My Kid Goes to Daycare {And I Don’t Feel Bad About It}

I work full time. My kid goes to daycare. More often than not when people ask who is watching Sam during the day, and I tell them he’s in daycare, they give me this weird look that is mixed with sadness, pity, disappointment, skepticism. I’m serious. It’s uncomfortable.

We put Sam in daycare when he was 7 months old (my teacher husband kept him during summer break). I dreaded it. Everyone made it sound like daycare would be awful, expensive, full of germs, and cause severe separation anxiety (on my part). And the waiting lists! I’d be lucky to get a spot—but, ultimately, unlucky to be a working mom.

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Against my expectations, Sam did great in daycare his first week. He had mild bouts of fussiness, but the daycare workers would pick him up and he’d be fine. And, I did fine. There were no tears. No welling up of intense sadness. I did miss the mid-day texts from my husband, full of updates and pictures. But, overall, it didn’t affect me too much.

By week two, he didn’t even care if I was saying goodbye and kissing him on the cheek. There were other kids. Bigger kids. Fascinating kids. Who cares about Mom when he sees me every day? My feelings may or may not have been a little bruised by his nonchalance about me leaving him.

I like that Sam is in daycare. I’m not sad about it. I don’t regret it. I actually think it’s good for him (gasp). I quickly found, though, that I started feeling guilty about not feeling guilty that we put him in daycare. Part of me felt like an essential aspect of being a mom was feeling bad that I couldn’t be with my kid at all times. But I don’t feel that way at all. Then I thought I must be a bad mom if I didn’t feel guilty–I must not love my kid enough. I must be selfish.

I had to tell myself that none of the aforementioned is true. I don’t need to feel guilty at all. Feeling guilty does not make me a better mom. So, I choose to focus on the reasons why I do not feel bad about putting my kid in daycare:

  • The germs. That’s right. I’m actually glad that Sam is exposed to germs. I don’t love that his nose is snotty most of the time, but I am glad that his little immune system is getting exposure and building those antibodies. A recent study showed that kids who go to daycare get sick less once enrolled in school, so they often miss fewer days.  About a month into daycare, Sam got sick for the first time—fever, upper respiratory infection, and ear infection. It was not fun. But, he got better and has built up his immune system a little more. (We also got sick, which you do not see on this list.)
  • The other kids. I love when I pick up Sam and he is playing with other kids. Its adorable. And I love that he can’t wait to get out of his car seat when I drop him off so he can crawl over to the other kids. I’m sure he’ll pick up some bad habits from them, but he will pick up some good habits too. (I also love that he gets excited and crawls over to me when I pick him up.)
  • Independence. I like that Sam is learning that he is not the center of the world. Sometimes he has to wait. Sometimes he can’t play with that toy. Sometimes his favorite teacher is holding someone else and can’t hold him too. It is important for him to learn patience and that he can’t always get what he wants. And, I love seeing him learning it. We all laugh at him because when he gets mad he makes fists and screams—kind of like the Hulk. Its hilarious.
  • Helping me let go of control. I will not be with Sam every day for the rest of his life. I will not always be able to control what he does and doesn’t do. And I certainly can’t control other people. Putting Sam in daycare has helped me let go a little. He’ll be fine. It’s been easier for me to make him wait for something. I don’t have to orchestrate everything he does. And sooner or later, he’ll be getting on a yellow school bus—completely out of my control.

We love our daycare and the teachers–and they love Sam! Of course, I would love to work less and be home more. I would love daycare for to be cheaper. I don’t enjoy when Sam gets sick. Separation anxiety has just started for him so it is harder to leave him, but overall, I think being in daycare is good for Sam (and good for me). I’m not going to feel guilty about it anymore. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Are you a working parent with kids in daycare?

Kristen and her husband, Gabe, married young, halfway through their college careers at LSU, figuring it would be more fun to be poor together than alone. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature in 2007, they trekked all the way to Delaware, where she earned a Master’s degree in English Literature and can tell you more about Nineteenth-century England than you’d probably like to know. Afterwards, they spent a carefree year living in Philadelphia, enjoying city life, before moving back home to Central and settling in. The start of 2014 brought their son, Sam, into the world—their greatest adventure to date. She works full-time, tries to cook most nights even though she’s exhausted, and is trying to see the beauty in the mundane. Kristen is passionate about eating together around the table, teaching our kids to be independent and creative, and empowering dads (rather than telling them they’re doing it wrong). In her “free time,” she enjoys reading in the bath, watching Doctor Who, intending to do DIY projects, and occasionally making cameo appearances in her husband’s music videos.


  1. You are such a wonderful mom!!! Sam is incredible too, and I always think you two have such a beautiful relationship. Thanks for sharing! I’m with ya in this 🙂

  2. THANK YOU for this post. I needed to read it. I feel teh same way you do and more often that I would like to admit get guilted that my child goes to daycare. I was able to stay home with him for three months (which i was grateful for) but by then I was ready to get back to a small version of my old self. My job- work life. It’s hard being a FT working mom and can be overwhelming at times but my son LOVES daycare. He gets excited to see the teachers when I drop him off. But enough about that- thank you for sharing your feelings- they mirror my own.

  3. Thank you for this post! I just started working full time last week and while it has been an adjustment I can honestly say that I LOVE it. I was feeling guilty earlier this week bc I was thinking I would hate it but I don’t. I had the exact same thoughts as you so it is good to feel that I am not alone and not a bad mom because I am working full time and they’re in daycare.

  4. Thank you for this. Mondays are hard on me and I love texts from the sitter but daycare is coming and I’m nervous about it. I do love my son and want to be with him, especially now that he’s getting bigger and has more personality. I’m glad to hear a good experience. Is it bad if a daycare doesn’t have a waiting list?

    • Hi Danielle, I think it’s just in certain areas of the country where all daycares seem to have waitlists. I live in metro Detroit and my daughter attends a fantastic daycare and there was no waitlist. In fact they are super accommodating. I have several friends with kids who attended my daughter’s daycare before us and they loved it, so if you can find a place that is recommended by someone you know and trust then that is great.

  5. I’m glad I’m not the only one that felt that way. I have two children 8 and 9 and they loved going. They each went four years. They develop so many skills and in a group they learn to share. I agree about the sick thing too. My kids rarely were sick and it wasn’t too bad. Nice blog and thanks for the read! Think your an awesome mom to yours.

  6. Well said! So good to hear someone else that feels that daycare (if you find the right one for your family) can be a good accompaniment to the time you spend with your child rather than a necessary evil. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I love this so much and I’m a SAHM! I chose to stay home after I had my daughter and I’m glad that I did, but being home with a 3 year old and 20 month old isn’t a walk in the park. I decided to send my 3 year old to mom’s day out one day a week at 9 months old and my son went at 1 year. They both now go 2 days a week and we will be upping it to 3 days a week this summer. I often feel guilty for not feeling guilty about sending them to MDO and find myself justifying it. But I send them for all the reasons you listed. They LOVE it and it has helped TREMENDOUSLY with my extremely clingy son. Just as working moms often say that working helps them be better parents, MDO helps me be a better parent also.

  8. I f eel the same way!!! My son is there every day and he has learned so much. I know that being home with my Mom and MIL that he wouldn’t get to learn all that. But I do feel guilty about not feeling guilty. About more than just this, I go on vacation without my kids and I don’t think about them the whole time, I enjoy my time with my husband. I’m blessed too because I leave my children in apt hands with my Mom and Dad and my Inlaws but I feel this all the time. Thanks for posting!!


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