Why I Won’t Put My Kids in Daycare

I’m hesitant to write this, because I’m aware that several of my regular readers are parents from the daycare I used to work out.  

Let me say this: 

I loved the daycare I worked at. It was a good environment, the director and assistant director were wonderful people, and I genuinely enjoyed my job.  

There are plenty of good things to be said for daycare, and I don’t want to negate those at all.  

What I do want to do is educate parents about the reality of putting children in daycare. I know from experience that a lot of parents have misconceptions in this area. A little more knowledge will help you make a better choice for your family.  

Here is personally why I won’t my put kids in daycare. 

You give up parental authority.  

This is the biggest deal for me, so I’ll start with it first.  

My post “Who’s in Charge?” talks about how important it is to maintain parental authority. When you put your children in childcare, you relinquish that authority over to another person.  

Obviously if you plan to send your children to school later, this issue will be revisited. But daycare is different than school.  

For one, the hours tend to be longer. There are a few children out there who are lucky enough to have parents who only work part time. But most children attend daycare because their parents work full time and don’t have time to care for them during the day.  

Secondly, it’s important to get a solid foundation for children to feel secure. Once they have that, they can go out and learn more about the rest of the world, confident that their parents will be there waiting when they get home. Young children don’t have the same understanding of permanence that older children have.  

Here is the harsh reality of having your child in daycare for most of the day.  

You don’t get to choose:  

  • What your child is learning.  
  • How they are being disciplined.  
  • Whether or not they’re being potty trained.  
  • Who they interact with.  
  • What they eat.  
  • Whether their diaper gets changed on time.  
  • If they nap.  
  • When they nap.  
  • If they play outside.  
  • What activities they do.

Your choices in their life are basically limited to weekends and evenings. That’s tough to think about.  

Personally, I want to have a little more influence over my child’s life during those formative years. I want to know that she is being taught good morals and correct reasoning. I want to make sure she is getting plenty of exercise and outside playtime. I want to be there to encourage healthy habits.  

Which leads me to my next point. 

Children don’t eat as healthy. 

Our society has become so concerned with rules and regulations that we limit the amount of healthy food available to children in daycare centers.  

Your center will probably tell you that they serve “balanced” meals, which is technically true. They make an effort to serve a good balance of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbs.  

Unfortunately, most of that is in the form of pre-processed food. Frozen chicken nuggets, white bread, and jello with canned pineapple in it might be considered a nutritional meal according to daycare standards.  

I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I want my child eating.  

I want fresh fruits and vegetables, a low sugar diet, and lots of variety for my kids. That’s not what they’re going to get in daycare here in the United States (although I read recently that in Spain, it’s a different story!).  

Outside time is limited.

Daycares are required to allow children outside time every day.

Except on days when it’s cold.

Or hot.

Or rainy.

Or windy.

Or there might possibly be some small chance that the weather might turn bad.

You get my drift? There are a lot of days that the kids don’t actually get to go outside, or their outside time is cut short.

Even on days when the weather was perfect, we were limited by the amount of classes that could play on the playground at one time. The kids only got 30-45 minutes of outside time in the morning and afternoon.  

Now, if you aren’t an outdoorsy sort of parent, and you are content to let your kids sit inside most of the day watching TV or  something, this may not affect you as much.

I am an outdoor girl, and I believe in letting children play outside a LOT.

Getting a good teacher is lucky dip. 

It makes me sad to say this, but I know from my years as a daycare teacher that it’s true.  

Daycares are usually understaffed and really desperate to fill those gaps. Some of the people they accept are not really qualified to look after anyone’s kids.  

There are some really wonderful daycare teachers out there who commit their time and heart, pouring into the lives of their little students. They maintain classroom consistency, good attitude, and an environment of love and learning. I cannot say enough good things about these people.  

Unfortunately, this is only a handful of the staff at your average daycare. Many people choose to take the job because they think it will be an easy way to earn some money. They spend more time on their phones, or gossiping with the other teachers, than they do watching your kids. They like to take the easy route rather than maintaining discipline and consistency. They get overwhelmed easily.  

I’m not willing to take that chance on my child’s education.    

 

Childcare is expensive. 

Can you think of some things you could do instead of spending money on daycare?  

