Stories of sticky toys, germs, dirty kids, and bad caretakers took away from my confidence in sending my son to daycare at an early age. On top of that, there’s some kind of social stigma that having to send your child to daycare is a “shame”. That daycare somehow minimizes the amount of parenting one does in a negative way, and that someone else is taking the brunt of ‘raising’ your child…
I always considered myself lucky I didn’t attend daycare growing up because my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Now that I have two kids of my own, I’m not even sure how my mom kept the four of us home without going completely insane. Being a stay-at-home parent has got to be one of the most emotionally testing (but, of course, rewarding) jobs there is today.
Nowadays, it’s difficult to carry a family on one salary. It seems inevitable that at some point before kindergarten or full day pre-school, arranged childcare is the only way to manage childcare while both parents work. As of 2011, over 60% of families utilize some form of arranged childcare, 24% sending to a daycare facility*.
My husband and I both work full-time jobs. We looked into daycare when in-home care just wasn’t cutting it anymore and luckily found a great daycare facility close to home. Our son now goes twice a week and we’ll up it to three days in a few months. Though sometimes it’s a little sad to drop our son off and say goodbye…
The truth about daycare is that I love it (and I don’t feel bad about that one bit).
Because of daycare, I get to breathe. I get a minute to return to the pre-kid self that I rarely see anymore. I can fold a load of laundry, enjoy silence, and drink a cup of coffee while it’s still hot.
Because of daycare, I’m more patient. I’ve had a break during the day so I can be a better parent at night. I can prep dinner before my son gets home and spend some extra time with him after I pick him up. Unlike most days, I don’t feel completely defeated by 6pm. The separation brings us closer when we’re back together again.
Because of daycare, my son is learning in ways that I can’t always provide at home by myself. He’s learning letters, numbers, shapes, and social norms while making friends. When I pick him up, he talks about his day and sings songs he’s learned. Throughout the year, he comes home with little handmade holiday arts and crafts that I have grown to cherish.
Because of daycare, I’m learning to accept help, when to ask for it, and that it truly takes a village. I’ve stopped carrying guilt and the feeling that someone else is ‘raising’ our kids; and I can now recognize that a few hours in daycare is well worth the happy mom my son comes home to.
Now it’s not all perfect. I’m sure he’s exposed to every sickness under the sun. Sometimes it’s hard just getting him ready and out the door. I think he’s had a runny nose or cough for the better part of the year. But he’s happy, I’m happy, and it’s working for us.
*Source: Who’s Minding the Kids? from census.gov