Author Topic: Daycare or Job?  (Read 8062 times)

atxian

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Daycare or Job?
« on: October 25, 2012, 03:15:20 PM »
The age old question, should the mother ( or father ) stay home to care for the baby or should they continue working and utilize a daycare facility?

Obviously its a very personal and situational decision, but I'm interested in hearing some thoughts from mustachians that have gone through it.

We have baby #1 on the way and have been mulling it over. We are in our late 20s and are lucky that each of us has a pretty good job that pays pretty similar, and we save over 50% of our income, so we have the option of one of us staying home and living a more traditional financial life ( retire at 65 ) , versus staying on our current mustachian path. Also there is the middle ground where one of us would stay home for 1,2,3->x years then reenter the workforce.

I'm interested in understanding the true benefit to the child of a parent staying home during the first x years of its life. We've read a ton of conflicting articles about whether this is good or bad or doesn't matter. Obviously it would be fun for us to stay home with the child so that is a plus also. But then the financial security that we would have if we continue working is a negative. At our age, our stash isn't really enough to impact our retirement age yet.. but after 5-10 yrs of continuing to work it would be pretty sizeable.

Looking forward to hearing your opinions and experiences!

KulshanGirl

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2012, 03:34:11 PM »
This is going to be a hot topic.  :)

I have a 2.5 year old who has been in full time daycare since she was 5 months old.  When I came back to work, I felt awful and it felt like the wrong decision, but it is what is best for our family.  SInce then, I have grown to change my mind completely.  She LOVES her school.  She has a large circle of trusted adults in her life, as well as a bunch of little friends that are like siblings to her.  She gets to do things ind interact in ways that just can't be duplicated at home.  You really do need to research and pick a good place though. 

I can only speak to my own experience, but in comparison with other kids her age we know who are home with a parent full time, she is leaps and bounds ahead socially and develpomentally.  Also, she is healthy as a horse and an adventurous eater, thanks to school.  I really see it as a good thing for her.  It more closely resembles a village life where lots of people play a role in raising the kids, and I like it that way. 

I would love to stay home with her.  But I recognize that those urges are more about ME and my wants.  She nursed past two and still sleeps with me for most of the night - she has woken up every single morning of her life in my arms.  I don't feel like she is missing out in any way.  Others will disagree with me.  But overall, what's right for your family is what's right for your kids.  :)   


girly mustache

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2012, 04:12:05 PM »
I'm in the same boat as KulshanGirl - I felt guilty placing my daughter in daycare -- but she LOVED it! She made so many friends and played so much - more than she ever could have with just me at home with her. She adores the adults who care for her and considers them part of her extended family. The only thing I would change is I would love her to spend less time in daycare (she is currently there from 8am-6pm). But we also co-sleep - so we snuggle every night and in the early morning (she is 5 years old now) she likes to go get books and we read together in bed. But the daycare thing has been a much more postive experience than I ever would have guessed.

atxian

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2012, 04:12:29 PM »
Thanks for your story KulshanGirl! in makes sense that daycare can be pretty good for socialization and making the child normal... My mom was a stay at home mom so maybe that is why I am somewhat awkward, among other reasons :)


momo27

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2012, 04:38:07 PM »
I'm not sure there really is any right answer to this question. I stayed home with my oldest, suffered horrible postpartum depression, and in general, it was a disaster. I went back to work when he was three, but work an alternate shift from my husband so he wasn't in daycare. When we had our second, I went back to work ASAP after she was born, but I took her to work with me until she was eight months old, when she went into daycare full time, since I was by then working the same shift as my husband. As it turned out, I hated that even more than I hated staying home. I felt like we got home in the evening, shoveled dinner into our kids and put them to bed. We had no quality time together. Our weekends were consumed with putting the house back in order, doing laundry and prepping food for the next week so we didn't end up eating out all the time. We did this for about a year before we couldn't take it, and my husband quit to stay at home with the kids (although the oldest was in school by this time).

Ever since then, we've had some sort of arrangement where we stayed home with them. It's been a combination of odd part-time jobs, working from home, or having just one income, but the kids will never go back to daycare. Not because daycare wasn't good for them, it was great. It was that the life that came with two young kids and heavy work loads wasn't something we could cope with as parents. For us, getting by with less income is far preferable.  I lost my mother when I was young, and it's always been present in the back of my mind that I may not live to see my children into adulthood. To me, it's far more valuable to spend time with them now, and worry about the money later.

gooki

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2012, 04:52:23 PM »
My 2 cents.

1. Stay flexible - sure make a plan, but don't force yourself to stick with it, if after birth it doesn't feel right.

2. What is right for you (as in for the parents) is what is right for your child.

Now for our story. My wife earned a good 15% more than I did at the time of the birth of our first child. Going into parenthood we fully planned for her to return to work after 12 months. We even had access to low cost day care at her place of work, making the financial situation very much in favour of her returning to work.

