Finding good childcare has surprisingly been one the biggest challenges in parenting for me. You obviously don't just want to leave your kids with anyone, but finding the right person to trust is hard. It takes risk, investment and time to make it work. The Real Mom series is back as we get into the nitty gritty of what has worked for us and what hasn't with hired help. Be sure to the other real mamas' perspectives: The Effortless Chic; Sacramento Street; The Life Styled; FreutcakeHey Mama Co; A Daily Something; Thoughts by Natalie; The Sweetest Occasion; Sarah Sherman Samuel
We have gone through four babysitters all of whom our kids have adored, fallen in love with and have moved on (with the exception of occasional night or two). I didn't realize how hard it would be to not just find someone amazing, but keep someone amazing. I think the worst part of the whole childcare process has been having to break it to my kids that their babysitter isn't coming back. 

What I have learned is that most qualified sitters or nannies are looking for something full-time. Often they will take the work they can get, but I've never been in a place that I could afford full-time care nor do I want that for this season of motherhood. So, it's understandable that they have needed to move on, but heartbreaking nonetheless.

Thankfully, most of our sitters have been able to babysit for us here and there when we are in need for a date night, but I was still left with a problem of how to find consistent childcare?

Preschool for both kids came sooner than we thought. I didn't plan on putting Levi in school at one years old, especially with his health ups and downs, but I needed to know that someone wasn't going to cancel on me last minute or quit all together for the sake of my job and my sanity. I felt so guilty about it because it wasn't what I had planned, and I had it in my mind that being home was the best thing for my kids. To my surprise, it ended up being the best decision I have ever made. 

Elle is a social butterfly and thrives in a school environment. This was not a surprise to me, and it sure gave me a peace about placing her in school. She needed to be challenged and she needed the socialization. We found a small Christian preschool not too far away that was recommended by kindergarten teachers in our area, and she goes five mornings a week.

For Levi, it was a bit harder to find a school that would take him at 1 years old, but we found another small Christian school up the road that takes such great care of him. Levi doesn't talk very much, but he has started to talk more since being around other kids. One thing that I have particularly noticed is that he is able to sit at a table nicely and eat his food, he puts his toys away when you ask him and he can sit criss cross applesauce on the floor while listening to a story. These are all things that Elle struggled with when we transitioned her to preschool at three years old. I must say that having a one year old with good manners is AMAZING!

I pick them both up at 11:30. We come home and have lunch and nap/quiet time and have the rest of the day together. It's perfect. I have also preferred school because I'm able to work from home instead of a coffee shop. Taking conference calls in your car is annoying to say the least.

If you're a mom like me that feels guilty about putting your kids in daycare, don't be. In many ways it can offer better learning experiences than keeping them home with a sitter. 

I will also say that the BEST babysitter we have EVER had came from a local nanny agency. We told the agency what we were looking for and they prescreened and interviewed candidates for us. They submitted five to us, and the very first one we met, we loved. We were given her driving record, her CPR certification and a resume. We also had a two month trial period. The agency charged us a percentage of her monthly earnings, and that's it. After the trial period was over we were able to work with our nanny on our own terms. Though we couldn't keep her after a couple months due to her needing more hours, it was SUCH a great experience and now she babysits for us for date nights and other things. She has become a part of our family, and the kids see her at least once a week. So, if you are looking for a nanny try an agency and save yourself the hassle of or calling all of your friends for recommendations.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer