It is Daycare Week here at ParentalGrit and we will be exploring all the angles surrounding Daycare and working full-time with children. My wife and I have been using full-time daycare for our two daughters for 2+ years and we’ve experienced all the highs and lows it entails. Since I’m a glass-half-full kind of father, I decided to start off Monday with several of the advantages of utilizing childcare and the different ways it’s been beneficial for my family. Later this week, I’ll explore some of the…headaches we’ve endured with using daycare. After the last few months of interacting with my suddenly feisty two-year old, I’m not sure daycare is the right place for her or if I should just be dropping her off at the zoo everyday, but those are stories better served for another day.
We have been incredibly blessed to come across some outstanding teachers in each of the three daycare facilities we have used with Eliza and Everly. Like all educational institutions, you come across an occasional uninspired teacher or provider here and there, but we have met several amazing women who have done so much for our little girls. Finding women (potentially men too, but we haven’t had any yet) who possess that innate patience and passion for tending to young children isn’t easy, but our girls have had several teachers that nearly make me jealous for how quickly they can connect with children. There are times when a full day with my daughters leaves me impatient and exhausted; I can’t even imagine being stuck in a room with over a dozen kids at the most needy ages. I read somewhere that Mozart was such a piano prodigy that he started playing at age 3; well my daughter became an unbelievable savant at “pushing daddy’s buttons” by age 2. If running your parents ragged was an actually desired skill, she’d be nationally renowned. If I had to herd around 11 different versions of her, I’d be sobbing uncontrollably in a closet while all the little munchkins poured glue all over me. Working in a daycare is not an easy gig, and the poise and grace of many of the workers we’ve encountered is unbelievable.
One of the great things about daycare is the institutionalized instruction. The motor skill activities, teaching lessons, and frequent reading have been a huge boost (in my opinion, at least) in my daughter’s development and intelligence. While we do frequently work at home on all these things, I don’t know that we could achieve this consistently. Between laundry, housework, and food preparation, days at home with the girls don’t provide ample time for educational structure; heck, even taking a shower is an incredible accomplishment. Daycare provides an outlined educational path that is much harder to achieve in a home setting. Not impossible, but definitely challenging.
The next thing I enjoy about sending my girls to daycare is the early development of social skills. Eliza and Everly began learning immediately how to stick up for themselves, how to share, and all the undefined development that accompanies peer-to-peer interaction. Does that sometimes lead to Eliza coming home and saying something wildly inappropriate she learned from a friend? Naturally, but I suppose that comes with the territory, no? Anyway, no matter how many mom groups a stay-at-home parent joins, how many neighbor kids are around, or how much family stops by, there is no replication of daily side-by-side interaction that daycare and school provide.
Lastly, one of the final benefits of daycare is different for each and every family but worth discussing nonetheless. In theory, using daycare means that you would be in a better financial position, whether you’re a single parent or dual income household. Again, this doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, but generally daycare is a means to a better financial end. However, if you decided to have a kid, you also decided to figuratively light your paycheck on fire as you struggle to keep wipes and diapers in stock. Regardless, let’s move forward on the premise that daycare provides your family with at least a pinch more financial stability. This is not a trivial feat; several published studies paint money as one of the primary causes of divorce in up to 70% of all marriage splits. Outside of divorce, financial strain causes excessive stress and anxiety within the household. Less financial stress may equate to better relationships with your kids and spouse. Every case is unique, but it is never a choice between your kids and money, because each facet of family life bleeds onto one another. More money now might mean more time for family later or it might mean a better education or it could be something better than McDonald’s for dinner (kidding, of course). So, under the assumption that you’re using daycare for income reasons and not out of desperate necessity, I view it as a distinct benefit.
When using daycare is a choice and not a necessity, there’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all approach to making that decision. It is highly complex and unique decision from family to family. Regardless, utilizing childcare comes with the great joy of connecting with dedicated providers, getting an educational head start, more friends than your kid knows what to do with, and (fingers crossed) an extra millimeter or two of financial breathing room. Shoot me a message or comment below if I left anything left!