After a year of staying at home with my lil one, I'm back to work and loving it. The decision to work was easy, but babycare was my big dilemma. I searched for daycares, nannies, and nanny-share options. I'll share my journey with you in this three-part series.

This week: The Daycare Option.

I wanted my daughter to attend daycare to learn how to be a social being and be stimulated while I was at work. Daycare would teach her that she's not the center of attention, how to share, and how to take a lick and keep on ticking.

At the same time, I would be opening the door to colds, earaches, and biting! And, you need to factor in the time it takes to drop off and pick up your kid. Most daycares that I looked at closed around 5 p.m. "Excuse me boss, I am going to have to leave at 4:30 p.m. every day so I can pick up my baby on time." Not a good way to start a new job. And, all of this is assuming you have the option to attend daycare.

Here in San Francisco, finding daycare is like finding a needle in a haystack. Many well regarded daycares have year-long waitlists. By the time she'd be able to attend, my daughter would be in preschool. (I didn't know I had to have her name on the list when she was born!)

So I went on word of mouth and hunted around for smaller daycares. These are facilities run out of people's homes with a 6:1 child-to-caregiver ratio. Some of them were cute, clean, and well-maintained operations. Others, not so much.

The one I felt most comfortable with required each child to sleep for four hours a day. Come again? Yes. My child was expected to sleep for nearly half the time that she would be there. And, this place wanted to charge me more than I was going to make. So, I continued on my search.

If you do find a daycare that you are crazy about, here are some things you might want to check out:

  1. Make sure the daycare provides a safe and healthy environment for your child.
  2. All daycare centers must be licensed.
  3. Upon request, they should provide you with references. (See if you can call families who have already graduated from the facility as well as current enrollees
  4. Inquire about the staff's background and how long they have worked there. Also, ask what the daycare center's hiring qualifications are for them.
  5. Know what the napping and sick policies are.
  6. Make sure unannounced and unscheduled visits to the daycare are allowed.

Unfortunately for me, daycare was not an option. Next stop . . . nannies.