Perhaps you’ve set out to find the perfect day home or daycare for your sprouting children. If you’re like me, or any other parent for that matter, you’re looking for perfection, the best of the best. You know the one I mean; it has a brightly coloured, toy filled room, an impressive art supply collection, a fabulous outdoor space complete with a sandbox, over fifty children’s books, and, of course, a one-of-kind allomother.
If you’re not familiar with that term, an allomother is any caregiver that is not the biological parent. Any person in your family that regularly looks after your child is an allomother. They can be aunties, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, or friends. Allomothering is a phenomenon seen through history and is also common in other mammal and bird species. It has and always will be a key component to your child’s upbringing. It takes a village to raise a child and your dayhome attendant is a very important allomother.
I searched incessantly for the perfect person to be part of my children’s upbringing. I needed someone with the same values as me within an affordable price range. This was the process I went through to find the perfect allomother for my Little Bears.
I started by searching the web on what to look for. I knew I needed to interview potential allomothers and I wanted to know what qualities I should look for, what questions I should ask, and what kinds of environments would be best suited to my children’s ages. This is a brief list of what I found:
- Ask what kind of food they serve on a daily basis and what they sometimes get (don’t phrase the question “what do you normally serve”)
Be sure to get a tour of the environment, particularly asking to see where the children sleep.
- Ask what the child/caregiver ratio is and bring up scenarios such as bathroom breaks.
- Ask what kind of scenarios warrant a time-out and what other specific forms of discipline are used.
- Confirm that they are the type of facility they are claiming to be and that everyone involved in childcare has their First Aid.
Now, this is just a list of the resonating points that repeated in almost every search I completed. Different childcare qualities may apply to your family based on your and your children’s needs. These may include allergies, extra naps, picky eaters, vacations, sick days, prices, outdoor time, vaccinations, and/or extended hours.
For me, I was even bold enough to ask if they had ever committed a crime such as child abandonment or assault. I knew I had to be extraordinarily comfortable with the place I was leaving my children, so I wasn’t afraid to flip over every rock to get my piece of mind.
The next task I undertook was researching day homes and daycares near me and my place of work. I googled reviews and asked family, friends, KARA staff, and internet strangers if they knew of childcare places nearby and what they thought of them. It was nice to chat with everyone and gain their insight. A few of them did refer me to places, where I completed the last leg of my journey.
Now, this last piece of the project took effort, much more effort, as I was now traveling to and from potential day homes and daycares and conducting interviews, with my children in tow. And it was a lot of interviews, twelve to be exact. I saw all kinds of day homes and daycares alike. I saw ones with no outdoor environment, ones where children greatly exceeded the number of child care attendants, ones that were dirty with used bandaids on the floor, ones where the caregiver seemed to be constantly yelling to be heard over the volume of a TV, ones that transitioned children to one nap when they weren’t ready, ones where children slept on the floor in a pile, and ones where I could tell the caregivers didn’t like looking after kids all day.
At the end of it all, I learned it takes a special kind of person to be an allomother all day, everyday, to many different children. A kind hearted person with a sort of gentle grace. It also taught me something about myself and what I wanted to find. As well as being a safe place, I dreamed of the sweetest girl to reflect the same environment I had at home, complimented by a wonderfully soft voice to laugh and play with my children. Dreams don’t always come true, but mine did. Yes, fortunately, my hard work paid off and I found a dayhome that was exactly what I wanted. It was also close to KARA. A dream come true and the piece of mind I needed.
If you are reading this and happen to be actively searching for the perfect allomother, I suggest asking around. Friends, family, internet strangers and KARA staff are all good resources as they may once have been, or currently are, in your shoes. Your child’s age and needs, and your needs too, should all be considered. Never be afraid to ask the bold questions. After all, you’re looking for your child’s allomother.