Day Care Decisions

Yet another article on Slate today that I wanted to share. It’s about the latest science on kids and day care and after reading it I felt it necessary to brag about our decisions regarding childcare.  When we had our premarital conversation we both agreed that it would be best if one of us was home for the kids, especially when they are young.  But we also thought that the early socialization aspects of pre-K day care can be good for kids.  We also had decided that one of us completely opting out wasn’t a good idea, especially since it would hurt that person’s career.  Who ever was taking their turn as the primary care-giver would need time at home during the week to work free-lance and keep up their professional skills and contacts.

Since my wife was the first to stay home with the kids, it became her responsibility to figure out what our options are so we could determine a solution.  When the children were infants, they stayed home with the stay-at-home parent.  But once they were mostly done with breast-feeding and were old enough to really interact with we felt it necessary to expand their horizons to other environments.  My wife discovered that local churches often had Mother’s Day Out programs.  These are part-time day-care options that are actually relatively inexpensive.  Also since they are non-profits run by religious institutions we felt they would have better screened staff and smaller class sizes.

According to the article, toddlers that go to day-care part-time do experience gains in cognitive development, particularly in the areas of language and social skills.  But the more time the kids spent in day-care the more negative the experience becomes.  Class size was also a factor as was the quality of the care-givers, which seems obvious.  But the real takeaway from the article was that the child care that works best is the child care that works for you because you put in the work to make it happen.  Thinking seriously about how we were going to handle our careers outside of the mainstream led to us thinking seriously about how to make child care work.  I have to give my wife all the credit for getting it done.  I think if we’d just made the default choices of her continuing to work with full time day-care or her opting out because economically it didn’t make sense for me to be the one to opt out then the additional leg work to make what we wanted to happen wouldn’t have been necessary.  And that’s seems to be what really makes the difference.