I’m currently on maternity leave with my youngest and last baby. I'm fully disheveled and stay at home in my pajamas longer than I'd like to admit.
My toddler, however, gets out more than her brother and I do. She’s rocking being a day care kid.
Prior to the birth of my son, I had the same questions a lot of working moms have about staying home on maternity with child number two. Would I keep my toddler home with us? Would I feel guilty having her stay in day care while I stay home with her new sibling? Should I just figure out how to keep both the kids at home full time, sell a kidney and make homemade clothes since me having an income wasn't at all useful to my husband and me? I’m not exactly Maria from the Sound of Music. The clothes would be held together with duct tape, safety pins and bubble gum.
Thankfully, my daughter made the decision for us. She loves day care. She talks about her friends ALL THE TIME. She talks about her teachers. She sings songs, knows her ABCs, counts constantly, creates arts and crafts and uses "please" and "thank you." Her meals have the food groups. In her itinerary, they incorporate sign language, Spanish and German!
On weeknights and weekends, we have our family time. We have our outings, our cuddles, our naps and our movie night. The meals I make might not always have a vegetable or a fruit – or be healthy in the slightest. I don’t think to count to 10 in Spanish. Although I have friends with kids the same age, sometimes life is busy and we don’t always get a play date scheduled. Also, my crafts suck.
Now, let me give a brief disclaimer: All parents who are facilitating the best care for their children – whether they are staying home, working from home or working outside the home – are great. Not one is better than the other. Each family is different, and as parents, let’s rally and support our decisions to keep our children happy, fed and loved.
For those sending their children off to day care, sometimes we need reminders that it’s okay. Mom guilt on those mornings when drop off isn’t going smooth – or any number of reasons we feel guilty – is the pits. Here are my three reasons why day care is good for kids – and parents.
1. Education. Hearing your child count to a high number, point out and say a color or make a funny animal noise – knowing they did not learn that from you – is one of the greatest surprises.
2. Socialization: Watching your day care kid interact with and make friends on his or her own at their day care is pretty cool, and absolutely adorable. Yes, they will be full of germs and get sick at times, but on the plus side, their immunity will basically repel viruses by grade school!
3. Routine and reliable care. Yes, you, as a parent, have routines and are THE reliable care…but sick days? Sick days as a parent are rough. Sick day as a parent with your child not needing your care for a couple hours – not nearly as rough.
In short, day care rocks.
Kristine Rohwer resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska, with her husband, step-son, daughter, son and two neurotic dogs.