My Toddler Would Be Better Off in Daycare Than at Home With Me​

My two-year-old daughter might be what you call "high maintenance." She doesn't like to play by herself, talks a blue streak, and is constantly looking for attention. One of her favorite phrases is "Look at me," something she says before doing somersaults or splits or -- gasp -- diving off the couch because another one of her traits is absolute fearlessness. I've caught her staring at herself in the mirror and pretending to cry. She asks about a gazillion questions a day about everything. Ev-er-y-thing.

The problem is her mom is also high maintenance. I made the decision this year to quit my full-time job and do something that would allow me to raise my daughter, but as a work-from-home parent, I require hours during the day when I can just stare at a computer screen. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't often wonder if a daycare worker would do a better job of "raising" my daughter than I am.

Honestly, a big, fat reason why I opted to stay home is because daycare in New York City is expensive -- like half-my-salary-per-month expensive. It made more fiscal sense for me to stay at home. But there were other reasons behind my decision. I HATED getting home at 5, receiving recaps from my mom and mother-in-law (who graciously babysat my daughter for nearly 2 years) and realizing I missed out on hearing my daughter express a fear of mannequins. She had her very first scare, and I was nowhere near to give her a hug.

Other things bothered me, too. I wanted to make sure she wasn't watching too much TV and that she was getting outside a bit more and exercising. I wanted to challenge her to learn her numbers and the letters of the alphabet. On days when she had an earache and had to be brought to the doctor, I wanted to be the one to do it.

So I have the fortune -- and believe me, I KNOW I'm fortunate -- to be able to wake up, work feet away from my daughter's play area, make her a healthy breakfast and lunch, and experience all of the joyful and sad experiences she lives through on a daily basis.

But let's be real. We're both human. And two humans who spend so much time together sometimes get sick of one another -- even moms and daughters. She gets bored watching me work and throws her sippy cup at the wall, knowing I'll have to stop what I'm doing and take 5 minutes to clean up the juicy mess. I start to think about my many friends who have kids in daycare and who rave about how many little companions they've made -- I mean, they have actual children to invite to their 3-year-old's birthday party!

I worry that she isn't gaining the valuable experience of learning how to share her toys, not take other children's food, and listen to a caretaker who isn't her mother or father. As much as I try to impose a "schedule" at home -- you know, now we'll watch Sesame Street, and now you should draw a picture, etc -- it falls to pieces more times than I care to admit. Will she be far behind the other kids once she enters Pre-K? Am I overthinking this? Yes, probably. But every time she asks a really great question about a bug in her book and I'm trying to concentrate and have to tell her to "hold her question" -- as if she understands that and is capable of it -- I can't help but wonder whether she would get the attention she deserves at a quality daycare.

Do you have positive or negative experiences with working from home? Do your children attend daycare and has it been beneficial for them?


Image via taberandrew/Flickr

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Katha... Katharine205

Mine is in Kindergarten now but up until the first day she started school she went to work with me.  I work for my dad and he runs an exceptionally family-friendly company so it was no problem bringing her in.  It was tough taking care of her and working at the same time but looking back I don't regret one minute of it.  She didn't go to Pre-K and never stepped foot inside a daycare center but she's thriving in kindergarten.  If you're worried about yours not having a social circle try enrolling her in a mom & tot type class or see if your local library has a story time.  We went to storytime religiously and she did a year or so in an informal pre-ballet class where she got to play with other kids and make friends.  She still has a close friend from ballet and it's been a couple years.

caleb... calebsmama12312

The thought of daycare makes me very nervous. I'm not knocking it & I know people who swear by it, but it's definitely not something I would consider. I only have ever let my mom watch my son. I'll be the first to admit I'm over cautious.

stace... stacey541

We are lucky enough to have not done daycare. My mom watched my daughter the first year of her life. After that my husband has worked nights and I work part time days so we have an hour during the day where we switch off kids. At times its annoying to be on opposite schedules, but one of us always being with the kids is completely worth it.

