Checking Up on Your Childcare Provider
If you have someone coming into your home to watch your children, there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier. One, you can stay home a couple times while the caregiver is there. Either help out with the kids or be an observer. Watch how the children respond to the caregiver, especially their facial expressions and tone.
After that, you can come home early unexpectedly a couple times to see how things are going. Or just pop home for lunch without letting anyone know. You may want to do this a couple times, of course, because it's possible to catch someone during a bad time. For example, one child is crying for a bottle, but the other one just broke a glass, and the provider has to stop everything to pick up the shards. You never know! Along with that, you could also ask your neighbors or friends to stop by unexpectedly to see how things are going.
Some parents go as far as to install nanny cams, or tiny hidden cameras that record the goings on of the day. I recommend only doing this if you suspect your caregiver of mistreating your children or some other serious offense. Imagine you're sitting in your office cubical right now and there's a hidden camera on you; it's quite the invasion of privacy. And, yes, it is your home, and you can do what you please. But if all your caregiver is guilty of is the removal of an occasional wedgie or nose pick, you may regret spying.
Daycare Centers and Home Providers
Ask if you can spend some time in the daycare, maybe an hour in the morning or coming early to pick up your child. See how the provider(s) interact with the children, what games they play, how much TV they're watching, etc.
Pop in on your lunch break unexpectedly, or “remember” that you forgot your child's sweater or hat and swing by on a break. You'll be able to catch a glimpse of what goes on there when there are no parents observing. Are there a few kids crying? Chaos? Safety issues?
Talk to other parents; start networking with other parents during drop-off and pick-up times. Ask them how they feel about the daycare, what their child says, what they've heard, etc. Not all gossip is true, but it doesn't hurt to nose around and see if there's something that needs further investigation.
You may feel that being sneaky is wrong, and that's fine. But sometimes it takes a little bit of sneaky to set our minds at ease, or to catch on to something you don't approve of. This is your child, and you can do whatever it takes to ensure their safety and happiness! Hopefully, your pop-ins prove that you made a great choice, and you can go back to work with a smile on your face.