure to take your advice into consideration!

  3. Nash Rich

    May 27, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    I think asking friends and family is a great way to start. They’re not going to let you down. I also think checking online reviews is good too. I also liked what this said about going with your gut. There is something about a parent and child bond. When it comes to their safety and care, you just know things. There is no other way to explain it.

  4. Annika Larson

    March 7, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I am currently trying to find a daycare for my two twin daughters. It’s important that they are getting the right care that they need to feel comfortable and thrive socially as well. As you said, looking at the children to providers ration can be a good indicator of quality care. Also going to observe the different daycares might be a good way to help decide which would be the best fit.

  5. Tomas Killington

    March 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    My wife and I have been looking for a good child care service for our son. We both work, so we are looking for somebody that can take care of him during the day. I didn’t realize that it is important that the service is licensed and certified to ensure the staff is fit to protect and take care of children in their care. That’s something we’ll remember moving forward.

  6. Ridley Fitzgerald

    October 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks for the fantastic tips for finding a child care center. We want to find a good one to take our daughter to, but it’s been hard! I haven’t even thought to check if the center is licensed by the state. From now on, that’s the first thing I’ll look for.

  7. Derek Dewitt

    November 22, 2017 at 8:28 am

    My wife and I have been thinking about putting our kid in daycare for awhile, but we still aren’t sure about the idea. I like that you suggest checking to see if there is a license displayed on the wall where everyone can see it. Knowing that the place was a legal and certified establishment would make me feel much better about the idea.

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues

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How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide
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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please refer to my Legal Policies and Terms of Use. The opinions here are entirely my own. 
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child's Cues - Infographic

Duh, duh, duh….the dreaded meltdown. With one kid, this can bring the strongest mommy to her knees. With multiples, well…the word “epic” takes on a completely new meaning. In the worst possible way.

My system certainly isn’t perfect, and my kids give new meaning to the word tantrum (I have one that goes “no bones, limp baby, immovable and impossible to catch” and one that goes “cement block that weighs a bazillion pounds and can’t be bended, lifted and/or manipulated in any fashion,” with both adding crazy decibel, ear-splitting screams to boot). At some point in the insanity, I learned to anticipate the meltdown.
My husband and I can spot a meltdown coming from a mile away. We’ll give the other that “It’s time to go. Stat. Grab the kids and sprint. NOW. Forget your shoes! Leave them! Run!” look and as the rest of the human race looks on in bewildered dismay, we quickly head for the hills before things get ugly. I think we have our exit down to about 46 seconds these days (58 if I get to grab my shoes).
On a day-to-day basis, I’ve developed a couple of tricks that stave off most meltdowns. IF I’m paying attention. This is where the understanding your child’s cues part comes in to play. You have to catch the cue before it’s too late. “Practice makes perfect” is the phrase of the day here. Or is “trial through fire” more resonant? In any event, here are my go to lifesavers:

1. Mini Baby Blanket with Attachment Loop – Cold is the enemy. Nothing brings on the whine, which brings on the frustration, which brings on the ultimate refusal to act like a normal human being like frigid weather. I was lugging around blankets to tuck the kids in to their car seats (Remember to avoid bulky coats when strapping kiddos in!) and they were getting tossed, dropped, forgotten, you name it. Then I realized my mother-in-law had given us these super cute sensory blankets with a loop that could attach to a stroller and the light bulb went off. I strapped both blankets to the side of each car seat (they are small and hang to the side if unused, so unobtrusive and the loop is short and sweet, so no wrapping around anything else) and they’re always there when I need them. The link above is one of many Etsy shops that make these small wonders, and ours are even sports themed, so the husband is happy.
2. Baby Sign Language – I admit to being one of those people that eye-rolled the idea of baby sign language when I was pregnant. Never gave it a second thought until my kids starting screaming for reasons that I couldn’t seem to identify. A friend suggested I take a jab at it, and purely out of desperation, I did, still with a bit of attitude and skepticism. And then the boys started signing back. HALLELUJAH! We did only the basics – “More, All Done, Hungry, Please, Thank You” – and that opened up whole new worlds for us in communication. Not only were they excited to sign and overjoyed that I knew what the heck was going on, but I was immensely relieved and didn’t feel like Failure Parent of the Century. Big win. I eat my humble pie proudly. I was an idiot to think this was lame.
3. Snacks at the Ready – Baby Cooler – If cold is the enemy, hunger is the Antichrist. I’d say a good 50% of the time, the boys’ tantrums stem from being hungry. We’re usually in transition to our next meal when the tank slips below E. Low fuel = channeling Satan. And the perfect timing for this special little stream of insanity was pick up from day care. The kids were tired and spent and ready for dinner. Like, 5 minutes before I got there. The first words I heard daily were “Mommy! I need my milk! Hungry!” They were whining, crying, going all sorts of Apocalyptic on me because the last thing they wanted was to be strapped into their car seats for the ride home. They wanted to be teleported straight to the dinner table. I got tired of this daily warfare, especially at the end of my own long day at work, so I started packing snacks and milk in this convenient little cooler (which as an aside, a friend gave me with the promise that it would be one of the most handy baby items I received – she was right). It gets stashed in the community kitchen at work and I grab it on my way out the door each evening. Every morning, I repack and head off knowing that I’ve crossed one tantrum off the list for that day. Yay me.Insert random cuteness here…I mean seriously, people, how can these children have meltdowns that rival the End of Days?

