Where Does Your Kid Rest Their Head For Naps?

I’m going to warn you on this one. I’m super opinionated about this. But I get it, a mom’s gotta do, what a mom’s gotta do. So take what I say with a grain of salt and know I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, just talking about this issue.

Okay…Here we go.

Daycares are a serious potential issue in America. Children have shown proof of such over the decades. There are endless reasons that justify a child in daycare Monday through Friday, but realistically there should only be three truly justified reasons as to why a child should ever be in daycare.

The first is your a single mom, and even then find a family member or a close friend to watch your child. Not only would it save you thousands if not hundreds of dollars each month, but also it would ensure the mental and physical well being of your child. As a single mom myself, I absolutely have to work 40 hours a week, with extra jobs on the side, so all the opinions, facts, and research provided within this article are based on everything I’ve experienced within the childcare field and as a teacher.

Daycares, or “Private Schools” as they are more commonly known as today, are places where a child’s capability to understand morals, have a consistent lifestyle, and provide positive closely monitored reinforcement are placed at risk. There are the exceptional “teachers” that help to protect each child as best they can from the harms of other kids or even their parents’ wrong doings, but even then would you want someone you barely know raising your child? I know I wouldn’t and I don’t.

The second is if you’re a product of the market crash over the past seven years. It is understandable to see your child in daycare on a daily basis, but this one comes with a grain of salt. If you have a kid you or your partner should really try to be working part time, and that is while they are at school learning, actually learning, and that’s it. Even in this case though there is the argument of “why am I working when all my paycheck goes towards daycare costs?” Making this reason inevitably needless. However, there are still some cases out in the world that I do agree yes your child should be babysat or in someone’s care so that you can work; again, by a family member or close friend.
Some people within society do not have the glorious gift of family or friends that will watch their child while they work, so in this case it’s completely understandable. Even still, any form of childcare should be closely examined, researched, and weighed against the option of “Is it worth it for me to work?” More often than not it’s “no”.

The average daycare center is open from 6 am to 6 pm. That’s 12 hours of your child being in a school building. 12 HOURS. Not only one day a week, but FIVE. In total we’re talking 60 hours a week. You may be thinking, “my child isn’t in daycare for that long” but on average almost half the children in any facility are.

Let’s look at the big picture here. You have a 40 hour work week, include at most an hour commute to work and an hour back from work, that brings your week up to 50 hours. For most a commute is more like 30-45 minutes. Let’s look at your child’s schedule. They’re there 50 hours per week as well so as to accommodate for your travel time to and from. So why then are we seeing half of the children in daycare staying at the center for 10 EXTRA hours per week?

The third reason that stands as an exception is for social development. It is crucial for a child to learn to be social. Even then, a prolonged amount of time or lack of parental attention and involvement at home can lead to bigger issues.
Through my experiences in child care, some parents go home and eat dinner before they have to return to pick up their children, why? So that all they have to do when their child returns home is feed them, bathe them, and put them to bed. This scenario is an actual situation that I have seen in a childcare facility. What good reason could you possibly have as to not spend time with your kids?

According to Psychology Today “About 26 percent of children who spend more than 45 hours per week in daycare go on to have serious behavior problems at kindergarten age. In contrast, only 10 percent of kids who spend less than 10 hours per week have equivalent problems.” Researchers in childhood development tend to be significantly more feminist than their predecessors and the issue with this is that they are all about trying to not make mothers feel bad about putting their kids in daycare. Research shows that the number of hours a child is without their parent affects their growth. The ages from infant to pre kindergarten are so crucial to the mental development of a child and it is in these years that the most harm can be done to a child’s brain.

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Emotional and moral teachings are critical at this age. Infant to Pre-K are when children are learning manners, social skills, empathy, love, and trust. Jay Belsky, a researcher from Birbeck College in London, talks about how an unstable environment and parent interaction can cause aggression, violence, and inability to show empathy and an understanding of love. For years I have worked with at-risk teens in Arizona. Ranging from poverty level to upper-middle class families. Each of them has working parents, or are the product of a terrible childhood, or even come from just a bad situation. Regardless of their social class or income level, each of these kids have the underlying issue of coming from daycare or an unstable home environment.

We as parents must do everything we can to protect our children even if that means pulling ourselves out of work for a few years or rigorously searching for the diamond in the rough teacher for our kids. If our children are the future of society, each of us (child care providers included) must do everything in our power to ensure positive mental and physical growth for our kids.

I don’t say these things to be hurtful, or cruel, or judgmental. I say it based on personal experience and of my own inability to stay home with my son, because if I could I would do absolutely everything in my power to ensure that I’m home with him.

What you can do as a parent:
1. Keep an open line of communication with your spouse about what’s going on in your children’s lives
2. Talk to your childcare provider or teacher about your child’s behavior, growth, struggles, and positives everyday.
3. Encourage your kids to be open with you about everything and talk about what’s happening at school/daycare. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard, or even scary, questions.
4. Make choices based on what’s going to benefit your children first and then you.
5. Remind your child how much you love them, say it a million times and never stop.
6. Do your research. Don’t settle for a school/daycare based on the idea that it is affordable, base it on the fact that it’s going to be the best alternative and a happy and encouraging environment for your little one.

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Give me your feedback. Am I stepping on toes here? Am I off base? Am I 100% correct? Tell me in the comments below and let’s start a dialogue.

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Sarah is the co-founder of Travel Foodie Mom, The Blonde Spot, and podcast host for Monday Morning Mimosas and Nerd Biscuit (coming soon). She believes life is better when you can embrace and she does just that.

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