As we round the corner into February, we are past the halfway point of this school year. And, while I was thinking about this a few days ago, it hit me that we will be sending our last child to his last school year of daycare – not just a building or a facility to us, but a part of our family for, what will be, over eight consecutive years. We are entering a new life phase, but I cannot do that without recognizing what a treasure daycare has been!
All my life, I dreamed of being two things: a mother and a teacher.
I always knew I’d have kids, but I never really thought about what I’d do with them while I worked. When I was first pregnant 8 years ago with my oldest child, there was a zero percent chance I would quit teaching. Not only could I not afford to quit, but I also didn’t want to. I have so much respect for stay-at-home parents, but when the time came, I wanted to be a working mom.
With both my husband and I working daytime hours, my childcare options were minimal in terms of family being able to help. All four grandparents also worked during the day, but we were beyond fortunate that my younger sister could help out for a year with my oldest son before she went back to school.
Needing daycare seemed completely off our radar and really not something we even considered.
Once we found out that we were expecting baby number two, and after I had done tons of research, we eventually knew that a daycare facility would be our best and only option. My kids were going to become full-time, “daycare kids.”
I was not oblivious to the stereotypes: someone else was raising my kids, that I was basically working to pay for daycare, that my kids wouldn’t know how to behave, or that “strangers” cannot possibly be as good as family. Of course, none of these things could be further from the truth.
For years, our daycare has been a second home to my children. It is a solid part of their routine since infancy for my youngest two and young toddlerhood for my oldest. The directors and teachers love my kids; I have never once felt anything but this to be true. Besides having trusting relationships with non-family adults and crazy awesome immune systems, my children have learned important lessons in patience, not always getting exactly what one wants, self-advocacy and friendship.
And though the guilt sometimes hit that my children did not attend traditional pre-school, I still did not have to worry about preparedness for Kindergarten. I feel confident that my children who graduated already were academically and socially ready for the next step.
Daycare is dependable.
They are always open, and they are a constant in our life. Even during the pandemic, daycare is the one normal thing we have had. When all my kids were enrolled (yes, there was a time I had three children in daycare), I could still send them on my days off and part-time during the summer. The directors are also fully cognizant that parents are sending their children because they’re at work. There is nothing we ever need to worry about missing, unlike some elementary school events.
Daycare has always made my life a tiny bit easier and ease the worries that occasionally come up, that my kids are suffering by my need and want to work.
In June, when I make my very last daycare drop-off and pick up, I will definitely shed a few tears. I went from being the mom who never thought she’d send her kids to daycare to the mom who is beyond grateful that being a daycare family ended up being such a wonderful experience for us.