Before I had my daughter, I thought I had it all planned out. I’d have the baby and back to work I go within 3 months with my in-laws and parents looking after her. I didn’t bother to think about childcare as I thought it was overrated and having someone I knew looking after my daughter was far better.
After I gave birth, I quickly learnt that my parents were a bit rusty (it has been 30 years for them) and things have vastly changed since their time. Soon after I gave birth though, my father became quite ill, so it was too much pressure to expect them to look after my daughter as well. So I had no option but to consider childcare as my maternity leave came to an end.
I was absolutely heartbroken dropping her off on her first day. I got very emotional and anxious leaving her behind, especially when it was on my day off and I could easily just take her back home with me. The walk away, getting into the car and driving away was the worst, I was shaking. I had my sister with me, so that was a nice distraction. I kept looking at my watch counting the hours down.
this is me trying to leave…
Four hours later, I was back at her childcare and ready for pick up. I walked in, and to my surprise, she was so happy to see me, whined a bit, but she didn’t cry! She drank all her bottles and ate quite a bit. She socialised with the other kids and had all her naps! She actually did quite well for her first day. Looking back, I was probably more of a nervous wreck and needed comforting than she did! Now that she has settled in, and my anxiety is over, I have grown to like the idea of childcare and would not hesitate to send my second there when the time comes.
So here’s why I’d rather send my kids to childcare rather than stay-at-home parenting:
- There’s a diverse menu of food: I’m not the world’s greatest cook. I can’t even cook mac and cheese (I actually burn it, somehow. Yes, I am a terrible housewife!) Now that Madeleine is almost 11 months, she is getting really picky with her food. She can’t have the same meal more than a few times. I am not able to provide that diverse range of home cooked meals for her. On her first day of childcare they gave her raspberry and banana loaf for afternoon tea and she absolutely LOVED it!
- She socialises with other people: We don’t have very many friends and families with babies. Sending her to childcare allows her to be with kids her own age. At home, she only socialises with me, which makes our bond even stronger but doesn’t help the separation anxiety. Interacting with different people will help her personality grow.
- It introduces her to new activities: At the childcare centre, twice a week, they have an arts and crafts session for nursery babies. Even though they won’t be painting much (they use non-toxic products), it is an activity that I probably can’t set up at home and not to mention the cleaning that would follow afterwards…
- It puts the babies onto a schedule: most childcare centres are very strict with timing, which is good because babies get fed at the appropriate times. At home, with errands and guests coming over, it makes it a little harder to stick to a routine.
- They become easier babies: Prior to childcare, Madeleine would always need white noise to get her to sleep. We couldn’t make any noise and had to tip toe around her and conversations were always whispered. Of course in childcare, this isn’t possible, with 8 cots in the same room, and other babies crying, your child quickly adapts to the noise and sleep regardless (not to mention, they are probably so tired from all the fun).
- A happy mum means a happy baby: Of course I feel absolutely guilty for sending my daughter to childcare, especially when I’m not working. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to be a stay at home mum full time, but even if I could, there will be times that I need time-out. If sending the baby to childcare, means that you get a bit of eye-shut or time to yourself, and it makes you a happier mum, I am all for it.
Letting “strangers” look after Madeleine was not an easy decision to make. However, once we overcame the initial anxiety and I discovered that she had so much fun there, it grew on me. We started with only half a day a week when she was 10 months, and slowly built up her hours. Childcare offers a wider variety of learning opportunities that I wouldn’t be able to provide at home. There are definitely ways of easing a baby into childcare, which I will discuss in my next post: Childcare (Part 2).