When I first dropped my three month old son off for his first day at daycare, my coworkers gave me lots of sympathetic glances. “Are you doing okay? He will be fine!” they said reassuringly.
“It’s just so hard to leave your kid with someone else, you know?” I answered, pretending to be somewhat distraught lest they think I was a bad mother.
But truth is, I LOVED daycare. After our second kid was born, I stayed at home and had no more need for daycare. But I have found myself missing it on more than one occasion.
Here are five reasons why I think daycare is just the best:
Being a first time mom can be pretty overwhelming. And if you are working outside of the home, you might not have time to build yourself a village of mom friends who dole out helpful advice. But I had daycare, and that was close enough.
It was great having multiple adults watching my babe who could help clue me in if he was missing any major developmental milestones. I also appreciated hearing things like, “Yeah, all babies flail around like that during diaper changes. He’s not possessed.” And my personal favorite, “You aren’t crazy, he is just really difficult to get to sleep.” Sometimes all you need is a little validation.
Since having babies, I have never, not once “run into the store for a gallon of milk.” I have, however, dragged screaming babies through the store while other patrons gave me sympathetic and/or judging stares, and left hours later dazed and numb. But that’s ONLY if we were out of a significant number of staples at home. We just need milk? Dry cereal until the weekend, kids.
When my son was in daycare, I would often run into the store to grab one or two things on my way to pick him up. If I had been a better person I might’ve dropped him off at daycare early and gone to the gym before work, but let’s not get crazy here.
I don’t care how you feel about daycare, if you’ve ever had to take two tots to a last minute gyno appointment, you’re gonna wish you had somewhere you can drop them off. Trust me on that one.
Dropping them off on fussy days
Being a stay at home mom is the best thing ever. It is always 100% perfect at all times and I love every minute of it. My kids are without a doubt the two best things to have ever come out of my vagina. Okay?
(Are the sanctimommies still here? No? Okay, Good.)
Sure, there were days that I felt bad leaving my teething, clingy, fussy baby at daycare and wished I could snuggle him on the couch instead. But there were also days that I dropped him off, yelled, “He’s your problem now!” and cackled all the way to the parking lot. Okay, fine not really. But on more than one occasion I was glad I had an eight hour break from my sweet little fusspot. Just because I didn’t change every single one of his blowout diapers when he was a baby did not make me any less of a mom.
Know what I got from my kids this year for Mother’s Day? Nothing. I got nothing. I mean, of course I got nothing, because they are tiny and can’t even look up a delightful homemade project on Pinterest by themselves yet.
But when my oldest was in daycare, he was always coming home with something for our fridge – a pumpkin magnet with a Polaroid of his cute little mug for Halloween, a rainbow made out of his handprints for St. Patrick’s Day, a card with his footprints for Mother’s Day. All were adorable, and I must say, showed a lot of artistic promise for a six month old.
I tried making some heart shaped art with their feet for Valentine’s Day once. It ended up looking vaguely like a murder scene. Pro tip: Don’t craft with red paint. Another pro tip: Don’t attempt making art out of your offspring’s appendages unless you are a licensed daycare professional.
How much he loved it
When I would show up at the end of the day ready to pick up our little tyke, he would immediately crawl towards me and grab my legs, ready to head home. Or wait, no, that’s some other kid holding my legs. Wrong pants, kiddo, your mom will be here soon I’m sure.
My son would frantically run around the room in an attempt to play with every toy one last time before he was forced to leave. It felt good to know that when I was at work, he was in a place where he was happy, and also one that apparently had way better toys than we did at home.
Finding childcare when you are a parent can be a tough decision. Whether you enlist the help of family, decide to stay at home, hire a nanny, or enroll your little one in a daycare, it’s important to remember there are always going to be drawbacks and benefits. So focus on the good, and keep your eye on the prize – it’s not that long until they are in kindergarten and you can stop writing those daycare payment checks.
Related: 5 Things Every Breastfeeding Working Mom Knows to be True
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