I started thinking about child care, on a personal level, when I was pregnant. My son is now 6. I thought that the daycare system was difficult when he was younger, but after school care is really a whole other thing.
Usually we talk about the need for care because one parent can’t stay at home. For me, it was also really important that my son did go to child care. I thought it was important for him to learn in different ways and experience other families and ways of being. Beautiful things come from kids interacting with kids and expressing themselves.
As an only child, child care was a really great way for my son to develop relationships and long term friendships. And the benefits of him attending child care from a young age are really evident. He’s outgoing, comfortable interacting in different spaces with different people, and curious. I don’t know if this would have been the same if he hadn’t gone through child care.
We couldn’t get by without the support of my parents. I’m from the Punjabi community where there are very important cultural ties around the role of family, and grandparents often play a pivotal role in children’s development. I think that’s a beautiful thing but I think there needs to be balance. It isn’t fair for my parents, who have worked their entire lives and are hoping to enjoy some down time, to be the sole daytime caregivers for their 5 grandchildren.
Both me and my husband are busy and have career and life interests that work outside of business hours. When our son was in daycare, having to stick to regimented business hours for pickup and drop off made it challenging to do the good work we wanted to do.
Now that he’s in school, we see even more of a systemic disconnect between parents working and their children being done at 3pm.
There’s no after school care in our school so someone has to pick our son up. On the good graces of having a great boss and workplace, my husband and I are each able to get off early 1 day per week to pick him up from school. The other three days, my parents do.
We’ve just hit our first summer of the school system and now we have to put together a patchwork of day camps. With the patchwork, you lose that sense of continuity and community as well as the level of knowledge and expertise in raising our young, which is such a deeply important element of our society.