How about a family vacation to Europe?  

How about a downpayment on a house?  

How about starting a small business? 

How about going on a missions trip? 

How about giving to people who really need that money?  

I just can’t imagine paying all of that money for someone else to take care of the child I gave birth to.  

Early childcare actually inhibits social skills

(Source: Who Should Care for Our Children?)  

You would think that putting children in a social setting earlier on would help them develop their social skills, but studies find that the opposite is actually true.  

Children rely so much on parental guidance at a young age. Simply putting them into a social setting without equipping them with the necessary social skills ends up doing more harm than good.  

Your children need to be instructed, guided, and disciplined by their parents. You mold their character because you hold more influence than any teacher, peer, or babysitter.  

Maybe it’s prideful of me, but I have a definite idea of what I want my children to learn and how I want them to behave. I don’t want to compromise their chances of becoming godly young people with strong faith and noble character.  

You miss out on your children’s lives.  

If you’ve considered daycare for your child, I’m sure this is something you’ve already thought through at some point. 

For me, it was heartbreaking to do the math. 

If you work a normal 9-5 job, here is the breakdown: 

  • Say your kids wake up at 7. You spend your morning with them getting dressed, eating breakfast, and rushing out the door. You might get an hour of playtime in depending on how far away you are from the daycare center. 
  • They spend all day away from you.  
  • At 5:15, you come to pick them up. 
  • You arrive home 5:30 and begin making supper.  
  • You have supper together as a family.  
  • It’s your child’s bedtime.  

As a daycare teacher, I was spending more time with many of the kids in my care than their own parents got with them.  

I wouldn’t be able to do this as a parent. I am determined to spend as much time as I can with my own children. I don’t want someone else telling me about their first steps, or their first time down the slide. I want to be there. 

As a veteran daycare teacher, here is why I won't put my kids in daycare. | Mom but not a Mom

 

These are my personal reasons why I won’t be enrolling any of my children in daycare.  

I would like to note that there are some situations in which daycare is a suitable or even better option than keeping children at home. I’m not ignoring those, just talking about my own future plans. Every family is different and different families have different needs. 🙂  

Do your kids go to daycare? What do you think? 

24 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Put My Kids in Daycare

  1. I am not a mother yet, but as someone who wants to be one in the next few years, putting my children in daycare is something I’m slowly realizing that I don’t want. My thoughts weren’t confirmed on it, but this has put a lot in perspective. Thank you:-)

    1. Childcare can be a tough decision to make, especially with all of options out there nowadays. I’m glad you found my post helpful. 🙂 Good luck!

  2. Oh, Dawn. This is a really harmful post, and I’m afraid it’s one that you might wish you hadn’t published when you have kids.

    I was raised by a stay at home mom who sacrificed both her career and her college degree to stay home with us when it was deeply unpopular to do so. I am so thankful for that, and I know it shaped me well, but there are some crucial things you’re missing in your argument here.

    I used to think I’d be a “never daycare” mom. Oh my goodness, how foolish I was! I have a two year old son, and he’s in full time daycare in our town.

    1. I assumed that our family’s life would financially and professionally accommodate a stay at home parent. In fact, my husband really wanted to be the stay at home dad! But financial disaster hit us in the form of an unplanned pregnancy, my severe health needs, the market crash in California, and a forced move out of state. We tried as hard as we could for a year to make it work, but we just couldn’t. I cried the first day I dropped my (then 18 month old) son off at daycare, feeling like an utter failure of a mom because people always told me the things you posted in this article. But I’ve learned differently over the past year and a half.

    2. Every kid is different. My little guy is high energy, curious, creepy smart, and outrageously social. He spends every day with an amazing group of teachers and little people exploring indoors and out and learning at his own pace. We worked very hard to vet the daycare we’d choose, and it’s an amazing place that we are lucky to be able to afford.

    3. Every mom is different. Some of us, sad to say, really aren’t stay at home mom material. I have never been so lonely in my life as the months I was home with him alone or the year I spent teaching full time, then swapping baby with my husband and spending the rest of the day alone with the baby. Our schedules were off all the “for moms” meet up groups, and I spent all my time feeling empty and inadequate to meet my son’s emotional, physical, and intellectual needs. I was just out of gas, because I recharge from being with other people. Staying home alone was the absolute worst situation for me, which crippled my ability to be a good mom.