Mike Hanson

You arent going to want to hear this, but have another kid.

nonmember avatar nathalie

This is just because you are not used to taking care of your daughter all the time. As time flies by you will find your time together more and more enjoyable. i know first hand as i had a very similar experience. Daycare is just the option for people without a choice imo

knitt... knittykitty99

Preschool at age 3.  She will get everything she needs in a few hours a week.

nonmember avatar Whatever

Can you moms ever give each other a break? Unless your child is profoundly stupid, he/she will know who their parents are even if they spend their first years with a child care provider (nanny, daycare, etc.) while you work during the day. My dad was a drunk deadbeat and my mom really HAD to work, so from infancy on I was cared for by a family friend all day while she worked her 9 to 5. That lady was very good to me in her home with her husband and kids, but I always knew who mom was and we were always very close and still are. Wealthy people have ALWAYS had child care, even as mom was there in the home all day. There is nothing wrong with a woman having qualified help even if she is home herself. What's wrong with having a reliable sitter to give you some free time to run errands sans kids? I personally see no difference between the kids of friends who work for money vs those who stay home. In fact, the best all around kids I know (excellent grades, polite, kind, don't get into trouble) are teens now and they each had two working parents. It's not accurate that someone else is 'raising' their young children just because they are in daycare or have a nanny. If that is the case, is the school system raising your kids because they have them all day from the age of 5 or 6 onward? Raising doesn't stop when they enter school.

the4m... the4mutts

I don't work from home. But 2 of my 4 have gone into daycare. First, my oldest (now 10). My ex was working nights, and we had a new baby girl. Daycare was the only time we both got some damn SLEEP! He is sweet, kind, polite, and the best damn kid you could ever meet. He gets good grades, but struggles with reading comprehension.

Then my baby girl got to stay home until she entered kindergarten. She THRIVED in school, because I spent so much time with her at home. Everything about her school live was perfect. But she's spoiled and very self centered.

My 3rd spent 6 months in pre-k. I felt she needed it for socialization before kinder. Well, she worked out most of her social kinks, but didnt do real well in school. She was only in for 6 months before we decided to home school all 4, due to her and my oldest starting to fall behind academically.

The 4th? Ugh. Don't get me started. This kid is a stubborn brat, and I can't seem to figure out what makes him tick. He's good for his mommy, but a complete ass to the rest of the world.

My point?

It depends on the kid. You aren't going to know what will work best for you or your kids, until you try a few things.

Don't beat yourself up, just give it a shot. You can always bring her home if it doesn't work out.

nonmember avatar jlerickson

My son (now 2.5) is in a family daycare three days a week and home with me and then my husband the other two days. We were lucky to find a wonderful and very experienced care provider who is truly a member of our family. What I love about his time there is the schedule that they keep (it feels almost impossible to replicate at home!), his socialization with children his age and younger/older, and all of the unique experiences that they share (art, music, seasonal themes, neighborhood outings). Our care provider is also wonderfully insightful and supportive, so has also been such a big help in demystifying phases, changes, behavior, etc. I wouldn't change his experience for anything. Sure, I would absolutely love to be able to spend more days with him, but honestly, for me, it also makes me a better parent to have a life outside our home.

That said, I am weary of all the mommy wars. We're all doing the best we can and should be supportive and compassionate with one another and the unique choices that work for each of us. At the end of the day, the majority of our kids, regardless of how they're raised, will turn out just fine.

nonmember avatar K

Sometimes daycare is the only option. As a child I went to daycare because my mom was single and working full shifts at the time. Now as an adult and having worked in both in-home daycare as well as on site, I would opt to have my child watched by a trusted person way before putting them into that environment. Unfortunately Every place I have worked at has had issues, whether it be abuse, cross contamination, or just a lack of empathy for the child. Regardless of your situation it is your responsibility to ensure that your child is safe with the people you entrust to care for them, and that means doing your homework, checking credentials and references, backup checks, talking to other parents who use that care provider, and trusting your gut.

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