Monday, January 17, 2011

Why We Don’t Do Daycare (at other people’s houses)

** Before I even start, please remember that this is my blog, my opinions, my life choices…you may not agree with me all of the time (or ever!) but this is why we choose to keep Gavin home and not put him into a daycare. You may have a different opinion, and that’s all good, but like I said…this is my territory :)

So here we go, in no particular order…

First, we live in the frozen tundra.

If you were to look outside this morning, you too wouldn’t want to leave the house. We had gotten more snow overnight, and the wind was blowing like crazy…not exactly a comfortable atmosphere to hang out in. As much as we like to be outside year round, Mother Nature keeps us inside the majority of the winter season (winter here is often 5 months long) which means that our gross, sickly winter germs are contained in our homes/offices etc, making it much easier to get sick. And honestly, if you don’t live in a state where you have difficult winters? You just don’t get it…not trying to sound rude, but it’s the truth.

As much as I clean & sanitize, I can’t clean everything or everyone so obviously we’re going to get sick…but kids are walking Petri dishes, they pick their noses and immediately walk up to you and give you a high five. Yes, Gavin still gets tons of interaction with other kids. Our neighbors come over and play, we head to the mall play area, local indoor playgrounds, the grocery store play room, the jump house etc (and no I don’t walk around with hand sanitizer he plays just like any other kid)…but if I know that there is a major virus moving around town? We stick around the house.

Yes, I am opening a small daycare in our house. But that’s just it, it will be in my house. I know that when I say I clean I actually clean. I am constantly washing blankets/sheets/pillows and even his stuffed animals. I don’t have potted plants around the house (except for two very small ones in our kitchen window). I go through many of his toys once/twice a weak and wipe them down with disinfectant. I am in control of what illnesses/sicknesses I allow kids to have when they come into our house (minor colds/tummy aches etc are a-ok) and I have the control in sending kiddos home. I am able to be with Gavin through any extra treatment sessions he needs when he does get sick. To me there is a big difference in allowing your kids to be around some germs to build up an immune system, and sticking your child in a germ-filled daycare at 6 weeks of age.

I am at the age where nearly half (if not more) of my friends have toddlers/babies, and almost all of those kids are enrolled in daycare. I cannot even count how often those kids seem to be sick, and CF or no CF, that’s just not something I am willing to deal with. I also cannot count how many parents have talked with me, or visited our home, and discussed how disgusting some of the local daycares are, yech! In general, most home daycares are not clean enough to my standards. And many friends have told me that they wish they could afford to stay home (ahem, you probably can if you aren’t a single parent making the only income, you just have to make a 180 change to your current lifestyle, but more about that later) whether their child has CF, another disease, or is completely “healthy.”

And honestly, after 2 or 3 kids many people need to step back and see if they are even coming out “ahead.” If you realize that after the cost of daycare you are barely making more money than if you stayed at home, then stay home! (if this doesn’t affect your health care). Your children are young ONCE, and if its the difference of a couple thousand dollars a year…skip that vacation, go out to eat monthly instead of weekly, stay away from the shopping mall, etc and enjoy your kids! They will never look back on their childhood and wish that you had spent more time at work.

Our CF team also informed us that keeping a child out of daycare, and healthier for the first three years of life (if that is possible for a family) has proven that the kids often “do better" health wise for longer, obviously this is not true for every child but it really does make sense to me. This is not saying that children who are placed in daycare will not do well, it is just saying that statistically, those that aren’t tend to be sick less & hospitalized less.

Secondly, is the fact that children learn more in their first two years of life than they will in their entire lifetime.

Gavin is about three weeks away from turning two and he can:

  • recognize nearly 1/2 of the letters in the alphabet
  • count to ten (and sometimes beyond) like it’s nobody’s business
  • speak rather “fluently” – I have had several people tell me that they didn’t believe he could actually speak as well I say he can, until they saw it in person
  • knows all of his colors and shapes
  • has an insane memory for his age
  • is extremely polite, he is constantly saying please, thank you and you’re welcome without being prompted to do so (if he doesn’t say please, he doesn’t get it!)

