You've shopped around and done all your homework. You've selected someone you feel you can really trust with your preschooler. Now's the time to think about creating a good relationship with this very important person. Like any relationship, it requires a certain amount of vigilance and civility.
- Whether you take your child to a day care center or a private home, watch the clock religiously. Nothing will ruin your relationship faster than taking advantage of your provider's timetable. Deliver and pick up your child within the agreed-upon hours. Resist the urge to call and say there's been an "emergency."
- Money matters. Always pay on time. Don't make partial payments unless you've cleared it with your provider in advance. And if you ask a caregiver to do extra chores, be sure to offer extra pay.
- Nip problems in the bud. Many parents postpone bringing up awkward subjects or concerns, hoping things will work themselves out. They usually don't. And when problems fester, even the most carefully nurtured relationship erodes.
- Make time for informal chats. Caregivers are grateful when busy working parents take the time to discuss changes at home, family ups and downs, and other issues that affect a child's daily life. Sharing your perceptions opens the door to reciprocity and sends the message that you and your caregiver are partners.
- R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Take Aretha's word for it and treat caregivers as the important and valued people they are. Comment on the positive things your child has learned or done, and express your appreciation. If your child is cared for in a family setting, make an effort to know the other members of the family. Give a holiday gift. Small gestures of appreciation go a long way.