Daycare Dilemma

Facing a daycare dilemma? Here's what you need to know (and why you should STOP feeling guilty about it) from a working mom who's been there.

I remember that day. The first time I left my son at daycare. Gaaaahhhhh. It was awful. Excruciatingly painful. I cried. My hands were glued to his camo onesie, not wanting to let him stay with this lady who would get to have 8 hours of his life that I would miss out on. Whhhhyyyyy? To work? My mommy guilt was SO intense. No one could ever care for him like his mommie. I didn’t want to miss any smiles or laughs. I just wanted to watch him for hours and be the one to hold him when he took his bottle. I didn’t even mind changing poo diapers. He was my baby.

Guess what? He’s still my baby. Going back to work didn’t change that. All those anxieties? Ridiculous. Putting your child in daycare so you can go back to work is not a sin, so rid yourself of the shame and despair.

But …

Leaving Your Kids at Daycare IS Hard

While I admit leaving my son was such an amazingly difficult transition that first day, first week, first month, and even first year at daycare, it got easier. And I learned these two profound things.While I admit leaving my son was such an amazingly difficult transition that first day, first week, first month, and even first year at daycare, it got easier. And I learned two profound things about the daycare dilemma:

  1. When you ‘invest’ in your child’s ‘education’ at a reputable ‘school’, the teachers know what they’re doing. Meaning, your children will learn from an infant age and become so well-prepared and far-advanced for elementary school, from educational and socialization aspects, that you won’t regret your decision to go back to work. Because it’s a win-win solution. You not only earn money to contribute to your family and sharpen your saw, but you give your child an early education from teachers who truly love kids. Again, heavy on the reputable school. Not all daycares and/or teachers are created equal.
  2. Going back to work made me a better mom. When you feel confident, valuable, and fulfilled, your family reaps the benefits.

So, if you’re considering work following maternity leave, or if you’ve been a SAHM for a while …

Choosing a Daycare/Preschool

Here’s my advice for selecting the right school or daycare for your little prince or princess.

Here’s my advice for selecting the right school for your little prince or princess:

  1. Ask other moms you trust and respect. There’s really no better information than word-of-mouth referrals from other moms who’ve been there, done that. Plus, they’ve done most of the figuring-stuff-out and can save you a lot of time. All you’ll have to do is confirm the accuracy of the info to see if it’s a good fit for your family.
  2. Research online. If a daycare or preschool has more bad reviews than good reviews on the Internet, you should definitely address that with the Director of the facility you’re considering, but I’d likely remove that school from my list. Sure, there are a lot of people who have nothing better to do than write negative stuff online, but again, if you find way more negative than positive online, it’s probably not a good choice for your child. If you are the above-and-beyond type of lady, ask the daycare/preschool in question for testimonials from existing families who can talk to you in person and provide real, honest feedback.
  3. Tour several facilities for comparison purposes. Seeing is believing, so seeing where your child will spend their days while you work is important. Meet the teachers. Ask questions. Observe the different age-appropriate rooms. Are the toys newer and clean, or dirty and ratty? Does the facility smell good or bad? A good facility will deep clean with bleach water throughout the day. What accreditations does the facility have? What are the child-teacher ratios? Do the infants sleep in actual cribs? Do they share cribs with other babies, or does each baby have their own crib? What is each class’s daily schedule? What is the teacher turnover rate? Do you bring meals or does the facility provide meals? Do you bring diapers or does the facility provide diapers?
  4. Your child will make some of their first friendships at daycare. When selecting a facility, be incredibly comfortable with the teachers, environment, tuition, etc. – because this is a long-term thing. Your kid could potentially go to this daycare facility for five years, or beyond if you use them for after-school care when your child begins elementary school. You don’t want to move your child in and out of different daycares. Babies, toddlers, and young children need structure and a routine. Make the best choice of schools for your little one and plan to stick with it for their consistency needs.

Mom Going Back to Work is a Win-Win Situation

Mom going back to work can be a win-win solution for your family.

I believe this so much that I’m going to say it again. Mom going back to work can be a win-win solution for your family. Of course, this is what worked for me, but you always, always have to do what’s right for you and your family. But the purpose of this blog is not to shame you one way or the other. It’s to alleviate mommy guilt for those who choose to go back to work, or provide insight for those mommies considering a career.

