No. Having mixed feelings about surrendering your child care duties to other caretakers is normal. You may worry that you’re abandoning your responsibilities, or worse, abandoning your child but you are not. In fact, using child care can help you be the best mother you can be and should be considered an advantage that mothers of past generations did not have available to them.
In fact, seek comfort that you are not alone. Child care is becoming common for many families. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, an estimated 13 million children younger than six (including babies and toddlers) spend some, if not all of their day being cared for by someone other than their parents.
In fact, contrary to the many opinions that I have heard over the years, my experience with child care has been the opposite of awful. It has been very positive
experience for all of my children and most importantly- positive for myself as a parent.
Will they be damaged? Will they be behind somehow? Nope.
According to the University of Missouri Extension (my favorite study but there are MANY more), there is no evidence that children of working mothers develop any differently than children with mothers who stay at home. Actually, numerous studies have shown that children can benefit significantly by spending time in childcare while their parents work. The benefits cited include socialization skills, more mature immune systems, and even academic advanta
So, whether you want to work or need to work, remember this:
Another great advantage of child care is they have fun! They spend time with other children, foster friendships and learn. People are amazed when I tell them that Parker, my beautiful four year-old son, will often cry (yes, CRY) when it is time to head home. Is this because our home environment is somehow lacking? Am I doing something wrong whereby he would want to stay in school? Of course not. Parker wants to stay at school because he is having fun. And for this I feel proud. Working allows me to find personal fulfillment and Parker has a similar opportunity at his child care facility.
The Main Point: Being a devoted and loving mom does not require you to be with your baby all day, you are just required to provide love.
Mothers come in many shapes and sizes. We are all different but at the heart of it all, we are here to provide love. As long as your children know you care, you
are not any less of a mother should you utilize outside help. Remember, you are still your child’s essential caregiver – the most consistent source of love and support in his or her life. Child care is not a bad thing.
So how do we get comfortable with child care? Proud Working Mothers, we get prepared. Just like anything, there are great places and people and many that are not-so-great. Do your homework and find the great.
Ask questions and get answers: As a professional, you would never go into a meeting unprepared. Finding high quality child care that both you and your little one are comfortable with will erase your feelings of uncertainty and mommy guilt. Because there are so many options, fully inspect
ing your child care alternatives can seem like both an overwhelming and daunting task, especially if you’re already maintaining a full-time work schedule. However, taking the time to really think about these options and how they work for your family needs, will be one of the most important things you do.
When it came to making my child care choices, I painstakingly interviewed more than five day cares, 2 in-home centers, and a handful of nannies. I wanted to see the similarities and differences, understand their atmospheres and compare pricing. As my boss used to say “get the facts, and the facts will set you free!”
Below is a child care checklist I have compiled. This list is by no means exhaustive but will provide you with a great start. Take the time to do this, it will be well worth the effort.
- What ages do they serve?
- What is the drop off time and pick up time?
- Are there any fees should I need to pick my child up later or earlier?
- What holidays do you observe?
- Do you offer full-time and part-time care?
- Can I visit the facility without an appointment?
- Do you have a list of references that I can call?
- Where is the center located to home or work?
- Is your facility licensed?
- How long have you been in business?
- What is the caregiver to child ratio?
- Do you accept any kind of financial aid?
- Is there a reduction in fees if my child takes vacation?
- Is there a sibling discount?
- What is the fee for picking up my child late?
- Do you offer early childhood development?
- Are teachers trained in first aid and CPR?
- What is your staff turnover?
- Are background checks completed on staff members?
- Do you offer transportation? If so, from what schools or locations?
- How many children does your facility serve?
- What is your sick policy?
- What is the procedure should my child becomes sick?
- What are the age groups? How are they kept together or separated?
- Are animals allowed on site?
- Are immunizations required?
- Do you dispense medication only with a parent or doctor’s signature?
- What does a daily schedule look like? What time is naptime? Lunchtime?
- What activities will be available for my child?
- Will my child leave the facility for field trips or playtime?
- How much time do they watch television during the day?
- Do they play with age appropriate toys?
- What meals are provided?
- Are snacks provided?
- Do you accommodate special dietary needs?
- How do you keep breast milk notated and exclusive?
- Are parents given a monthly menu?
- Do you have adequate storage for breast milk?
- Do you have a place to play outside?
- When do you expect toilet training? Do you help with this?
- How do you engage with discipline?
- What is your educational philosophy?
- How often are the toys and bedding washed?
- Do the caregivers use gloves when changing diapers or handling food?
Women should always strive to do what makes them happy. I tell people all the time time: I am a better mother because I work. This isn’t just a saying, I believe it. Women who are working outside the home because they want to are better mothers and wives than they would be if they stayed at home because they are doing what feels right to them. Do what works for you and feel great about it.
By Jennifer Barbin
Founder and President of ProudWorkingMom.com.
Originally posted on August 5, 2013