Why did we choose center-based daycare? I’ll be upfront with you: after my daughter was born, our family didn’t have the option for a relative to watch her during the work day.
So yes, I am biased toward that choice. We needed care that was consistent, five days a week, the same hours every day. There simply hasn’t been someone in our inner circle who can accommodate that, so daycare was the answer. Within the world of daycare there is still a choice between daycare centers and in-home daycares. We chose the former.
Even in 2022, I feel like I get sympathetic sighs when I tell people that my kids go to a daycare center instead of an in-home option or a nanny. Daycares seem to have a bad rep and I simply cannot disagree with that more. My children’s daycare has been a Godsend in my life, so here is some myth-busting from our experience to help shed light on the benefits of a daycare center.
Here are some daycare center myths & facts:
Myth: Strangers raise your child.
Fact: First, let’s remove this language of someone else raising your child because they provide care while you work. Caretakers are a wonderful part of the village and do not negate the hard work of parenting. In fact, they can add do it. As a first-time mom I learned so much from the lead teacher in my daughter’s infant classroom. Ms. Rebecca helped build the mother I am today and for that, I am forever grateful.
Secondly, daycare staff are only strangers if you want them to be. Between drop-off and pickup, five days a week, there are 10 built-in opportunities to build relationship–that doesn’t include any phone calls or messages exchanged in the course of communicating about baby. With all of those contacts, you can start to get to know things about each other’s personalities and personal lives.
By the time my daughter left daycare at the age of three, her teachers were coming to her soccer games! In the two years since my daughter left daycare, I have seriously missed those ladies. I am THRILLED that my son will be starting at the same facility this month and I’ll get to journey with these people again.
Myth: Daycare centers aren’t safe.
Fact: There have been some horrific stories about mistreatment at daycare centers. There are also horrific stories about mistreatment at in-home daycares, with familial caregivers, and even with parents. Unfortunately, anywhere there are people, there can be bad people. The important thing to remember is that those cases are exceptions, not the rule.
Safety is a major factor in what I love about our daycare center. I take comfort in knowing that the center is subject to strict regulation and state standards. During COVID, I appreciated that statewide health and safety protocols were mandated and followed. I like that the center itself has excellent security features to monitor who comes in and out of the building. Here in Michigan, you can research a center’s rating and licensing info here.
Myth: Daycare centers don’t offer flexibility.
Fact: Each center may have different offerings and requirements regarding schedule, full-time vs. part-time status, vacations, etc. Our daycare is incredibly accommodating of schedule changes as long as they have notice. Because they care deeply about my kids, they do whatever is reasonable and within their means to work with our needs.
In other ways, I am very grateful for how unwavering daycare is. Because there are so many people on staff, my childcare plans aren’t thrown by one caregiver’s illness or vacation.
Myth: You’ll miss all of the good moments if the kids aren’t with someone you know.
Fact: Some of my favorite photos and videos of all time are ones that were sent to me from daycare. The lovely humans there recognize cute and funny just as well as Grandma does and always make sure to share that good content with us. Using their app, daycare staff keep me updated on every nap, every meal, descriptions of the day’s activities, and of course, super sweet pics.
I don’t have to try to track down and piece together an idea of what my kiddo did while I was away, because it’s all in one handy spot. And don’t worry: the staff all understand the code that if a child hits a major milestone at daycare, they stay mum and let parents discover the new skill at home. 🙂
Myth: A daycare center doesn’t offer anything special.
Fact: There are two things my daughter gained from daycare that are invaluable. First, she met her squad. A small cohort of kids stayed in the same classes from the infant room through pre-K and seeing their friendship grow has been a huge blessing. As they head to different schools over time I am sure they will drift, but I am forever grateful that before starting Kindergarten, my girl has already experienced the joy of a lifelong friendship.
Second, my daughter gained early literacy skills. By the end of her year in the three-year-old class, she could read and write her name. She could recognize each of her classmates’ names, identify shapes, and other really cool pre-academic skills that made the transition to pre-K a seamless one. I love that her teachers–trained in Early Childhood Education–also provided educational experiences in addition to the play focus.
Daycare is the winning choice for us.
As in all things, my hope is that we can get to a point where we celebrate and support all the moms and trust that each of us chooses what we think is best. If you’ve previously doubted the value of a daycare center, I hope our experience is helpful. I am truly grateful for each and every staff member who has loved on my daughter and will soon be loving on my son.