The Benefits Of Daycare
Daycare. For the mamas who want to work. For the mamas who have to work. For the mamas who need a break during the week and are too afraid to admit it. This one is for you. I must say when our son was born I was scared to death. Staying home with him the first few months, I discovered the joys and also the huge amounts of worry that come along with raising a child. I knew that I would return to work (as we were preparing to purchase our first home) but when the time came to return I was sick to my stomach. Being a mom that is #momminghard without a village can be tough, and my village is 2.5 hrs away. Knowing I would be back to juggling work, grad school, and motherhood was daunting to say the least. Knowing that we were planning to send our bundle of joy to daycare was TERRIFYING. However, I learned that daycare is not the scary beast it’s
made out to be. It’s usually the bad word, the taboo topic of motherhood, but folks….daycare can be a blessing in disguise.
Of course this all depends on who you choose as a provider and having worked in a daycare during undergrad, I had my list of “nopes” and “must haves.”
On my laundry list of requirements, these were some of my top must haves:
- We would stay away from large daycare chains -Having worked in a large daycare chain myself, I know that large businesses are in fact, businesses. Not that there are not great teachers in large chains, but for us smaller was better and more personable.
- Veteran childcare experience and great staff demeanor
- Bright environment conducive to learning
- Cleanliness -Again, having worked in a daycare myself, I knew exactly which nook and crannies to look into.
- Do they schedule visits? -Typically if visits are scheduled, they are planning on you coming, so things are typically pristine that day. I loved that our school allowed pop ins which most likely means that there is a strong effort to remain on their P’s and Q’s at all times.
- Curriculum -Even infants need a curriculum and I wanted our son to have purposeful learning time as part of his daily schedule.
- Daily updates and schedule– How does the school/facility communicate with parents about their child each day?
- How does it feel? – Like buying a home or even finding a mate…..you just know. You know when a place is right or not. You listen to that mama gut and YOU GO WITH IT.
Once we found a school that I was comfortable with my precious 5 month old attending, we continued to do pop ins until his start date (which even allowed him to get a sense for his new class). Turns out this was much harder on me than it was for my son. My son handled the transition from home to school like a champ. Even though all babies do not, I can promise you that it is a transition and transitions are not permanent. Adjustments are part of life and I am glad that I allowed myself to take this journey (even if it was the only journey we could take).
Here are 5 benefits of daycare I’ve grown to appreciate:
- Routines & Consistency: Even as a stay-at-home mama or those on leave, you realize how much a routine and consistency is NECESSARY. Naturally, our babies keep us in some sort of routine whether we plan it or not because their lives are centered around a schedule (eating, sleeping, etc.). One of the best things about daycare is that your child’s teachers actually help you maintain a routine and schedule. I loved that our son could maintain his same schedule at home- at school. Each infants schedule was tracked on a board and this helped a great deal at home. Even on the weekends when it is sometimes easy to get off track, I was thankful for his teachers that helped us remain consistent.
- Attention: I know. Inevitably, that mama guilt creeps in and tries to take us mamas out. However, my perspective was broadened as we continued our daycare journey. While I initially was heartsick (as any mama would be) that my little was not right by my side as I worked, I also thought about those moments I was at home with him. Every day was glorious and there were also days that exhaustion was mixed in those glorious days. In those moments, I was a walking zombie trying to keep all the things afloat….even myself. And then I thought, he has teachers who LOVE him. Mama’s love with always trump this, but his teachers are devoted daily to his every need. They are not walking zombies who are on auto-pilot. His teachers were there everyday to ensure that every baby was happy and loved and we were grateful for their daily capacity to love and serve our baby.
- Curriculum: One of my must haves was a daily curriculum. When I was home with our son, I have to admit that even as a teacher, I fell short some days. When you’re pregnant you have a perfect picture of the schedule you’re going to have with your sweet baby, and then your baby is born and you realize the baby is the king or queen of your day. Many days we read books, rocked out during baby Zumbini time, and fulfilled Pinterest dreams. Other days my son’s learning for the day included watching mama do laundry, make a store run, watch Netflix, clean the house, do grad school homework, or take a nap (for the few seconds I could). Why? Because #momminghard means that you aren’t just taking care of a human being but also taking care of life. At daycare, my son is getting DAILY curriculum that is purposeful and structured for his development. In fact, it’s not ever interrupted because the laundry needs to be done or the crockpot needs to be checked. The skills he continues to learn and his growth and development are benefits that are invaluable….and ones that we treasure most.
- Social Skills: Daycare is not the only place kids can learn social skills, but I would say it’s one of the best options for planting seeds early. Since our son is currently an only child, it was important to us that he learn how to be around others. Diverse groups of kids and teachers, learning how to share, communicate (learning sign language as part of their curriculum has been such a great tool for him), and the social aspect of playing and cooperating with others. I am grateful that he is able to learn these skills at an early age because what is planted early takes root and continues to harvest.
- Records: While there are many baby apps out there (many of which I used while on leave), I appreciate that our son’s school has an app that allows us, as parents, to received hourly updates and pictures. Not only does this give me peace of mind throughout the work day where I can see his smiles, learning, and laughter….it also is a great record for his routines and trends. I know every diaper change, poop, how often, how much or how little he ate, any and all things that occur throughout the day with photo evidence. This has been great for doctor visits and allowing us to stay in the know of his daily life….something that working mamas desperately need.
While those are my thankful nuggets regarding daycare, it’s important that you do what feels right for you and your family. We pile enough mama guilt onto ourselves for not being able to have a life or system that others may have.
I wanted to burst the myth of the “dark cloud of daycare”, for those who are venturing towards the same journey, because it does not have to be a scary thing. Our motherhood is not weighed based on who works or stays home. Who has a village nearby or those who don’t and depend on childcare. Your worth as a mother is simply your love for your child. I realized that our son is not going to come to me when he’s 25 and insist that his life would have been better had I have stayed home (actually a good friend told me that and I realized she was right). Do what works for you mamas, and if daycare is an option for you…..know that the good can outweigh our anxieties.
What are some other benefits of daycare
you’ve come across?