Saturday, October 27, 2012

5 Things I didn't Expect to Like about Day Care

So I always assumed that my child would go to daycare.  I fell firmly in the "it's good for socialization" camp.  I knew that since Ben and I are on the Financial Peace University/Total Money Makeover track, I'd want to keep working for financial reasons.  I also like my job.  And since I married a freelance artist, I knew I'd need to keep our benefits.  So daycare was never a question for me, even before I was pregnant with Miss O.

But once she was born, I'll admit I felt a little sad about it.  I wished I could stay home with her, 'cause I felt like it was "better."  I also started looking into all that Attachment Parenting jazz and I really thought that Ben and I being the sole caregiver(s) for our child would be a good idea.  Buuuut, the fact is, everything that was true before I got pregnant was still true.  So at 12 weeks, we trooped off to daycare with the other working moms.  And it's not bad!  In fact, there are things about it that I like that I hadn't really expected to like.  Such as...

1. I emotionally benefit from a break from my baby.  I'm only working 20 hours a week right now.  Occasionally I pick up extra hours (the max I'll have in 1 week this fall is 48 hours, but by "extra" I typically mean 4-8 hours extra per week) if Ben's schedule is light.  But 20 hours is the name of the game usually.  And having that 20 hours to not be attached at the hip to Miss O means that I'm more excited about the other 148 hours per week that I *do* spend with her.  As much as being at work for a long, hard 8 hour day can be grueling for me, being at home for those same 8 hours is also grueling.  And I'm counting myself lucky right now that I have the fortune to be able to take a break from it sometimes.  Kudos to the full time moms with no work outside the home who do without this 20 hour break.  I salute you!

2. I can see many other kids maturing/growing/changing at the same time.   It gives me a good sense of comparison.  So I do have a background in all sorts of child-development-y-type-things, given that I have worked in education, worked as a pediatric speech therapist, worked as a pediatric feeding therapist... but applying all of that in real time to your own kiddo can sometimes be overwhelming.  Dropping O off at daycare and picking her up each day gives me a chance to SPY on other families!  What are THEY bringing for their kid to eat?  How early does that little one walk or crawl?  Who's crying at drop off and who's happily playing with toys?  I know each kid is different, but having a cohort of other kids to look at over the weeks and months has been fun, especially now that younger kids are joining the class and O isn't the tiniest one in the bunch anymore.

3. I get several other people's opinions about Baby O's development. Full disclosure?  This is a blessing and a curse.  But I'll choose to appreciate the teacher's opinions about how O does with her bottles, her feeding, her crawling, her social skills, etc.  Sometimes the unsolicited opinions or advice can be trying at the end of a day.  But I know these ladies know her well and love her lots, so if I'm looking for the advice, I've got a good source!

4. They have strengths where I am finding weaknesses in myself.  This one has been huge.  I wasn't thrilled to spend a ton of time in "assisted sitting" positions, hoping that one day she'd sit on her own.  But I mentioned sitting to the teacher and BAM, we were "working on sitting" every day!  More recently, I caved on my ideas of baby led weaning (see another upcoming post for that one) and decided to send purees to daycare.  I hadn't really wanted to do purees at home, but I had made some in advance just to have a little to try.  But then when I gave them to O, I really hated the process of spoon feeding.  I mean... a feeding therapist should love feeding her kid, right?  But no.  I hated it.  But daycare asked me to bring food, "you know... the kind with a spoon?"  :-)  So I brought it.  And now my little one is getting tastes and flavors of whatever veggies I want her to-- carrots, broccoli, rutabega, etc-- and I don't have to be the one trying to get it in and trying to wipe it off her hands afterwards.  It's a bit of a compromise that I've been really happy with!

5. The consistency works with my routined/scheduled personality.  At a large daycare center like the one we attend, I know what to expect.  I know who will be at the front desk when we come in.  I know all the teachers who might interact with O during the day.  I know that at the end of the day, I'll know all of the essentials... timing of naps, diaper changes, feedings.  And I don't have to worry about any of these things!  On the rare occasion that I've left O home with a friend from church or even with Ben, I find myself thinking about it all day... Did they give her a bottle yet?  How did the diaper change go?  Was there a blow out?  Are they okay?  Because I know that the system is tightly regimented at daycare, I really do let myself forget about O during the day... which leads me back to number 1 at the top of the list! :-)

What other benefits of occasional, part time, or even full time daycare services have you guys liked???

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