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Day Care Woes

For many parents, sending a child to day care is both a convenience and a hassle. Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby Magazine, has some tips on handling some of the most common day care shortcomings.

One of the number one complaints about day care providers is the time that parents have to pick their children up. Sometimes, that pick-up time just doesn't coincide with your work schedule or you're running late. Many child care providers will begin calling parents on their cell phones after five or ten minutes of waiting, making an already stressful situation worse. "If it's a chronic problem, the day care people get annoyed - they want to go home," says Kelly.

Kelly suggests having a back up plan, just in case you can't get there to pick up your son or daughter in time. "If you could find a college student, or just somebody that you can call," says Kelly, then running late won't stress you out as much. However, if the scheduled pick up time just doesn't fit in well with your work schedule, you may need to start searching for other care providers. Sometimes, you can work out a deal with the day care and pay one teacher a little extra money to stay late, but don't count on this option. Most day care providers have very strict policies.

Another issue parents face is the turnover rate of day care teachers. Sometimes, your child becomes very attached to one particular care provider and it's very hard on them when they leave. Kelly suggests helping your child form relationships with several caregivers instead of just one. That way, if one particular teacher leaves the day care, it won't affect your child as much. "Every day care has a normal ebb and flow of turnover..." says Kelly, "but if there's a constant turnover, that's a red flag." A revolving door of care providers can signal a poor work environment that doesn't value its employees; that's an environment you don't want your child to spend eight hours a day in.

Even though your child is spending the majority of their day at day care, nobody knows your child better than you. What you consider "normal behavior" may indicate to someone else that your child is sick. Because day cares have so many children in one building, they often have very strict policies about illness. If a child vomits, they usually have to go home immediately.

However, you may know that your child throws up after a tantrum or if he or she eats cottage cheese. Your care provider doesn't. "You'll get a call at work at 10:00 [saying], 'Johnny threw up, come get him,'" says Kelly. "You rush over there... [and] find out he swallowed a crayon and now he's fine and dancing around." Even though your child seems fine, most places will make you take him home.

If picking up your child becomes a common occurrance, try talking to your day care provider. Explain your child's tendencies to them, and ask them to truly assess whether or not your child seems ill the next time something happens. Most day cares have very strict illness policies, but others are a little more flexible. "Talk to the teacher who's there," says Kelly.

Communication is the key to a happy day care experience. "Talking is everything," says Kelly. "If you have any doubts, just bring it up. Maybe there will be some reason behind a policy that seems really unfair to you that will make sense."

For more information on dealing with your day care, as well as other parenting advice, click here to visit AmericanBaby.com.

By Erin Petrun