A few months after I went back to work following maternity leave, I took a new leadership position. C-R-A-Z-Y. Why would I do that when I’m still transitioning to being a new mom, let alone a working mom? Sure, add on more stress and pressure.

But that’s how life works. Timing doesn’t happen when I want it to. Never. But let me tell you. Taking on that leadership position, where I became responsible for getting myself ready, my son ready, dropping off at preschool, then getting to work on time AND being responsible for other people, proved to be a major challenge.

But you know what?

I put the smackdown on that challenge and realized I can do awesome things … and STILL be a mom.

And so can you.

Just Do It Already

You are not being selfish or a mean mom if you go back to work.

No matter your reason for wanting to go back to work, just go back to work already. Seriously. Go. Back. To. Work. Your kid(s) need to learn to adapt socially and acquire interpersonal skills. Don’t make your kid into the kindergarten class a-hole because you wanted him home with you, yet you spent most of your time on Facebook or playing Candy Crush and now he can’t communicate with different personalities and will struggle during his professional life because of your decision to keep him home.

You are not being selfish or a mean mom if you go back to work.

Even if you decide not to go back to work for a while, I still recommend that you get your little one into some kind of learning environment. They really need to observe and learn from other kids. Interpersonal skills truly need to be developed early. And going back to work is good for you. You will be resilient and dynamic and gain so much confidence that it will spread to your family. Your husband will love that you take some of that financial pressure off his shoulders, and he will love seeing you shine and feeling happy. And your kids will see that mom is really amazing at literally everything. You are a rock star who gets stuff done!

Kids of Working Moms are Smarter

Just in case you need more convincing, check out the working mom stats on this working mom infographic. Kids of working moms are smarter!!!

Just in case you need more convincing, check out the working mom stats on this working mom infographic. Kids of working moms are smarter!!!

No More Working Mom Guilt

At the end of the day, I can’t say it enough times — do what’s right for you. But, if you’re not going back to work because you’re scared or nervous about re-entering the workforce, stop that mess.

I shared with you what worked for me and my family. At the end of the day, I can’t say it enough times — do what’s right for you. But, if you’re not going back to work because you’re scared or nervous about re-entering the workforce, stop that mess. Silence that voice in your head and confront your fear like a bulldozer in front of a brick wall. You can do whatever you put your mind to, and knock down any brick walls that try to stand in your way.

Yes, there will always be employers in need of your skills. Even if you are just good at talking to people, there’s a place for you. If you’re good at computers, there’s a place for you. Even if you’ve had a massive gap in your resume, there’s a place for you. Social Media can help with that. Another post, another day.

But for realz, you had a baby for goodness sakes. Whether you delivered naturally or by cesarean, you built a freaking human inside your body!! If you can build a baby, I’m sure you can handle being a working mom. Sans guilt.

So, ladies, come at me. Are you a proponent or opponent of daycare and/or going back to work?


21 thoughts on “Daycare Dilemma

  1. Stop the mommy wars says:

    This is the most judgemental article I’ve ever read. It just seems like you’re trying to make yourself feel better about your own decisions. SAHM are just as capable at socializing their children outside of the home and I know plenty who take steps to prepare their children for school. Shame on you for this article. If someone came here looking for support, they would leave probably feeling worse about themselves.

    1. Christie Gibson says:

      I didn’t post judgment against stay-at-home moms. I’m speaking to any mom who desires to go back to work. As I mentioned multiple times, every mom has to do what’s right for her. Best of luck to you!

  2. Oh please, stop being so sensitive. This is a wonderful blog and this post does exactly what it’s meant to do. Thank you for the encouragement, because until you have been in a working mom’s situation where you HAVE to put your child/children in daycare, you don’t know what guilty you really deal with. Thank you for your words.

  3. Christie, no shame on you! As cofounder of this blog, I hereby absolve you of all shame.

    Seriously, this is a very encouraging and helpful article for so many women who are wringing their hands over the decision to “do daycare.” Thanks for sharing and keep on being awesome.

