Please welcome Kristen for this week’s I’m Not a Bad Mom. If you would like to submit your own story, please check out info here.
My husband and I both work full-time. There is no way around that. We have a mortgage, car loans, student loans, credit card debt…the list of expenses go on before we even get to basic living expenses. When we started talking children, we eventually came to the decision that daycare was going to be a reality for us (one more added expense, great!). There was just no way to live off one income, especially with us working in education and the non-profit industries.
As an educator, I was excited about the possibilities daycare would open up for our son. He had the opportunity to be around other children, hopefully from different backgrounds and cultures than our own. He would have a chance to learn through activities planned by individuals who had training in the development of infants and toddlers. I expected a lot from our daycare, and we visited and interviewed 9 centers before we found one that lived up to those expectations.
We could not have been happier with our choice. Our son started at 5 months-old, and has not cried a single day when we have left him. Now that he is 15 months-old, he is usually squirming to get out of our arms and down to play with his friends.
A few months ago, as summer break was upon us, we made arrangements with our son’s daycare to take him out since I would not be working this summer. As his end date with daycare drew closer, I began to feel guilty about taking him out. Even though I had joined a playgroup, and had lots of plans for outings and activities over the summer, I couldn’t help but regret pulling him from the friends he had made there and people who had grown to care about him so much. His teachers have been at his 1st birthday party, know everything that is going on with our family, and miss Patrick when he is out sick or we are on vacation. They had told us how much they were going to miss him.
Since our daycare was amazing, when we mentioned in passing that we felt bad about taking him out, they made arrangements to have him one day a week without us paying more than planned to hold his spot. I was thrilled!
Here is where the judgement may come. Some might think that I should want to have him home with me every day since I won’t be working. If I am off work, then my son should be with me. Truth is, this is not the only time I’m home while my son is at daycare. I’ve had days off during the school year, but have sent him to daycare anyway.
Why would I send my son to daycare if he could be home with me?
For him! His day at daycare is filled with so much. He gets socialization, motor skill development through play, literacy development through story-time, better meals than I have the energy to prepare most days on my own, and so much fun! The one day a week over the summer that he has gone to daycare, he gets so excited when he arrives. Most days, he won’t even say good-bye to my husband or I because he is already engulfed in play with his friends. It also helps keep him in his routine.
For me! Parenting can be an overwhelming job sometimes. I remember during my first year of teaching, I was introduced to the concept of “mental health days”. These were days where you might not have been physically ill, but needed a day to recharge or clear your head, because teaching can also become overwhelming at times. I can be a better mom if I have that “mental health day” every now and then. I can get things done around the house, run errands, or even just catch up on sleep.
So yes, I not only send my son to daycare, but also sometimes send him while I sit at home. However, I will not feel guilty about this. I know that I am making the best decision for my son and myself, and that is what really matters.
Kristen is a 30-something mother, wife, and educator living in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband Dave and son Patrick. She is a proud alum of Ohio University and loves Steelers football. She loves getting out and exploring the city and finding new and fun family-friendly activities. She writes about her experiences, both with parenting and Cleveland, on her blog Ready…Set...Parenthood!