As if figuring out childcare wasn’t already one of the most difficult and stressful decisions parents have to make, now we’re forced to figure out our options during a global pandemic.
I mean, no pressure, right?
From daycare to preschools, private nannies to podding with a small parent-lead playgroup, there are a lot of options available. The question is what works for your family financially and risk-wise when it comes to COVID and the health of those in your household.
As part of our virtual event series “breakfast with bloom” on Instagram Live, we talked with pediatrician and mother Dr. Mona Amin about childcare options parents have right now and what questions they should be asking about COVID precautions. Watch the video below, and scroll down for some of her most important points about taking care of your kids (and yourself!) this fall.
- Ditch the Guilt.
“Single moms have to send their kids to a daycare and they live with guilt, and then we have mothers who work from home and they want to get someone to come into the home and then they have guilt about that person coming into their home,” Dr. Mona said. “There’s going to be mommy-guilt in every aspect of childcare during this pandemic and my goal with this conversation is to remove that mommy-guilt, because we have to do what’s best for our children with the information we have and the resources we have.”
If the adults in your household work outside of the home and a full-time daycare or preschool is your only option for childcare right now, Dr. Mona says instead of crumbling under the guilt, take control of the situation by finding a childcare center with strong COVID policies in place.
- Check your Childcare Center’s Covid Policies
Though there’s no one thing that a daycare can do that will completely eliminate the risk of COVID transmission there are recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control on how to best eliminate risk. Dr. Mona says to ask your childcare center for their COVID policies and look for things like required mask-wearing by adults in the facility and parents at drop-off, staggered drop-offs, frequent sanitation of shared items, and nap stations being separate from each other.
“A lot of daycares are able to stay open because they’re taking precautions and they’re frequently cleaning things,” Dr Mona said.
The biggest way to keep your daycare safe is to do your part in keeping your child home when they’re sick -- even if you think it’s just a runny nose.
“Please, if your child is sick, keep them home. And this includes even if your kid is sick with a runny nose and a 100-degree temperature, even if they seem okay, don’t give them Tylenol and send them off. It’s better in the time of a pandemic to just keep them home,” she said.
- Daily Temperature Checks Give False Security
Dr. Mona says she doesn’t recommend relying on temperature checks at the door because they don’t account for asymptomatic spread which can give a false sense of security.
While adding a daily temperature check on top of sanitation and mask-wearing is fine, relying on a thermometer to keep you safe is a big misstep.
“You could have mild symptoms with COVID, you could have no symptoms with COVID and you may not have a fever. So i actually don’t think temp checks make a lot of sense,” Dr. Mona said, “I don’t want you to have false security. I could have a normal temperature and I could be brewing covid.”
- Yes, there is such a thing as a COVID Contract.
You can, and probably should, ask your nanny or childcare provider to sign a COVID contract with stipulations on risk-exposure. It can include things like promising not to go to social gatherings or take public transportation, but Dr. Mona says if you do that you need to be willing to compensate more or find alternative transportation for that childcare provider.
“If that’s what you want as a parent, you can ask -- but you have to understand the nanny has their own way of transportation and if you take that away you have to say, as an employer, I will provide you with a rental car or I will come pick you up or I’ll pay for your Uber,” Dr. Mona said.
But Dr. Mona says do not assume your nanny coming to your house via public transit is totally bad. If the nanny is wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer, they are being as safe as possible.
Follow Dr. Mona on Instagram at @pedsdoctalk and check out her podcast Peds Doc Talk wherever you get your podcasts.
And check out our “breakfast with bloom” virtual event lineup here!
Hanna Nakano is a Washington, D.C. based writer and photographer, and mother of two.