Inexpensive Day Care Alternatives to develop social skills

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I have a 2 year daughter. My wife is not working and has no intention to return to work anytime soon. My wife takes care of my daughter while I am at work (expect when I come home for lunch). Evenings I spend a few hours with our daughter playing, reading and telling stories. We both enjoy being with our daughter expect for an hour or two during the day when she is difficult to manage. Weekends, we plan activities and spend most of our time together. Believe me it takes a lot of work and sometimes I joke to my wife that getting a PhD was easier than taking care of her.  Overall, we think our daughter is doing good and can speak and understand 2 languages and loves to listen while we read, and sometimes she pretends to read. Recently we took her for her 2 year wellness visit and I was surprised that our pediatrician suggested to start sending her to day care so that she develops social skills and even weighed in that she will be better off even if she gets sick often. We have tried to setup play dates and it is turning out to be difficult as our friend's children go to day care or Montessori as both parents work and they do not feel play date is a need for their children. Our friend circle is not big as we recently moved due to job change. Since most of our friends send their children to day care and now our pediatrician suggesting day care as well, my wife is inclining to send to day care. We have not yet made a decision.  We can easily afford day care expenses which comes to ~$750 per month as I make >$130K a year and have >$500K in savings (our goal is to make sure she graduates from college deft free). I understand money is relative, as for some people $750 might be too much and for some people it might mean nothing. I want to know if $750 in day care expense is worth as it is hard earned money. Or are there any fatwallet/inexpensive alternatives to day care to develop social skills or any advantages of sending to day care other than developing social skills which we might be over looking. 

***This is my first post**** 

Appreciate feedback and suggestions. These are 3 alternatives that we have thought about- 
1. Join YMCA and use day care facility (while we workout). This will force us going to the gym.
2. Attend programs in the local library. Currently attending 1 to 2 programs per week since my daughter was 6 months old.
3. Go to the mall and spend time in play area. Can do 2-3 times a month. 

**********Update September 18 2016***********Based on feedback from other users**********************

General Advice: Being at home with patents is not a problem at age 2. Social skills matter but not nearly as much as being raised by loving and attentive parents. I think you and your wife are over-worrying about this.  That's something we do as parents.  Especially when it's your first kid. Most families would be thrilled if one parent could stay at home with the kid. Why mess it up. Give it one more year and then assess. At that time, consider a 1/2 day program maybe 2 or 3 days per week. Or have a second child, that's a play group in itself. 

Daycare Pros: Social skills, learn to share and play nice with others, sit still, listen to the teacher, work together on group art projects, feed themselves, potty trained, etc. Alleviate separation anxiety for the child as they enter preschool or kindergarten. 

Daycare Cons: Expensive. Drop/Pic-up. Get sick a lot (it will happen now or later). 

Alternatives to Daycare (Options): Reach out to community resource center. 
1. Existing programs (Matter of just joining): Library story time; Preschool program at public school; Parent participation pre-school (wife volunteer); Church;  Meetup.com; MOMS:  http://www.momsclub.org/; MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) http://www.mops.org/
2. **Required membership/fee** Indoor kids gyms;  bounce houses; trampoline parks; Gymboree; Science center; zoo; aquarium; swimming pool; swim lessons; soccer.
3. Others: Park and playground; Push the stroller around; Library play area; Set up a babysitting co-op among friends; Invite other parents with kids for dinner. 

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Thanks for the honest response. It makes perfect sense. I guess I could say the same thing. My mom worked during the day... (more)

meade18 (Sep. 19, 2016 @ 1:09p) |

Just to toss my experience into the discussion. My son went to preschool at 4.5 without ever 'socializing' before that t... (more)

Seity (Sep. 19, 2016 @ 1:36p) |

Check your local library.

Ours has events for little kids several times per week, that last maybe an hour or so and are f... (more)

rascott (Sep. 23, 2016 @ 11:36a) |

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Check if your pediatrician is in the pocket of big daycare. jk

You can always check them out and see if they are actually doing any learning or just eating and and sleeping. But $750 a month is a drop in the bucket compared to college and likely to have a bigger impact.

Can your wife volunteer at a local daycare a couple afternoons/week, and bring your daughter along?  

Also, check out your community's resource center.  They have various support groups/play groups you can join.  You/your wife might not fit the typical demographic (young and/or underprivileged families), but it'll serve its purpose.

