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I feel so guilty about dropping my child at daycare.

Parenting comes with the unfortunate side effect of a whole new level of guilt. One parent shares how to handle daycare guilt.

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Dear Is This Normal,

Why do I feel so guilty when I drop my child off at daycare? 

Signed,

Guilty as Charged

Dear Guilty (even though you most certainly are NOT!),

If there was one thing I wish I had been better prepared for before I had my first kid, it would be the amount of guilt I felt on a day-to-day basis. Parents, but ESPECIALLY mothers, are held to such an incredibly high standard that there is no possible way we can ever be “good enough.” Allow me to share a not-at-all exhaustive list of what I and many of my mom friends have felt or been made to feel guilty about: breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, using disposable diapers, giving the baby a pacifier, going on date nights, where the baby sleeps, when the baby sleeps, screentime, sugar, no sugar, letting the baby cry, picking the baby up when they cry, working to support the family, and OF COURSE, putting the kids in daycare. 

I understand why you feel some daycare guilt when you drop your little one off (where they probably have a blast, btw), because we’ve all tasted that particular flavor of guilt before. Let’s talk this out and then put those feelings to bed once and for all because ain’t no one got time for daycare guilt, or really any other type of parenting guilt, in 2021. We are full up on other stuff to deal with, thank you!

It’s totally normal to experience emotions like anxiety, guilt, fear, or trepidation when you leave your child with someone who isn’t a primary parent. They’re your kid! And as parents, we worry. It’s just what we do. You probably wonder if your child is happy, having fun, and being cared for to your standards and expectations. You probably also wonder if your child feels any resentment toward you for leaving them at daycare, or if you’re doing some kind of psychological harm by having them in daycare. They don’t and you’re not. You feel guilty that someone else is caring for your little one each day, because you’re mom and that’s “your” job! You feel guilty that you may miss out on milestones or cute things they do, because you are mom and moms aren’t “supposed” to miss that stuff! I mean, what kind of mom leaves her kid with a STRANGER every day, amirite?? 

But, you’re not leaving your child with a stranger. You’re dropping them off at a daycare you probably researched like crazy, with people you communicate with on a regular basis, to play with kiddos their age and learn and grow. And you know what? It doesn’t matter WHY your child is in daycare. It doesn’t matter if you need to make use of daycare because you work, or if you drop your child off a few days a week to catch a damn break. It doesn’t matter! Because your child is absolutely OK and you are doing what you need to do for the health and happiness and success of your family. And listen! There are so many benefits of your child being in daycare. It helps YOU prevent burn-out, helps kids develop social skills and can even enhance language and cognitive development. 

You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about, friend. Putting your kiddo in daycare doesn’t make you a bad parent, or less of a parent. Let go of this daycare guilt (and the rest of the parenting guilt) and take comfort in knowing you are doing something that benefits you, your child, and your whole family. Make the most of your time together, and make peace with your time apart.

I Declare You Not Guilty By Reason of Being a Good Parent,

Is This Normal

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