Stay at Home Parents Sending Child To Daycare

My sister in law gave birth to a healthy baby in January. She stopped working a couple of weeks before the birth. While she worked and before the birth, my niece who just turned two, was sent to daycare from 7:30am until 4:00pm. My SIL had a C section and couldn’t pick up the 2 year old so she continued to go to day care for the 8 weeks. Or that was the impression I got. Now that my SIL has been cleared, they are still sending my niece to be babysat all day, every day.

SIL feels that nursing and watching the two year old is too much for her. They also worry about my niece losing her place in the day care facility if SIL decides to go back to her teaching job after the summer.

I have no problem with kids that have to go to daycare when both parents work but this situation bugs the heck out of me. Why is my niece stuck with strangers up to ten hours per day (My sibling has to drive and pick up most days and doesn’t get out until 5:30pm so she is there even longer).

Now my problem. If they left me out of it, this would be none of my business and they could do what they want with me disapproving silently from afar. The issue now is they want me to take her one to two days a week as my sibling has early meetings. It is not a huge issue for me to take her, a minor inconvenience, but I feel like I am encouraging something I don’t approve of and my niece should be home with her mommy and her new brother.

Two questions:

  1. Does this seem a bit screwy to anyone else?

  2. Do I say anything or just shut up and help out with the drop off?

Parenting is hard work, and we’re not all cut from the same cloth. My mother was a very stand-offish type mum, and my wife is almost exactly the same. I do more for and with the kids than their mother does.

If it’s not too inconvenient for you, I say “just shut up and help out with the drop of.”

Unless you really want to start that conversation, then you should stay out of it.

I sometimes send my daughter to daycare just so that I can have the day- but while the situation you are describing sounds awfully odd, I wouldn’t dream of telling my relatives how to parent their children (unless we are talking beating, molestation, or abandonment)

My hard and fast rule is “don’t hit 'em, don’t fuck 'em, and don’t leave 'em.”

Daycare doesn’t count.

Again, odd.
But I am odd in many ways, and I am happy when people don’t butt in.

Me, personally, I couldn’t put my toddler in daycare unless I had no other option. But that’s just me. I think daycare/preschool at aroung age 3 or 4 is practically mandatory these days - not legally, but academically/developmentally - to prepare kids for kindergarten, but I think two year olds do better with a parent if possible. However, I don’t think it’s going to harm the child in a meaningful way, so I wouldn’t stick my nose in. Unsolicited parenting advice rarely goes well.

And, of course, your SIL may want to devote as much time and attention to the baby as she did her older sister during these first few months. If she’s planning on going back to teaching, this may be the only one-on-one time she gets with the younger, and that’s important, too.

And she’s got a good point about not losing their slot in daycare. If it’s a daycare that the girl likes, that she’s thriving at, that’s in a good location and the right price, I wouldn’t want to lose that, either.

If you refuse, will they see the light and take her out of daycare? Probably not. Will it cause hard feelings? Probably. If it were I, I’d go along and help out, but of course you have to make your own decision here.

It’s incredibly difficult to go from just one child to two, especially if the first one is old enough to recognize that they’re suddenly getting less of your attention.

Another thing: how is your SIL’s mental state? Is she having any trouble adjusting to having two kids? Did she have problems with post-partum depression? And how is she physically? Although she got cleared by the doc, it’s possible that she could still be having some difficulty.

Anyway, as far as watching your niece, that’s really up to you. I don’t think you’re “encouraging” her if you don’t take your niece - she’ll find someone else if you don’t do it. But it is easy to accidentally impose on family members when you have children, so definitely speak up if you don’t want to do it or if you decide to do it and it’s just too much.

In your SIL’s defense (or at least to empathize with her), I was on maternity leave for three months and I did continue to send my then 3.5 year old son to preschool while I kept the baby at home with me, though I usually made an effort to take him late and pick him up early. I had the justification that he was in preschool, not daycare, and probably got more out of being in a more structured setting than he would have at home. Also, we wanted his schedule to be as consistent as possible. Having him in and out of school for a few months wouldn’t work toward that end. But I have to admit that it was incredibly convenient and less stressful to take care of the baby during the day without my son around.

You probably shouldn’t say anything about it, but I have no problem judging her silently for it. I’ve stayed at home simultaneously taking care of babies and toddlers before. It’s tiring for the parent, but it’s better for the kids than spending 10 hours a day in a fucking daycare. That’s a pretty shitty and lazy way to treat the kid. If I can take care of three at once, this bitch can take care of two.

Have you seen the daycare? Some daycares are really good and have a really long waiting list, and if she’s thinking of going back to work it’s definitely something to think about that really good daycares are often limited for spots. (Though around here since the recession that’s not the case – except for the university-subsidized one, all of them seem to have spaces available these days.) Has your sister-in-law talked to the daycare?) Plus which, at this point they’re not strangers. If it’s anything like the daycare my daughter will start in the fall, each child has a primary caregiver whom she is attached to. So there’s that too.

But yeah, though I find that situation slightly weird, having a new baby is hard. Obviously most people do take care of two kids at once, and I hope I will be able to when it’s our turn (if this happens), but your sister-in-law obviously feels that the day care can provide a higher standard of care than she can while taking care of the baby. I think it’s actually pretty responsible of her to realize that rather than go silently crazy trying to do something she doesn’t think she can do.

Having said all of that, I do think it is a little freaky that the kid is there for ten hours. Mornings I would understand a lot better. And also, I think it’s slightly weird the mom can’t drop the kid off herself – is the problem that they only have one car? (If so, how did they ever manage when both of them worked?)

When you have a baby by c-section or otherwise, EVERYONE tells you to ask for help if you need it. Speak up! they all say. Lean on family and friends!

