I get a lot of criticism when I share I put my 2 month old in childcare while home on maternity leave. People, fellow moms, challenge my role as a Mama or give me some sort of strange look when responding, “ WHAT? WHY?” You’re probably thinking it too — how selfish! But once I explain why this works best for my family, you’ll probably consider it too.
So let’s talk about 4 primary reasons I chose to place my newborn in part-time childcare while on maternity leave.
- Good childcare can be beneficial to baby. Let me start by changing the narrative of childcare. All childcare is not bad. All nannies are not bad. Costly, yes, but not bad. Good childcare is not babysitting, it instead should curate an environment for your baby to learn. If you have your child in a good childcare system, you understand there are more pros than cons when your children are in childcare. For starters, your children are able to socialize and learn from more advanced children in class and generally hit their developmental milestones a lot faster. For example, my daughter started childcare 7 weeks old at the time of my return to work. She began crawling at 6 months, began walking at 8 months and started talking much faster than we ever anticipated. I partially credit this to being able to interact with other children. She would have hit them either way, but I am almost certain she wouldn’t have achieved these milestones as quickly being home with just me.
- Self care allows you to show up more for family. Raising children is no easy task. Anxiety and stress is a real thing. And our family, especially our kids, should not receive the backend of our stressed out days. With that being said, self-care is big for me. If I am not at my best, there’s no way I can present my best self to my family. You know, the less frustrated self. The one that doesn’t snap when toys are left all over the floor, the toilet seat is left up or pile of dirty dishes are left to wash in the sink. Your best self wouldn’t snap at someone over these small tasks, but instead calmly figure out a sustainable solution so it doesn’t happen as often. With my newborn in childcare, I’ll have opportunity to carve out time with God (not just reading the pop-ups on the Bible app in 2 minutes), time to go to the gym to get my health back together, time to go to those doctor appointments I’ve been pushing off and the opportunity for me to accomplish whatever task I need to get done.
- Transition for Mama and Baby will be easier when it’s time to go back to work. There will be a transitional period for mama and baby once mama has to go back to work. Unless of course you just have a really cool job, and your employer allows you to bring your child to work. Seriously though, the transitional phase is not the most comfortable for either parties. In the process of building a strong immune system, your child WILL get sick, your child may shout and cry when separating from you for the first time, and your schedule at home may change drastically. It was logical for me to introduce my child to part-time childcare while I still had time left on maternity leave because — when baby does get sick (which generally happens most when the child first enters childcare), I’ll have the flexibility to care for him at home or take him to the pediatrician without any stress of having to take time from work. I’ll also be able to devote more of my time and effort when working through some of the other obstacles parents face during the transition phase.
- Baby bonding time will always continue. I think it’s important to highlight the reason for maternity leave is essentially for baby bonding. Baby bonding time is the start to a lifelong relationship with your child. For some mamas, the bond is instant and for others, it may take a while, and both are okay. I’ve spent the last 8 weeks bonding with my baby in the form of breastfeeding, cuddling and caring for my little man 24/7– and our bonding period won’t end when he goes to childcare. As a very affectionate mama, I will most certainly continue to smother both of my kiddos with kisses, cuddles and hugs until they just can’t take it anymore. Affection is a piece of our bond I want my kiddos to pass down to their kids, and I will forever be intentional about this during our moments of bonding.
Reality is, being a great mama requires supernatural abilities from the good Lord, and we’re never going to get it right 100% of the time by ourselves. We’re human. However, being proactive in some of the inevitable decisions we have to make as parents, can simply eliminate some of those feelings of being overwhelmed and allows us to flex our motherhood muscle when we are at our strongest. This is my way of being intentional in making sure I create the space to be that best version of myself.
It should be understood that early childcare is not going to be an option for some moms. Especially those supermoms who make the decision not to place their children in childcare before a certain age. But if it isn’t something you agree with, we most certainly shouldn’t shame the Moms that choose this route. As I laid out here, there are several good reasons, more that aren’t even included above, as to why some moms introduce their newborns to early childcare and why it could be beneficial.
And if you are a mom like me, that proactively chooses to put your newborn in childcare, don’t feel guilty about the decision. There are more facets to you than just motherhood, and it’s totally okay to make those hard decisions that benefit both your family and baby.
I’m hoping this inspires that Mom that is considering early childcare for their baby, but may feel pressured into thinking it’s a selfish option — it’s not, it’s a smart option.
Lets take this conversation to the comments — I would love to hear from other mamas! Please share your thoughts on early childcare in the comments below.
About the Author:
Ashley Gardner is the Mama behind “Growing With The Gardners” alias. Ashley curates content for those that share the same love for inspirational Black Families, Home Decor and Lifestyle via Instagram and YouTube platforms. She believes it is important for us to shine a positive light on our black families because if we don’t, mainstream media isn’t going to display our families in the way we deserve. When she isn’t creating content, she is busy managing her workload at Google where she works full-time. Ashley is a Wife and a mom of 2 to Harper + Sage living in the suburbs outside Atlanta, Ga.