I'm a stay-at-home mum, and I'm sending my son to daycare

 Photo: Getty Images

When you become a mum you give birth to a beautiful baby, but you also give birth to guilt

It consumes you from the moment you hold your precious bundle, and shadows you as your child grows. 

Initially you can feel guilty for not feeding them right, swaddling them right, and not settling them right.

You then feel guilty for not partaking in enough activities, worrying that their development will be stunted.

And you feel guilty when you feel bored and question why the days can feel so long.

But one of the most common guilt-inducing issues for mums is the decision to put their child in daycare. 

The idea of someone else looking after our precious child pulls on our heartstrings. Yet for many of us it's a necessity – whether it's because we have to return to work, or, simply, because we just need time out.

For me, it's a bit of both.

My second baby just turned one, and with that comes a whole new stage of development ... and challenges.


Much like my first son, he's been active since day one. From the minute he could move he's been unstoppable – and the fun really kicked in last month when he started to walk.

He's into everything and I can't leave him unsupervised for long, even in my own baby-proofed home.

If there's a socket, he sticks his fingers in it. If there's something sharp he tries to touch it. If he can climb it and throw himself off it, he will damn well try.

From the moment he wakes I'm fire fighting, and for the short time he sleeps – favouring only a maximum of an hour and a half a day – it's all I can do to keep my eyes open.

Yet in that time I need to do all the chores I can without a 'helper'. I also have work to do, emails to reply to, and need to remember to actually eat.

My eldest son started daycare when he was 13 months old. At the time I wasn't working, but mentally I needed a break. The monotony of parenting was wearing me down and my energy levels had hit rock bottom.

I went through the mental anguish of questioning if I was doing the right thing, and, of course, carried an extreme amount of guilt.

I found it hard to justify sending him when I wasn't working. I felt I'd failed somehow because I didn't love being solely a stay-at-home mum.

Of course, my son thrived in daycare, and my guilt was slightly diminished when I picked him up at the end of a day. He'd have a smile on his face, would protest having to go home, and would hug the teachers goodbye.

And nothing much has changed as he's grown. He loved preschool and now happily loves school.

So here I am again, at that crossroads with number two. But this time the decision is a little easier. I know the best option for my son is to attend daycare one day a week.

Of course I still feel guilt and, in some respects, like it's the end of a chapter. Never again will I be a full time stay-at-home mum to a baby, and I'm still not 100 per cent sure that I'm ready to hand him over to someone else.

But if I want to keep my sanity and my 'me', I know it's the right thing to do.

I need to have time to embrace my career. I need to have silence to drink a cup of tea in peace. I need to remember I'm not alone.

Being a fulltime stay-at-home mum is wonderful, rewarding, and a real privilege. But it can also be lonely, boring and monotonous.

Staying home is not for everyone, but that doesn't make you any less of a mum.

I believe that a better mum is someone who occasionally puts themselves first – being happy and sane is important for all.

Plus, if mummy guilt comes knocking on the door, it's easier to push it away if you are stronger.

Essential Baby