Child Care Decisions for Co-Parents

Whether parents hire a full-time nanny or only enlist help from a babysitter for a few hours, child care is a topic that all parents will consider at some point or another. For parents who happen to be divorced or separated, making decisions about child care can be rather difficult. Lack of communication, constant disagreements, or bitterness stemming from past issues might get in the way of parents making smart joint decisions about child care. No matter how difficult it may be to discuss this topic, it is important that co-parents are on the same page when making child care decisions. In this situation, consider taking these steps as you make child care decisions.

The Child's Safety Comes First

Although this may seem obvious, it bears repeating: the most important thing to consider when making child care decisions is always the health and safety of your child. Wherever you child is should be a place that makes them feel comfortable, and whoever is taking care of your child should be someone who you, your co-parent, and your child can trust. As parents, it is your responsibility to find the right person to care for your child when you cannot be there to do so yourselves. When looking for the right person to care for your child, make sure that he or she has previous experience with children. Ask to see their credentials and references. Many child care providers are certified in baby or child CPR and other emergency procedures, so consider asking for verification of this from each person you interview. Find out if the people you interview are willing to watch your child at one or both of your homes, or if they require that you bring your child to their home or daycare facility. If they cannot come to your home, visit the location before you agree to leave your child there. Ensure that their facility is safe and kid-friendly.

Consider Different Kinds of Child Care

There are several choices for child care available, and you should consider a variety of these options before choosing which one fits your family. If you need full-time child care, you might hire a live-in nanny. This person will live in your home and be there to help you by watching your kids. They may even be able to help with other household chores like cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. If you don't have space in your home for someone to live with you or don't need someone's help with more than just the kids, you can still hire someone to provide childcare in your home on a full-time schedule. When looking into full-time at home child care, consider whether or not the person you hire needs to work in both of your homes. If you live close enough to each other, and your child care provider is flexible, this may be possible.

If you do not live close enough for someone to commute between homes or you cannot agree with your co-parent on this option, consider daycare. Daycare outside of the home can provide a neutral space for you and your co-parent to bring your child and have them supervised by one or more responsible individuals. Even more, daycare facilities often care for multiple children at once, so this is a great opportunity for your kids to make new friends and cultivate social skills. One or both of you might work for companies that provide on-site child care, so consider this option for the added convenience of having your child close to you at work. If you don't need full-time childcare, find one or more babysitters who both you and your co-parent can call to watch your child. Make sure that these are people that you can both agree upon, as you don't need to deal with more conflict due to your choice of babysitter. No matter what decision you make with your choice of child care provider, the most important thing is to ensure that you and your co-parent can agree on it.

Discuss The Costs

The cost of child care can be a huge point of contention between co-parents in conflict. First and foremost, child care is expensive. Prices can reach as high as more than a thousand dollars a week, depending on the care option you choose. While it is expensive, it is often worth the cost because it allows you and your co-parent to continue working your jobs and enjoying some kid-free time here and there. As a divorced or separated parent, the way that your family's child care expenses are paid is typically written into your parenting plan. If you share these costs with your co-parent, the amount of time that each of you spends with your child will likely be a factor in determining the amount that you each will pay. Your individual income also will help to determine how much you may each end up paying for child care. Consider these elements as you make decisions about paying for child care while writing your parenting plan. Whichever way it ends up, try and work with your co-parent to hire a child care provider that is affordable and convenient for you both as well as pleasing to your child.

Write It Down

Once you and your co-parent have made a decision on childcare, it should be documented in writing as soon as possible. Usually, this is done when drafting your parenting plan. In your plan, cover each issue that you have come to a decision on. These may include a list of your approved child care providers, procedures for paying the related costs, travel arrangements to and from child care facilities, and much more. If you are making an amendment to a previous agreement on child care by way of changing nannies or hiring new babysitters, you should still consider adding this information to your parenting plan. Speak to your attorney about how to go about doing this because you may need to file your changes with the court to add it to your existing documentation.

Though it is valuable to get your child care agreement or amendments into your parenting plan, it is also necessary to have this information in a place that both you and your co-parent can access with ease. The information bank on the OurFamilyWizard® website offers an organized space for co-parents to store all that they need to know about their child care decisions. Contact information for each child care provider, directions to each daycare location, information about costs, and other specifics can all be stored here. Even more, the expense log on OurFamilyWizard provides space for you to document child care costs and upload related receipts. Using OurFamilyWizard to communicate about everything related to your child care decisions will help you and your co-parent to stay organized and up-to-date on everything related to this matter.

Childcare decisions are important ones for co-parents to make. Ensure that your child care provider will keep your child healthy and safe, whether they are providing care in your home or at some other location. Child care costs can be expensive, so don't hesitate to discuss your options and look for one that is most affordable for you and your co-parent. Once you have finally reached some decisions, get these documented in your parenting plan as well as in a location that is accessible to you both. Taking all of these steps as you make child care decisions as co-parents will be beneficial to you and your child in the long run.