Questions and comments we have received about keeping our son out of daycare
First, a little background: We have a 2,5 year old son, who is staying at home with us full-time. He is not and have never been in any kind of daycare. In Denmark it’s normal that small kids go to some kind of daycare from when they’re 10-12 months old.
Both my wife and I are self-employed. We split working time and taking care of Kai 50/50 and try to have a lot of time together all 3 of us.
Why I’m writing this blog post
I’m writing this blog posts for several reasons. First of all, to gather all the answers to the comments and questions we get in one place, so we can share it with family and friends who do not fully understand our choice.
Secondly, it’s also a bit of preparation for the future. We will probably also homeschool instead of regular school. One thing is to keep your small child out of daycare, but it’s another to keep your kids out of normal school – We’re already experiencing that people have very strong opinions about it. We know that the questions, doubt and comments we will get in the future, will probably only be tougher.
All of these questions and comments could be separate blog posts, but I will try to keep it short.
Why do you keep your son out of daycare and plan to homeschool?
This is super difficult to keep short and could easily be 10 blog posts. Some of the reasons:
- It feels natural for us to be together and we have the opportunity to do it.
- It feels unnatural for us to have people who are not primary caretakers (parents, grandparents) take care of our son.
- We believe daycare and school are more of an economical system, but not the best for (all) kids.
- We want another, more playful and natural way of learning for our kids than we have experienced ourselves in the school system.
- Life is short and kids are only small in what feels like a second. We don’t want to waste that time.
- Time with our kids > careers
- No theory or research shows that daycare and schools are the optimal way of growing up and learning. It can be the best and right solution for many, but we have the opportunity to do it another way.
- We are interested in attachment theory, which – as one example – makes it very difficult for us to accept to stop breast feeding, only so we can send our kid in daycare.
As mentioned, very difficult to keep short.
How does a normal day look for you?
In the weekends we try to be together all three of us, but Monday to Friday we take turns to have work days. A work day means you have from around 9am to 2-3pm. After that we are either all together or we switch, so the other person can have 1-1,5 hour of work before we are all together.
We probably work 4-5 evenings per week after Kai sleeps, but overall we probably work quite a lot less than 40 hours per week each.
When we’re together with Kai, Monday to Friday, most other people are normally in daycare and at their jobs. We have some other homeschooling families that we see sometimes, but normally we do one kind of trip per day. A trip can be everything from going to a museum to just taking the bike for a long trip. We hang out a lot around our neighborhood and enjoy the small things, like seeing the different colors on the leafs in the fall, following a local construction site and stuff like that.
What about socializing?
This questions is 100% the one we get the most.
First of all, we don’t believe that very young kids (>3) have a very big need for being together with other small kids. On a weekly basis we are probably with other small kids for less than 7-10 hrs. This will of course only grow. Very small kids primarily need to be with grown ups and their primary caretakers.
Just because you are not in kindergarten or at school, it doesn’t mean you can’t be social. Humans are social beings, it’s the most natural thing for us. School doesn’t have a patent on socializing kids.
Luckily, homeschooling is growing and there is a strong community here in Copenhagen and we have a lot of friends with kids. Combine that, in the future, with activities like going to sports etc., socializing will be our smallest problem.
Everybody can’t do like you and many kids thrive in kindergarten/school
Well, we never said everyone or even anybody should do like we do. And yes, many kids thrive in kindergarten and school (thank God).
We don’t care about other people’s choices and while we are very critical about the system, we 100% understand that it’s the right and best choice for a lot of people.
The only thing we would probably like to change is that people see more options and are more proactive about how their kids spent the majority of their time.
Aren’t you neglecting your own career?
Well, probably. But who gives a f***? I had plenty of time to work before having kids and I will have plenty, when they are big.
I also have time now and it’s only a good challenge to be limited a bit on time.
Don’t you feel you are wasting your time, when you are always with your kids when everyone else is working?
I completely understand this questions and where it comes from. It’s not intuitive for us to play on a Tuesday at 10am, because it’s so deeply rooted in us that we must work work work.
I get this “I-should-be-working-now” feeling sometimes, but it’s so stupid. Almost nothing is so important it can’t wait till later. I see having our kid at home as a good challenge for myself. We wan’t to raise our kids with the sense of play and doing what you actually like to be a meaningful way of spending your time and in the process we are learning the same thing ourselves.
We are unlearning a few decades of “you can play when you are done with the work”.
Are you doing this for the sake of your son or for your own?
We have received this question a few times, as if these are two opposing things. There is no doubt that there is no way this lifestyle can work in any way, if it’s not the right way for all members of our small family.
We are doing what we feel is the best thing for our son within the opportunities and limitations we have.
Sometimes this question can occur because talking about homeschooling is something we do a lot. There is no doubt that we are passionate about it and it’s such a big part of our lives, so of course it’s something we talk about. Sometimes this can be misinterpreted as we are just doing it for our own sake.
The cost of doing what we do is real. When we are not with our son, we work. There are very few hours for alone time, doing sports etc. Careerwise we know we could get further working normally full-time (but who gives a f***).
One of the reasons Denmark is so rich and well-developed is because both men and women have been working instead of taking care of kids.
Well, this is absolutely correct. I think it’s a huge dilemma, because this statement is 100% true and I’m in no way a supporter of the old system where the woman is at home with the kids. But at the same time, I simply don’t believe that the current system is good enough for the kids.
We have a system that is built for economical reasons, which means kids are spending the majority of their daytime in a system that is not optimal for them.
It’s a dilemma that I don’t have the answers to.
I like to contribute and pay my fair share of taxes and I want to split the obligations at home and the working time at least 50/50. That’s what we are doing, but there is no doubt that it comes with a cost and that our system is not geared towards it.
If it’s so tough as you sometimes say, why don’t you just send him to daycare?
Because something is hard, it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.
Unfortunately, this has many times been the reaction, when we have been burned out or if we experience difficulties. It can be difficult for people around you to support you, if they don’t understand your choice.
As with anything that demands a lot of your time and energy, sometimes you feel burned out, you have doubts and so on. We have slowly learned who we can share these things with and who we can’t.
Also published on Medium.