Rather than make individual responses to the many comments on the 4th Trimester post, I thought I would respond in blog form. When I used the word DUMPING, I clearly pushed some very sensitive buttons.
Hold on, I am going to push that button again.
If you were able to ask infants their preference of (a) stay home with Mom or Dad, or (b) go to day-care, what do you think they would say? Infants need to bond with their parents, and more importantly, parents need to bond with their baby.
Each day with a baby is a miracle. Do you want your baby’s first laugh to be heard by a stranger? Or, have someone see their first attempts at sitting up or crawling, or take that monumental first step? It breaks my heart to see infants, barely dry from their delivery, heading off to be cared for by others. Every day in my pediatric clinic, I see the angst on the faces of young mothers when they tell me they are going back to work and their child is going to Kid World or the International House of Infants.
Yes, I am very sensitive that it may require two incomes to run many households. I know that single parents have few choices other than working. However, I do know that some working couples are working because they are paying for their own toys: a new car, a swimming pool, new furniture, or whatever. They have some mismatched priorities in my opinion.
Some parents (not all) literally dump their kids in daycare so they can work to pay for toys they really do not need. My issue is with them. They have the ultimate choice and they did not choose their own baby.
For nearly two decades, I taught a seminar exclusively for day-care providers called Pediatrics for Child Care Providers. It was a required class for day-care licensing in our county. I helped child care providers to recognize infectious diseases, how to develop reasonable exclusionary policies, and how to meet the health and emotional needs of the children in their care. Childcare providers are among the most dedicated people on this planet. It is an awesome responsibility to care for children that are not your own.
Kids in day-care get sick more often than children cared for at home. The simple answer is exposure. Before that umbilical cord is cut, powerful protective immunities are transferred to the baby so that they can exist in our germ-laden world.
Breast-feeding augments this maternal immunity, which will last six months or more. Almost like magic, children begin getting sick about age six months. This is when we really start seeing colds, ear infections, pinkeye, rotavirus diarrhea, and more. Babies quickly adapt to the resident germs carried by their parents and siblings, but they are very slow to adapt to the germs of others.
Even the cleanest and most sanitary day-care facility is a hotbed of contagion. Although we dearly love children, their levels of personal hygiene are worse than you can imagine. Kids are nose-pickers, free-sneezers, snot-wipers, and butt-diggers. When you put a group of kids together, the only thing they will freely-share is their microorganisms.
When you put your child or baby in day-care, you can count the days until the first viral infection. Now granted, viral infections help build the child’s own immunity, not unlike immunizations, but many children are not ready for this Battle of the Germs. Day-care providers do not charge for this extra immune-building service.
So, your child will get sick. When your child gets sick, you will need to miss work to bring them to a medical office. Many day-care providers will require a note from the medical provider before they can come back, so it could be days before you go back to work. Not only do you lose money by not working, medical care and medications are expensive. Miss enough days of work and you may not have a job.
Perhaps this is the clandestine plan of day-care children. Let’s get Mom fired so she will stay home with us.
Day-care is big business. It is expensive, and it should be. Some day-care providers in our county were making less than the guy that cleans the dog cages at the pound, but someone is making a profit. As much as day-care costs, the people that actually diaper and feed your baby are terribly underpaid. Many are day-care providers are mothers who are working in order to get a discount for their own kids in day-care! Do not miss the irony here.
When you add up the cost of full-time day care, the cost of missed days from work, the costs of medical expenses, the cost of gasoline to transport kids to and from the day-care, you better be making a high salary.
Second-income people get hit with higher tax brackets and higher peripheral expenses (like fast-food meals since you are not home to cook). Add it up some day. Subtract it from your take-home pay and divide it by the number of hours that you work and commute, and you will be shocked by how little you actually make. Some parent actually SAVE money by staying home with their kids. Don’t just automatically assume you need two incomes. Do the math. I think you will be surprised.
Yes, you may have to cut some expenses and carefully budget, but isn’t it worth it to your kids?
What about your career? Put it on hold for a few years, or at least until the kids go to school. Work from home. Work part-time. Find other creative ways of stretching your family budget. Even the pediatricians in my office have reduced their work hours to care for their kids at home. They help out in the classroom, help their children with the piles of homework they get, and they are now able to go on field trips and attend recitals. Your children will only be children ONCE. Don’t miss it.
We raised five kids and I am personally ashamed by how little I was home during those most important years. I could cry when I think of what I missed. I made many of these same mistakes that I am harping about now. With age and experience comes wisdom. I was stupid then.
Although it may be a bit too late, I am proud to be a Born-Again Parent. If only I could do it over again.