If you want to understand the true importance of quality child care to a working mom, all you have to do is follow along as I drop my child off at daycare for the first time before going back to work post-maternity leave.
I walk slowly, hesitantly toward the door. I get inside my car and sit down, alone. I grip the steering wheel. The car is not on, it is more to steady myself as my mind whirls. I have been preparing for this day for weeks, months really. The more I thought about it, the faster it seemed to be approaching and now it is here. I just had to hand my baby over and walk out without him.
First day of child care
I am lucky, I work from my home. When my baby was 8 weeks old, I went back to work with him by my side. Well, on my chest really. He would lay on me to sleep and I would do my work. I became an expert at typing with one hand, feeding and shushing during calls.
I knew this arrangement would not last forever and as he started getting older and sleeping less, it was apparent that the time had come for him to go to child care.
Infant care is not easy to come by. We had our names added to the waiting list (along with a hefty deposit) at our other son’s child care center before we even told anyone else we were expecting a baby. Even with that much notice we were still nervous there would not be a spot for him.
It eventually worked out and he was able to start when he had gotten to the point where he needed more attention during the day than I could provide while working.
Each day I dropped him off and went home to work. We live very close by so I was able to return to feed him on my lunch break. As I sat feeding him, I observed the classroom and interactions and I was not happy with the arrangement. He was not getting the quality of care I expected for my baby. After I fed him, I would leave with a ball of guilt in my stomach. I did not want to leave him there. I would spend my afternoon worrying about him and trying to think of other child care options.
I should back up at this point. My job is to help increase the quality of child care at the state level. I know the child care regulations inside and out. Child care is my business.
As a result, I have had a terrible time finding care that meets my expectations. My older son was in three different child care centers by the time he was 14 months old, because I was not willing to settle for mediocre care.
My standards are no different now. After some discussions with the director, my son was moved to the other infant room and we have been very happy so far.
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The importance of quality child care—for YOU
I share this story not to discourage parents from working and using child care, but to emphasize the importance of quality child care that you should be comfortable with as a working parent. Children need quality child care to flourish, but that’s not the only reason to seek out the best care for your child. If a parent doesn’t feel good about their child care arrangements, it will be impossible to be productive at work.
We are all diligent about finding care, but you’ve got to continue observing to make sure it remains the best fit for your child. Spend time watching interactions. Drop in unexpectedly to see how things are going. Eat lunch with your child. Not only will you be more comfortable with the setting, but you will also know more about how your child’s day is spent and build a rapport with the caregiver.
You’ll be able to feel confident that your child is receiving the best care possible—so you can focus on work.
7 thoughts on “The Importance of Quality Child Care for Working Moms”
Welcome to WMAG, Jillian! You bring a very helpful perspective to this topic, being an insider expert on what distinguishes bad, good and great childcare centers. I’d love to hear more about this from you in future posts!
I know from my own experience, I only can feel comfortable working when I know my kids are in good hands.
I have had some pretty awful experiences with childcare and wish I had someone around with your background to warn me off one center. It cost more than all the others so I assumed it was better. Boy was I wrong. Welcome to WMAG!
Welcome, Jillian! I can imagine how your knowledge and expertise could be a “double-edged sword.” My husband and I chose a licensed in-home center for our daughter, and we are thrilled with it. I hope you’re able to find comfort with your current child care arrangements!
I think that it’s a good idea to occasionally drop in unexpectedly and eat lunch with your kid. That way you can ensure that the child care center stays good, and your child will be happy to spend more time with you. My schedule will become a lot more hectic in the next month, and I want my daughter to be able to enjoy herself without me having to worry about her. I’ll have to find her a great child care center.
Jillian, I’m grateful that you shared your experience with childcare. My schedule is going to be getting busier, so I’ve been considering childcare options for my daughter. I agree that it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable and aware of the quality of care your child receives.
Thanks for explaining why good child care is so important. I’m glad you mentioned that it could be good to watch the interactions that are happening there. It seems like a good way to also see what the environment is actually like and how it could benefit a child.
You made a very good point that I should be more observant of interactions in order to know more about the quality of the service of a child care center. I’d like to a look for one for my child soon because she’s at the age when she could be go be going to school soon. A child care center could be a good place to start learning things because it’s could be a more lax environment for her.