This week will be the last week that either of my children attend daycare. My youngest daughter will be moving up to Kindergarten in the fall and starting next week will go to the summer program put on by the school district. For 8 1/2 years the routine every morning has been to bring one or both of my girls to daycare and drop them off on my way to work, but Friday will be the last time we ever do that.
At first when we realized that the end of daycare would soon be here we were understandably excited. Quality daycare is incredibly expensive. A recent study showed that a year of childcare for a 4 year old in Minnesota was more expensive than a year of college tuition, and Minnesota is in the top ten for child care as a percentage of the median income. For us, at the peak of what we were paying for daycare, it was more expensive than our mortgage payments. So obviously one of the first things we did was start daydreaming about all of the things we’d be able to afford once both kids were in school. But after the initial high of our impending financial stability wore off, there was a bittersweet feeling that started to creep to the surface.
While the past 8 1/2 years have been spent paying thousands of dollars for daycare, they’ve also been spent watching our kids grow and learn and turn into amazing young girls thanks largely in part to the amazing staff of people who have taken such good care of them for so many years. Monday through Friday these teachers would spend more time each day with our girls than we did. They taught them how to read and write and tie their shoes. They dealt with the tantrums and the potty training just as we did. Our kids fell in love with those teachers and I truly believe that they felt the same way towards the girls. It’s been a very special relationship that will be sad to see end (even though we’ll still visit).
It’s not just the children who will miss them though, my wife and I will miss seeing them every morning and afternoon. They treated us incredibly well over the years. There were times when money was tight and we couldn’t afford our weekly payments, but even though we fell behind they never pressured us or gave us guilt trips. They would have had every right to send us packing but they didn’t. They understand how much of a struggle it can be for families to send their kids to daycare and they allowed us to catch up at a pace that worked for us. I consider all of the teachers there to be friends and will miss them greatly.
I know many of you might be thinking (as many friends have said to us) “why didn’t you just use an at-home daycare? They’re so much cheaper!”. I understand that there were more affordable options, but (with no disrespect to at-home daycare) I think there is no matching the quality of teaching, care and security that you get at a center like ours. While the expense of it may have caused us to have to tighten our belts and make a few sacrifices, I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. The education and love that our girls received was worth every penny.
So while I do look forward to having that extra money in our pocket from now on, I’m going to miss the people we met at Little Folks Daycare. From the moment we dropped Chloe off when she was only 6 week old to watching Samantha graduate Preschool in her cap and gown last week, they have done an extraordinary job of teaching and caring for our girls. I look forward to bringing them back over the years and showing them just how good of a job they did.