Finding child care is a tricky business and finding the perfect balance between the type of care, hours, location, quality and cost may seem elusive.
However, even if your initial search for child care didn't provide you with the outcome you were hoping for don't panic!
There is a wide range of high quality child care options available to Australians and you can compare the pros and cons here. Learning about the different types of care available will help you make an informed decision about the best type of care arrangement for your family.
While a single service provider offering care all day every day may be the easiest solution it may not be the best, and if you can't find a centre offering the hours you require then you'll need to think outside the box.
Many families use a variety of different types of care, consider the following scenarios:
Scenario 1 – Jane is returning to work full time after spending eight months at home with baby Tina, she and her partner Tom have secured centre based care near Tom's work on Mondays and Tuesdays. The centre has said more days will be available in two months, until then Jane's mother has agreed to mind Tina on Wednesdays and Thursdays and Tom will work from home on Fridays.
Scenario 2 – Donna is returning to work part time (three days per week) after 12 months at home with baby Evan, she and her partner Paul have negotiated a nanny share arrangement with friends from the Mums and Bubs group Donna joined after having Evan.
Scenario 3 – Haylee and her partner David are both returning to work after six months at home with baby James. James will go to a local family day carer from Monday-Thursday and Haylee has negotiated with her employer to work flexible hours and will take Fridays off to mind James.
Scenario 4 – Cathy is returning to work part time after 12 weeks at home with baby Sasha. Until Sasha is one Cathy and her partner Pete have both decided to work part time, Cathy will stay at home Monday-Tuesday, Pete will do Thursday and Friday and they are employing a babysitter to work Wednesdays.
Scenario 5 – Jan is a single mum who runs a business from home. Jan's baby Sam is six months old and she has decided to employ an au pair for six months before starting Sam full time in a child care centre. The au pair can't work unsupervised but because Jan will be in the house the whole time she will be available to help when necessary.
Scenario 6 – Maggie's partner Roy is in the army and is away a lot and they have four month old baby Jade. Maggie is returning to work part time for the rest of Jade's first year and they have decided to employ a nanny to care for Jade at home on the days Maggie is working.
Remember your child care requirements may change as your child grows and as your work commitments change. It's also important to keep in mind the fact that spaces come up in child care services all the time, so if full time care in a long day care centre is your ultimate goal work towards it.
If your ideal centre offers you two days, take the days and then weigh up your options, talk to your friends and family about helping, consider using a family day carer, evaluate the cost of a nanny or babysitter or talk to your boss about flexible work options.
Children are fairly flexible in time most kids will successfully adjust to a new care arrangement. Taking a multi faceted approach to your child care needs may require a little more coordination than using a single child care service but it gives you a great excuse to explore your options fully and use a little imagination in your planning.