Why It's OK For New Moms To Leave Their Child In Daycare Without Feeling Guilty

Per Swantesson

For most moms, the decision to return to work isn't a choice — it's a necessity for her family.

I know moms who will only leave their children with family members, and I know moms who will leave their children with anyone who will take 'em.

A few weeks ago, I was picking up my son Calvin from school, and I saw the tiniest new baby in his room. A few minutes later, her mom came in to pick her up and we started chatting.

She proceeded to tell me her daughter was a preemie of 4 pounds when she was born, and just over 8 pounds after three months. It was her second day back to work and she teared up telling me how hard it has been.

Calvin weighed more than her baby of three months when he was born. I cannot even fathom having to leave him at that size.

My heart hurt for her and I wanted to hug her and tell her repeatedly it does get better – in time.

Leaving your child for the first time in the hands of, essentially, strangers is a very odd concept and hard time for new moms.

Being someone who is so focused on her career and motivated in the professional aspect of my life, I was absolutely shocked how quickly my priorities changed. I became obsessed with maternity leave; those three months were the some of the best times of my life with my new little guy.

While I don't necessarily wish I was a stay-at-home mom, I do wish I had just a bit longer before I had to leave him. Signing up for daycare, going back to work and adjusting to life as a working mom was — and has been — the most challenging time of my life.

For weeks I worried about Calvin, how much attention he was getting, how he was developing and so on. I would hardcore question the teachers, heavily scope out the landscape of the room and avoid drop-off duty 100 percent of the time.

I still worry about those things but feel that the positives of taking my child to a care center outweigh the negatives. Calvin has grown to love his school and his teachers, and he is developing right on target.

Some of my favorite benefits are social interaction, creative development and the independence he has gained as a little baby.

He is able to get used to being with other adults outside of just my husband and me. He loves his teachers and they love him.

I was horrible at structuring our days while at home with him and basically let him do whatever he wanted, but the teachers keep him on a set schedule for when he eats and naps throughout the day.

These caregivers are professionals at watching babies and it is their focus all day. If Calvin were at home, I know I would be trying to do a million things at once.

At the end of each day, there's a summary on when he ate, how he slept and even how often he got his diaper changed. The picture updates from "Life Cubby" are how we have been able to save all of these great photos of Cal.

So, yes, daycare is seriously scary to a new mom. It's scary when your child gets sick for the first time, but that's going to happen either way.

I'm here to tell you it does get better and you will see your child learn to love it.

Are there days when you just don't want to go to work — or when you don't want to take your baby to daycare? All. The. Time.

Since we have time apart during the week, our nights and weekends are treasured. They are special and enjoyed to the fullest extent.

To the working mama: You are doing great. It's going to be OK – you will spend your days kicking ass at your job and still come home each day to the biggest smiles you have ever seen.

You can have both and you will learn to find the beauty in balancing it all.

This post originally appeared on the author's personal blog