Divorces can get messy fast, and one of the biggest arguments during and after a divorce is how to handle child care. Parents splitting often means having a stay-at-home parent to watch the kids is no longer an option. And, as far as daycare goes, childcare expenses are already a stretch for most couples; the average monthly cost in the U.S. is $771 for just one child.
Many newly single parents also struggle to send their children to daycare after divorce since they feel like they’re failing their role as loving and attentive caretakers. As difficult as these feelings can be, raising a child alone without help is even more difficult. You will likely need help in the process.
For many divorced households, sending your child to daycare after divorce isn’t such a bad option. Here’s why.
Reasons Why You May Want to Consider Daycare After Divorce
Your Child Will Be Stronger Emotionally
Anyone who has had to experience their parent’s separation knows how much of a toll it can take on your emotional and mental health. It’s hard to explain divorce to daycare-aged children. They often struggle to understand why it’s happening or blame themselves for the divorce.
When they’re dropped off at daycare, many young children struggle with separation anxiety. In their mind, they’re again losing a parent and being abandoned. But once they get used to the new environment and routine and realize their parents will always be there literally (and figuratively) to pick them up, they become more confident. Kids who overcome their separation anxiety and grow accustomed to being away from their guardians often find self-assurance and emotional development which can guide them throughout their lives.
Daycare Gives Your Child an Escape
As someone who grew up in a divorced household, I know how important it is to get out of that environment every so often. When your kid is young, they may not fully understand what is going on at home — but they can pick up the negative energy. It’s hard for kids to play and have fun when they’re worried about their parents.
Since everyone needs an escape at some point, daycare is a safe and fun way to give your child some happy personal time. They can play with kids their own age at daycare, do fun activities and crafts, and decompress. It’s important to give your kid those outlets both before and after officially divorcing.
Daycares Are Good at Working with Single Parents
Daycare centers are used to working with single-parent families. Since around half of all marriages end in divorce, a large portion of the population will eventually lose their marriage partner and their partner in raising their young child. It’s nearly impossible to work full-time and raise a child by yourself. That’s where daycare centers come in. They’re the extra hands and support you need during this stressful transition. They know you have to deal with everything alone and want to help you and your child as much as possible.
Daycares Will Give You Time and Space to Heal
You’ve probably felt like you must put your emotional well-being aside and focus on your child’s emotional growth 24/7. This isn’t sustainable. Divorce brings up a mountain of emotions you need to sort through and understand before beginning your healing journey.
But it’s hard to focus on yourself when you have to take care of your child. Letting them play at daycare gives you time during the day to focus on yourself. Take yourself out to lunch, read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf forever, and go see a movie alone. Get therapy or counselling. Having time to process and work through what you’ve experienced will start to make you feel whole and yourself again. And you can do this all while knowing your child is safe, learning, and being taken care of while you heal.
Your Child Will Be Stronger Academically
Daycares today are much more focused on preparing kids for preschool and elementary school than just keeping them preoccupied with random activities during the day. Depending on their certification and state rules around child care education, many daycares often teach kids the basics of science, math, social studies, and sometimes even foreign languages! This early intro to learning will help kids be more prepared for school and become lifelong learners.
Your Child Will Be More Social
Sitting at home all day in front of the TV isn’t good for anyone’s mind, especially for young children. Kids need to be around other kids their own age to learn proper social and communication skills. Letting them spend time with other children regularly at daycare is an easy and effective way to pick up those skills independently. It’s easy for children to become less social and more introverted than usual during a divorce, but learning these skills early on will help them be more comfortable on their own and around groups. Making friends and socializing with friends from daycare will help them pick up key social cues that many kids struggle to identify at that young age and create lifelong friendships.
Ultimately, as long as you give your children a loving, safe, and consistent environment to learn and grow, you’re being a great parent. Divorce is hard for everyone involved, and finding the right situation to make it as easy as possible for your kids can be difficult. Considering child care as a viable option might be worth your time!
Natasha is an avid writer, storyteller, and dog-lover. Her work has carried her from the bustle of New York at Inc. Magazine to the Santa Fe deserts at Outside Magazine. She enjoys writing about family-focused and community-centered stories. www.outsideonline.com