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How do you feel about childcare at a gym?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
I x-posted this to The Childhood Years, but I would really like some homeschoolers' opinions on this situation:

My 3.5-year old son has never been left with anyone other than DH or me except for a few times with a mother's helper and with my sister & mother who he sees every week (and even then he wasn't crazy about my leaving).

So I've been thinking about joining a gym. A good friend goes there every weekday and leaves her daughter (who is the same age as my son) in the childcare room. Her daughter LOVES it now, but had a tough time adjusting.

I like the childcare room and the teachers -- they seem very caring. So I've been a few times, staying with my son so he could get used to the place, and then leaving for ten minutes and coming right back a few times. Each time I came back he was hiding in a tiny little hiding spot and was a little weepy. Yesterday I tried leaving for half an hour, even though he was crying and asking me not to leave, and when I came back he was standing still in the middle of the room, sniffling.

My friend (who is mostly very AP but does a few things differently than we do) is sympathetic but thinks my son will get past this, and that we just need to plow through it. And this may be so. (And I REALLY would like to have an hour a few times a week to exercise during the day.)

But it feels wrong. DH likened it to CIO. I see what he's saying, but OTOH our son is 3.5. He can understand that I'm leaving to exercise and coming back soon.

It's just so hard to know if I'm doing the right thing or not. Should I wait until DS is ready? Or is it my job to push him a little in a controlled setting?

I would really appreciate any opinions or advice. TIA.
post #2 of 50
*I* wouldn't leave him. He's clearly not happy about the separation, and it's causing him stress and discomfort.

I'm not sure what your friend means by "he'll get past it." Does she mean he'll mature and be able to leave you or just that he'll stop crying? The maturity will come, in time, (and in hindsight, this will seem like SUCH a short period of time!) but I don't believe it's facilitated by pushing it before they're ready.

Could you get a mother's helper to come to your home so you could exercise with him nearby? Could you exercise while your dh has the baby? Would your mother or sister watch him? Could you put him in a sling or stroller and walk/run? If he still naps, could you exercise then?

Quote:
He can understand that I'm leaving to exercise and coming back soon.
Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, it's upsetting to him. If you've fostered attachment this far, it's probably quite shocking to him that you're leaving against his wishes for any length of time, yk?

But it's also not "just" that you're leaving. He's in a new place, with caretakers who are strangers to him. New toys, new rules, different kids--that's a lot to navigate all by himself. And he probably doesn't have a sense of how long 1 hour is, nor can he assess, during that hour, how much longer it'll be until mommy comes back.

Quote:
Should I wait until DS is ready?
I would. But then, I advocate that for every area--separation, weaning, potty use, reading, ect.
post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SagMom View Post
I'm not sure what your friend means by "he'll get past it." Does she mean he'll mature and be able to leave you or just that he'll stop crying?
I think my friend means that he'll get used to the place and will start to understand that I'm coming back soon and that he's okay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SagMom View Post
Could you get a mother's helper to come to your home so you could exercise with him nearby? Could you exercise while your dh has the baby? Would your mother or sister watch him? Could you put him in a sling or stroller and walk/run? If he still naps, could you exercise then?
Just so you're clear -- he's 3.5, not a baby. He's 40 pounds so I have a tough time even pushing him in a stroller, much less putting him in a sling.

I'm not arguing with you, but I'm wondering if you think there's a difference between a baby and a 3.5-year old in this situation.
post #4 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by New Mama View Post

I think my friend means that he'll get used to the place and will start to understand that I'm coming back soon and that he's okay.
I think he'll learn that you're coming back and that he's okay eventually, whether you push the separation or wait for him to be ready.

Plenty of kids are left before they're ready--I think parents need to weigh their individual situation and decide if it's worth it. The "he'll get past it" comment sounded dismissive to me though, which is why I asked.

Quote:
I'm not arguing with you, but I'm wondering if you think there's a difference between a baby and a 3.5-year old in this situation.
3 is still a baby, to me. Certainly not the same as an infant, but he's still so LITTLE.

