Daycare. Right or Wrong?
Day 1 at daycare. That dreaded moment when you have to drop your little ninja and rip off the band aid, leaving him there and closing the door behind … for a few hours anyways.
Lisa and I are pretty “busy” people, well we certainly don’t get bored. We both work, run an online business, partake in hobbies, and once in a blue moon we get to hang out with each other. And to be honest, we both enjoy going to work. So when Lisa’s maternity leave (she got an amazing 18 weeks, but can take up to a year not fully paid) was coming to an end I wondered whether she might be keen to stay off longer. But she knew that the best thing for Finn, and for her, was to go back to work. She loves the interaction with her co-workers and the students at school, plus she knew the experience of daycare would be great for Finn.
So we started searching around Christchurch for the perfect place for our little legend. We had no clue what we were even searching for. We checked out a handful of early childhood centres and they were all somewhat different. But our number one factor, was gut instinct. We knew from the moment we walked into a place whether it had a good feel or not. The other factor was location – being close to our work (500m) means we can pop across pretty quickly if required. And living in an earthquake-prone city this can be pretty handy. A few friends really quizzed us on our final choice. They wanted to know why we had went with that option, instead of another, or why we didn’t like the one that their kids went to. But to be honest, we went with the place that felt right to us. Who cares what your friends have to say about it? At the end of the day, do you have your steak cooked the same way they do just because they think you should?! Hell no! (Sorry vegans).
Finn started ABC Merivale at 5 months, and it has been seriously amazing. We do not regret one thing whatsoever. In fact, we feel it has boosted his development so so much. The staff are 100% invested in Finn, and in us. They are here to support us, and they go the extra mile. The very first day was so hard. I remember feeling like bursting into tears as I walked to work (yes, Im a bloke and I still have emotions). It felt like I had deserted him. And yes … I rang several times on the first day to see how he was settling. It appeared that he was settling much quicker than I was lol. I suggest you take your baby in several times a few weeks before their first day. You can stay with them and help them (and you!) settle. The great thing about starting your baby under 6 months is that they aren’t overly-attached to you, so when you leave they aren’t crying! Well Finn wasn’t anyways. He just loved being surrounded by other kids, loving staff and a stimulating environment.
We filled out a form or three when we enrolled Finn. The one thing I recall being asked was “What would you like your child to learn”?. And that is one bloody good question to ask a rookie Dad about his 5 month old son. Lisa and I thought about it, we were tempted to write “Mandarin, Sign Language and the Violin” … but we were just new to the place and didn’t know if people would get my Irish humour. In all seriousness though, the most important thing for us was that we wanted him to learn to share with others, be kind and to be disciplined. If Finn can have these traits instilled at home and at daycare then we feel that he is going to have a pretty solid start to his life. And to our delight, a month ago Finn decided he would take a nibble of his biscuit and then proceed to share it with us. It was soggy, covered in baby drool and not very appetising but it was simply epic. He’s learning to share, and loves it!
For those of you wondering if you should get your child into daycare, just give it a crack. If it isn’t for you, then you can un-enrol your child. But I really feel there are just so many benefits. Yes your child will pick up a few coughs and colds (Finn got one pretty bad) but is that a bad thing? The only way to build up their little immune system is to catch the odd bug and learn to fight it. What’s the use in wrapping them in cotton wool? Eventually they will come into contact with other human beings … won’t they!? Here’s hoping!
Maybe mention also that putting him in day care has helped with separation anxiety, Finn still needs us but isn’t 100% reliant on us, he has learned to trust other people, socializes easily with other babies and adults.
We feel that ABC Merivale really works well for us. They have a great structure, but are also open and flexible in trying to suit each child’s needs and requirements. They are most definitely a part of our family and we are so grateful for what they do for Finn.
A few things I hear from some friends about avoiding day care are :
– It’s too expensive. – Now, of course there is a cost but when you weigh it up, it’s amazing value for what you get. Some parents say that a whole salary goes towards paying for daycare. But I think that’s exactly true for most cases. If you are in a position to work part time or shorter days then it could actually work out brilliantly. I think there is a lot to be said about mental health for mums, getting back to work can actually be a great thing!
– It’s bad for the baby as they can’t breastfeed if they are at daycare. – But the argument here could be that the milk could be pumped and sent in each day, or frozen in batches at daycare.
– It will take away from the mother/child bonding. – This is a pretty personal one and everyone of course is different. But I can’t see too much disadvantage to your child being at day care, maybe even just a few hours each day, so that they can learn to bond with others too – and to reduce any potential separation anxiety.
So if you are feeling guilty for looking at daycare as an option, don’t. If it’s good for you, it’s good for your child.
Founder of ModernDad