I would assume most families would be thrilled if one parent could stay at home with the kid. Why mess it up.
sunsatday said:    Recently we took her for her 2 year wellness visit and I was surprised that our pediatrician suggested to start sending her to day care so that she develops social skills and even weighed in that she will be better off even if she gets sick often. 
  
This sounds like bs spoken by someone reading from a PSYC 101 textbook. Why social skills can a 2 year old learn? I can image such a recommendation so the pediatrician has more business from your daughter when she gets sick more often. There will be plenty of time for that in kindergarten in a couple of years when she is more mature. 

When you say "loves to read books" do you mean loves to listen while you read, pretend to read, or actually read?

scripta said:   When you say "loves to read books" do you mean loves to listen while you read, pretend to read, or actually read?
can't you read, she can read in two languages!

You can certainly afford it if your wife will go earn $750 while the child is at daycare. You could also just take the kid to a park or playground for free. Are all two year olds in structured activities nowadays?

rufflesinc said:   scripta said:   When you say "loves to read books" do you mean loves to listen while you read, pretend to read, or actually read?can't you read, she can read in two languages!For those who don't know you're joking, OP said "can speak and understand 2 languages," which is fine for a 2-y.o. Reading at 2 would be more impressive, and I'd think developing social skills without corresponding academic skills would be detrimental

Being at home with patents is not a problem at age 2. Social skills matter but not nearly as much as being raised by loving and attentive parents. Give it one more year and then assess. At that time, you may want to consider a 1/2 day program maybe 2 or 3 days per week. You sound like you are doing a great job!

Send your child 2 days a week while your wife figures out how to get back in the work force

Check out Meetup.com to find others in your same situation. It will help to find play dates.

Have your wife find the local chapter of MOMS: http://www.momsclub.org/ which is how my wife, in a similar situation, ended up meeting her current entire circle of friends after we moved to a new area; friends that have kids the same age as ours. She also participated in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) http://www.mops.org/ which at least in our area had more of a faith undertone to it, depending on your guys preferences.

Between those two weekly meetings and events they have mostly for women like your wife - non-working child-rearers with their kids best interest at heart but need someone else to talk to that uses multi-syllable words while their kids also talk to each other - you should be good.

Here's a couple of ideas:

Free
- Library story time. If you have a couple libraries nearby, you probably have a couple different times and days each week to have the child engage other children. Many libraries have "play" areas as well (ours usually have a play kitchen, wood train tables, wood blocks, etc.), so they child interaction potential is usually pretty good. This also may provide an opportunity for your wife to meet other moms and caretakers who don't work.
- Playgrounds and parks.

<$60-$125/month
- Indoor kids gyms/bounce houses/trampoline parks. We have several different types of businesses (usually franchised chains) like these near us. Some are monthly subscriptions and some are daily admission. The "kids gyms" (one goes by the name My Gym) usually have a combination of both organized and free play time slots, but these require a monthly subscription. The bounce houses/trampoline parks are either solely kids focused, or have kids only hours during the week -- these are around $8/session for around 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
- Sports. I've see youth soccer start at two years old.
- Lessons. Swim lesson, gymnastics, etc.
- Pre-school. They usually start at either 2-1/2 or 3 years old. Kids go for 2-3 hour/day, 2-3 days a week during what is basically the normal school year.

$100-500/year
- Pool membership. Around here, a three person public pool membership costs $130/year -- the pool is open 7 days a week from 11 am until 8 pm from the entire summer. Our pool has a splash pad and kiddie pool.
- Science center / zoo / aquarium membership. Most cities have one or more of these; however, they can vary greatly in terms of how much social activity that a toddler can have with other kids.

Other Ideas
- Church / women's bible study / Sunday School. Not sure if you're Christian, or for that matter religious, but many churches and church-related groups have some program where free or very inexpensive child care is provided during the program. I'd be willing to bet that non-Christian religious groups probably have similar programs.
- Supermarket kids programs. Two of our local grocery chains essentially have a free babysitting service while you're shopping in the store. The catches are: 1) you have to be shopping in the store, 2) they usually only accept kids that are 3+ and potty trained, and 3) there may not be other kids there when you would normally shop.
- Local websites / Facebook pages / Facebook groups / email listservs. Many areas, cities and neighborhoods have some kind of mom / parent of small children online organizing / publications.

I'd say you don't want them learning the kinds of social skills they'll pick up in day care at two...

ace614 said:   Being at home with patents is not a problem at age 2.
  
