“Daycare” is a scary word – one that brings upon a lot of shame and dirty looks from well-meaning friends, relatives, and total strangers. We started our 6-month-old in daycare today and I wanted to share our reasons for why. It was not a decision we took lightly. In the beginning, I cried even thinking about leaving her. But today we dropped her off and ended up kind of skipping down the halls as we left her with her new friends! How did we come to this decision? I think that sharing our thought process might help remove some of the stigma that comes with it:
Ps – writing this in a hurry so I can get to other client work, so please excuse any typos or errors! XO
Reminder: being a stay at home parent is the privilege of all privileges! If you live in a household where only one of your incomes is enough to make ends meet, that is a big deal. That is huge because for most of America this is not the case. Being able to survive on only one income is something that is not realistic for my family. In fact, I bring in 40% of our income and with bills and student loans and car payments, etc, I can’t just lay down and resign myself to domestic life. Without my income, we would not be able to live the life we live. It is not fun money, it is necessary.
Some mothers close this gap by working from home, as I did for the past 5 months and will continue to do on days when Ivy is home. I tried to make this work by working when she was napping or through the evening. But I’m not as productive at night because when you’re being a mom you are still working hard during the day – so adding on additional hours in the evening to be at a computer is not ideal, either. I would successfully get things done until 2am maybe once or twice a week, but then our morning routine would suffer the next day. It was difficult to find a happy medium – we never got in a good enough groove where Ivy was getting enough love and attention and I was getting enough work done.
All Moms Need Help
My mom worked throughout my childhood and still does, so I was raised in part by my grandmother and uncle. Those memories are some of the fondest ones I have, and I am closer to them because of it. The idea of the nucleus family, in which only the two parents raise the baby, is a little bit nuts to me. It really does take a village. Life does not stop because you have a little. In fact, it gets harder and goes faster.
Our situation is unique and I am truly thankful for it. While we don’t have family who is able to take Ivy as often as we need (3 days a week regularly so I can have office hours), my husband works for a company that is home to one of the best daycares and pre-schools in NYC. The kind of child care center that you put yourself on the waitlist for the moment you find out you’re pregnant. We were able to have a spot for Ivy since he is an employee, and that has made all the difference. We’re not paying what you would normally pay for child care of this quality, and we are so grateful I can’t even begin to tell you.
I’m Not Dead
You read that right: I’m still alive, people! You don’t die when you become a mom. A common misconception, but I had an entire identity before she was born, so why shouldn’t I have one now that she is here? Motherhood does not erase the me that I worked so hard on in the past. I am proud of all I have accomplished before becoming a mother, and now that I have a child I’m still capable, I am still capable of work and still capable of being a financial contributor to my home. I am still fully able to be a functioning human being in addition to being my daughter’s milkmaid! I’m not dead, I demand to live my life to the fullest. That includes working in addition to being a mother.
I Respect My Business and Want it to Succeed
Back in April, I wanted some insight from other moms who run their own businesses. I posted about my dilemma in a private facebook group and asked for advice: Should I work from home with the baby around, or put her in this award winning daycare? The response was overwhelming:
At the end of the day, I need to respect my clients and respect the hard work I have put into my business. It is not realistic to be able to do what I do with a baby crawling all over me. She deserves better, and my clients deserve better. The hardest part of the past several months has been knowing how incredibly capable I am while still failing to meet deadlines because I was working with one hand tied behind my back.
Sure, I had a lot of Mom Guilt thinking about leaving her while I sit on my laptop. But I also had a lot of mom guilt while she was whining in her walker while I was on my laptop. No matter what choice you make as a mother, mom guilt comes with it. I’ve learned to accept that.
It is Not Full Time
I’m lucky because I work for myself so I don’t have to be in an office from 9-5. Ivy will be in daycare from 9am-3:30 pm three days a week, so I still am able to be the mom I want to be. I don’t think we would have chosen a full-time program (we couldn’t afford it, anyway), so this middle ground is something I’m incredibly grateful for.
The Baby will be Great
It’s only the first day, but she has already napped longer in her day care crib than she ever has at home. My husband is able to view the baby cameras the day care center has, so we are able to see all the ways she is crawling and making friends and enjoying her day! Daycare is always harder on the parents than it is on the kid. While Ivy can tend to be really clingy when Mike and I are around, she is usually totally fine once we kiss her goodbye.
And if it ends up not working out? We will be flexible. We want what is best for our daughter, and we plan to keep an eye on how things progress and go from there.
I am Not Ashamed
Before I was pregnant, I worked full time in an office job while blogging on the side and taking other content freelancing work here and there. When I became pregnant, I knew I couldn’t realistically continue to work those kinds of hours and be a present mother. I still changed my entire life because my daughter entered the world – I love her without any hesitation and without any doubts. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Day care is going to allow me to cultivate my business, make ends meet, and still be the kind of mom who makes her baby’s dinners from scratch. I’m not ashamed of wanting to do all these things, and if you’re trying to do all the things then you shouldn’t be ashamed either.
And here is something I have noticed: The people who try to make you feel bad? Their responses and reactions to your dreams and your choices say more about them as people than it does about you. When people judge you for no good reason, guess what?! They suck ;)
I got a lot of questions about why we chose daycare – I think perhaps people saw I was exclusively breastfeeding and making Ivy’s food myself so everyone assumed I would be a very attachment-based parent. Yes, in many cases I still am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t combine different parenting methods in order to find what works for Ivy.
This is simply what has worked for me and my family. We are lucky to be able to do this, and we are grateful for the opportunity to have her learn and grow so close to Mike’s work while I am able to grow my business.