To Day Care or Not To Day Care, Is That The Question?

April 15, 2012

My names is Danielle and I did not go to Day Care.

My socialisation skills are relatively well developed, I do not hump legs, sniff crotches or steal food from the family table. Hang on, wrong manual. I do not shy from crowds, public speaking does not phase me and dancing on tables was once my forte, sometimes with lampshade on head, sometime not. Not bothered.

I did go to pre-school, however, a couple of mornings a week at 4 before I was thrown into the jungle that is primary school, and I did spend my first day of school under a table with a smelly boy with a streaming nose named Clarence. I’m not sure what his day care status was.

In this day of people living so far from family, and us raising our children virtually solo (as opposed to ‘it takes a village’ style), not to mention the cost of living and the necessity (or indeed, choice) for many mum’s to go back to work, day care is a fabulous option of child care. Is it the optimum place for your baby or toddler? I guess it’s open to opinion, but what I’m wondering is why I feel compelled to defend my choice to keep my child with me until he’s three? In this urban society I almost feel as if I’m committing child abuse by not sending him to others to be looked after, be it one, two or three days a week. I am in a very fortunate position that I can work from home (and let’s face it my work has take a serious backseat……if my career were a bus, I think we’d be located around the luggage hold. I’d say toilet but that would be putting out very negative vibes for my current project) and we can live comfortably on Mister H’s salary, although there are sacrifices. I really, really miss the cleaners. If something were to change with my career, then of course, I’d have to look into my options, of which, daycare would probably have to be at the top of the list. I’m not anti it, it’s just not what I choose for now.

Although I do not base my parenting solely on things I’ve read, Steve Biddulph’s book, Raising Boys (yes, there are big differences in the sexes even from a young age) best sums it up for me, and his findings are deeply steeped in psychological research. He says –

If at all possible, a boy should be cared for by his parents, or a close relative (except for the occasional trusted sitter) until about three. Group care of the institutional kind does not suit a boys nature below this age.

He goes on to explain that although all boys in daycare will not become psychopaths (his words), they will be more at risk of having harmed their development and therefore suffer from behavioural issues including aggression, disobedience and anxiety. Boys are much more prone to abandonment issues, that can lead to attachment issues in later life…… If I’m not working, and I have the option of hanging out with my child and preventing any of these nasties, why wouldn’t I? The thing I need to remember is it’s not actually ‘early learning’, it’s glorified babysitting, and it don’t come cheap. I do.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that if you choose day care as an option for your child you are making a bad decision, I’m just saying, I choose not to. I ensure D Man gets a lot of socialisation. He’s still learning conflict resolution with other children, (AKA ‘give me my freakin’ bucket back’), he’s still learning sharing (AKA ‘here’s your freakin’ bucket back’). We get our equal share of The Lord Of The Flies action.

We do stuff. I engage with my child. Between playgroups, Junior Jivers and dates in the park, our social life is banging……if you dig that kind of thing. At home, I don’t just turn on the TV. We get paint all over our faces, and the furniture and we stick play dough in our hair and on the cat. We kick the ball around the garden and we cook together (I cook, he eats raw flour, rolls eggs off the counter and stick’s his grubby mitts in everything) but we explore the world together…..

In the blink of an eye my little man will be flipping me the bird and stealing my car keys, so I reckon I should make the most of him while he still thinks I’m cool.

Today’s feature image was taken by the fabulous photographer Kirsten Cox. Take a minute to check out her beautiful work.

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