I 100% believe that he has achieved all of this so early because of the one-on-one attention he has received from day one. And not just from me, but from the family members/friends he is surrounded by. We read books for hours (seriously) every day, he has discovered that all of those letters at the bottom of the page make up the words to the story I am reading. We rarely watch crazy tv shows for kids, if we have the tv on we stick to PBS. Shows like “Super Why” and “Sesame Street” have gotten Gavin extremely excited about learning and he thinks he’s pretty cool when he answers questions that are far beyond his (almost) two years. All of this has made me realize that once I get this small daycare of mine up and running, that we will spend a major chunk of our day “learning” and not plopping them in front of the tv/just letting them run crazy because I’m worn out. Embedding as much new knowledge as possible into their little minds while they still think “school is cool” and aren’t yet complaining about that daily routine :)

Thirdly, we are willing to make sacrifices.

Sometimes pretty big sacrifices.

One income family means: no vacations, extremely rare fancy dinners/dates out on the town, never buying items that aren’t on sale, making what you have work rather than running out and buying new, making that dollar stretch as far as possible…and being ok with living that way. To us, being able to personally witness each of Gavin’s early accomplishments was far more important than having the nicest house, the most toys…the fancier lifestyle. Sure, having a large house would be nice…but we’re ok with being cozy. Sure, a vacation away from the snow would be nice…but for now we better enjoy snowshoeing and skiing, because the beach isn’t happening anytime soon.

I have also been doing tons of research on couponing. I do not plan on become a crazy coupon lady, but I have spent several days on different websites reading about other SAHM (stay at home mom) techniques. The biggest mind changer for me? Hearing a lady simply say, “A coupon is free money.” And I am not just talking about grocery store coupons. But also coupons for restaurants, theme parks, weekend adventures etc. Saving money, buying second hand, and recreating new items from old ones, are just some of the  reasons we can “afford” for me to stay home during the day. On a different day I’ll share some of my newly learned “tips.”

In all, our choice to keep Gavin out of daycare goes far beyond him having CF and goes beyond any other “health reasons.” No, we are not the crazy parents walking around with hand sanitizer and pulling him away from every child that has a runny nose…if anything we’re too relaxed about his “interactions” with germs. Yes, Gavin’s CF made our final decision that much clearer. Yes, I choose to say that Gavin “cannot” be in daycare, because in my opinion? In order for him to continue to succeed (and again, not just talking about his health) at the rate he has? Daycare at someone else’s house

Lastly, until you have children of your own you have absolutely no right in judging another parents decision to place their child in daycare or to keep them home. Sure, you can have an opinion, but trust me…it’s better to keep it to yourself until you also have your own :) It is very easy to have “all the answers” of parenthood, until you hold that baby of your own for the first time.


  1. Very cool post, Jen. It is very true about living in the winter wonderland for half the year and the germs all the germs that come with it. Sometimes I wonder how we survive our hibernation.

    You are, as always, respectful of other parents and their choices while standing firm within your own parental instincts and beliefs.

    I may need some assistance on the coupon stuff. :-)

    Peaceful things and lots of love.

  2. Well said Jen -

    I have a small daycare in my home, which has done wonders for Rylee's social growth, being that we have kept her home for 2 years. Also, I totally agree in our situation that daycare somewhere else was not an option. Having a daycare in my home leaves me in control. I can choose to send a child home because of an illness and I make sure to tell the families that illness are a no tolerance in our house. If they are sick, they can't come. Also they are all aware that we have appointments and things may come up where we need to leave spur of the moment to get a culture, a check up, or bc Rylee is sick. It's there responsibility to find alternative/back up care. With these understandings, things have ran very smoothly and everyone benefits. Rylee gets social interaction and her "friends" get a clean, healthy environment with great care. Win Win!

    Good Luck with your endeavors - If you need any ideas or anything, feel free to get ahold of me - I would love to hear how things go for you also!


  3. The decision to have a parent stay home with kids or to have both parents work is such an individual choice. Some people need to work-it's in their DNA and makes them the people they are. Some people need to stay home with their kids - it's the way they are. I had friends wonder why I had a master's degree, yet stayed home with my kids - what did I do all day? they asked. I don't regret a moment of that time; I felt so lucky and blessed to be able to do that. Yet, when I did need to go back to work, I was behind because of the years I stayed home. I wish this wasn't such a contentious issue. There is no real right or wrong; it's what works for your family. I firmly believe you can't have it all - you just do the best you can. For Gavin, this for sure works.

