8 Surprising Perks of Day Care

8 Surprising Perks of Day Care

One mom’s tribute to the unexpected (and much appreciated!) bonuses of child care.

By: Marisa Torrieri Bloom

When parents look into day care for their babies and toddlers, there are some pros that are pretty obvious: Day care is less expensive than a nanny, and it gives kids a troupe of readymade friends. As with everything, there are cons, too – namely that your kids are going to get sick more often when exposed to the germs swarming a child care facility, or that they’ll be a little bit attention-deprived from time to time (there’s only so much a teacher can do when there’s one of her and four little ones).

But what most people don’t know – and I sure didn’t – is the host of surprising benefits of day care that I’m only beginning to discover as a working parent.

Here are the eight biggest advantages I’ve uncovered:

1. Potty-training perks. He’s learning to pee sitting on a toilet, and I haven’t even done anything. I’ve heard so many horror stories about potty training – peeing on the carpet, missing the toilet seat, tantrums, etc. – that I’ve held off doing much of anything (except for buying a small portable toilet seat to attach to my regular one in the bathroom). Lo and behold, the other day, one of the caregivers at my sons’ day care told me that Nathan made his first pee into the potty! It was so exciting (and unexpected) to get a head start. We’ll be following their lead now that we know what worked to get him to go.

2. Fewer mundane struggles. When my older son turned 1, he would have nothing to do with shoes (or grass, for that matter). Day after day, I’d try to put them on him and he’d flail and clamor. One day, one of the caregivers insisted that I bring in Nathan’s new shoes and that she’d take care of everything. Sure enough, he started wearing them happily from that point on.

3. More variety in his diet. He enjoys snacks I didn’t think to serve. It never occurred to me that round cucumber slices would be a good snack for toddler, and I certainly don’t regularly buy mandarin oranges. But thanks to day care, my 2-1/2-year-old no longer has to put up with a strawberry or blueberry rut.

4. A predictable nap routine. His nap time is automatic at home. So many of my friends who have nannies or stay at home with their children complain about nap time! They want to know what my secret is for getting (and keeping) my toddler down. Sure enough, the answer is always the same: day care. See, at most child care facilities, nap time needs to be efficient and happen in approximately the same two-hour window. My son essentially gets the yawns when he sees those little blue cots. And at home, that means he’s more likely to go down at a designated time without a fuss.

More from P&G everyday: My Kid Loves His Day Care Provider More Than He Loves Me

5. Teachers with surprising expertise. At my son’s day care, there are lots of opportunities to do finger painting or hand prints and other coloring projects. These construction-paper masterpieces fill my home office and bring so much joy to my life. And I recently learned that one of my toddler’s caregivers is an art student at a local college! Having her teaching my son how to be visually creative is helping everyone.


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6. Exposure to lots of music. My son can sing enough songs to fill an album. I’m a part-time guitar teacher, but the kids I teach are usually old enough not to consider “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” a cool song, so I never bothered to learn too many of the kiddie classics. Now, my son bursts into song at random points in the day, complete with the hand motions and movements. It’s so fun to sing along with him, too. An added bonus? The day care prints out the words to those jingles for parents to take home.

7. Guilt-free time to focus on work – and home. My older son goes to day care four days a week, and my younger son goes three. But while I adore the babysitter who comes to our home to watch the baby for a few hours once a week so I can get stuff done, my productivity is completely downgraded whenever my baby starts to whine or wail. And now that he’s just one month shy of his first birthday, I can almost hear cries for “Mama” filling the air. But when my kids are at day care, I don’t have to worry about those cries, and I can actually get things done that are necessary for running a household.

8. Feeling more present as a parent at pick-up time. Rounding up my toddler and infant at the end of each day can be a hectic time, between talking to teachers and gathering the boys’ belongings. But it’s also the best time of day. My older son runs to me, arms wide open, calling out, “Mommy! Mommy!” and then he melts into my arms for a big bear hug. My 11-month-old crawls to my feet and tries to climb up my legs. After a day of work and chores without interruption, I’m more able to be present for my little boys. And that’s what parenthood is all about.

What are you doing for child care, and how well is it working for you?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Image ©iStock.com/CEFutcher

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