Day Care: Investing In My Business

“What’s the most important thing you’ve done for your business?” she asked

Two words: day care.

“But you’re home all day!” she exclaimed. “How could you do that to your kid?”

I’ve heard this before, of course. If I had a nickel for every time someone said this to me, I wouldn’t need to work at all! There’s this strange belief that because I’m physically at home, my child should be with me, an idea that no one would ever even consider if I worked in an offsite office.

Even though I hear it regularly, I remain mystified that anyone would seriously think that I could get anything done with a preschooler in the house.

In my view, day care is the best solution for both my child and my business. This isn’t just rationalization on my part. Children require almost constant attention. So do my clients. It’s not fair to either of them to be constantly distracted and unfocused as a result of the other.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I have an extraordinarily well-behaved child. We say, only half-joking, that he’s a 40-year-old man trapped in a 4-year-old’s body. And even with a kid who is mature well beyond his years, I can’t get anything done while he’s in the house.

He goes to day care (now preschool) to learn social skills, like listening and cooperation, as well as the pre-academic skills that he’ll need in kindergarten. He’s a happy, healthy, mature 4-year-old boy, one who knows that at the end of the day, Mommy will give him her undivided attention.

Similarly, my clients know that when they call during business hours, they get a business. They have my undivided attention and won’t hear a preschooler shouting, “Mommy! I have to use the potty!” in the background. (Non-parents read this in disbelief; parents are chuckling.)

That’s why my first advice to all parents, but particularly those who work at home, is this: find yourself a good day care. “But it’s expensive!” they say. That’s absolutely true. But imagine how much you can accomplish in a single, uninterrupted block of time, how much money that can generate for you, and how quickly that care can pay for itself.

No, I’m not with him for every waking hour of his day, but the time that I spend with him is high quality. We cook together, read books, tell stories and play with toys without interruption. That, to me, is worth every penny.

Do you send your kids to day care, or do you try to balance kids and clients during business hours?

7 thoughts on “Day Care: Investing In My Business

  1. Jill Anderson

    Great article! I definitely agree that putting my child in daycare is the right thing to do. Like you said, you can’t give your full attention to both your clients and your child at the same time if you work from home. I tried to do this for a while, but by the time my son reached 6 months old, I couldn’t do it anymore. He’s been in daycare now for a year and everyone is happier for it! Business is great and my son is a happy, sociable toddler.

  2. Laurel Black

    I started my kid in day care a few hours week when she was 2 months old. She is now 24 and turned out fine. I find statements like “How could you do that to your kid?” really offensive. To imply that your child should’t have caring relationships with other adults is lame.

    I worked at home from the time she was four, including a stint as a single mom. I had great support from the extended family of the wonderful day care she spent 10 years in, and it really saved us when life happened and we needed support to get through a tough time. Besides the socialization she would not have had as an only child, she also developed a very strong work ethic (I hope through observation), which is standing her in good stead now. So IMO, Alisa, you have it exactly right.

  3. Alisa Bonsignore

    Laurel, thanks for the reassurance that they do grow up ok! I actually have no regrets about our choices so far. Besides, one of the biggest perks of being independent is that I can still take an afternoon off and take him to a baseball game if I want to. Flexibility is great!

  4. Pamela Saxon

    Those who have never had children just cannot understand. It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s just not possible to grasp what it is like until one is actually in the role of parent (for 24 hours a day – a few hours a week doesn’t count). I once had a friend reprimand me for having my children in daycare while I worked at home, and she literally said to me, “I know exactly what it’s like to have children — after all, I have 7 dogs and I make it work!” Huh? There was nothing I could do but laugh at the absurdity of that comment.

    I used to get upset with those who didn’t “get it.” Now I realize it’s not worth my energy. My kids are now 7 and 12 and in school full-time, so it frees my time up somewhat. But as they get older the challenges change… there is school drop-off and pick-up (and their schools are 45 minutes apart), after school activities until 6:30, 7:00 or later, and then… SUMMER. Ugh. What to do with them in the summer?

    They are both old enough to understand that mom and dad are working (we both freelance), but there’s still that feeling for me of, “Gee, I would love to be able to spend more time playing with them in this beautiful weather.” So, my hours change in the summer to accommodate my needs AND theirs. It’s not perfect, but then again, what is?

    On the flip side, we are at home with them, they stay out of trouble, and are learning the value of owning a business. We both try to teach them about the ins-and-outs as we go, and it makes it more fun for everyone, as well as a learning process.

    Alisa, no doubt you are not only doing the right thing for you AND your children, but the ONLY THING you can do to maintain sanity and happiness for all involved!

  5. heather parlato

    it already surprises me to much when people inadvertently suggest that our mere being at home means our jobs are somehow easier or require less attention such that we could care for children while doing them. to think people are adding to that an implicit judgement about what kind of parenting you “should” be doing is kind of astounding. i honestly don’t think people necessarily mean to be judgmental, maybe it’s just that they perceive what we do differently, but i do wish they would think about what it means to suggest that you’re doing it wrong.

    people had a lot to say about daycare back when i was a kid, but it turns out to be great for socializing for the kids, and allows parents to be fresh & focused for the time they spend with their children. i’m glad the stigma has changed for the better.

  6. Sarah Spoelstra

    I work part-time off-site and freelance when I have time. I just started my nearly three year old daughter in day care a couple half days a week. Unfortunately, my budget doesn’t allow for any more days a week right now. It’s crazy how much work I get done in those two 5 hour blocks! Plus, she’s really warming up to other kids now and coming out her shell. I still work at night, during naps, and on the weekends or when time. It’s nuts, but totally worth it in the end.

  7. Alex Sanso

    This makes complete sense to me, but I’ve been on this train for a while, as my son is now 8 years old. But although he’s in school, summer is coming! For me, what will work is taking him to a “kid’s club”…basically a day care for older kids, that has themed camps all summer long. He’ll have a blast, and I’ll have many hours at a stretch to keep my business running during the summer. The best part is, there’ll be those days when I can just say, “Let’s go out and have an adventure today!” That’s the best part of working at home in my own business!