Finding childcare for your kid can be a daunting task. How many hours of childcare do you need? How much money do you have to spend? How far are you willing to travel? Finding childcare for a gender creative kid can feel like adding another dollop of stress onto an already nerve-wracking task. I’m here to say – it’s not as scary as you may think and there are things you can do to reduce your anxiety.
Daycare has a long list of benefits and only a few drawbacks when it comes to navigating gender creative parenting. Enrolling your kid in daycare certainly means you have to surrender some of your control over their environment – here are some of the things you need to think about when considering daycare.
- Own your Gender Creative Parenting practice. Treat it like it is a part of your identity - because it is. You wouldn’t be bashful about speaking up about your religious practices, dietary restrictions or allergies, so don’t be shy about being an out gender creative parent. Equality is your religion and you’re allergic to the binary! Be confident about the way you are raising your child. It’s awesome!
- Tell the staff what GCP means for you and your kid. Gender Creative Parenting is a new term and many of the staff members won’t have heard of it, but the idea of treating kids equally will not be new to them and they will likely be on board, you just need to be explicit about the terminology you use, the pronouns for your kid(s), and your expectations regarding the confidentiality of their sex.
- Staff who care for your child will know their sex – that did not surprise me. Some things that hadn’t occurred to me were the fact there are multiple substitute teachers who would know Z’s sex, and parents of the other kids may know Z’s sex if they walk in during a diaper change. More than half a dozen people, who you don’t really know that well, will suddenly know your kid’s sex, which will feel a bit weird. All you can do is inform them about the importance of gender neutral pronouns (if you use them), not referring to/or treating them as a boy or girl, and creating an environment loaded with opportunity and free of stereotypes.
- Give your daycare resources! Write an instruction manual of sorts for how you care for your child. Give the directors and teachers copies of Raising Zoomer articles that resonate with you. Send them links to TED talks and current events that involve gender inequality or progress. Help them learn the things you want them to know.
- Most importantly, be kind and enthusiastic. I love going in to daycare each day and talking with the directors and Zoomer’s teachers. Our director showed me that she didn’t have to select a gender when creating Zoomer’s electronic file – and we both thought that was pretty cool. We have established such a great relationship that when recently, a substitute teacher used gendered pronouns and was matchmaking Z with another baby, I was able to talk with the director about it upsetting me and she responded with such kindness and support and apologized that it happened. She decided to use the next staff meeting as an opportunity to talk about Zoomer and Gender Creative Parenting, and she showed my TEDx talk and made it a required training video for new staff. I love knowing that not only is our daycare creating an inclusive environment for Zoomer, other kids are also benefitting from it.
Daycare was a necessity for us. Brent and I both work full time and love our careers, we don’t have any family in town, and a long-term hourly nanny was out of our budget. Now, I am so grateful Z is in daycare. They have such a special relationship with their teachers and they run towards their friends in the morning and we have to untangle their limbs from an adorable toddler pile of friendship in the afternoons. The socialization they get at daycare is something they can’t get from their only-child home AND they will have a rock solid immune system because of all the germs they are exposed to!
I remember having a lot of anxiety trying to imagine how I could be a gender creative parent AND have Zoomer in daycare. I just want to say – it’s not only possible, but a lot simpler than you may think. Please let us know if you have any questions and we’ll do our best to answer them.