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Is Mom's Day Out Right for You?

Five Ways to Avoid Guilt and Eliminate Fears

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Mom's Day Out programs can help you add in some "me time" to your busy schedule each week. They also give your children the chance to interact, have fun and even learn.

As a stay-at-home mom, it's easy to feel guilty about dropping off your child to have someone else take care of her when you could be doing it yourself. However, Mom's Day Out can be a good thing for both of you.

When considering a Mom's Day Out program, here are five ways to make your decision easier:

1. Take Your Time
If you're struggling with the decision, now's a good time to take a step back. There's no rush to get involved in Mom's Day Out.

Just let some time pass and come back to the issue later. As long as the session for your child's age isn't full, Mother's Day Out programs generally let you sign up any time of the year. You're not limited to a semester-type enrollment like you would be for school.

2. Ask Other Moms
You're not alone in your feelings of guilt and concern. As a good mom, you can't help but wonder if you're doing the right thing for your child.

Talk to other moms online, through playgroups or chat with moms standing in line at the local grocery store. Ask if their children are involved in a Mom's Day Out program and, if so, which one.

Don't be shy about asking these moms how they made the decision to put their child in Mom's Day Out. They probably had the same concerns you do.

As moms, we love talking about our children and the ongoing challenges we face. Chances are slim you'll offend a mom by asking about her feelings.

3. Evaluate Your Current Schedule
If your main interest in Mom's Day Out is because you're worried about your child's socialization, take a look at what you're already doing on a daily basis. Are you involved in a weekly music class for children? Playgroup? Toddler gymnastics?

Everything you're already doing may be more than enough. If you're not quite ready to be apart from your child, spend the time on a playground, at the zoo or at your local play gym instead. You can also talk to your pediatrician about how much time your child actually needs to spend with other children at her age.

4. Visit the Mom's Day Out Location
You can't possibly make this decision without visiting the Mother's Day Out facility first. When you call to schedule a tour, make sure the person who will be watching your child will be there.

Many of your fears will disappear during your tour. You'll usually find children are in rooms, much like classrooms, based on their ages. Once you see children painting fridge art, playing with toys and listening to stories, you'll get a firsthand glimpse into how your own child will be treated.

Meeting the program director as well as who will be watching your child every week can help you decide if this is a place where you'll feel comfortable leaving your children. Ask them lots of questions. What are their security procedures? What happens if there's an emergency? Do they use corporal punishment?

Don't worry. You're not the first mom to ask these same questions. You need to know the answers and they understand.

5. Start with One Day
Most Mom's Day Out programs allow you to sign up from one day a week up to five for about four hours each day. Start slowly and take your child once a week.

See how you both like the time apart. You may be surprised at how you're the one that has more of a problem adjusting than your child!

If you're still feeling the mommy guilt, just remember, there's a reason it's called Mom's Day Out and not Child's Day Out. These types of programs recognize that mommyhood is hard and you deserve some time for yourself.

The good news is, you won't make a wrong decision here. What you decide to do will be right for you and your family.

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