12 months passed, and the reality was my wife enjoyed being a mother so much, we decided she would stay at home and continue being a full time parent. Through hard work prior to having our child we were in a position where this choice was available to us without negatively impacting our quality of life; we can meet our bills and still save close to 50% of my wage (the joy of having a paid off mortgage).

Now two years from birth our second child is due any day now. Our first born will be attending preschool (20 hours per week) next year when she is 3, and my wife will continue to be a stay at home mum.

My wife fully intends to return to work once, both kids are in preschool/school, which is approx 5 years after she first left work. The way I look at it, is this is 5 years of retirement taken in advance. My only regret is we weren't in a position for me to take 5 years retirement in advance, so I too could spend every day with my kids in these early years.

KulshanGirl

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2012, 05:02:54 PM »
My mom was a stay at home mom too, and I turned out pretty well, dork that I am.  Hehe.  It's good both ways, whatever works best for each family. I am just really glad that we chose the daycare route, for us.   

I was home with my mom and sister and began pre-school at age 3 for a couple of mornings a week.  I think it's interesting that my earliest memories revolve around my friends from there, the carpool that came to pick me up, the snacks we ate, the songs we sang, who got in trouble over what.... I remember those things.

Mrs MM

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2012, 05:29:25 PM »
My 2 cents.

1. Stay flexible - sure make a plan, but don't force yourself to stick with it, if after birth it doesn't feel right.

2. What is right for you (as in for the parents) is what is right for your child.

Great advice!  You don't know how you're going to feel until you're right in the thick of it.

We sort of did a hybrid approach.  We both stayed home with the little guy until he was 3.  When he was 3 he started a full-day preschool once a week.  When he was 4, he went twice a week.  When he was 5, he went 3 times a week.  He started full day kindergarten after that.

My kid HATED preschool with a passion.  It was a very rough time at first, but it was important for him to get used to being away from home.  The preschool teacher said that he was one of the hardest kids she ever had (as far as being okay at school after we left).  I almost pulled him out, but we persevered and it went well after the first year.  As an aside, this is a result of his personality... not a result of him being at home with us for 3 years.

Some of our closest friends had a daughter that stayed home with her dad for 3 years as well, until she started preschool and she was happy to go and did great.

His personality is such that preschool really helped him get ready for kindergarten.  Kids are all so different and I know tons of kids that are naturally very social.  But, you don't know what you're going to get...

When I did research on all this, it seemed that the general consensus is that kids benefit from socialization most at around age 3.  My personal belief is that parents should try to stay home with their kids for 6 months to a year if they can financially, particularly when babies are more fragile and their immune systems are more susceptible.

I also believe that you need to do what's needed to be happy as a parent.  If you're at home and miserable, then that's no good.  It can be very difficult to be home with your child, but if you go into it with the right attitude, it can also be excellent.  My experience was that I thought I would be a natural mother, but it turned out to be harder than I expected.  I learned a lot from the experience and I'm really glad I did it because now that my son is in school, I am so happy for the days I got to spend with him when he was younger.

twinge

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2012, 06:40:07 PM »
I know the research in this field well.  There's no strong evidence that daycare or stay at home is better or worse for kids in terms of their physical, social, cognitive or emotional development.  There is evidence that high quality childcare (whether from parents, daycare, nanny etc.) is important.

Some markers of quality that have been shown to matter in a daycare:

1) Positive affectionate connection between teachers and children.
2) Low turnover rate of teachers and teachers have professional training in child development/early childhood education.
3) Lots of direct verbal interaction between teachers and children.
4) For children older than 2.5: Balance of semi-structured and open-ended activities.  (There have been high quality studies of "academic" preschools with a lot of structure compared to more open-ended play oriented programs--the academic programs show no long-term gains in academic skills and a slight decrease in love of learning--though of course this is on average and may vary by individual).

It's really important to go on your own personal observations and talk to people about a program.  The thing is,  people want to believe the center they send their child to is a good one so they may have blinders on about the quality so I think it's important to do the observational work yourself.  I also think it's important to talk directly to the teacher(s) your child will have about their beliefs, strategies for handling issues, what they enjoy about their work etc. rather than just the director.

