No, your 19 month old does not need daycare to be socialized.

I met the new neighbor boy’s nanny last week, out in our culdesac.  She asked if I was my kids’ nanny.  Do we really now assume that a thirty-something watching four children play in front of their house is more likely to be their nanny than their mom?!

The heartbreak of the conversation didn’t end there.  So far, her own 19 month-old daughter has been coming along to watch the four-year old neighbor boy.  But the nanny is now thinking that she needs to get her daughter in daycare, at least part-time, so that she can “be socialized” and be used to not being around her all the time.  I stood there and watched her baby playing happily in the yard with my 22 month old.  I thought about how I am pretty much the center of my 22 month old’s universe–and that is totally, completely fine with me.  What is wrong with a 19 month old (who is still nursing) enjoying being with Mommy all day?

I found myself explaining my decision not to put my kids in daycare (and why we homeschool).  It appeared that my lifestyle was one she’d never encountered before.

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How tragic that this woman whose career is childcare has bought the lie that she needs to hand her own child over to someone else to “socialize.”  Such an attitude is unsurprising when we hear our president say that non-parental childcare is a “national economic priority.”  This is essentially the Scandanavian ideal, where egalitarianism is promoted via government subsidized daycare.  But as James Taranto points out, “total gender equality” actually hurts those lower on the totem pole (like my neighbor’s nanny):

But think about the low-status female worker–the day-care employee. In a more traditional society, she would work in her own home, caring for her own children. In our brave new world, a government committed to equality pushes her to take a job caring for other women’s children. Is she really better off now than she would be then? True, she gets a paycheck now–but that also means that the government takes a bite out of her earnings.

Ultimately, it just doesn’t make sense for a childcare provider–of all careers!–to work caring for someone else’s child and pay someone else to watch her baby. This nanny mom says that her daughter loves being with her, is so sweet, and loves being with the neighbor kid.  Her only compulsion to break down the mother-daughter bond is a misguided idea that her baby can’t be socialized by her own mom.

Hogwash.  The home is a perfect place for age-appropriate socialization.  Plenty of research shows that first and only children have lifelong advantages from those early years of one-on-one nurture.  My husband and I, firstborns of stay-at-home moms, both live out every firstborn tendency, from good grades to leadership skills to confidence to organizational skills.  Our oldest child already shows similar fruit of those 27 months of uninterrupted reading, puzzles, coloring, singing, and socializing with me before his sisters came along.

A child home alone with “just” mom has a wonderful gift, and a houseful of brothers and sisters is another kind of amazing gift.  Kids who grow up with siblings have the advantage of built-in playmates with whom they learn to share, negotiate, compromise, apologize, and forgive.  I’d much rather have my younger kids “socialized” by my older kids, who have learned our family rules, who have acquired (some) maturity and responsibility, and who love her, than to “be socialized” by a room full of children their exact same age who are just as immature as they are!  At 22 months, my baby is already playing house with dolls and the play kitchen, at a way higher level than two year olds are supposed to be able to pretend play, because she plays with her big sisters all day, every day.  It was my three year old’s big brother, not other three year olds, who taught her to say, “Please stop!  You’re exasperating me!” because my big kids have learned how to communicate without throwing a temper tantrum.  My five year old has had no formal education until this school year, yet can rattle off dozens of Bible verses, poems, definitions of parts of speech, and geography facts, purely from listening in on her brother’s school time.  What an advantage she has, essentially growing up in a one-room schoolhouse!  Whether your kid gets to be home alone with you or spends all day with siblings of varying ages, there is plenty of emotional and social and intellectual development going on in home life.

The first few years are so incredibly precious!  If you have the choice, why give the best hours of your baby’s day to someone who can’t possibly love your child as much as you do?!

Posted in Daycare, For New Moms, Importance of Mothers, Philosophy of Motherhood | 2 Comments

Wiping Runny Noses to the Glory of God

My kids have been sick.  Between midnight baths and coughing children in bed with me and soothing a baby burning up with fever and wiping endless runny noses, I’m pretty tuckered out!

When kids are ill, our duties as mothers are inescapably important.  And this is an area of particular challenge for working moms.  While I might have to miss Bible study or cancel a playdate when somebody is sick, a working mom (who is ten times more likely than dad to stay home with sick kids) is often missing a day of pay to stay home.  Or–as countless posts on this topic on parenting blogs and message boards confirm my own experience as a classroom teacher–working moms frequently send their kids to daycare or school sick because they feel don’t have a choice.  Even if her workplace has generous sick day benefits, she’s worrying what her coworkers are thinking about her time off.  As a recent Washington Post piece explains, “taking a lot of sick days to care for children seems to hit the vortex of working mom anxiety — the ultimate test of whether we can manage both the home front and work front when both demand our attention at unexpected moments.”  In other words, since you can’t plan when your kids are going to be sick, you’re forced to face the reality that you can’t do everything well.  It’s one of those things I wish we’d tell young women about before they commit to juggling career and motherhood.