    4. The control issue is toxic. This is the part of the post that is the most dangerous, I think. I used to be a high school teacher, and I spent over a decade watching parenting strategies with teenagers. I am convince that the absolute best thing you can do for your kid is to help them, early, learn to be part of a community and act independently. Obviously that looks very different at age two than it does at age 16, for sure, but the parenting philosophy doesn’t. If you think it’s your job to control everything your kid experiences and learns, I can tell you exactly the kind of parent you’ll be 15 years down the line, and exactly the kind of kid you’ll have. You don’t want either of those things. Remember: parenting is the art of teaching our kids to fly, not snowplowing every obstacle out of their way and hovering over them in order to shape every aspect of their personalities, habits, and lives. At some point in our parenting, we will face the unavoidable conclusion that we are not actually in charge of the independent humans who are our children. The sooner we learn that, the better it will be for all of us.

    5. This is a deeply privileged argument you’ve made. Please remember that many people, through no fault of their own, cannot avoid full time care for their children, and that is often the most loving option. I have more than one friend who have had to escape an abusive marriage with little to no family support who placed their kids (one of them special needs) in daycare so they could provide for their children. Sure, it would be great if we could all stay at home and make our own organic baby food (which I did! Not knocking it – a lot of being at home was awesome). But for some, three meals a day, no matter what they are as long as they fill the kiddos’ bellies, is the best they an do. Your arguments here would cut them like knives, and be deeply unfair. Before posting something like this, thinking outside your experience is important.

    That’s not to say that daycare is the answer! Maybe for some. Certainly not for others. My point is that your reasons for not putting your future kids in daycare are not great ones, and they certainly shouldn’t be a blueprint for everybody. If I’ve learned anything as a teacher and as a mom, it’s to hold non-life-or-death convictions very, very lightly, because life often (if not always) has a different idea of what it will be than I do. Parenting is a deeply humbling experience, mostly because it takes notions like you presented above (many of which I held before I had a kid!) and knocks them down.

    I like the idea behind your blog here, and this post is passionate and I appreciate that. But be careful of the “mom but not a mom” thing – in this post, you inadvertently presented a point of view that verges on unnecessary mom-shaming and fails to take into account experiences outside your own.

    Thanks again for listening.

    1. (I realize I failed to mention that staying home left me clinically depressed. That’s an important part of the story.)

    2. Thank you for your comments, Linds (Linda?). I understand that there are situations in which daycare really is the only option parents have, and I did make note in my post that these are my personal reasons for not putting my children in daycare and they may not apply to everybody.

      That being said, financially speaking I grew up in a low income household and my parents still managed to keep all three children at home until we were school-age. So I know that it can be done.
      (we also ate very healthy, so I know that can also be done)

      Obviously I can’t answer your arguments about what I will think or feel when I have kids until I do actually have them, so I won’t address those.

      I can tell you that I am not the kind of person who will need to control everything my children say and do. If anything, I’m the opposite. I want them to have plenty of freedom and independence and learn from a variety of different people. But when they are in their foundational years learning things such as morals, reasoning, and manners, I would like my husband and I to be the primary influencers in their lives. That’s a very difficult goal to achieve when they are gone most of the day.

      I’m sorry if you felt like I was “mom-shaming”. But I do want parents to be aware of some of these points before they put their children into daycare. A lot of the parents I knew didn’t realize these things beforehand, and it caused problems when they suddenly wanted to exert parental authority which they had already forfeited by enrolling their child.

      Again, thanks for reading. I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree in this issue, though. I stand by my points very firmly.

      1. That’s fair and I expect you do. I’d urge you, however, to maybe think about the level of firmness you have toward those points. From what I can tell, the one universal experience of parenthood is that it subverts our expectations. I had to recant a great deal of similar conviction, and it would have been easier if I had gone in with more openness and a wider definition of what makes a healthy childhood. I just don’t want the same rough transition for you or your readers.

