I was recently asked to post about the topic “stop mom judging” for Today’s Parenting Team and defending daycare came to mind. When I first became a mother, I thought the anti-formula moms were bad. But after my kids turned one, that ended. But the anti-daycare moms… they go on for years. And years. And years.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with staying home with your kids until they are five. If you can do it, good for you. But don’t knock me for sending my kids to daycare. Daycare that I call school. Is it really school? Yes and no. I don’t believe my infant is learning in a school environment, but my 3-year-old definitely is. (And no, I don’t call it school to make myself feel better about sending my kids there. I just learned from a good friend who was a stay-at-home that this is one of those “daycare mom” stereotypes. It doesn’t make me feel better because I don’t feel bad.)
Both of my kids started daycare at 9-weeks-old. (Gasp! I know, some of you are doing it now. Don’t worry. They are both okay – living, breathing, happy kids.) Why 9 weeks? Well, I have to work to pay for things like my house, my car, food, diapers, you know – those sort of things. As a TV reporter, there was no way I could do that from home with kids. Recently, I quit my job to work from home… and my kids still go to daycare. Why? Because I actually have to work. I’m working about 12 hours a day from home trying to build my own business while freelancing. (Bills remember?) If my kids were home, they would be ignored and neglected so I could work. At daycare, they are not. They get more life experience and learn so much more than they ever would staying home with me while I worked… or attempted to work with them home. Even if I was a trophy wife who didn’t have to work, they would still go to daycare – not at 9-weeks-old and not all day long, but they would still go because I’ve already seen firsthand what it does.
I don’t have a family member who lives nearby to be a nanny. If I did, that’d be great! I would save myself a lot of money. But I am still very fortunate for my situation. I like being a working mom. I think it teaches my kids that if you want something, you have to work for it to get it yourself. That’s how the world works. I like that they are in daycare (or school.) Outside of the preconceived thoughts and stereotypes, I have seen what it does for my kids and other kids. They are learning more than I could ever teach them day-to-day and they are doing it in an environment I cannot provide. I could sit here and write all about how my daughter came home one day telling me all about her “job” of collecting books for the classroom, or how she lines up and walk quietly with her peers, how her teachers show her love every day, or how she crawled through a solar system exhibit, or this that and the other, but I’m not here to convince you that daycare isn’t a bad place or an amazing place. The truth is, they are all different… and I really don’t care what you think of daycare as it relates to me and my family, but this is my space to defend it. When I drop my kids off and they are excited to see their teachers and friends and don’t want to leave at the end of the day, it can’t be that bad right?
Think of it like this – traditional school vs. homeschool. One is not necessarily better than the other, but both are very different and can benefit you in different ways depending on your situation. That’s why I don’t understand the “mom judging” when it comes to daycare. We are all different, with different kids, with different incomes, needs, wants, etc. Why are we judging “daycare moms” for doing things differently than stay-at-home moms? And more importantly, why do you care if someone else sends their kids to daycare? If you don’t agree with it or feel something else would work better in your household, then you do you. But instead of bashing what you hate (in this case, daycare), promote what you love.
And when I say I have to defend daycare, it’s because I have heard a lot of:
- Moms only send their kids to daycare to work so they can have extra spending money. (Extra money? Do you know how much daycare costs?!)
- You’re letting other people raise your kids. (Don’t even get me started on this one.)
- Having kids to put them in daycare is like getting a dog to put it in a kennel. (Can we stop comparing children to animals, please?)
- Or when something bad happens at a daycare, you get, “That’s why my kids aren’t in daycare.” (Uh, no that’s not why your kids aren’t in daycare, but I see the point you are trying to make with that comment.)
- Aw, don’t you feel bad? (Aw, I feel bad for you for just asking me that. Seriously.)
Yes, people say these things and think it’s okay. I don’t pass judgement on stay-at-moms. Maybe some don’t have to work because they have enough support coming from another place. Maybe some are making sacrifices because they want to stay home to be with their kids and teach them things as they grow. Who knows? “Daycare vs Stay at Home Mom” does not have to be a thing… and it shouldn’t be!
Every single person has a unique situation and too many generalize with insults. That’s what prompted me to write my little “defending daycare” blog – because of the insults I started hearing before I had kids and will probably hear later this week. Yes, you can have an opinion. I hope you do, but remember, your opinion doesn’t have to be insulting just because another person’s way of life doesn’t float your boat. It’s okay to agree to disagree. So, if you think daycare is for “white trash people” (yes, I’ve heard that one too), then here is the solution: Don’t put your kids in daycare. Stay home with them. Hire a nanny. Don’t worry about me and my kids in daycare, because we are all doing just fine.