Personally, we had the luxury and made the decision to adapt our schedules to use minimal childcare until age 2 years old  (e.g., I used up sabbatical time and have a generally flexible schedule, my husband went to contract work and reduced hours).  But this was what "we" wanted. 

juststarting

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2012, 09:21:28 AM »
I have three kids, am a teacher, so I was able to be home summers and took extended maternity leaves for all three.
I did different things with each kid depending on my circumstances at the time and what was available, including in-home daycare with grandma, going to my sister-in-law's house (her kids were the same age), a small family-daycare, and a large daycare facility. All of my daycare options were WONDERFUL, even the daycare facility (except for cost!) 
Kid 1 loved daycare/preschool, kids 2 and 3 always preferred to be home with me, sometimes/often cried in the morning. 
Overall, I believe daycare was a positive experience for all three of my children.  However, I was and still am gratetful for every minute I was home with them. If I had the choice at that time, I would have stayed home with them until all three were in school.
Bottom line: all kids are different, all parents are different. Find out what works for you and don't let anyone make you feel bad about your choices.

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2012, 11:56:19 AM »
We have a 4 month baby and wife is staying home until he's old enough for school. They're only young once, and you only get one chance to raise a baby. That's more important to us than the lost earnings right now. YMMV.

chatsc

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2013, 04:39:03 PM »
We have done our best to keep our kids out of daycare, over the years.  They did part time 8m here and 6m there. 

I realize that we are taking a financial hit because of it, but it is worth it in the long run, because the daily grind of rushing around like crazy, eating rushed dinners while kids scream because they have been moved around so much during the day. 

I also think, and please excuse me if it is not true, but I think that your child's personality forms in the early years, and if they spend those early years with someone else 9-10h a day, 5 days a week.....

bogart

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2013, 08:00:07 PM »
My story is close enough to Kulshan girl's as makes no difference, except that my son started daycare at 2 months, went part-week until he started public kindergarten (3 different facilities, each serving different ages), and it was very much what I (and his dad) wanted.  Though this wasn't a major motivator (in our decision) starting so young meant we completely avoided introducing DS to new people in his stranger-aversion phase.  No guilt or regrets here either in the moment or in retrospect.  We have been fortunate (for both financial and other reasons) to be able to blend both flex time and extended-family care with paid care.  We are also fortunate to have ready access to a wide range of great quality programs. 

The first 2 programs we used were sole-proprietor in-home facilities that were very, very small (5 kids).  So over 4 years we had 2 care givers (in addition to family) -- did not have to deal with turnover (the third program was at an institution more like the public school my son now attends and we chose it specifically to help him get familiar with the more structured approach and larger/more populated environment before he started kindergarten.  We were also very happy with it.). 

Besides what others have said, I'll add that (a) I'd much rather cut back on my work hours somewhat over my kid's lifetime than concentrate my out-of-workforce time in the early years.  Ignoring the power of compounding, the difficulties associated with part-time work, and so on, 40 hours/week for 5 years = 10 hours/week for 20 years.  I prefer the latter.  You, of course, may not, but in my opinion a lot of the "pop press" literature on this topic acts as if once the kids start kindergarten, they no longer need parenting (or parental time, or parental time between 8-5 on workdays).  This isn't true.

... and (b) twice before my son turned 3 we had "emergencies" where we needed to have him stay overnight for several nights in a row without us able to be with him (once his dad was out of town and I fell and broke my arm badly and once there was a funeral for an extended family member in a distant location to which my husband and I traveled but to which we didn't want to take DS).  Both were boringly uninteresting in terms of the stress and drama involved, that is, DS was (and we were) completely unconcerned about needing to have him go stay somewhere else (with grandma, who regularly cared for him a couple days a week) on short notice.  While comfort staying with grandma isn't exactly the same things as the use of paid daycare (which is I think what you are asking about), my personal sense is that teaching our son from an early age that other trusted adults can, should, and would take good care of him was a good thing we did, not a failing or a compromise.

James

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2013, 08:55:21 PM »
I like gooki's comments, I love how the mustache family did it, I think you have to find your own way of working it out. The quality and cost of available daycare certainly matters a great deal, along with the quality of care you would provide if a mom or dad stayed home.  I just don't see any way of making any sort of rules, but for young people I would highly encourage a mustachian life along with waiting a while before kids, which can produce the huge benefit of choices to pick from.

Dee18

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2013, 08:26:54 PM »
My daughter went to daycare at 9 months.  It was a great place in many ways, but she caught one cold after another, resulting in constant ear infections.  I was a single parent but even so I wish I had stayed home with her and lived off savings until she was a little older.  My job grew more flexible over the years and now I can work her school hours.  I say stay home unless you want to work.  Don't just work for the money while the child is young. 

mm1970

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Re: Daycare or Job?
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2013, 08:51:19 PM »
I went back to work at 13 weeks with #1 and 9 weeks with #2.  It is what works for us...I am just not cut out for full time SAHP.

However, I worked PT, 30 hrs per week with #1 from 17 mos to age three, and went back with #2 at 20 hrs, now 32 hrs.  THAT for me is WAY better than FT.  It's still crazy, but I get home at 4:30 with plenty of time to nurse the baby and work on homework with the first grader before making dinner..