The germiest child care option, yet it works for us

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Categories Childcare

I always knew I would never be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always loved math and science, and along with that has come the understanding that I’m a tad different. Looking through my childhood pictures, you will see me standing there as the lone girl on the math team, the junior engineering team, and the science team, to name a few. As an adult, I have a successful software career and I had always planned to continue that after having children. During my maternity leave, I learned something that was hard to admit: I would never make a good stay-at-home mom. I am a much better mother and wife when I work at a job outside the home. And I feel very good that part of my income goes to people who love being around children all day.

We researched two child care options: nanny and group day care. I telecommute full-time so our first preference was to have the kids out of the house. However we had a backup plan to hire a nanny if the boys were born too prematurely. North Carolina has a star rating system for group facilities, so we used this list a starting point to visit and interview 5 star day cares. When visiting facilities, we were astounded at the differences in equipment, facilities, staff, and general environment. When we walked into the center where my kids would end up, it just felt RIGHT. The babies were happy. The staff was friendly and open, chatting with parents as they passed through. They have an indoor gym so they always get exercise no matter the weather. They were willing to let my twins sleep in cribs next to each other. And most importantly, I felt confident in the director, who plays a huge part in how a facility is run.

I’m happy to report my gut instinct was right. We have been incredibly happy with our day care, and have referred six other families to the same facility. It is a place I know my children are loved, well-cared for, well educated, and happy.

What I love about group day care:

* Teaches me to be a better parent. My day care has taught me so much about caring for my kids! They see such a wide variety of kids so they always have a solution to our problems. From getting the boys to nap to getting them on sippy cups to dealing with a biting phase, they have helped me through some tough times.
* Socialization. My kids have a lot of friends they’ve known their entire lives. They get to experience peer relationships outside of the twin dynamic on an ongoing basis. For example, Alex gets to boss other kids around while Nate gets to be bossed around.
* Convenience. It is open almost every day of the year. If a teacher is sick, there’s another teacher to cover. I can be a few minutes late  or early and it’s okay.
* Structured activity. This was very important to us. We wanted our kids to participate in a wide variety of learning experiences. Every day they have structured music time, reading time, circle time, and outside time as well as structured meals and snacks.
* Access to lots of qualified babysitters who know my kids. I’ve gotten bolder about asking people if they babysit on the side. In this economy, the answer is frequently yes.
* Practice for “real” school.  I’ve learned a lot about communicating with teachers and caregivers, how to handle issues when they come up, and when to make a stink about something or let it slide. I’ve also learned how one of my boys will click with a certain teacher and the other will not. And we’ve gotten really good at the morning scramble. I’m taking all this in as practice for “real” school.

What I do not love about group care:
* Germs.
* Germs.
* Germs.

Make no mistake about it, kids in group care get exposed to tons of germs. I can not stress this enough to twin parents considering this option. When I look back at my blog from the first cold and flu season in group care, I’m surprised to see any posts NOT about illness. You name the illness, my boys have had it.

But! This goes back to the science thing. I believe people build an immune system by exposure. This year was my boys’ third cold and flu season in day care and they barely caught anything at all. The first year, I’m not quite sure how we survived. The second year, it was easier as they didn’t catch quite as much. This year, it was incredibly easy. And I feel conflicted about the following fact, but since my kids have had so many colds and illnesses, being sick doesn’t really bother them. They can cough all night and it doesn’t disrupt their sleep. Only fevers and ear infections really seem to disrupt sleep, both of which are cured by some Motrin and getting in bed with mom and dad.

However, a major factor in our ability to deal with illness is our (awesome) jobs. My company allows me to work with a sick kid at home, and my husband’s company has a very liberal sick leave policy. Knowing our kids would miss school with these illnesses at some point anyway, we decided it was better to do it while we both had jobs that fit so well with being working parents.

As for being a working mom, I love it, but I also feel strongly that I have a job that fits a working mom lifestyle. That is why I so very very very rarely talk about my job publicly – I want to keep it as long as possible! Since I don’t commute to work, I say good-bye to the boys at 8:25 and hello again at 5:05. We have at least 4.5 hours a day together as a family, more if someone wakes up early. While it does take significant effort to achieve balance between working, family, friends, chores, and me time, it is the right choice for me and my family.

And I am so very incredibly thankful to all the women in math and science who blazed the trail before me to give me the choice to be a working mom in a career I love.

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15 thoughts on “The germiest child care option, yet it works for us”

  1. Great post. I love your honesty. I always thought I wanted to be the SAHM but when it came right down to it, turns out I’m better NOT staying home. And that’s okay. But it took me a long time to admit it. And it took Brian a long time to admit that he WAS better suited for staying home. Anyway, I agree with the list you put here of what you love about group day care. When our kids were in a day care setting, those things were huge. Especially the convenience factor. It was so nice knowing that if I was sick, I could actually take the day and care for myself, while still bringing them to day care. In the end, the cost for us of putting four kids in full-time was just ridiculous.