        1. Linds, she made rational points surrounding why to not put her kids in daycare. Your heavy response makes me wonder what form of guilt you must be trying to cover. Most people confident in their decision to let someone else raise their child in those early years wouldn’t need to respond back in such a manner. Please don’t shame other people as you try to feel good about your own choices to not raise your kids yourself. Yes there are situations where both parents MUST work but society likes to cater to parents that simply want to neglect their roles as parents. I mean parents that must have the bigger home, car, boat, vacation , smart phone, latte and savings account over the quality time with their own children. Please deal with your own shame and not put down a mother that has the common sense to raise her own children. Her post is not the harmful one, it’s the defending of your position at all costs regardless of the reasonable points made by Dawn.

          1. I didn’t see an edit option but yes I realize she might not be a mother yet but that doesn’t change the point of what I am saying. She is approaching parenting with solid thinking not affected by the PC police of our society.

          2. Took you all of two sentences to decide that I must be hiding some sort of moral failing? Thanks for the mansplaining and armchair diagnosis, Dan. Your other post exhibits your ignorance of the history of childcare, so I’d urge you to learn more before you try to accuse women of making the wrong choice. It’s probably also a good idea to avoid assuming that someone holding a strong opinion only does so because she feels guilty about it.

  3. My son goes to daycare full time. He is happy. Growing up beautifully and loves me just as much as ever. I have control over my child and it is rediculous to think you wouldn’t because they are in daycare. This article was borderline mom shaming. Some people don’t have any other options. My mother stayed home and money was tight. I wasn’t able to get help from them to pay for college and other big things in life. I want that for my son because let’s face it, he will barely remember the things in his first 4 years of life. (little tid but: there are actually studies that came out about daycare not creating social problems later in life, so maybe check further into that.)

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      None of the articles I came across showed that daycare doesn’t create social problems, they all said the opposite. If you would like to drop some links from reputable studies, I would be happy to read them.

      There was nothing about my post that was intended to mom-shame. As a daycare teacher, I wanted to make parents aware of what they are actually getting themselves into.
      I’m glad daycare is working out so well for your family. Sometimes it does, and everyone’s situation is different. However, my post was written from over four years of experience with hundreds of families, and those are the normal trends that I saw.

      My mother also stayed home with me, and I also didn’t have help paying for college. I don’t count that as a deficit. I was able to get scholarships and other opportunities which allowed me to get a degree, and I had my mother home with me for my first six years of life. Again, I’m not saying this is for everyone, but it worked for my family so I know it can be done.
      We were also low income.

      Again, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, but it doesn’t seem like we are going to agree on this.

  4. Hi Dawn, thank you for sharing opinion from your experience. I really appreciate the insights and you just confirmed my thoughts against daycare. I know one mom, former child care worker, who also decided to stay at home with her two kids, rather than put them in daycare.
    Unfortunately we don’t have an option and our 2 year old has to go to daycare because of our financial issues. However, my choice is to work part time 3 days a week to be able to pay for our bills and than we live on a very tight budget. I could not imagine her to spend Mon-Fri there as you said, and only have short evenings and weekends with her. Also I fell so sorry for some kids there spending 10 hours a day, 5 days in week. There are actually brothers and I can notice some discipline issues in their behavior. Obviously they are missing their parents and our daycare provider is not the best I would wish for . But it works for now while I work my other job from home and my goal is to stay at home an work from home.
    Anyway, I feel that you have right to say your opinion on your blog. I am sure for parents who are researching pros and cons daycare will reach for much more research than reading only one blog post and they will make decision on their own. Your post can just help them making the decision, what was, I believe your goal. So don’t be discouraged and just keep up what you are doing 🙂

    1. Lily, thank you so much for your encouraging comment. It’s really nice to get positive feedback. 🙂 I appreciate your honesty about your family’s decisions and the reasons behind them. It really sounds like you’re doing your best to provide for your children both financially and emotionally. Your children are lucky to have a dedicated mother who wants what’s best for them. 🙂

  5. Daycare has been a wonderful choice for our family. My husband and I are both professionals and our children have been in full time daycare since shortly after their first birthdays. Your article highlighted the necessity of investing the time to find a good daycare. We invested the time to research childcare options and found wonderful facilities. The meal plans are published in advanced, balanced, healthy and food I would be proud to serve my family. The teachers are all educated in early childcare and provide an environment that is enriching for our children. Their are good daycares available. The key is making child care choices that are right for your family.