  4. I NEEDED to read this article. I cannot thank you enough for writing this.

  5. I also needed this article today! I HAVE to work but as my 1st child enters kindergarten this fall, I can tell how going to daycare has really benefited her! I feel guilty every single day, but I have found balancing my time outside of work (not doing to many activities without the kids on nights and weekends) really helps with my guilt! Keep the great articles coming!

  6. As a soon-to-be-mom, I have this dilemma as well but I have to say reading this article made me feel SO much better! It made me feel confident about going back to work and putting my baby in daycare. Whenever I get asked about what I’m going to do with my baby when I go back to work and I say “daycare” you’d swear I told them a huge sin…the looks and comments I get are so gut-wrenching that I was actually questioning what I should really be doing and if these people with their comments and negative perceptions of daycare were trying to tell me something. But then again I have friends with kids in daycare who say that their children’s socialization skills are built at an early age and are better with adults and other kids from an early age, thus making them readily appropriate for starting school. This is what I’ve always thought but it was great to read that someone else felt this way also. Thanks for writing a great article that can give those working moms a break about feeling guilty!

  7. There are alternatives to day care that also allow for experience for the family and child. Hosting an au pair is a great option. The family gets to experience a multi cultural exchange and child care is in the comfort of their own home. What could be better than staying home and having a life long friend be your child care provider!

  8. I’m planning on going back to work soon and so I am going to have to find a good daycare center to take my kids to. I already have a handful of referrals of where to take them from other moms that are friends of mine and so I have been struggling to make a decision. However, I think that your suggestion to tour the different facilities would really help me do that. I would definitely like to make that decision based off of personal observation and interaction with the staff, but what type of questions should I be asking when I go for these tours?

  9. Thank you for making me feel better. I’ll soon be a working mom and the thought of leaving my child for more than 8 hours a day makes me cry every time. Off course, if I lived in my perfect world, I’d get paid 100% of my salary and benefits while I stay with my son until he is walking, potty trained, eating solids and saying mommy for the first time so I could be there when he does. Reality is, I have adult responsibilities, like bills to pay and I need to work. And even if I didn’t have to work, I’d want my L.O. to play with other children and have someone else teach something new and valuable. I wouldn’t want to be the center of his world. I’d want him to see a different view of the world. He is already an explorer who loves discovering the world! When I was looking to feel guilt free of my transition, I encounter your blog and it make me feel better and empowering of my decision! Thank you!

  10. Great article. I am very fortunate that I get to work at home with my kids.

  11. Sahar Ali says:

    THANK YOU! … is all i can say. I get teary eyes even when i think about putting my baby to daycare. And i have been delaying this for so long. But finally I will put my baby in office daycare starting from next month.
    This article was pretttyyy motivating and encouraging i must say. I still feel the guilt but the focus on the ‘pros’ of daycare does make sense. Best of luck to me and my baby 🙂

  12. This didn’t really help me all that much. My first child and I have been back at work for about a month and a half now. I work at a daycare. Pros: I take him with me. I have personally known the last responsible for the babies since I was a baby and trust her (her son and I grew up together). Cons: he apparently had been able to roll over for a week but doesn’t do it at home. I’ paying for him to be taken care of so I can take care of other people’s children (because he’s in Infants and I’m with 4’s). I am bawling my eyes out today because I really don’t want to be working.

  13. Awesome article! Gives me inspiration and confidence to finally put my words in to action and FINALLY go to work!! ? W/out the stress of constantly listening to people telling me “I wouldn’t trust sending your child to daycare at all” or “daycare is ridiculous, just stay home and take care of baby”!

  14. I thought this was a great article and exactly what I needed. This was not a judgmental article at all and thank you for writing it.

  15. I loved what up you wrote! Thank you. My baby is 7mo old and I am desperate to work, I want to feel productive, to run a company, do so many things unrelated to motherhood. I’ll have to your words in mind when I leave my baby at day care. Btw I am from Brazil reading your post, thanks again.

  16. Great article!!! Thank you for sharing this, means a lot to me as a new mom with lots of concerns, doubts and questions. God bless you.

  17. Thanks for your valuable tips on how to find daycare services. My husband and I are planning to go back to work, which is why we’re hoping to find an infant care facility where we can leave our daughter when we’re at work. To narrow down my choices, I shall then follow your advice to consider looking through several facilities in town and compare them from each other to narrow down my choices.

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