Well, speaking as someone who did ask for help and was flatly refused, I really can’t fault your SIL. She knows she needs help with the two kids. She’s determined that having daughter in day-care to allow her to take care of her 3 month old baby is better for her mental health. I can’t fault her for that. If you don’t want to help, don’t help, but it’s really easy to play armchair quarterback when you’re not the one having to get up 4 or 5 or 6 times in the night to care for an infant and then have to play with a toddler the next day.

I have seen the day care. It is indeed very nice. However, my niece grabs onto my leg and has to be pealed off each time I drop her off. It breaks my heart. She wants to stay home. The kid to care giver ratio seems pretty low. When I drop her there are usually no more than five kids to one day care provider.

I’ve heard that it’s incredibly hard to get daycare slots.

Also, most day cares won’t let you just have one or two days a week, you have to pay for five weekdays. Weekends are extra. If you only put the child in day care one or two or three days, you are paying for care that you aren’t using.

Just because SIL has been medically cleared doesn’t mean that she is feeling 100% capable. New infants are incredibly draining, too. That baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet, you know. She might NEED this help. Back in the day, it was pretty common for a woman’s female relatives to move in for a few months to help with a new infant, simply because going through childbirth and having a new baby to cope with IS so exhausting.

Your niece is NOT around strangers. She’s around adults and children that she knows, and she’s getting socialized. In fact, she probably enjoys the company of these people, and regards them as family, and would be upset if she quit going to day care. Day care centers usually provide a lot of enrichment activities, they don’t just babysit the kids. Or at least the good ones do.

Having said all that, I’ll also say that you are not obliged to do any of the pickups and drop offs. Let them find another way, if you resent this.

To me, it isn’t about my SIL, it is about this child that is getting shoved off onto strangers for 3/4 of her waking hours because her mommy can’t handle the two children she choose to have. I guess I am trying to be my niece’s advocate here not my SIL. I have been told that my niece has been being a little aggressive with her new brother and I have to wonder if the normal jealousy is compounded by being sent away each day while baby brother gets to stay home and be cuddled by mommy.

That’s got to have an effect. The poor little girl is feeling rejected and cast out by mom every day. How is your SIL when she’s together with your niece? Is she loving and affectionate, or is she “busy?”

The aggressiveness might also be part of why the parents think it’s necessary to put your niece in day care.

Since I’m a fan of open and honest relationships, I’d say:

IF you can approach the conversation as “this is how I feel, but I’m not telling you what to do”

AND IF you are confident that it will be received as the above,

then yes, have the conversation. And I-reference the hell out of it – “I find it a little strange” or “I’m a little uncomfortable with it” NOT “you’re doing it wrong.”

Maybe they have a reason that they’ll share, maybe they’ll have a reason they won’t share, maybe they won’t have a reason, maybe they’ll change their mind.

If after a civil conversation they still ask you to, I’d probably go ahead and do it. I don’t think it’s worth creating bad blood.

If you’re not confident about meeting the initial conditions above, though, forget it. You will probably not change their mind, and it’s probably not worth an argument.

  1. Big time.

  2. Shut up, help with drop off, judge silently. I’ve found that any criticism, overt or implied, of someone else’s parenting style is apt to lead to Word War IX because however well meant it is, the person will hear “you’re a failure as a mommy and I know better than you.”

As others have said different mothers have different temperments; while I find it odd she might be the sort of person who just doesn’t have the stamina to take care of a newborn while chasing a toddler down.

Perhaps I wouldn’t be so disapproving if my niece was excited to leave when I picked her up at her home and ran into the classroom to play when I brought her in. Although I am not sure if that is true. I do feel children under three should be home with a parent whenever possible and this is possible albeit difficult for my sibling and SIL.

That being said, I will bring her and keep my mouth shut. I enjoy visiting with my niece for the 30 minute commute anyway.

This is a very hard question to ask. I would say “busy” but only because she has the baby on her 24/7 so my sibling give my niece the attention in the evenings. SIL talks to my niece and is kind and loving but she never puts the baby down. She was the same way with my niece. She held that kid to her breast until she started walking.

Despite Dio’s bitch label, I sent my daughter to her daycare two days a week throughout my maternity leave, while I stayed home with her infant brother. My reasoning was —

  • that she would maintain her schedule, albeit altered, and it would be less of a deal to go back to the daycare after I came off maternity leave in 12 weeks;

  • that I could rest more during the day if I could sleep while the baby slept and not have to stay up all day with a 2-year-old who needed supervision; and

  • I would maintain my place at the center, which was not guaranteed to be available when I wanted to return.

I did, however, get up those two days and take her to the daycare, mainly so my daughter could go in a little later in the morning (9 am vs. 7:30 am). I wonder why foxy40’s sister in law can’t do this for herself? She’s been medically cleared. Doesn’t this mean she can drive.

Moving thread from MPSIMS to IMHO.

It’s very likely that that’s the issue. It’s probably also her age. Two year olds aren’t exactly known to be really empathetic in any situation.

Having a child lash out at you while at the same time taking care of a newborn isn’t an easy task, and I’m sure your SIL on some level doesn’t feel great about her decision to take her first child to daycare. I know I wasn’t terribly happy about it and felt incredibly guilty. But it saved my sanity and keeping a similar schedule seemed to keep our household on a more even keel.

What I’m saying is that it might seem really, really weird, thoughtless and selfish of your SIL to do what she’s doing, it could be what’s keeping her sane. I agree that 10 hours is a LONG time to keep your kid in daycare if you’re home. I wouldn’t have done it that long. But at the same time, as mentioned above, she’s waking up many times per night and, if she’s nursing, chances are your sibling isn’t getting up nearly as often as she is, if your sibling is helping at night at all. And even though the doc says she’s technically physically sound, he doesn’t live in your SIL’s body.