Reading at 2 is impressive, but if she has patented designs already, then she's way  too smart to want to hang out with day care kiddies.

Why did the pediatrician recommend day care for socialization? Just general good idea kind of advice?

I don't think daycare is really necessary for socialization. Theres lots of other ways to do it at age 2. Stanolshefski gave a lot of good ideas. Id' add Gymboree to that list. They have a lot of classes you can go to and the price was like $60 a month or something.

Pre-school is just the way most kids get socialization.  If you're involved in a church, mother's groups, library activities, have lots of kids in the neighborhood to play with, etc, she will get the same benefits at little to no cost.  Our son went to pre-school for 2 years and he transformed from a timid kid who was extremely shy around other kids & adults into a very outgoing, very confident kid.  It really does make a tremendous difference, but whether or not pre-school is the only way to get the same result is certainly debatable.  Your pediatrician likely just defaults to suggesting pre-school since most families do not have a stay at home parent & pre-school provides daycare, education & socialization benefits.  Our son was never sick before he began pre-school, but constantly had colds, etc after he started.  Now, his immune system is stronger & our pediatrician says his health should normalize now that he's been exposed to so much prior to beginning Kindergarten.

I agree with much of whats been said and can't add much, other than calling out the humble-brag(s) in the OP.

raringvt said:     Your pediatrician likely just defaults to suggesting pre-school since most families do not have a stay at home parent & pre-school provides daycare, education & socialization benefits.  
Or the pediatrician talked to mom, and saw that even trips to the playground or library are still "mommy and me" trips with little independent interaction with others; playing along side other kids, but not really with the other kids. And thus suggested daycare as a tool to learn to play together (and force mom to take a half-step back).

Not criticizing OP, because parents doing things with their kid is always a great thing. But pointing out that the daycare suggestion might've been strategic, not a generic default.
  

sunsatday said:    We have tried to setup play dates and it is turning out to be difficult as our friend's children go to day care or Montessori as both parents work and they do not feel play date is a need for their children.
I'm a little confused by this statement? Are you trying to propose these play dates as being part of an educational process? Or are you simply inviting another family to meet at the playground some evening? Because usually play dates (or any social activities, really) are declined due to time constraints or the fact you simply don't like the other person, not because there's no "need" for it.

Learning social skills (including sharing & playing nice with others, sitting still & listening to the teacher, working together on group art projects or whatever) is beneficial. As pointed out, pre-school is not the only way (libraries, play dates, etc.), but it is reliable vs. finding 3 different library programs and scheduling X number of play dates each week. The OP said he doesn't have a lot of other friends available for play dates, especially since most of them have kids in pre-school. If he had a couple friends that did play dates 2x a week, it would be a different story.

Also, it is nice for even stay-at-home moms to have a break sometimes, or have time to cook, shop, pay bills, clean, etc.

As for cost, it can range wildly, especially comparing 3x week 1/2 days vs. 5x week full days (or anything in between). I've seen ranges from $300 - $1,200+ per month. The kids will get "socialization" in all of them, while the more expensive ones (like Montessori) stress learning through play, etc., while some of the cheaper ones are more kids being supervised while playing with toys, running on the playground together, and doing finger painting.

As for getting sick, yes they will get sick, especially the first year. And it sucks. But better now than when they start kindergarten and would miss lots of "real" school. I don't really believe it's "better" for them to get sick a lot, just that it will either happen now or happen later.

sunsatday said:   I have a 2 year daughter. My wife is not working and has no intention to return to work anytime soon.
 

Just get out of the house - library, parks, church groups, etc.  And you don't have to have "playdates" to interact with other families.  Just invite those other parents with daycare kids over for dinner or a backyard cookout occasionally.  Set up a babysitting co-op among your friends so that you have other children in your house occasionally (and you get to go out yourselves!).

And of course, if she's a stay home mom, have another kid.

Check out craigslist or Care.com or other resources in your area for an in-home day care that will work with you in your situation. We have found them to be a lot more flexible than some of the structured day care centers. This way you can potentially find a situation where your wife can drop your daughter off just 3 times per week, in the morning, or 2 times per week all day, or whatever you feel comfortable with. This will give your wife time to run errands, do stuff around the house, or get a part time job (if the money is a problem). There are people out there who will work with you, but you may need to seek them out, and it goes without saying to make sure the person has all of the appropriate certifications needed for your area, and that their house is safe and stuff. I think Care.com even has background checks on the people already. Good luck!

