Should you send your kids to daycare during the global pandemic? This is just another one of those heavy questions weighing on parents as we navigate these changing times.
How many months has it been since this COVID stuff turned our lives upside down? Are we on month 5? 6? 47? Quite frankly, I’ve lost track.
When this all started, I was in the third trimester of my second pregnancy. I was terrified. Our family did what my doctor recommended – worked from home, put a pause on social interactions, planned only essential trips in public for groceries, and even pulled our toddler from daycare, despite her school remaining open. My focus was on giving birth safely in uncharted circumstances. Questions and fears crossed my mind daily. Would I have to labor while wearing a mask? Would I become infected, causing me to become separated from my newborn? Thankfully, labor and delivery were uneventful (aside from the unexpected 9-pound 1-ounce baby), and we went into life with a newborn and toddler almost as normally as most people probably have.
By the time I gave birth, my daughter had been out of daycare for two full months. We are so lucky to have my parents living down the street because they were able to do the lion’s share of childcare for us while my husband and I were working full time, and I was third-trimestering. However, a few weeks after I gave birth, and we were all healthy and adjusting to a new normal, we knew it was time to transition the toddler back to daycare. As much as she loves hanging out with grandma and grandpa (and vice versa), she needed social interaction with her peers and, honestly, just some sense of normalcy.
So, in June, she went back to daycare full-time. Some changes were put in place by her school in an effort to prevent possible virus spread— lobby-only drop-offs, temperature checks, strict rules on what can be brought into the school, only one parent at drop-off, and the list goes on. To be honest, she’s done really well since being back. In fact, she was even potty trained when she went back (huge shout out to her teachers for making that happen!). There has not been one inkling of illness since she returned, and we’re all relieved to have the structure back.
When September rolled around, and my maternity leave was over, we had a decision to make about what to do with our infant son. We had reserved a spot for him in the infant room at the same school that my daughter attends way back in the fall of 2019, well before we knew the reality of 2020. We had the option of grandma and grandpa taking on childcare, but I also knew daycare had a lot of great benefits, too. So, I took my 3-month old to daycare. I had my doubts, and sometimes still wonder if I made the right choice. But, four weeks in, and we’re still going strong, aside from his first stuffy baby nose, which is all “normal” baby stuff at daycare (but, yes, my mind absolutely went straight to thinking the worst).
I often feel the need to make a self-deprecating joke about my terrible maternal choices when asked where my kids are while I’m working. I don’t always feel like I’m doing the right thing when I’m wearing a mask and trying to sneak kisses when dropping off my babies. But, I’m lucky to have the option to send my kids somewhere safe, so I can focus on work and continue to support my family.
The choices we’re making as moms right now are HARD. And we’ll hear time and time again that no one choice is right or wrong – it’s what works for your family. Daycare works for us, at this moment, but know we’ll need to be flexible, should circumstances change.
As all you parents dig your heels into the school year, regardless of what that looks like for your family, my heart, good vibes, and virtual wine glass go out to all of you. We got this and will come out on the other side stronger than we ever imagined!