It has now been almost 2 weeks since Little J started child care. Needless to say, it breaks my heart to leave him there every morning before I go to work, and to get through the 8-9 hours at work thinking about him. I still remember, barely 6 months ago, I was so overwhelmed with being a new mother and taking care of a newborn that I secretly wished I was back at work instead of staying at home all the time. Yes, taking care of a baby is not easy, I now have a new respect for full time moms who take care of kids and do housework without any help. Trust me, it is much more tiring than a full-time 9-to-5 job. At least, with a 9-to-5 job, you know your job will come to an end after 5 everyday. But with a mom, there is no end. The job is 24/7 and it doesn’t even stop when you are sleeping because you would be lying down worrying if your kid is warm enough on his bed, if he is going to wake up in the middle of the night crying, if he is hungry, etc.
Anyway, since we are not going to change the fact that I’m going back to work, I will take a different perspective and look at the pros of sending a baby to child care. Little J is not quite 6 months yet, so I consider him starting relatively early at the child care. In fact, I believe he is the youngest one at the centre. Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad and guilty all the time for having to send him there and missing out on his growth, but sending a child to a centre is not all bad. Here are some of the good points that I keep reminding myself about whenever I feel bad:
1. Handling Crowds/Strangers
Ever since he was born, Little J had not been out all that much, simply because I found it too stressful to bring him out on my own during weekdays. So the only time we went out was during the weekends, and even then it was mostly for grocery shopping which was quite boring. Therefore, he didn’t have quite as much chance to meet with new people or interact with them. Sometimes, when a stranger came up to him and ruffled his head or talked to him, he would get startled and break out in a cry. It was worse when we attended gatherings with many people around, and every one tried to play with him or cuddle him. He just wasn’t used to the crowd. But after putting him in child care, I was amazed at how well he handles crowds now. He doesn’t seem to mind being left there in the mornings, and he smiles at all the girls who work there! I guess it helped also that he was sent there so young, as opposed to, say, when he’s 1 year old. If he’s older, he might start recognizing people and might not be too happy about being left there with strangers!
Little J at the child care
2. Social Skills
While I love spending time with Little J alone during the day, I know I can’t provide the same level of fun that other kids would to him. It is somehow different, the kind of fun you enjoy with your parents and that with your peers. Many parents that I know have second or third babies just for this reason – to provide a companion or play buddy for their first child. Well, since I don’t plan to have a second one in the near future, the next best thing would be to provide play buddies for my little one in the form of friends. And there are plenty at the child care, you can be sure of that. Little J is still too young to recognize or play with friends, but the early exposure of him to many other kids will make socializing easier for him once he gets older. Apparently, this will also help in their transition to school later on.
I try to make play time at home as fun as possible with Little J – I like placing him on the play mat, putting him on tummy time, singing songs to him, attracting him with different toys or play peekaboo with him. But I guess at some point, I will run out of ideas on how to stimulate him or he might get bored with looking at the same toys every day. LOL! At least at the child care, there are many different carers who would take turns playing with him, and they definitely have many more toys too. So I guess this helps to stimulate his cognitive senses a bit more.
This can be a good or bad point, depending on how you look at it. Being in a centre with perhaps more than 10 kids around, it is inevitable that a baby will get sick easily since his immune system is not quite matured. Also, exposure to more kids also means exposure to more germs and viruses. This eventually leads to more sickness, especially during the first few months at the child care. Now for a working mother, that is a bad point because it means that you would have to take care of a sick baby instead of being at work, since the child care centres usually don’t encourage sick kids to be there to avoid spreading of germs to the rest of the kids. It means that we, as parents, would have to take days off work and nurse the kid back to health, with the hope that he doesn’t pass the sickness to us! But the good thing about that is this accelerates the building of the kid’s immune system, so that he is less likely to get sick in the future instead. Little J has been at the child care for 2 weeks now and he’s finally got a bit of a runny nose yesterday, which I’m hoping will not blow up into something bigger, fingers crossed!
I have heard about this from other mothers that I talked to at the office, that kids who go to child care end up being independent earlier than those who stay at home. Citing an example of feeding during meal times. Apparently, many mothers struggle with feeding food to toddlers because they just wouldn’t sit still or would get distracted and end up taking a long time to finish their meals. Some mothers are even seen running around the house to chase the toddler just to feed him. A colleague of mine who sent her kid to child care said that she actually had no problem feeding her son. In fact, when she tried to feed him, her son pushed her hand away because he wanted to feed himself! I guess when you’re at the child care and are exposed to kids of all ages including older ones, you tend to look at what the older kids do and would sort of get influenced by them? In a way, this teaches them to be more independent and more disciplined, because when they see what the ‘big’ kids do, they want to do the same too.
I’m sure there are many good or bad points about sending a kid to child care, and the argument can go for ages. But the fact remains that I’m a full-time working mom and this is the choice that I have to make. Instead of feeling bad about it and letting it affect my life, why not look at it from a different perspective and embrace the benefits of sending a kid to child care?
On another note, Little J has started teething and has got his first tooth out at 5 months.
First tooth at 5 months