Regardless of what you want to call him--(toddler? preschooler?) the behavior you describe would say to me that he still needs you to be there.
post #5 of 50
We went through something similar with Sunday school. Like yours, my ds had never been in anyone's care except me, dh and very rarely his grandma.

He gradually warmed up, and I never had to leave him upset.

Here are some points I discussed with him:
-He knows where I am, and that I will not be having any fun without him.
-He always has the option to go with me to church, but in that case he has to follow the rules of the big church, and wouldn't he rather stay here and play?
-Going home is not an option.
-If he needs me, he can ask the teacher to come get me, and she will. (She will actually buzz my cell phone and I will come get him.)
-If he stays in class the whole time, there's a snack at the end.

In the early weeks, it was touch and go. I got called back a couple of times. A few times I stood outside the door for a long while. Once I heard crying during the service, and snuck out to find it was somebody else. Since September, he's been enjoying it. It could just be a matter of simple maturity.
post #6 of 50
I'd wait until he's ready.

Why not focus more on leaving him with your family members who he already knows and loves? Once he's comfortable being apart from you with them, you can try again with the gym.

My DD is 3 1/2 as well. She stays away from me fine with DH, with my mom, sister, and a child care provider at church.

But she will not stay alone in sunday school even though we've been going since sept. I have been sitting in preschool sunday school with her since sept!

I could leave her and force her to deal with it, but I'm choosing to let her decide when she's ready. Rather than upsetting her and letting her cry or be scared or anxious, I'm choosing to wait another month, or two or how even long it's going to take.

They change so fast at this age, I wouldn't worry that he'll never be independent. He will be, in his time.
post #7 of 50
I started a long reply then realized that it's hard to say what I want to say....Here's the short version. I wouldn't do it. The difference between 3.5 and 4.5 and is huge. Between 3.5 and 5.5 beyond imagination.

My first 3.5 year old was over 45 pounds. I carried her in my oversized ring sling and bought a jogging stroller. For the price of a gym membership, you and your kid can run to the park, laugh and play there and run home.

Invite your friend along.

It doesn't last forever. It doesn't even last very long.

It's not worth the pain to the both of you.
post #8 of 50
This is just my take on it. My oldest (now 13) never went to a daycare but did attend a preschool for two years, and he had some separation anxiety in the "beginning" but after going for a week or two each year he was okay and looked forward to going after he got used to the 3x a week routine for 3 hours each time and being with the same kids.

If your son is only spending one or two times a week in this childcare and is there for a short amount of time with different kids or different caregivers each time then he may have a harder time getting used to it. My kids liked familiarity, the same kids, same teacher and had to stay for at least a couple of hours and go several times a week to get used to something.

My kids have always thrived on routine but just taking them someplace for 30 minutes here or an hour there and only doing it once or twice a week and being around different kids every time when they were little, nope, that was much harder on them. I took my oldest child to the YMCA a couple of times back when he was 3 years old and couldn't stand leaving him because it saddened him. He just didn't go often enough. That was around the same time I put him in to a preschool.
post #9 of 50
I would not leave him before he is ready either. IME...there is a world of difference between 3.5 and 4.5 in terms of being able to be left in a "class" or strange situation like that. My girls would have hated it and cried at 3.5. yet by the time there were a few months past their 4th birthday, they were both fine with it.
post #10 of 50
I tried, my kids hated it, so I didn't do it again. I thought about trying again now that they are older, but I like to work out for about an hour and a half, at least, and I feel bad leaving them there for that long. Not to mention that it gets expensive!

I go in the evenings after dh gets home, which is not ideal. Ideal would be if I got up at 6am to go to the gym, and was home by 8am when dh leaves for work. But all my adult life I've been trying to get up early to work out and it just doesn't happen. So evenings it is.
post #11 of 50
Is he crying b/c he is scared, sad, wanting you? Or b/c he wants to do whatever you are doing?
post #12 of 50
In the meanwhile, I wouldn't stop visiting the gym playroom with him. Go at the same time each time, so it's the same babysitter. Play with him in the room, chat it up a little with the babysitters (while letting them do their jobs, of course) and let him have some fun there. It might be he'd like it if he knew the folks and the kids.