Good grief, what did people do before the daycare industry convinced people that your kids are going to be socially retarded if you don't spend thousands of dollars to "properly" socialize them? Unless you live in a cave, kids are going to be around other kids at some point and they manage to figure out how to interact. Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten. Unless she's screaming at the sight of other kids or acting outrageously, just take the opportunities as they come up, stop worrying and enjoy the time you have with your kid.

OP-- I noticed that you said that the child understands two languages. Does mom have language barriers that could be getting in the way here?

drodge said:   . Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten. 
  that seems kind of late

rufflesinc said:   
drodge said:   . Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten. 
  that seems kind of late

  Probably only if the child has a developmental delay that needs speech therapy, physical therapy or occupational therapy.

stanolshefski said:   
rufflesinc said:   
drodge said:   . Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten. 
  that seems kind of late

  Probably only if the child has a developmental delay that needs speech therapy, physical therapy or occupational therapy.

  no, i meant the parent waiting until K to have their kid  interact with other kids
Unless you live in a cave, kids are going to be around other kids at some point and they manage to figure out how to interact. Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten.

I'm a WOHM and I'm shocked a pediatrician would recommend daycare for a child who stays home with Mom.  If anything, I'd sign her up for a preschool when she's 3 or 4.  You could do one of the 2 or 3 day/week programs when she's 3 and go up to full 5 days a week when she's 4.  Otherwise, I would absolutely ignore that advice... 

You can always send her to a parent participation pre-school to ease them in. Our almost 3 year old threw a shitfit when we put him in a 2 day a week camp for 3 hours. He started pre-school last week, where my wife participates 2 days a week.

raringvt said:   Pre-school is just the way most kids get socialization.  If you're involved in a church, mother's groups, library activities, have lots of kids in the neighborhood to play with, etc, she will get the same benefits at little to no cost.  Our son went to pre-school for 2 years and he transformed from a timid kid who was extremely shy around other kids & adults into a very outgoing, very confident kid.  It really does make a tremendous difference, but whether or not pre-school is the only way to get the same result is certainly debatable.  Your pediatrician likely just defaults to suggesting pre-school since most families do not have a stay at home parent & pre-school provides daycare, education & socialization benefits.  Our son was never sick before he began pre-school, but constantly had colds, etc after he started.  Now, his immune system is stronger & our pediatrician says his health should normalize now that he's been exposed to so much prior to beginning Kindergarten.
  Get ye to a Preschool
Generally in my area kids who aren't in daycare start going to a preschool program at some point between 2-3.  It does help with social development and structure.  It also gets them sick more (bonus for the Doc!)

I wouldn't put them in a regular day care if I had a stay at home wife.  no reason to.  It should be a school type environment for part of the day.  my son's was 9-12.

 

My husband is a SAHD. Neither of our boys went to any kind of daycare. We have no close friends or relatives with kids. My two are perfectly socialized. The older one got into a free preschool at 4.5 years old with a lottery system. The younger one is only 3.5 and we will try to get him into free preschool at 4.5 as well. We took them to the playground to socialize them for free.

rufflesinc said:   
stanolshefski said:   
rufflesinc said:   
drodge said:   . Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten. 
  that seems kind of late

  Probably only if the child has a developmental delay that needs speech therapy, physical therapy or occupational therapy.

  no, i meant the parent waiting until K to have their kid  interact with other kids
Unless you live in a cave, kids are going to be around other kids at some point and they manage to figure out how to interact. Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten.

  It's not like kids don't ever see other kids unless they are in daycare 8 hours a day.   There are kids everywhere and there are plenty of opportunities to get interaction without going the full-on daycare route.   I was referring more to learning the intricacies of school formalities than the actual "working with others" when I referred to kindergarten.  A kid that's never been to daycare a day in their life will figure out the rules pretty quickly.   Almost no kid went to daycare when I was 5 and we figured it all out the first week.   Kids learn to deal with other kids naturally on their own and they don't need a psychologist or a daycare to teach that.   There are a million library programs, mom's groups, and other playdate opportunities where kids can play together and figure out social interaction.   Unless mom's a complete hermit, she can find other moms at religious groups, community groups, or any other shared interest group, not to mention at any park or playground in the area.  Every place I've lived had some kind of county office that manages activities and community outreach.  When my kids were small, my wife never had trouble finding other moms.   Pushing a stroller around always seemed to naturally attract other moms, so I have no idea why it's so hard for the OP to find other parents.
 

drodge said:   
rufflesinc said:   
stanolshefski said:   
rufflesinc said:   
drodge said:   . Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten. 
  that seems kind of late

  Probably only if the child has a developmental delay that needs speech therapy, physical therapy or occupational therapy.

  no, i meant the parent waiting until K to have their kid  interact with other kids
Unless you live in a cave, kids are going to be around other kids at some point and they manage to figure out how to interact. Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten.