Photos Courtesy of Somer Anne Photography

Moral of the story? A little organization and forethought can go a long way. Considering WHY my kids were throwing tantrums and then exploring what I could do to prevent them before they started has saved me a million tears. Like I said, it’s not a perfect system. But every little bit helps.

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues

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How to Speak the Right Language | Understanding Your Children's Cues
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Every day I pick up my children from day care to hear “They are such great kids! They had a blast today and are some of the best listeners we’ve ever had. They’re so well-behaved!” Yay, Mama win! And then we go home and they act like total demon-infested, hell-raising psychos and won’t listen to a word I say. Weekends can be brutal and I sometimes find myself praising Jesus that I decided to keep working and not stay-at-home.

What was I doing wrong? Who were these little hellions and where were those
sweet kids from day care?
Purposeful Parenting - How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child's Cues Purposeful Parenting - How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child's Cues

Best Thing I Ever Did: I went to pick the kids up one day and they were enjoying themselves, so I decided to just sit and watch for a bit and let them play. Funny thing happened. I started listening to how the day care teachers communicated with my children and how they responded. And the light bulb went off. I don’t know how to speak the language my kids understand.

I started listening harder. And then I came back the next day and did it again. Now, every time I drop off or pick up, I listen. How are they talking to my kids? What are they saying? How are the kids responding? And then I mimick it at home.

Major win!!! My kids are starting to see an extension of their daily routine back into the home and it’s making sense. I say certain words they’re used to hearing and like magic, they listen. Not every time (which I suspect also happens at day care), but the majority of time. Major improvement. We are starting to speak the same language.

Sometimes I forget (or refuse to admit) that I am not my children’s primary care provider. For those of us that work outside the home, most often our kids spend the majority of their time somewhere other than with us. Sometimes, being reminded of that hurts. A lot. But truth is, they develop routines, cues and references that we’re not familiar with. We need to learn the language they are used to hearing every day so that we can communicate our needs in a way they understand. I need to speak my children’s language.

Phrase Adjustments that Worked for Me: 

  • “Walk away please” instead of “No!” or “Don’t Touch!” 
  • “Are you using your listening ears?” instead of “Listen to me!”
  • “I’m going to go to work for awhile, but Mommies always come back!” instead of “Say bye to Mommy. I have to go to work.” 

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Emily Speaks

11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks

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Alternatives to Self Harm | Emily Speaks | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide
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If you’re just connecting with the Emily Speaks series, be sure to check out her first post, Cyber Bullying and Self-Harm, to catch up. Today, Emily will be sharing 11 alternatives to self harm to help those hurting to make healthier choices to cope with emotional struggles. 

11 Alternatives to Self-Harm: Emily Speaks


I know it can be hard not to self-harm if you’re being bullied, but you need to try to think of other ways to deal with the pain. Cutting leaves angry scars on your body. You should try to deal with your hurt in other ways. Here are 11 good examples that will hopefully help you out a little bit.

1. Try talking to somebody about what’s going on so that you can get it out of your system.

2. Go outside where nobody is around and just scream as loud as you can for as long as you want.


3. Take a rubber band and keep it on your wrist so whenever you feel like cutting you can just take that rubber band and snap it on your wrist (softly – not to where it harms you).


4. Get an old teddy bear or stuffed animal that you don’t want and take your anger out on that.


5. Go on a jog or go out and ride your bike or long board or whatever you have and just ride around to calm yourself down.


6. Go hang out with your friend(s) and get your mind off things that would make you want to cut or do anything else to harm yourself.

7. Sleep it out and take a long nap and see how you’re feeling when you wake up.


8. Go hang out with your family and just relax.


9. Listen to some music.


10. Read a book.


11. Get an art journal and draw out your feelings. You can paint, draw pictures, even just scribble hard.

These are some of the ways that I stop myself from cutting, because I do still think about it when things get rough. When that happens, I try to do these instead and it helps. It does! You need to do anything that would take your mind off of any bad thoughts you are having and make you want to hurt yourself. This might not be the best list of ideas, but if you take a chance and try them out, they might end up working for you. You’re not only helping yourself, but you’re helping everyone else around you by making a better choice to not self-harm. 

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