Maybe go with your friend, so her child is there, and then he will know one other child. Usually it will be the same kids for certain classes. As he becomes familiar with the routine, the kids and and the babysitters, he might start to look forward to it and you could workout.

Humans like what is familiar and are fearful of things that are unfamiliar. Most kids need to see a new food many time before they feel comfy enough with it to taste it, and that also holds true for new experiences. I'd also show him around the club, where you are wanting to workout etc. Make it all familiar.
post #13 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by claddaghmom View Post
Is he crying b/c he is scared, sad, wanting you? Or b/c he wants to do whatever you are doing?
Because he's sad and wants me.

The teachers are the same every time, and so are a lot of the kids. My hope is to go three times a week for an hour, which to me seems fairly consistent and often enough to know the routine. I went today and stayed with him and he LOVED it. He didn't want to leave. I'm going to keep trying because he really does enjoy it there.
post #14 of 50
Quote:
I went today and stayed with him and he LOVED it. He didn't want to leave. I'm going to keep trying because he really does enjoy it there.
I'd keep on doing that. Try bringing a book with you so he can get used to not having your full attention while he's there. Once he's comfortable with you not paying attention to him, you might be able to duck out for a few minutes. Tell him you're going to the bathroom. Later he might be comfortable with you saying you're going to go work out for 15 minutes, and so on.

My gym kid care experience was that when I started going to the gym twice a week, DD suddenly started getting more viruses. So I'd stop going to the gym until she got better. Then as soon as we went back, she'd immediately pick up another virus. When I stopped using the gym kid care, but continued the rest of our (quite active) social life, she stopped getting sick. Coincidence? I doubt it. I hate to think badly of other parents, but I suspect at least some of them deliberately brought sick kids to the gym because they didn't want to skip their workouts.
post #15 of 50
I had the same experience as jplain. We used to get sick all the time at our gym in San Antonio. My husband finally said enough was enough and they let us out of our contract. I did however have an awesome experience at a Wellness Center in Mississippi. Everything was clean, they wouldn't allow sick children in the daycare, and the staff was awesome too.


I would definately keep going with him since he's having fun while you're with him. I would think that slowly he'd get more comfortable with you being gone for longer periods of time. My first two never showed any anxiety about being in the gym daycare but my youngest did even with her big brother and sister there to comfort her. So I stayed with her until she started to get comfortable. A little frustrating to get everyone all ready and get there and not actually work out but after a few times she was ready and actually enjoyed it. Except for the getting sick part:
post #16 of 50
I'm curious why you posted this on a homeschool board.
post #17 of 50
I used to work in a gym daycare It was a good job because I could take my son but I wouldn't have left him. Maybe it was the people I worked with and also the place wasn't so clean when I wasn't working.
post #18 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
I'm curious why you posted this on a homeschool board.
Because one of the reasons I want to homeschool is that I want to be there when my son is dealing with conflict or learning new things. And to a degree I feel like putting him in daycare is too much like a school situation. I was hoping to get input from other homeschoolers to see if they felt that way, too.
post #19 of 50
If you need a break (and I think it is very reasonable that you would) I'd consider preschool instead of gym child care. Gym child care at a lot of places is pretty bad for helping a kid make it through a transition because the routine isn't that predictable and the staff is always changing. My thought would be maybe put it off until the fall and look for a minimal developmentally appropriate preschool - co-ops are great if there is one in your area.
post #20 of 50
I'm going to be the voice of dissent here I guess. I put my son in the gym daycare almost 4 -5 times a week for an hour or slightly longer. He was upset a few times in the beginning and they would always call me. I would go in with him and find something to occupy him and then I would leave. I also was very friendly with childcare provider...I would be very chatty,etc. He did cry a couple of times but he got over it right away. He now really enjoys going to the gym daycare and I recently moved and brought him to a new one and he didnt even care.

Kids gets cold all the times, especially toddlers. No biggie. Kids cry sometimes when they have to go through an adjustment....I personally dont think it's going to cause long damage or anything. Happy mamas make for happy families...

Oh, I'm not a homeschooler though...not yet at least!
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