On Day Care and Vacation Care

In an ideal world, we would all have partners who made enough money to support the family and it’s growing list of necessities luxuries. In an ideal world the dads would go to work at 8:30am, come home at 5:30pm, dinner would be on the table, the kids would all be bathed and put to bed by 7:00pm. In an ideal world mums would stay home with their kids until they started school, at which time they would drop them to school, do the grocery shopping, go home and prepare dinner, do the laundry and clean the bathrooms before picking the kids up from school and coming home to cook said dinner. In an ideal world no child would have to be “dumped” in daycare.

But guess what? It’s not an ideal world. It’s far from it, in fact. Wages don’t keep up with inflation. Families struggle to get by on 2 incomes, let alone 1. There is a very real need for daycare, and from my perspective, we’re fortunate to live in a country that tries to make it affordable.

I just read a blog on the New South Wales Association for Gifted and Talented Children that says mums should stay at home with their children until they are 4, as that is what is best for them. It also says: “Rule 2: Send your child to a community preschool (not day care) when he or she turns 3. With all the talk about early childhood teacher shortages, you will find that there is no shortage of early childhood teachers at preschools. Why? Because teachers love the short hours and the exciting atmosphere created by the fact that preschools are for the children. There are hardly any unhappy children at preschool, it’s a treat, and they love it. Day care, on the other hand, is there to support working parents. The kids know it and the staff knows it. For teachers, day care is hard work, and for kids it is compulsory, with the result that someone is crying somewhere in the centre on most days.”

This statement gets my back up for all kinds of reasons. My son started daycare 2 days a week when he was 16 months old and I went back to work part time. I did this because I was going slowly insane (later found out it was post partum depression) and the extra money also helped around the house. We probably could have kept going with me not working, but a $10 bottle of wine was a luxury and something I didn’t have often. We were barely keeping our heads above water. Working part time seemed like a win-win situation all around. I got socialisation, Nick got socialisation, we had a little bit extra money every week to be able to afford some luxuries here and there. The statement above offends me because it insinuates that working parents 1. choose to work rather than stay home (for many people there is no “choice” be it for sanity or financial reasons) and 2. that working parents don’t care who they drop their kids off with and the carers don’t particularly care to do their jobs, either.

The carers at Nick’s first day care centre were outstanding. I’m still in touch with a couple of them on Facebook today and they still show an interest in Nick’s activities/school/etc. The centre Nick currently goes to is Montessori based and he has come on in leaps and bounds since he started there 16 months ago. Both places have been great for Nick, and if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have continued to send him there. They’ve helped him make friends, helped develop motor skills and social skills. And he loves going. It also means I get to work 3 days a week, and again, we can afford things like family holidays, a newer car, little luxuries that make life that little bit easier.

I think an ideal world would be one where our decisions as parents aren’t criticized around every corner. As for what is best for our children, well that is different in every situation, isn’t it? Each child, each parent, each day care worker is different. What’s best for our children is that they feel safe, they are loved and they are cared and provided for. As long as we ensure that is happening, how can we be doing wrong by them?


Linking up with the lovely Jess at Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesdays!


39 thoughts on “On Day Care and Vacation Care

  1. That comment by them is not helpful to anyone. My son started a day a week g daycare from 18 months and he LOVES it. It’s his favourite part of the week. He has developed some amazing skills from just being there one day and I wouldn’t change it for anything 🙂 great post

    Hello from #teamIBOT

  2. That comment is so wrong! I havent gone though all thsi yet but I can completely understand how offensive it is. Some parents are happy to go back, sure, but others are not, and like you they do it because they need to.
    Urgh they irk me some times with their non realistic statements…

    • I know. I know we all have our own ideas on what makes a good parent, and what our roles as parents are, but I wish people would learn to accept that all those ideas are different, and what works for you, or what you’re able to do, may not be suitable for me. How hard is it?

  3. Totally agree with you – what works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for another – the trick is finding what works for you and not worrying about what anyone else says about it !!!
    Have a great day !

    • Yep! Easier said than done though sometimes. I know we do what works for us, and for the most part it does work. Do I wish I could just stay home and be here for every little thing Nick needs me for? Of course, but we can’t afford it, and really, we are very present parents. I know he has everything he needs.

