Sunday, January 23, 2011

Daycare or No Daycare?

I wanted to share this blog with all of you from Jen over at She does a great job explaining her position on a much talked about issue that face CF families. Without further ado...

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 mystandards. 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 freemoney.” 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.