Busy times for finding childcare are school, work and holiday-related transition periods – Aug./Sept., Dec./ Jan. and May/Jun. It can be both harder and easier to find a solution at these times, as many parents are either seeking or no longer requiring care. Although the possibilities are greater, they are also rapidly filled and the hiring cycle can be very fast.
Many daycares are only accessible if you put your name on a list when you first become pregnant.
A few phone calls in your area will give you an idea of how things are in your neighborhood. For all of us who laughed at the idea, we found ourselves shocked and confused at the archaic world of having to visit in person to add oneself to a wait list and even sometimes having to pay $10 to $50 to do so!
Ironically, when a spot does become available, many daycares and preschools need to go through hundreds, if not thousands of names on their lists before they find parents who have not set up another arrangement, so the last on the list are often surprisingly successful in their mission to get a spot. Home-based daycares are often a little bit more accessible, but still can command long wait lists.
Securing a live-in caregiver who is currently not in the country is also a long process which you can tackle on your own or hire an agency to help you at a cost of more than $1000. The process places a number of obligations and commitments on you and due diligence is required.
It’s of course much faster to hire a babysitter or a live-out nanny directly.
To have the optimal choice, plan to have ideally three weeks or so. In many larger cities, it’s possible to hire someone in 3 to 4 days – from posting a job to interviewing to checking references.
This process also depends on your own availability to lead the process coupled with your prior level of experience in hiring people, especially for the home, as hiring helpers for home-based situation is different from work-based hires: you are both hiring an employee as well as acquiring a household family member.
Need more advice? This and much more available in our free guide to child care options