  4. I just sighed when I read that quote. Childcare has been a positive experience for my daughter. She has been going since she was 12 months old and enjoys it. Her social skills, especially, have really developed through her exposure to others through childcare.
    Does she prefer to be home with us? Yes. Do we prefer her to be home with us? Yes. If I could spend all day every day with my family, I surely would! But you’re right – life doesn’t always afford us with that luxury.

    • Yes. Apart from a few terrible situations where there is child abuse or other outside factors, I think all parents make their decisions based on what is best for the child/the home/the family. If that means mum is staying home, or working, or dad is staying home, then go for it.

  5. It’s sad that a group like that would put out such a statement, especially as a “rule”! Ironically, my best friend has twins who have both been labelled as borderline gifted & they started long day care at 12 months of age! As a mum who returned to work at 9 months (PND related as well as financial reasons) statements like this make me soooooo angry! Great post hun.

    • I was a bit shocked when I realised what website I was on when I read the blog, to be honest. I thought recommending mums stay home with the children until they’re 4 “because that is what is best for them” was a thought of the past. And who exactly has decide that’s what’s best for them anyway?!

  6. My daughter goes to daycare 2 days a week.. the 3yr old preschool she could go to is charging her the same amount as 1 day of daycare – for only 3 hours.

    My daughter loves it – she thinks it is school and has her friends and loves her teachers/carers..

    I think that any social interaction away from parents – whether it is daycare or 3yr old preschool is great for them – My daughter has calmed down alot and has manners that she never had before! And her reading and language skills are amazing!

    #teamIBOT was here!

  7. When I read your first paragraph about an ideal world, I couldn’t help but think in an ideal world Dad makes enough money working from 9-3 so there is time for afternoon family fun time after work! So very true though about there not being one shoe to fit everyone and there never being a need to judge others for the different choices that they make.

    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses #teamIBOT

    • haha. well, yes that really WOULD be an ideal world, wouldn’t it!?!? Although after having the husband home for 3 weeks holiday, I’m ready for him to go back to work, so maybe 9-3 would be too short a work day 😉

  8. Some people need shot for saying stupid things. As you know all three mine go because I can’t work/interview/write from home with 3 rugrats at my feet. In saying that, I also need a break. While some mothers are born to mother, I sometimes just have enough of the constant demands. And daycare is a win/win, they get to do all the things that are appropriate for their age. I can’t set up 3 different activities for each child. Well I could but I don’t hate myself that much 🙂

    • hahaha. i can’t set up activities for one, unless it involves pulling the lego out in his bedroom while I blog. *ahem* you’re right. some people ARE born to be SAHMs and thrive on it. I know a few!

  9. That has got to be the stupidist thing I have ever heard. How ridiculous, how dare they dictate how we raise our children.Making people feel more guilty than they already do. This stuff really annoys me. GRRRRR

    • It really annoys me, too! It seems to be quite common over here. And you know Oprah used to love having the SAHM v Working Mum debate on her show! For goodness sake, when will we learn?!?! We should support each other, not be against each other!

  10. As you know, I don’t have children yet but sometimes I feel that the people who do all these studies are so disconnected with the reality of parenting. I think each of their own. All parents should do what’s best for their children and their family. And, what’s best for one family can be very different to another family.

    • That’s right Rita. I think MOST parents do always make decisions based on what is right for their kids/families. If others can’t see that, then we just need to try very hard to make sure that we don’t let their opinions affect us in any way.

  11. Hear, hear! Agree with every word! Whether a parent chooses to go back to work or decides to stay at home, it’s always at the best interest for everyone involved. Statements like that make me wonder who actually made them and their background.
    Statements like that also don’t help parents gain a united front but instead wedge more judgemental thinking. Like there isn’t enough of that already…

    • So true Grace. We are our own worst enemies at the best of times. We don’t need anyone to make us feel guilty or get defensive over our decisions. It’s sad enough that people think these things, but to PUBLICISE them! That’s even worse.

  12. You are so right! Different things work for different families, and as long as the children are loved and provided for then we’re doing it right. In my ideal world, I would work full time and my husband would be home. But I’m the one who carries and feeds the babies, so while we’re still making them then it just isn’t do-able. I keep returning to work in between babies so I’m not out of the game too long, but as much as I LOVE being a mother and this stage of our lives, I do look forward to moving up the ladder.
    This post is very timely, my 10 month old daughter starts care tomorrow!

