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As a Mom, there are so many choices to second guess. Was this the right decision to make? Wow, I wish I had considered something else. Have I completely and irrevocably screwed my daughter up yet? Am I giving her my best?
Honestly, I had no idea Mom guilt was such a thing before Sweet Pea was born. Sure, I had heard about it, in much the same way as I had heard about space walks, having a famous cousin, or winning a million dollars— a concept I was completely unfamiliar with. Now I realize that Mom guilt is as real as the horror of changing toddler diapers. Every Mom feels guilty about something and worries about the decisions they make about how to best raise their kids. As a working Mom, I was led to believe by some that in addition to the kidney I would donate to pay for tuition, I would have to sell my spleen to pay for future counseling so that Sweet Pea could learn to cope with the horrors of institutional care at such a young age.
However, you know what? I will not feel guilty about daycare. It turned out to be a fantastic decision. Here are the top 10 reasons why:
- Daycare Strong– I first heard about this concept when I returned to work and tapped into the Mommy network for the first time. Apparently, kids will either get really sick and develop their immune system their first year in daycare or they will do it in Kindergarten. Sure enough, the first year Sweet Pea was in daycare one or both of us was sick more than we were well. I have a freakishly great immune system so the fact that I nursed a cold most of the season was quite disheartening. However, this year I am happy to report that only 1 day was missed by either of us due to illness. Score!
- Outdoor Play– It seems that a lot of ‘experts’ are very concerned that this generation of kids does not get enough physical activity or outdoor play time. Well, that is certainly not the case with daycare. Barring inclement weather the kiddos are on the playground on average 2 hours a day.
Montessori-lite– Sweet Pea’s daycare seems to run their center utilizing some of the tried and true principles behind the Montessori method. Toys are rotated, children are taught life skills at an early age, and imaginative play is emphasized. Perhaps that is why Sweet Pea’s favorite play activity at home is to ‘put her babies to bed,’ which admittedly tends to resemble a bunch of baby landmines in our family room.
Socialization– I am pushing 42 so I have come to terms with the fact that Sweet Pea will most likely be an only child. It is a good thing that she is forced to interact with surrogate siblings on a regular basis and learn basic concepts such as sharing, playing well with others, and you know…. not hitting, biting, and scratching other children.
Limited Screen Time– It is really easy to limit the amount of screen time for a toddler when they spend 90% of their weekday time in a daycare where there are no screens. I am not going to lie and say that Sweet Pea gets no screen time. I am not crazy. However, I don’t have to feel guilty about letting her watch an episode of Daniel Tiger so I can fix dinner because in our house, screen time is definitely a treat.
She said what?– Ok, Seriously… I know that Sweet Pea probably would have been very verbal no matter what… I am her Mommy. However, she is not even 2 years old yet and is speaking in complete sentences. I would love to claim that she is brilliant (of course she is) but a number of her friends in school have also met some of these crucial cognitive milestones early. Reading is encouraged and promoted at daycare and the daycare providers are great about developing lesson plans that expose the kiddos to many many words.
Happy Mommy– This is the selfish reason. I am sure I would totally be up for the challenge of being a stay at home/work at home Mom. However, I do love that I get to go to work 5 days a week and interact with other adults, have some ‘quiet’ time, use my brain for tasks that involve solving complex, adult-oriented problems (as opposed to figuring out how to entertain a spirited toddler with about 100 activities a day because their attention span is as short as a gnat’s), and pee by myself.
When Mommy is sick– When I do get sick, or have a doctor’s appointment, or need to run errands, there is a built-in, already-paid-for childcare option at my disposal. I would love to have access to Grandma but Grandma is two states away so daycare is very handy. I have even been known to take time off with my honey for a date day. That is very nice.
You can never have too much love– Sweet Pea’s teachers are so wonderful and I truly believe that they genuinely love her. The thing is, it isn’t even just her primary teachers but also the assistant teachers, substitute teachers, administrators… so many adults showing love to such an impressionable little girl. How can that be a bad thing?
Sweet Pea was a smurf!– Yep, you read that right. Thanks to her teachers at daycare, Sweet Pea has enjoyed many sensory rich (aka- super messy) experiences that I would have never had the energy or patience to recreate at home. My favorite so far was the time when the teachers stripped the kids down to their diapers and let them roll around in blue paint in order to paint a globe for Earth Day. Are you kidding me? Who does that?
Well, daycare does. So, whenever I start to second-guess my decision to go back to work and put Sweet Pea in daycare, I think of her rolling around in blue paint, chuckle, and realize that in many ways, giving her the opportunity to experience daycare was one of the best parenting decisions I have made.
Thanks for reading!