Figuring out childcare is a hard parenting decision.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of daycare.
This is the start of our daycare mini-series. You might be asking what the heck is a daycare mini-series.
It’s a series of articles we’re going to publish that’s going to tackle different aspects of sending your child to daycare for the first time.
As a parent of a child about to start daycare, I must confess I’m more than a little nervous.
I’ve heard all these talks about how bad daycares are. I’ve even heard a mom calling another mom a bad parent for sending their kids to daycare.
I started looking into daycares to figure out if they are as bad as I’m led to believe.
Surely there are some positives for leaving my baby at daycare and hence this series.
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Why Learning About Childcare Pros and Cons Matter
As a parent I know there’s a lot of guilt when it comes to sending your child to daycare.
Many times the guilt trip doesn’t just come from your internal turmoil but from other moms and dads.
Other Moms and Dads
From experience moms and dads are the worst at guilt-tripping other parents to do something just because they “feel” that’s the only way to do it.
In most situations, there are multiple ways of doing things and childcare is one of those.
I think many parents if given the option probably wouldn’t want to send their kids to daycare.
Most would prefer either a nanny or for one of them to be a stay at home parent.
We were such parents.
The thing is nannies are more expensive than daycares (and they come with their own pros and cons) and being a stay at home parent was financially out of the question.
Without a relative able to watch our son it meant daycare was our only option. I did what I usually do in situations like this. Research.
I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned researching daycares and leaving your kids at childcare so you can make an informed decision.
Why do Parents Look for Daycare
We’ve found there are really only a handful of reasons why parents are looking towards daycare to care for their children.
1. Both Parents Work Outside the Home
In this day and age, most households in the United States are a two-income household. 61.1% of households in the U.S with children are two-income households.
Roughly 56.3% of those households have children under 6 years of age (source).
If both parents are working outside the home with young children childcare is going to be needed.
2. Stay at Home Parents Need a Break
Some households do have a stay at home mom or stay at home dad, but sometimes they’re going to need a break.
Many parents will turn to daycare or mother’s day out to help give the stay at home parent some relief.
3. Single Parent Household
If there’s no relative nearby a single-parent household is going to need the services of a daycare to watch their child while they’re at work.
Cons of Sending Your Child to Daycare
1. The Cost of Daycare
Daycares are not cheap, and honestly, they can be quite expensive. Business Broker did a report looking at the cost of daycare in the United States, and the results are quite surprising.
The average monthly cost of daycare in the United States varies from $855 (Alabama) to $2982 (Washington DC).
The average yearly cost was between $10,262 and $35,782.
One thing is clear the cost of daycare is high…and really high in some parts of the country.
Many families have a hard time affording daycare costs.
To help put it in perspective daycare costs can be anywhere between 14% to 26% of the average family income.
From personal experience, we’re going to end up paying over $11,000 a year to put our son in daycare.
And that’s for one kid. Imagine if you had 2 or 3 kids?
2. Daycare Hours May Not Be Convenient
While a lot of daycares do offer the care you can count on, their start times and pick up times might not be to your advantage.
The daycare we’re going to use is running 6:30 am to 6 pm.
A 6:30am drop off time and 6pm pickup time probably works for a lot of parents, but it’s not going to work for every parent.
What if your commute is longer and you need to drop your child off earlier, or you need to pick up your child later.
Let’s not forget about those who work non-traditional hours like healthcare workers or those in retail.
Those hours won’t work for many of those parents.
Some daycares will offer extended times like later pickup but usually at an additional charge.
Make sure you know what the hours of operations are for your daycare and you know how long it’s going to take you to drop your kid off at the daycare to get to work.
Also, know how long it’s going to take you to get them from daycare when coming back from work.
3. Holiday Hours
Many daycares are not open during major holidays, but unfortunately, many parents have to work. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, 4th of July are some of the days your daycare could be closed, but you still have to work.
When deciding on a daycare make sure you know what those days are and figure out a plan ahead of time if you have to work during that day.
4. Learned Behavior in Daycare
Study of Early Child Care research being done by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) found that more time being spent in daycares increases the likelihood that a child is going to have behavior problems such as aggressive behavior (source).
5. Your Child is Going to be Sick More Often
Daycare no matter how clean they are (or say they are) is a breeding ground for germs.
Your child will be exposed to more viruses, bacterias, and germs at the daycare than they ever will if they were at home with you.
It doesn’t help that many parents are now not vaccinating their kids (source).
This will ultimately lead to increased visits to urgent care, emergency room, and your pediatrician.
It also means higher healthcare costs for you and more sick time usage as well.