  4. Love being a stay at home mom, I always knew I would stay home even b4 CF came into the picture. Go you for posting your thoughts on this issue. I have friends who feel the same is their escape from home...and I am one of those who is not built that way...I am fortunate enough to have a husband who believes in that as well....I have never been a "fan" of working though either (haha)

  5. Go you, I totally agree. While our NJ winters may not be as harsh as MN winters, they are rough. I hear it icing outside the window as I type on top of a 6 inch snow fall overnight. It is really too cold to even enjoy playing outside. I take Nathan out to play at indoor areas but when I hear a room full of bronchitis type coughs we grab our coats and leave. I know many people say daycare is good enough but for us, NJ daycare is through the roof and we would be losing an entire salary just paying for him to go. Not to mention if we had to pay a nurse to do treatments/extra treatments. Again I say....GO YOU!

  6. Agree!! My mom quit her job to avoid Aidan having to go to daycare. He stayed home until age 3 with PLENTY of kid interaction in other places (just like Gavin). He never had a lung issue and at age 6 his FEV is 156%! He'a also brilliant..not a bragging thing, his IQ is in the 140's. Actually it was Dr Warwick at Minnesota who told us to prepare him for Harvard! Kudos to your family for making it work for Gavin and giving his the best chance at health! My little one without CF did go to daycare and got sick a lot...There is pretty much nonstop coughing and runny noses even at good daycares all winter long even in NJ! So Gavin is right where he should be!Megan

  7. I'm not a Mom yet, but I just wanted to say that I love the way you approach raising your son. My Mom stayed home with my brother and I, and being able to come home for lunch, not having babysitters, and having my Mom there all the time made our relationship with her SO much better. I know people can be so judgemental (especially those that don't have kids), so I just wanted to say that I really admire your choice to do what is right for you and your family. Because, in the end, doing what is good for you guys is the only thing that matters.

    Thanks for a great blog - I check it daily!!

  8. I love your post and I am jealous. I wish I could stay home with Zoey. She is in a home daycare with only a few kids but she still gets sick and she has been in for a clean out twice now, she will be two in March. Hmmmm if we could only solve the insurance issue...we need it, my husband does not have it. I have looked into everything Wyoming has to offer some of it will help Zoey but not me, I have MS. I am going to keep trying though. I am an elementary teacher so I bring germs home due to my job and I hate it, I feel like it is my fault when she gets sick. We live in the frozen tundra too, last year it was still snowing in June, that is not normal it usually warms up in the middle of May or so.

  9. To have children and how to raise them is such a personal choice for parents. What works for some families may not work for others. You do what is best for your own family regardless of what other people say or do.

  10. Jen,
    Great blog. Having David stay home with our daughter has been a struggle financially. I also worry about her not getting enough social interaction because she is an only child.

    Obviously, we go to the same clinic as you and were given the same statistics. For us, Emma's health is more important than vacations, houses, cars, etc. We get by on 1 car that is 10 years old, an older home, avoid shopping malls, etc. And sometimes it is difficult, but the results make it all worth it!

  11. I have to say that about half the reason so many kids are sick at daycare is because no one breastfeeds anymore. Out of the 8 babies in Alexi's room we are the only ones breastfeeding. It's ridiculous. You can't expect a baby with zero immune system to stay healthy when you take away their only source of antibodies and stick them in with a bunch of germs lol. Although I like hanging out at home, we both enjoy the change of scenery that daycare and work offers. When I'm home with Alexis I'm with her- that is our time together and she gets my full attention.

  12. Catching up on blogs because we were on vacation. LOVE this blog post Jen!! I so agree with you on all points. I quit a corporate job to stay at home with Sydney (7) after she was born. I do work part-time for the family business, but the pay is a fraction of what I did make and I could care less. The bonus is I can bring the kids to work with me so that is really nice. I have complete control of the environments my kids are exposed to. Being able to stay at home with my kids has been worth ALL the sacrifices we have made (my husband is a teacher so our budget is TIGHT). When Bryce came along and was diagnosed with CF, I felt that much better about my choice to quit my career for my children. We will have to swap money saving ideas sometime. :)

  13. GREAT post Jen. I absolutely love that it didn't end at "it's a personal and family decision". Very well thought out, incredibly valid points and a good read. This shows that there isn't a wrong and right side of this "debate". It looks like there is many "right sides" :).

    Would you mind if I featured this blog on RSBR?

  14. I found your blog through Ronnie's blog. I LOVE it. We too have a son with CF, he's 13 months old and we also had to make the decision to go from a two income household to just one. It has been the best decision we've ever made, and for all the same reasons you said in your post. I have now learned that I want to be home with all my kids (in the future) because it has been such a blessing to spend every moment with my little guy, and not just because he has CF. Thanks for your insight!