Deciding whether or not to send your baby to day care is not an easy question for parents. When faced with the costs of high quality day care, many parents argue that the take home pay of the second income, usually the mom, is enough to justify the expenses. In my view, they failed to include the benefits for the kids of attending day care in their equation. Here is my thinking.
My role as a parent is to prepare my children to become happy, independent, caring, open-minded and productive members of the society. I believe that being in day care better prepares my son for the real world.
The biggest learning challenges for young kids come from developing their own identity, to learn how to behave, how to interact with people and how to deal with everyday situations. Part of this learning process depends on the experiences we live. Being with kids of their age and with strangers enables toddlers and pre-schoolers to develop their social, awareness and emotional skills more efficiently than only being with their parents because they will be exposed to more situations. Yes, sometimes they will learn bad things from the other kids, but this is called life. When that happened, the educators are often better equipped than parents to deal with it.
I did not came to that conclusion easily. I evolved from a mom who was unsure about the benefits of day care to a mom who thinks that my son acquires there skills more quickly than if he stayed at home. I was quite protective of him for the first year. I wanted to protect him from everything. Still, becoming a stay-at-home mom has never slipped my mind.
After my maternity leave, I had to choose between hiring a nanny or sending my almost 1-year old son to day care. I talked about my fears on my old blog. I initially opted for a part-time nanny but after several months, I noticed that my son began to feel bored at home. He needed more interactions with kids. He started day care last September. I was picky in selecting which day care he would attend. In retrospect, I wished that I opted for day care right away.
Plenty of Family Time
I believe that we arrived at a good balance between the time our son passes at day care and the time he is with us. My husband and I do fun things with our son on a daily basis. We take the time to transmit him our values and to teach him the small and the big stuff. We take advantage that we are our own bosses to fit our family life into your agenda.
One thing that helps is that we go to bed late and sleep a little more in the morning. Our son lives like us. I often joke that I trained my son to a sleeping pattern that fits our lifestyle when he was inside my belly. Zack arrives at day care between 9:30 and 10 AM. I pick him up at day care around 6-6:15. Since he goes to bed around 9:30 and 10 PM, this gives us plenty of time to eat together and then, play before his bed time routine. I sometimes feel guilty that he is missing the early morning classes but I value the 3 to 4 hours that we spend together every night. This is how we achieve a good balance between work, life and family time.