The Secret Benefits of Child Daycare

Classroom with chairs and tables in the daycare center

The daycare center drop-off routine is pretty clear cut: drop off baby with daycare workers, return hours later to pick up baby after work. Take baby home for some quality mommy and me time. But wait, there’s more. Researchers claim that moms are reaping a lot more from their daycare center interactions than they think. A new study says that women reap social, psychological and even financial benefits from using daycare.

According to the study, moms benefit from the small relationships they build in the course of these drop-offs and pick-ups: the chit chat with the daycare worker about your sleepy kid’s bad night, a sympathetic smile from a fellow parent who shares your potty-training woes. All these tiny and seemingly insignificant interactions build up to a very meaningful support network for moms, reducing the risk of financial hardship, depression and even marriage trouble.

The study, which examined a variety of data including a national survey of 3,500 mothers in 20 large U.S. cities and a survey of 300 childcare centers in New York City, found that mothers who used daycare fared better than those who did not. Women who made friends through daycare were 40% to 60% less likely to experience depression than those who had no friends. They were also 40% less likely to experience marital hardships.

Even if you’re not exactly making friends at daycare, there are still great benefits to be reaped. Researchers found that daycare moms were less likely to experience financial hardships – trouble making rent or paying bills, for example –  than those who didn’t use daycare. In fact, poor moms who were struggling financially saw their risk of financial hardship decrease once they started using a daycare. Researchers attribute this to the resources the daycare provided such as information on various government assistance programs and counseling.

Have you made friends or developed a support network through daycare?