  13. All three of my kids have been in child care centres/preschool/family daycare and they have been cared for and loved and educated in each setting. I returned to work because I had to but also because I wanted to.

    I too dream of a world where there is no judgement of our parenting choices…

  14. What a ridiculous blanket statement! So true that every family has their own unique situation. I’ve always worked from home since Bell was born, but we sent her to a Montessori centre mainly for her socialization, but also my sanity. I too kept in touch with her teacher, and I found the benefits she got from being around other kids was just what she needed.

    • Yep. My son doesn’t have siblings, so he doesn’t get that socialisation at home that he got at daycare. It teaches them so much. yes, it can be hard on everyone involved when they start, but everyone gets through it.

  15. That statement is ridiculous – I was in full time Montessori care as a child and was a G&T program student. Dex was at (Montessori based) daycare 2 days a week, 6hrs a day from 12 months and he would not be the child he is without that experience. He’s smart, educated, eager to learn and most importantly has socialisation skills I couldn’t teach him at home on my own.

    • Yeah, I’m with you! Nick was the same. We had other friends we caught up with once a week or so but as far as the learning, and those social situations when mum isn’t around watching you etc. they can only learn that through going to places like day care centres. Such a shame this person has such a negative view of such places.

  16. Interesting perspective from the original blogger.
    My daughter was in daycare from the moment she was 3 months old and then went straight to school. I was never at home with her. I worked full time. For that I feel very guilty. However, she is social, talented, confident, resilient and brave. She has a world of opportunity awaiting her in her chosen sport. We are close and it did not affect our mother-daughter bond. She doesn’t feel she has missed out (I asked her). It’s only me carrying the guilt.
    My son was in daycare from 6 months of age but I took him out at 2 years old when I decided to finish work. The guilt got too much. But by the time I sent him to preschool he had no confidence, had anxiety issues and it has taken us years to get him feeling good about leaving home each day. He may have been this way anyway had I left him in daycare. It may have nothing to do with the whole daycare situation at all. But I strongly believe that my daughter’s character was helped by her heavy interaction with other adults and children from a young age.
    In a perfect world it would be great to spend all your time with your kids when they are young. But for everything they would gain from this scenario I think a big chunk may also be taken away.
    There are pros and cons to both scenarios. Children grow and can be held back in both situations.
    I think it is what it is …
    We’ve just got to make the most of whatever set-up we choose …
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

    • That’s really interesting to hear both sides to your story Leanne! And I completely agree – you said what I was trying to – that yes, they can spend all the time with us until they’re 4, but how far behind the curve will they be when they’re then thrown into kindy/school with other kids who have been going for years? We do need to make the most of our own situations, accept them, and not feel guilty for them.

  17. It still surprises me when i read blanket statements – we live in such a complex, varied and personal society – everyone needs to make the choices that work for them – judgement free. whether a child goes 1 day or 5, short day care, long day care or preschool – each to their own! xx

  18. You know I used to be extremely judgemental and think that all parents should stay home with their mums, but now I’ve softened dramatically.
    We are so blessed that I don’t have to work, but we have made sacrifices. We don’t own our house, but rent instead and we don’t live an indulgent lifestyle.
    I’m now of the mind that all parents do what they think is best for their family, and that is all they can do. xxx

    • We made sacrifices for me to stay home for the first 16 months, but those sacrifices started taking a toll. I also didn’t really WANT to keep staying home but of course now I’m working again I long to be home for Nick! Ahh well, bills have to be paid! Where’s the money tree/winning lottery/million-dollar-job when you need it?!

  19. Honestly a comment like that in this day and age is just ridiculous, plain and simple.

    Families just have to decide on what is best for them. You know your children, you know how they are coping and what they need.

    It’s narrow minded comments like that, that just add to all the guilt parents carry with them (unnecessarily)

  20. Yep. I don’t doubt there are probably kids who don’t cope that well in day care, but parents don’t have much choice. Single parents, or just regular people struggling to get by…even sending our son to kindy 4 days a week and me working, we come out a couple hundred dollars ahead of what we would if I didn’t work and got centrelink benefits. So it’s worth it. Luckily he has thrived at kindy. Parents typically do a good enough job of making themselves feel guilty without needing others to help us!

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