A new article published yesterday by Romper shares stories from daycares that remained open during the pandemic. They provide insight to what is to come as daycares start to reopen around the country. The article begins with an Ohio daycare owner stating, “We are bleaching and sanitizing toys constantly” and ends with the article starting, “Despite the anxiety many parents have around returning to daycare and school, and despite the myriad of COVID-19 restrictions now in place…experiences show that it can be done with low risk to our children and others.” But, my question is, is the risk actually low? And, will our kiddos actually be safe in these environments?
We’ve all witnessed the empty shelves in the cleaning aisles, the surge in hand sanitizer and your fellow friends talking about the coveted Lysol wipes. We’ve been flooded with cleaning guidelines, recommendations and actions that we need to take both in the home and in our public spaces – but my concern is the chemicals being used to follow said guidelines. As mentioned in the Romper article above, the daycare worker is admitting to constantly cleaning toys, toys that will be handled by our children and if we have young kiddos, these toys will probably end up in their mouth. Should we maybe put some thought and focus into the harmful effects all of these chemical-filled cleaning products are having on us and our kids? Yes.
Alex Scranton, the Director of Science and Research from Women’s Voices For The Earth (WVE) says that “Quats (quaternary ammonium compounds) are potent disinfectant chemicals commonly found in disinfectant wipes, sprays and other household cleaners that are designed to kill germs.” Think, those trusty wipes and the bottle of bleach you’ve been using. Although, using quats are filled with effective ingredients to get rid of those nasty germs, they are also filled with harm and danger. (The article goes on to share some safe products we can use.) The WVE also states that “Long-term and short-term exposure can have serious impacts: For example…cleaning products can lead to chronic effects that include lung cancer, asthma, allergic contact dermatitis, and reproductive effects.”
In Stanton’s webinar and blog Safer Disinfecting at Home in the Times of Coronavirus, she talks about negative affects on mice in experiments they conducted.
She goes on to explain, “the other thing is that quats will linger on a surface long after you have cleaned with them. This means that your exposure (and your kids’ exposure, and your pet’s exposure) continues every time you touch that countertop. In the mice experiments I mentioned above, it took months of re-sanitizing the animal cages that had originally been cleaned with quats until the mice were reproducing normally again.” Ummmmm.
The guidelines have been set (and are ever-changing) and the use of toxic chemicals are being sprayed all over the surfaces our children will be touching, climbing, sitting and laying on. Daycares and other child related facilities are bragging about the super-cleaning they are achieving by wiping down each chair, toy, mat, crayon-you name it, after every single use, but is the use of overdosing on quats, with actual long term consequences, safer for our loves than the actual coronavirus itself? I don’t know.
The Romper article shares a study that shows “children almost never spread COVID-19, and only about 1% of cases worldwide have been in daycare-aged children.” So Is Coronavirus less risky for our kiddos than the harmful chemicals they will be exposed to? Is there a lesser evil? Again, I don’t know.
What I do know is that every family is different and as we navigate our way through this pandemic with these possible lifelong changes and new normals, each parent will have to determine what is best for them and more importantly for their child(ren). Some will choose daycare and some will choose in home childcare. Childcare is the expensive, necessary stress all parents fret about. Some parents stay home, some send the kids to daycares and some choose to have a Nanny. This longtime battle of which is a better option for our kiddos has been discussed in every mom group, on the playground, over dinners, with colleagues and cousins and we all crave to know the right answer. We demand it. But, both answers are correct. The truth is, only you know what the best care option is for you.
There is a naive thought out there that having a Nanny is a luxury or better yet, it creates a stigma that we aren’t enough, we can’t handle it alone and we need help. The other truth is, that village we all hear about is actually pretty necessary for a well balanced life. Having help whether it is through a daycare or in-home childcare is very helpful and pretty vital. Just as there are many benefits to attending a daycare, there are just as many benefits to having a Nanny on your team.
In-home childcare can be a great option for those parents who want some control over their child’s day. What will they eat, what toys will they play with, how much time is spent outdoors and, what type of environment will they be exposed to all day? Are there safe cleaning products being used, organic foods being eaten and enough educational play being incorporated? A Nanny can be full or part time and is usually an employee of yours. You choose the schedule (any amount of hours, at any time of the day) and what activities you would like incorporated in the days; and best of all, the Nanny usually comes to your home. A great Nanny balances household tasks and care for the kiddos leaving you with a clean home and maybe even dinner on the table. Oh, by the way, have you heard of Nanny Share? This can be a wonderful option for those looking to cut down on expenses while having quality care. Check with your local Nanny Agency to see how they can help- and yes, using an agency is totally worth the fees associated with it! Do you know how much a comprehensive background check (no, not the $20 non-updated police report) costs and how time consuming and tedious it is to check resumes and references? That’s why we highly recommend an agency who takes care of all of that for you (oh yah, and full disclosure, I work at a Nanny Agency!)
The other option is daycare if you are not able to stay home yourself (and even then, having a caregiver help out so you can get errands done and have some alone time is always welcomed). Having a Nanny is expensive but so are daycares. Add in driving to and from daycare, having to follow a certain schedule and those limited hours and all of a sudden the stresses add up more than the cost of said Nanny. Daycares can be great for people who don’t want to have childcare at their home and those who crave a place where social interaction among a lot of other kiddos and adults are prevalent.
So now what?
We just hope we have given you something to ponder as we begin to think about summer care and what to do for our children in the fall. We have shared several links where you can explore further research and resources if you so choose.
At the end of the day there is so much to contemplate, review and reflect upon. Will you choose to send your kids to daycare or hire a Nanny? Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. No matter what you choose to do, just remember, you have a powerful voice and you can make a difference in your home and the daycares, schools, gyms, venues, theaters, etc that you attend by sharing safe cleaning practices with them. In fact, demand it.
As the old adage goes, “you’re the only one who can decide what’s best for you” and we think that’s pretty cool.