    1. Yes, that is also true. I’m glad your family has found what works for you! 🙂

  6. Not to be rude, but it is harder for families to survive on one income these days. It is possible, but harder. Of course, we do live beyond our means and a lot of people expect two new cars and a big four bedroom house that they don’t actually need. Also, some families genuinely need to have two parents work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table and clothes on their back. I understand that your family was low income and mom managed to stay home. That’s great, but that’s not everyone’s situation. Your parent’s finances might have allowed mom to stay home, whereas some people might have to have both parents moving to avoid loosing their home or ending up in the bread line. That said, every family is different and will do what is best for them and their bank account. Also, it’s really no one’s business how people raise their children or what sort of financial decisions they make….

    1. Thank you for your comments Natalia.

      Yes, sometimes it is more financially feasible to have a child in daycare. Sometimes it’s not. Everyone’s situation is different, as you pointed out.

      But I don’t think that’s the only consideration one should be making when deciding a child’s future.

      Fortunately today, a lot of stay-at-home moms are also able to work from home, allowing them to earn an income while still remaining their child’s primary caregiver.

      As for your last comment, it’s definitely other people’s business how your children are raised. I address this common parenting myth in my post “5 Myths You Should Never Believe About Parenting” (http://www.mombutnotamom.com/2016/09/30/myths-about-parenting/).

  7. Remember no one is saying under all circumstances you must keep your children at home. These positions are simply reflecting what historically has been best for children. Please keep in mind we all understand some families MUST have both parents work as maybe they both work low wage jobs and can’t cut it on one income. What is the common goal we are looking for here with these decisions? What is best for our children. Under most situations history has shown that children do better when being raised with a parent at home, generally the mother. You can fight against that all you like but you are fighting historical evidence with your feelings. Deal with your own choices and conscience and don’t shame others that follow the route that has shown to provide the best results under most situations. And Dawn I understand if you don’t want to include my words in your post as I know my tone is a bit more stern. I agree with what you posted and believe you were being very reasonable. It’s sad that so many will rail against anyone that states common sense. Either way good post and take care.

    1. Thank you for your insightful comments, Dan. I appreciate you taking the time to both read and understand the heart of my article, which unfortunately seems to have been missed by some.

      I can’t make the choices for anyone’s family but mine. I’m merely seeking to educate others to make the best choice possible for their own family.

    2. Dan – I’m a historian. Mothers staying at home alone with their children isn’t “how it has historically been done.” It’s a very recent historical phenomenon, and one mostly restricted to Western European cultures.

      1. Linda,
        Mothers caring for their children is is certainly how it’s historically been done in basically every culture, whether by keeping them at home (alone, if they weren’t wealthy), or by carrying them around outside the house, such as in Native American, African, and some Asian cultures. And unless they could afford a wet nurse, all mothers throughout history kept their babies with them until they were weaned.

        I would like to see sources citing where on earth you got the idea that mothers didn’t stay home with their children.

        1. Dan, I didn’t say women didn’t care for their children. I said the modern idea of a stay-at-home mom is a new historical phenomenon. It coincides with industrialization, and really only with certain economic classes and geographic regions (usually rural work is all-hands-on-deck, not gendered). The sort of caregiving you’re talking about, especially in non-western cultures, wasn’t solitary and wasn’t strictly gendered in the way the modern stay-at-home mom model is today. Across history and cultures, work and family norms are far more diverse than we tend to assume.

          It’s an easy mistake to make – we tend to project our norms on historical eras in ways we don’t always recognize, especially the more deeply our norms tends to be ingrained in our own cultures. (A lot of wrong info has been taught along these lines, too. Understanding of gender roles in Native communities, for instance, have been warped, sometimes intentionally, in textbooks since the US started publishing textbooks.)

          1. The argument was never about solitary care or gendered care. It was about staying home with children vs. leaving them with someone else.
            The only reason a stay-at-home mom is a modern idea, as you say, is because prior to recent history, the majority of mothers were “stay-at-home moms”, so there was no need for the specific definition. That doesn’t mean that the idea of mothers staying home with their children is a recent phenomenon.

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