6. Daycare Sick Policies
It’s bad enough your child is going to be sick more often, but it also means you won’t be able to drop them off at the daycare.
Many daycares have very strict policies on sick children. It’s understandable why the policy is in place.
Unfortunately, it does mean if your child is sick you will either have to take sick leave or make arrangements for someone else to watch your kid.
Did I mention you’re still going to be paying for those days your child was absent?
7. Your Child’s Reaction to Daycare
Your child’s personality will determine how well they’re going to react to daycare.
Unfortunately, many children do not respond well to daycare initially. Some kids require a longer adjustment period.
This means a fussier child at daycare and a fussier child at home.
8. Less Quality Time with Your Child
One of the major downsides with daycares is that you’re not going to be spending a lot of time with your child which unfortunately means you’re going to miss some major milestones.
9. You’re Going to Miss Major Milestones
If your child spends any decent amount of time in daycare the likelihood of you missing more than a few milestones is very likely.
You’re going to miss the very first words, the first steps, and so on.
If it’s not a big deal then no worries, but it’s something to think about.
10. Someone Else is Raising Your Kids
I read an article recently about a stay at home mom who really hates daycares.
I tried to find the article again and couldn’t, but one of the reasons she said was that she didn’t want someone else teaching morals to her kids.
While I didn’t agree with all her claims looking back at it someone else is going to be raising your child for you.
If your child is there 5 days a week that’s at least 40 hours a week your child is in the care of another person.
If I’m being honest with myself, it’s a significant number of hours.
What this means is you have to make sure you’re comfortable with the workers at the daycare you’re entrusting with your child.
11. Your Private Life Won’t Be so Private
One of the things I didn’t realize, but it made sense once I saw it is that for kids that know how to talk they tend to talk a little too much to daycare workers.
What I mean is that if your child hears your private conversation even if you think they’re not listening they are, and they’re going to repeat it later.
12. Questionable Behaviors by Daycare Workers and the Facility
If you pay attention to the news, there are some shady and questionable things going on in daycares.
Some daycares, while they put on this front, aren’t all they say they are.
If you do some quick online searches it won’t take you long to find news articles or testimonials with some of these claims:
- Security is lax
- Daycare workers are underpaid and overworked
- Toys and Daycare furniture not being sanitized
- Advertised nutritious food is not nutritious at all
- Being out of caregiver to child ratio
- Unsafe environment
- Activities are not as stimulating or educational as advertised
The list goes on and on.
The Flip Side
Like everything in life, there are always two sides to any story, and that holds true when it comes to daycares.
If you’ve looked at all of my cons for sending your baby or infant to daycare, you would think no parent in their right might would ever do such a thing.
That’s not the case because there are positives to sending your child to daycare and we’re going to touch on some of those positives.
The Pros of Sending Your Baby to Daycare
1. Someone Is Watching Your Kids While You Go to Work
This is one of the fundamental reasons why parents seek out childcare.
Most homes nowadays are two-income homes.
Without an adult staying home or a relative able and nearby daycares are the first alternative to fill that need.
2. The Stay at Home Parent Needs Relief
Some homes even with a stay at home mom or stay at home dad turn to daycares to give them relief.
While some stay at home parents feel guilty doing this, they shouldn’t.
It can be overwhelming being at home all day with the kids and having a professional watch them means they are much safer than they would be if you just left them without supervision.
Did I also mention running errands or doing household chores is so much easier without the kids in the home?
Daycare is a great way to start socializing your kid and getting them comfortable being around different people. This interaction will improve your kid’s social skills (source).
4. High-Quality Education
While not every daycare is good there are ones that provide exceptional care and education. Education that leads to kids performing better in school (source).
5. Daycares are Regulated
One of the nice things about daycares especially when compared with childcare from friends or relatives is that they’re regulated.
Typically by the state, you can be sure some standards are being upheld.
6. Reliable Care
Daycares have backup daycare workers so when one calls in there’s somebody else.
Unlike if you had a nanny or a relative watching your child if they get sick or decide to go on vacation you would be out of luck.
Research is showing children sent to daycare could develop stronger immune systems which means they get sick less often later on in childhood (source) and have a reduced risk of developing asthma (source).
As a parent, you can stress yourself out worrying about daycare or no daycare. As you can see there are some pros and cons with each one.
As a parent, you just have to make the best decision you think for your family and live with the results.
I’m sure we all know kids who were with a stay at home parent and turned out aggressive or kids who went to daycare and turned out very pleasant.
Make the best decision for your family and live with the results and tell all the naysayers to mind their own business.
Did we miss any other pros and cons of daycare?
Please take a second to share this article, so we can educate others.
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Check them out.