Whether or not we send our children to daycare is a deeply personal decision. Parents must consider the impact on bonding time with their children, the cost of childcare against any loss of wages, and the impact on mom’s career should she stay at home. Today, it seems that every decision we make concerning our children will be judged by others; we never seem to satisfy everyone with our actions. If you do send your child to daycare, whatever your reasons – don’t feel guilty about it.
Newer generations are nothing like our parents' or grandparents' generation. Gone are the days where mothers were expected to stay at home and raise their children. Women are waiting longer to have children, and are instead taking time to attain higher levels of education and to establish their careers. Women today are major contributors to the total income of their households. It’s a difficult decision whether to put all of that on hold or not once children come into the picture.
That being said, we moms who do use childcare services still love our children very much. We aren’t sending off them “to be raised by other people,” as my mother would judgingly say, because we don’t want to be with them. We all have different reasons, but they usually revolve around a desired way of life for our children because we DO love them so much. Maybe the financial burden of losing a second income is too much to handle, or mom is simply a happier person and a better mother if she works outside the house. Either way, the choice is ours as parents, and ours alone.
When my husband and I announced that we were enrolling our eight-month old in daycare, I was shocked at the way people seemed to believe that a daycare wouldn’t do as good a job raising a child as I could myself. Obviously I, the new and terrified mother, an aeronautical engineer with zero experience with children, was better qualified to raise a kid than licensed professionals with extensive experience and first aid training.
Our daycare became an invaluable resource; the educators were there to answer all our questions about our child’s development, and suggested methods of dealing with some of our daughter’s more trying behaviors. Our daughter developed socially at daycare well beyond what I could have offered her at home; being in a group with four other infants taught her how to play with others, to share, and to wait her turn.
She bonded with the other children in her class to such an extent that they began to develop empathy towards each other; when one of the children in the class was especially sad one day, I was told, my daughter brought him his favorite stuffy and held his hand until he stopped crying. The positive influence daycare has had on my daughter’s development is staggering.
Obviously I have less time to spend with daughter than I would if I had stayed home with her. My husband and I focus instead on the quality of time that we spend together. We use car rides to talk, sing and play simple games together. We meal prep together as a family on weekends so that our limited time on weeknights is free. We plan simple family outings on weekends so that we can enjoy each other’s company. We make our time together count.
Whether or not you decide to send your child to daycare, there will always be people who disagree with your decision. While we can’t control what other people think of us, we can, control what WE think of us. If you do use a childcare service, whatever your reason, it is YOUR decision and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it at all.