In some circles it seems like day care is a dirty word. I've been told (by an Internet stranger) that I worship money instead of God because we send Rooney to day care. That was hurtful and made me question our decision, but right now this has been working for us.
I don't think all women are called to be stay-at-home moms. For me personally, working part-time has been a wonderful blessing for our family. Our entire family is happier when I'm working outside the home. It took me a while to feel comfortable saying that out loud (and it still makes me feel a little guilty), because if Rooney is the most important thing to me I think I should feel content to stay home with her and that I shouldn’t feel like I need to do something else.
Don't get me wrong...I think women who stay at home are doing incredibly important work. I will probably go back and forth in my mind forever about what is right, but maybe that's another post for another day.
What I wanted to write today is that after 18 months of experience with day care, I think there are lots of positive things about it. Here are a few reasons we love ours!
6 Great Things About Day Care
1. She has friends! It is so cute to see Rooney get excited to see her friends every morning. These friends not only provide her with playmates, but she is also encouraged to try new things that she sees them doing, like taste new foods and brush her teeth (positive peer pressure!).
2. She learns patience. I know Rooney has to wait at times for her snack or milk or lunch or nap or comfort or a diaper change. With a required teacher to child ratio of 1:4, that is reality (however, I like that our center usually offers a lower ratio of 2:4). Although sometimes this can be hard to accept, I think in the long run Rooney will be better off for learning patience and sharing at a young age.
3. It is a partner in raising my daughter. Day care is not a competitor for Rooney's love. Rooney loves all her teachers and they are a valued partner in her upbringing. I think outside influences can be healthy and positive for our children. They practiced purees with her daily when we were still trying to figure it all out. They did her neck stretches when she had torticollis. They provided good ideas on how to introduce solid foods to her. They come up with menu ideas and introduce her to new foods that we don't typically eat (like lima beans). I like that they expose Rooney to different perspectives and ideas.
4. They have toys we don't have. I don't feel as bad that we don't own a baby doll stroller or crib, play kitchen, train track, dress-up clothes, magnetic balls, or kid's rocking chair, because they have all that stuff at day care and she gets to play with it four days a week. I think we will eventually get a few of these toys at home, but only the ones that are her favorites (kitchen, baby bed and play clothes). Day care even rented a bounce house earlier this year!
5. They let her get messy. At day care Rooney has painted pictures with yogurt and colored shaving cream, played with PlayDoh, and eaten spaghetti. They play with the water table inside. If I was home with her I know I would be more hesitant to let her get messy, and I don't think I'd be giving her the social or educational stimulation she needs.
6. It allows me to work four days a week. Although I have shifted from working 40 hours a week to 32 hours, which I am overjoyed to be able to do, day care has allowed me to continue to develop and use the gifts God has given me as an editor. We don't have family in town, so day care is crucial in allowing me to work outside the home.
I repsect all moms and the choices they make around working full-time or part-time, working at home, or staying at home. I think we all work really hard to support our families the best way we know how. For us at this stage, it has been great for me to work part-time, and I am so glad we have found a day care we love so much!
*Some of these photos were taken by Rooney's day care teacher and sent to me in the past year (another reason I love her day care!).