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Day Care Helps Kids With Sad Moms

Child care helps depressed moms' kids.

The old saying “If mom isn’t happy, nobody’s happy” is true.  Mom sets the tone for the household.  So what if mom is sad all the time? According to a new study, about a quarter of the moms with 18 month-olds and one in five mothers of 3-year-olds show signs of depression.

Experts say children often show the signs of their parents’ distress.  Some act out by being hyperactive and overly aggressive, others internalize the feeling, take on their mother’s depression and sadness by becoming withdrawn.  In fact, children of moms who experience ongoing or recurring depression are twice as likely to act out and four times as likely to be sad or depressed themselves.  Click here to learn how to know if your child is depressed.

Often, these are moms who are at home with young ones full-time. They don’t take their children to day care because they believe it’s their job to watch them. Why waste money on child care when I’m home full-time, seems to be the consensus in many homes. But a new study says spending just a few hours a week in day care, especially if mom’s prone to depression, will help protects kids from developing behavioral and psychological problems.

CNN reports on the new study that looked at more than 400 mothers and their children in Australia.  Researchers found that if, by age 2, kids were going to day care for at least a half day a week, they were protected from showing behavioral problems by 5.

“Toddlerhood is a time when social interactions are very important developmentally. Mothers with depression may be less able to engage in social opportunities for their toddler. So child care may also help with socialization for toddlers of depressed mothers,” says study author Lynne Giles.

Not only does child care provide a different world for kids to play and explore and make friends, but it gives mothers with depression a break, which will ultimately help them better fulfill their parenting roles when they are with their kids.

“Mom gets a break and sometimes a little bit of break gives you some energy. It’s tiring parenting a child all day, and if you’re depressed even more tiring,” explains Nadine Kaslow, professor and vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University.

And it can’t be child care at grandma’s house. The researchers say children seemed to get benefits when attending formal child care, defined as from a child care center, nanny or family day care as opposed to care in the home of a relative or friend

Both my husband and I work from home and we will soon have grandma around to care for our 2-year-old.  Even though it’s expensive (and grandma works for free) I still plan to enroll her in day care two days a week because I want her to socialize, do projects and have a fun activity to do a couple times a week.  What do you think? Even if you’re a stay-at-home-mom, did you or will you put your child in day care for the socialization aspects and to give you a break? Or do you think day care is a waste of money if one parent is able to care for the children full-time while the other works?

Already a Bad Mom: The Stigma of Prenatal Depression

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