  It's not like kids don't ever see other kids unless they are in daycare 8 hours a day.   There are kids everywhere and there are plenty of opportunities to get interaction without going the full-on daycare route.   I was referring more to learning the intricacies of school formalities than the actual "working with others" when I referred to kindergarten.  A kid that's never been to daycare a day in their life will figure out the rules pretty quickly.   Almost no kid went to daycare when I was 5 and we figured it all out the first week.   Kids learn to deal with other kids naturally on their own and they don't need a psychologist or a daycare to teach that.   There are a million library programs, mom's groups, and other playdate opportunities where kids can play together and figure out social interaction.   Unless mom's a complete hermit, she can find other moms at religious groups, community groups, or any other shared interest group, not to mention at any park or playground in the area.  Every place I've lived had some kind of county office that manages activities and community outreach.  When my kids were small, my wife never had trouble finding other moms.   Pushing a stroller around always seemed to naturally attract other moms, so I have no idea why it's so hard for the OP to find other parents.

  Since OP mentioned that the child understands multiple languages, I get the feeling that mom might have difficulty with English.

For that I suggest searching for opportunities in any kind of immigrant community that exists for their ethnicity. For example, if OP's wife speaks Vietnamese they should try to find opportunities where there are concentrations of other Vietnamese people -- that way mom can socialize as well. 

No Mom's club? In my locality there are a few and they regularly meet during the week. You can also opt for half day/3 day daycare to mitigate the financial pain.

Others already alluded to it but there are places like Gymboree that has classes and Habitot (local place in Berkeley) where other parents and kids go where they would get the "needed" interaction.  We lived paycheck to paycheck just so my wife could stay home for a few years to be with our two boys when they were younger, and wouldn't trade that for the world, but also believe interaction with other kids and parents helped develop ideas like sharing and waiting their turn, and more important, save my wife's sanity.

We started our boys at pre-school around 3, and they came back with every germ possible, but now at 4 and almost 6, they're relatively healthy so maybe the early interaction with others helped boost their immune system.

 

drodge said:   Good grief, what did people do before the daycare industry convinced people that your kids are going to be socially retarded if you don't spend thousands of dollars to "properly" socialize them? Unless you live in a cave, kids are going to be around other kids at some point and they manage to figure out how to interact. Worst case scenario, they figure it out in Kindergarten. Unless she's screaming at the sight of other kids or acting outrageously, just take the opportunities as they come up, stop worrying and enjoy the time you have with your kid.
There was a time when children went outside in their neighborhoods to play with other kids with very little parental supervision.  Now, it's unacceptable to let your kids run free in the neighborhood since CPS would come knocking at your door for doing such a thing.  Most of my socialization came from just that, playing freely with other kids until our moms yelled that it was dinner time.  Today, mom can't possibly cook dinner while sitting outside watching little Johnny, so little Johnny sits inside, watching TV or playing on a tablet.  I'm not arguing that it isn't appropriate to supervise your children--it is, just making the point that it wasn't always this way.

rufflesinc said:   You can always check them out and see if they are actually doing any learning or just eating and and sleeping. But $750 a month is a drop in the bucket compared to college and likely to have a bigger impact.
  
Bigger impact? Says you.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/01/the-new-pres...

OP here. Thanks for great suggestions!! I feel a bit relieved already and we are inclined to wait until our daughter turns 3 and start off with 2-3 days per week pre-school and 5 days when she turns 4. While we wait for her to turn 3, we will also start going to playground/library often, and look into meetup.com/mops/indoor gyms and definitely start pushing the stroller as well.

Clarification1- daughter "loves to read books" ==> mean loves to listen while we read, and sometimes she pretends to read.

I will edit the post to include all member suggestions for the next few days and hope this benefits others in similar situation/dilemma.

Skipping 35 Messages...
Check your local library.

Ours has events for little kids several times per week, that last maybe an hour or so and are free. Great social time for the kids.



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