After having my first child I was absolutely racked with guilt and filled with anxiety about going back to work. I tried to talk my underemployed musician/doctoral student husband into the idea that we could afford me staying home. I even went so far as to create a spreadsheet which just showed me how impossible it really was. I had the full time job, I carried the insurance. It just wasn’t going to happen. Luckily for me, it turned out the anticipation was so much worse than the actual going back was.
Enter daycare. We searched high and low. We looked at home daycare and decided it wasn’t for us. We had no backup in case the caregiver got sick. So we decided on a local daycare center. It’s not a chain, but it’s large enough that if someone is out they have people to cover. We’ve been so incredibly happy with it. We’re happy for all the obvious reasons – my child is stimulated and happy. She’s learning and feels cared for. I feel completely comfortable in all of these things. But there are a few things that we just don’t talk about much when it comes to sending your kid to daycare, and I see them as extra perks I hadn’t even considered when going back to work!
1. Daycare takes credit cards: I am earning a ton of points and getting cash back! If only I had the time to use those points for a vacation.
2. Daycare is open until 6pm: I can go to the grocery store, run errands or go to an appointment before pick up.
3. Daycare is almost always open: This makes it possible to have an actual sick day if I need one. Or even better – a date day with my spouse! (There’s some guilt around this, but we need to get over that!)
4. Daycare tells me when they think it’s time for new things: Rubber soled shoes, solid food, sippy cup, regular cup, underwear! And the cool thing is: They teach her to do these things. Spill as much milk from that regular cup as you’d like at daycare and let me know when you’re all set with that.
5. Daycare does potty training: A breeze when most of it is done at a place with tile floors. And peer pressure is pretty intense. “Avery is wearing underwear and I want to too.”
6. Daycare has an unofficial policy NOT to tell a parent if a child has a first at school, so that you can relive the moment at home and not realize it wasn’t actually the first time she clapped/crawled/walked.
7. The daycare teachers make an obscene amount of artwork and crafts: I can still do this on the weekends with my kids if I want to, but I don’t have to feel pressured to be a Pinterest Queen.
8. The kids go outside pretty much everyday, even when it’s cold: If we’re swamped on the evenings or weekends I don’t have to feel bad that the kids aren’t getting any outdoor time.
9. I see the same moms and dads at pickup and drop off most days: It’s a great way to connect with other parents with kids the same age.
10. The teachers are mostly moms themselves or have a ton of experience with kids: This is built in morale and emotional support for the things that stress out parents. The caregivers genuinely enjoy and care for my children. They often know your child just as well as you do and they are great to bounce things off of. It’s like they are my team of people, helping me to make sure my kids succeed.
And a bonus one:
When your kids are done with daycare and off to public school, you’ll feel like you just paid off your mortgage or won Lucky for Life. You’ll have several hundred extra dollars a week that you’ve already learned how to live without so you might actually be able to save up for something for yourself!
So, the advice I’d give to moms about to go back to work is this: Hang in there. Hopefully, like me, the anticipation will be worse than the actual going back. And be sure you find a childcare situation that works for you. Be sure you’re totally comfortable with who is taking care of your child and speak up if you’re not. Try to find your own perks in your childcare situation, whatever it may be.