I don’t want to give the impression that those of us who are already home with our kids have it easy when they get sick (cleaning up vomit at 2 AM is never fun, for housewives or professionals!) or that being home automatically makes us better nurses to sick kids.  There’s a huge potential for any worn out, sleep-deprived mother to lose it with the sick child who has just wakened her again in the night, crying for a drink when the water bottle is right next to her pillow.  It’s easy to resent a baby’s runny nose when you really, really wanted to make it to Bible study this week.  If we’re inclined to feel this way, Edith Schaeffer reminds us to have compassion on sick little people because we’re teaching them how to have compassion themselves.  We are blessed to be able to care for them at home until they’re all better.  We don’t have to worry about what our bosses are thinking because we are doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing!  Do we ever see these tough days as opportunities to show tenderness to our big kids when they’re feeling vulnerable and want to be held?  When my almost-8 year old son is willing to sit on my lap and be hugged, I want to treasure that time, even if I have a third load of sheets in the washer in one day because of him.  One of my friends talks about sickness as a blessing that forces us to slow down and focus on what really matters.  I certainly do a lot more snuggling, reading aloud, and one-on-one time with my kids when they’re under the weather!

reading to sick girlsOn my social media job descriptions, I usually put “wiping four little noses to the Glory of God.”  It’s not as glamorous as some of my friends’ jobs, but it’s what God has called me to do.  The most mundane tasks–wiping runny noses, cleaning urine-soaked carpet, washing loads of vomited-on sheets, reading endless books to feverish toddlers–can be glorious when done for the right reasons.  Hugs to you, fellow mommy of sick little ones.  May you be encouraged to press on through this illness (and the next, and the next).  Your work is precious in His sight!

Posted in Importance of Mothers | 1 Comment

Hidden Art Friday

E2S moms and kidsE2S reunionE2S daughtersE2S tacosE2S smilesWe had an E2S reunion this weekend while Anna’s family was out in SoCal.  Believe it or not, we hadn’t seen each other in person since our five year olds were babies!  For all the criticisms of virtual friendship, I’m glad that facebook, blogs, and a few phone dates have enabled Anna and me to keep in touch over the years, especially the past few years of living on opposite coasts.  Hanging out in the pool with our ten kids felt just like picking up from Bible study prep sessions in our college dorm a dozen years ago.

My girls adored Anna’s, and all afternoon we’d find one of hers and one of mine with arms around each other.  You guys, we have seven daughters!  Is it any wonder that we’re passionate about the subjects on this blog?  The messages we’re trying to communicate in our posts are the same messages we’re trying to teach our girls.

Since this is a Hidden Art Friday, and I feel the need to include something domestic in this post, I should mention that Anna made yummy tacos (in the crockpot) for dinner.  It was a perfect “company” dinner: it fed all of us easily, the prep work happened ahead of time so we could spend all afternoon hanging out, it was simple and kid-friendly, it was way cheaper than ordering pizza!  What is your go-to company meal?  If you don’t have one yet, maybe that’s your first step toward practicing hospitality this year.

One of the many things Anna and I discussed was the future of this blog.  We both feel called to press on in 2015, but we’re eager to hear what topics our readers would like us to tackle.  Do you have questions for us?  Books or articles you’d like our take on?  Suggestions for a theme week?  We’ve been blogging about the topics that naturally come up in our own conversations, but we want to hear from you guys, too.

Thanks for reading and encouraging us to keep blogging.  Have a great weekend!

Posted in Friendship, Hidden Art Fridays | 2 Comments

A Family Vision Statement

In the three and a half weeks of unproductive labor at the end of my last pregnancy, I felt like I was perpetually unproductive and aimless. When you’re having contractions every five minutes for days on end, you don’t tend to make plans or start any big tasks. At the end of pregnancy (and in the first sleepless weeks with a newborn), basic survival feels like an accomplishment! But I don’t want to spend my kids’ whole childhood just surviving.

I wonder how many women find themselves staying home with little ones just because they fell into it. Is this just something we do, or is it a noble calling, leading towards a definite goal? Keeping our kids alive, fed and clothed is a good start, of course! But for those days when it feels like all we’re doing is changing diapers and disciplining a stubborn toddler, it’s good to have a vision for where all this is heading.

What is your vision? Have you discussed this with your spouse?  As we start a new year, I’ve been thinking a bit about my vision for our home.  This is not exhaustive, of course, but here are some things I’m convicted to pray for right now.

  • I want our home to be a place where God is glorified in everything we do.
  • I want our interactions to exhibit love, mercy, and grace.
  • I want our marriage to picture Christ and His Church.
  • I want our children to practice obeying God by obeying my husband and me, and to practice loving others by loving their siblings.
  • I want my son to grow strong in his faith, to continue to make it his own, to ask deep questions, to stay excited about the Word, to protect his sisters, and to grow into a strong man of God, a servant leader whose mind, heart, and strength are committed to Him.
  • I want my daughters to grow up secure in the love of their earthly dad and Heavenly Father, rejecting the poisonous messages about beauty and female worth that the world sends our way, especially here in SoCal. I want them to learn to use their minds, to be generous and hospitable, to be each other’s best friends, and to be totally sold out for Jesus.
  • I’m praying that God will call at least one of our children to the mission field.

Does your family have a family vision statement? 

Posted in Parenting, Philosophy of Motherhood | Leave a comment
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