  2. I’m a mommy of three who works almost full time outside the home. We had one of our sons in a center from the age of 2 1/2 until kindergarten, and before that age he was with in home provider(s). I loved my in -home providers *while they lasted* but one of them retired on me, one moved out of state, and one decided not to take any more part-time kids, so after the third change I knew we needed a center!
    I also greatly benefited from their professional advice over some rough spots like potty training. Training was easier with a professional encouraging me to “just put him in underwear and you may be surprised how well he does” and she was right.’
    Being at a center also meant, no surprises you can get from nannies or at home providers such as “I’m going back to school” or “you have 2 weeks to find other care” or “I’m retiring/moving/ changing career/ taking an unscheduled vacation”. The center means reliability of schedule which was great.

    That said, my young twins are now with a wonderful lady who cares for them in her home 2 days per week. My DH is at home the other days, and I’ve reduced my schedule as well to be home a little more. We are always juggling but exploring ALL the options has been the best way forward.

  3. We currently have a nanny for our 7-month-old twins, but I recognize that at a certain point we are going to need to get them into a more structured environment for all the reasons LauraC mentions. When do people normally start that or when does it become developmentally significant?

  4. I am very glad you have found what works for you and your family, options are wonderful. My little one LOVES her daycare, I’ve been mostly happy with it except they recently switched my favorite teacher to an older childs classroom, I don’t worry too much though because I’ll be out again once I have DD #2 in August. My girl was only ever sick once prior to daycare (I stayed home for a year). Once we went into daycare it became so awful I can not tell you, I think it’s better if kids go into daycare at 3 months so they get started earlie getting better at being sick and building up immunity, I don’t think my DD had been exposed to much prior to that year and it hit her so hard, she wound up getting tubes (something I hate she had to get) but omgosh our lives are much better now. But now I keep getting sick because of her daycare exposure. 19 month old toddler, pregnant momma being sick all the time, ugh. 5 times now in this pregnancy where I’ve been sick for a length of a week or so, sore throat etc.

    That first year I stayed home the first 6 months passed by very oddly, after 6 months I finally hit my stride and became very happy with it. I wanted to stay home with her, I did not want to go back to work. I can’t WAIT to be home again with my two girls! The one thing I can say is my DD loves her daycare because she’s a child who loves to have things going on, I don’t think all kids are meant for group daycare but my active and curious/social girl is perfect for it.

    My sister says she would go crazy being home with her boys! So to each his own, and how wonderful it is we women live in a time where we have these options!

  5. Laura I cannot tell you how much I love you and your honesty! I’m really hard on myself and admitting what I’m NOT good at isn’t one of my strong points…I often think about you when I’m faced with one of my weaker traits and say to myself “I don’t have to be good at everything.” It takes a really strong person to admit what they’re not great at and I’m learning from you that it’s ok to do so! Thank you for inspiring me- I’m not a big commenter but I’m always reading and gaining strength from you and your experiences! Thank you!

  6. I always enjoy hearing more about the Case family! And I am a bit jealous, because I could really use those teachers to guide me along! Thankful that I have you 1 year ahead to ask for advice!

    :)

  7. I still remember the daycare I went to as a kid and I loved it! I was a classic extrovert and would talkto anyone and everyone. I am curious to see how my kids develop and if they will like it as much as I did. We are thinking they may go to a daycare at around 3 years to get ready for school. We’re so lucky to have a nanny in our home right now. But I totally feel you on not being cut out to be at SAHM. I am a scientist too, and I think I am a better mom for not being home with them all day.

  8. Great post. I firmly believe they need to be exposed to germs and build up an immunity! It sounds like you guys really have found what works best for you. NC rocks!

  9. The bit I took away that effects (and frankly affects) me the most is that you have the hours that allow you to be a working mom. Unfortunately that isn’t the case for us which is why the nanny is a better option. And so jealous of your 4+ hours a day. No nanny post last week – do you need a post on one? Or is RaeJen going to do one?

  10. Great post. I’m a SAHM (trying to be a WAHM) and am planning on early preschool, esp. for the socialization factor. I do worry about too much time away from my field, esp. in this economy, and I do miss the adult interaction too.

  11. This is a great topic. My kids are in daycare for half days and we have an au pair to pick up the rest, my husband and I both work out of the home. I wasn’t thrilled about the germs either but I felt that the skills they would gain in group daycare (socializing etc.) would be worth it. We love our au pair though, she does a great job with the kids while we’re at work.

    We went through http://www.aupaircare.com, if anyone wants to discuss/has questions we should start a topic about it! I’d love to share my experiences as a host mom.

  12. Thank you so much for this post. I have always felt very conflicted that I am not cut out to be a SAHM and its nice to read something that validates my point of view. I totally agree with you that happy parents make happy kids and that I am a much better mother when I am away for a while. I am able to give 100% when I am home and my children get some socialization and a different point of view when they are out of my care. I also agree that being exposed to germs at an early age is a good thing.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post and your honesty!

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