Is it okay to send your kids to daycare while you're on holidays?

kids childcare
kids childcare 

A whole day to herself - it's the stuff of dreams for mums everywhere, working, stay-at-home or otherwise.

But mothers who drop their children at childcare while they are on holidays from work themselves are often criticised and shouldered with yet another form of mother guilt.

One friend was left feeling terrible this week when her own mother told her she was "mean" for dropping her toddler son at daycare so she could get some housework done in peace. She's at home because her office is closed down over the Christmas and New Year period.

"He would have normally been there so I didn't see the harm. I made it a short day. But she got really upset at me about it,'' my friend said about her mother's criticism.

Sadly, there actually are parents in this world who are mean to their children. We read about them in newspapers and see reports about them on the TV news all too regularly. But I really can't see how leaving your child at a place where he gets to play with other children and take part in fun activities organised by trained carers who look after and feed him qualifies as mean.

In fact, by sending her son to childcare for a few hours, my friend was able to get the housework done more quickly and focus her attention on her son when she picked him up at the end of the day, without being distracted by the dishes in the sink or the washing on the line.

But it's not the first time I've heard of mothers being criticised for dropping their children at daycare when they are off work themselves.

Another friend told me her husband expressed surprise that she dropped their two young sons at daycare before doing the grocery shopping and having a coffee with a friend when she had a couple of days break from the office recently.

Anyone who has tried to wrangle two children under four while doing a weekly supermarket shop will tell you it's no fun for anyone - not the parent, not the kids and, often, not other shoppers.

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Sure, most parents have to confront the weekly shop with their children most of the time. But if there's an opportunity to avoid the chaos, why not take it? And who could deny a hard-working mum-of-two the chance to sit down and enjoy an entire coffee without disruption? If only all mothers could be blessed with the same opportunity!

I think the criticism of mums using childcare when they are off work probably stems from the fact many people still believe, rightly or wrongly, it is bad for children. They see it as a necessary evil at best, and only an acceptable option when both parents have to work for financial reasons.

But we are not talking about children who have been put in daycare so their mothers can play tennis and have long lunches.

These toddlers attend daycare regularly because their parents are both employed. They are familiar with the centre, carers and other children. They are comfortable with their routine and, if anything, taking them out of that routine because their mother is at home for a few days from might actually confuse them.

And surely having a mum who is feeling a little more rested than usual will only benefit them.