I have conversations all the time about daycare. Whether you love it or hate it, the fact is that most kids will need to attend daycare at some point because it's unaffordable to be a single income family.
I will be the first to admit that I would not have been comfortable sending my child to daycare when I returned to work after only 4 months off. The guilt of leaving her at all was overwhelming sometimes ( was I a bad mom for not being with my little one 24/7), I was fortunate that I didn’t have to add the stress of leaving her with a stranger at that time.
Recently however, we have started daycare after lots of budgeting and consideration. Although I was able to have my daughter at home with either my husband or I for almost 2 full years, putting her into daycare has brought on the mom guilt on every level. Currently I am at home on my second maternity leave, and feel like I ‘should' have my toddler at home with me all the time too. I should be able to successfully juggle both kids and keep my sanity in tact. I should be able to come up with engaging and creative activities so that she is learning and stimulating her senses. I should be able to do all this while giving and infant the attention she deserves. I should be sitting uninterrupted while the baby nurses. I should be engaging in x number of minutes of tummy time with the baby everyday. I could go on forever, but you get the picture. There are a million things I should be doing with each kid, and a million things I should be doing around the house (not to mention all the things I should do for my blog). By trying to do it all, I’m actually not succeeding at any one thing and in turn piling on the mom guilt in a vicious cycle.
In reality, daycare is good for all of us. This toddler is learning social skills, and independence that she cannot get at home with me, and I am getting time alone with the new baby, and to get things done I wouldn’t have time to do with two. Shockingly, I am also getting the luxury of an afternoon nap, or sitting down to eat.
Although we are over a month in at this point, drop off and pick up still tug at my heart strings. Feeling like I’m abandoning my baby, and then enjoying my time alone will always bring on the mom guilt, but I try to remind myself that the time apart actually makes me a better mom. After a break, I am more patient, more present, and able to enjoy my time doing toddler activities without feeling like the baby is being left without adequate attention or vice versa. I am able to put the phone down and focus on my kids, rather than looking for a mini distraction to hold onto some grown up interaction.
I’d love to hear from other moms, what is it about daycare that you like most? Let's fight the mom guilt head on and celebrate the ways daycare benefits our families instead of feeling guilty over not being with our babies 24/7.