Daycare can be a scary concept, and finding the right one for your family (that you can afford!) can be daunting. And, of course, being away from your child for a certain number hours during day can be difficult, both practically and emotionally. But there are reasons to be pumped about your child starting daycare. Trust me: I speak from experience.
According the the Center for American Progress, 23.4% of American children under the age of 5 are in some form of organized child care arrangement, and that stat used to include my two children. I genuinely believe their experiences at their "baby schools" (a term we still use in my house) have benefitted them beyond their time there. I remain so grateful to our previous daycares and everything they gave my children and our family. So much so, in fact, that every July, I email an update and a picture of my daughter to her former daycare. It's been more than two years since we last saw the folks there, but they played such an important, positive role in my child's life that we like to let them know what's going on. They always write back to say hello. Then I cry, because I'm a crier, but also it's just so sweet.
I'm a work-from-home mom now and, besides that, my kids now attend school so daycare isn't really a necessity anymore. But here are all the ways that, if it is, you can get excited about it:
You Can Go Back To Work
I know not everyone is keen on their job, or even the idea of work in general. I get it. I respect it. But there are some among us who enjoy both working and their job. And for those folks, daycare is exciting, because it means you get to do something you love while providing loving care for the person you love the most while you're doing it.
Receiving Pictures From Daycare
When my kids were in daycare, I pictures I would receive form their care providers throughout the day gave me life. Sometimes their providers would text me a story to go along with it, and that was just extra special. It was the best and the perfect pick-me up on a tough day, and had the power to turn things around in the best way.
And before anyone suggests it: no. Having my kids with me all day at work would not have the same curative effect. Know how I know? As a work-from-home mom, I have spent the last few years with one or both of them in the house while I tried to get writing done. It is nice, but not always ideal.
They're Getting Prepared For School
A 2016 study conducted by researchers from the University of Virginia, Cornell University, the Urban Institute and Stanford University, showed that children who went to daycare were better prepared for kindergarten than children who didn't. There could be several reasons for this, perhaps most obviously, daycare — with lots of kids and a more necessarily regimented schedule than home — is more akin to a classroom setting, so kids are more used to it by the time they reach school age. Additionally, according to the study, 56% of caregivers in organizational settings have a college degree in early childhood education, so these are individuals who are in an educational state of mind.
They're Going To Be Little Geniuses
The same 2016 study also showed that kids who went to daycare had more advanced math and reading skills than those who didn't. Researchers believe this is due, in part, to the increased time spent reading and doing math activities in formal settings.
They Are Going To Make All The Friends
When my son went to daycare, he had a friend who became a big brother to him. I loved to see their friendship when I picked him up at the end of the day, at parties, or on the occasions when they got together for play dates. My daughter, similarly, made incredibly sweet connections at her daycare. As a work from home mom, I could never provide the same friendships my kids made in a childcare setting. Even in school, they didn't have the same freedom to just play with another child on a regular basis for extended periods.
Their Horizons Are Expanded
From being exposed to new ways to play, to new foods, to new toys and activities, daycare provides opportunities for kids that don't necessarily come up in non-daycare settings. A study from the University of Oklahoma suggests that children may be more willing to try a new and wider variety of foods in a daycare setting than at home.
(Personal experience bears this out in my case, because my daughter ate foods at daycare that she would never even try in my presence.)
You're Inviting More Trusted Adults Into Their Life
The more people there to care for a child, the better. You're always their parent and there's no replacing you, but having another caregiver who knows your child is invaluable as well. It's someone you can talk to about various challenges and how to handle them. It's another person on your team and, more importantly, your child's. The idea that "it takes a village" is cliché, but it's cliché because it's true. And daycare workers are important villagers!
Their Immune Systems Will Become Invincible
The first winter a child is in daycare? Let's just say I hope you have some sick days available, because you're probably going to be calling in a whole bunch. But after that? They are impervious to any and all germs. They're basically a Marvel superhero. Research from Charles Sturt University studying 10,000 Australian children shows that kids who go to daycare are less likely to be sick once they hit grade school.
The Hug You Get At Pick-Up
I cannot stress enough just how amazing a feeling it is to see your child at the end of a work day and, above and beyond that, to see the way they look at you. They just light up. It's been a few years since my last child was in daycare and I miss that look, because nothing else can give the same kind of emotion.