My 4 year old has been in family day care since she was 13 mths. I thought this was a good alternative to a day care centre, as she was so young and due to the restrictions at FDC - only 5 children at one time etc. She has thrived in this environment, and loves going. My FDC mum is fantastic, and i class her as a friend also (she came to my wedding in Jan). We have a very open relationship and there has been many a time when she has been a sounding board and a shoulder to cry on. She genuinely adores my (and other) daughter, they give each other a kiss and she tells her she loves her.
At the beginning she was only in 1 day a week, and i found it quite difficult to leave her, and rang at least once a day to see how she was doing. As she got more confident (also i got into uni), we increased her days to 3 days a week. She currently goes mon, tues and wed.
We've currently got my 4 month old in her care for one day a week, and i leave her there for a couple of hours to go and do the paperwork at my husbands business. It gives me a couple of hours of "off" time.
Next year i am (unfortunately) back at full time uni, so i will have both booked in for the three days. But i've also got my (oldest) daughter booked in at a preschool as i think it is important for her to get used to having more than 4 kids around in preparation for big school.
Just a bit of advice - when you meet your FDC mum for the first time, take notice how you feel. In this circumstance, first impressions really do count. These people are looking after the MOST important thing in our lives, so if it doesn't feel right, find someone else until it does.
Good luck with your decision. Be prepared for crying, as the little rascals are very good at making you feel guilty! Trust me, they stop crying as soon as you leave. and don't hesitate to ring them, they are used to it, and most time expect it.
Emily, NSW, Kaziah 28-8-01 and Jorja 3-8-05