To Socialize Or Not To Socialize.

I’m going back and forth regarding our decision to send Emory to school three days a week. My emotions aren’t to be trusted, however. Because a lot of how I’m feeling can easily be attributed to my fear of letting him go. But I know that some of my thoughts at the root of the situation are legitimate.

How important is it to socialize children early on in their development? Because, when it comes right down to it, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. I know I complain from time to time about not having any “Me Time” but that’s because I’m an awesome complainer (you know, like most bloggers). When it comes right down to it, I love spending my days with him. I’m just not sure he should be spending every single day with me.

Em doesn’t get a whole lot of interaction with other children. Sure, I bring him to the playground and I take him on walks, but it’s getting increasingly colder here and the weather keeps us (and others) from venturing out much. I have brought him to a place called Mamalu’s here in Williamsburg, but now that it’s cold, it gets way too crowded and the bigger kids make him uneasy. He also always seems to get a new cold every time we go.

About a month ago, Toby and I started talking about ways to get Emory around other children—not only other children, but the same children. That’s how we ended up signing him up for school. (Well, that and I complain a lot about having no life—pathetic.)

But he’s not even two! He’s 17 months old. That seems so young! Is he ready? I know I am not, but is he?

I keep coming back to the fact that I was at home with my mother until I was five or six. I had my older brother around and we are very close in age, but he didn’t have anyone before I was born. And he’s relatively normal. (heh) My younger brother was even further away in age (six years), and so he spent early childhood alone. (I think. But only my mother could answer this definitively.)

We probably went to church groups growing up (CCD and the like), but not at aged two. And I know we went to camp but, again, not that early. I reckon my mother had other mothers over and perhaps they brought kids close to our age, but that’s not really an option much anymore (especially here) because most families around here do not stay home with their children and instead hire nannies. Many of the nannies around here are Tibetan. They know each other and tend to stick together.

What I’m trying to say is that I know of only one local mom who stays home with her daughter. That’s not to say there aren’t more, but that’s been my finding. Every other local mother I know works. So playdates are difficult.

Both Toby and I feel that socializing Emory is important, which is why we chose a school. But are we doing the right thing? Are we being over zealous? Are we possibly pushing him too early?

How important is it to socialize these little dudes at a young age? What are your thoughts on the matter?


  1. Don’t forget that you will also be “socializing” his immune system. Yes, in the long term that’s a very good thing.


  2. Excellent point, Andre. Hadn’t even thought about that.


  3. I have three children. One who is almost 3, another who is almost 2 (they are 12 montsh apart) and a 2 month old. I stay at home with my children and they don’t get much socialization outside of our house. What I have noticed is that my oldest is much more shy than her sister. I think that this is in part due to her first 12 months when it was just the two of us. The second is very outgoing, not afraid to just jump into new social settings. While I will never know why they are so different socially, I do think that part of it is my oldest’s lack of early socialization. But it could also just be her nature.


  4. Megan: Funny, because I would say that I’m much more outgoing and a bit more (how should I put this) bitchy and bratty? Than my older brother. He tends to be shyer and much more introverted. He’s also a lot kinder and sweeter.

    Based on the two of us, I should cancel Em’s socialization. hahahhahaha

    I’d much rather him end up more like Rob than me—although, a mixture of the two of us might be nice.

    Maybe it is all kind of destined in the genes. you know?


  5. I agree with Andre – if you think he gets a cold every time you go to your neighborhood place, just wait til preschool! My daughter and I have been trading colds back and forth every few weeks since she started at her preschool 3 months ago. Yes, it’s good in the long term, but it sure sucks in the meanwhile.

    But, there’s no right answer to this question. There are benefits to both sides, I think, and it depends so much on your kid’s personality, and your own comfort level. Day care was a necessity for us but our kid was definitely ready for some socializing, as well as more challenging/interesting projects than I would regularly have thought to plan. at school she gets to paint and make big messes that i might be more reluctant to do at home, she gets to learn songs that i don’t even know, and she gets to make friends and form attachments outside of her parents. I think those are good things. But I’m sure there are lots of other things she would get by being home with mom or dad all the time that she doesn’t get at school. Like I said, there’s no right answer.

    One thing you could think of are those parent-toddler classes… our local Waldorf school has some, plus there are the active ones like gymboree or whatever. if you don’t feel the need to put him in preschool yet, you could just try to do more organized activities outside the home to get both of you socializing and trying new things.

    whatever you decide, good luck!


  6. Whatever you decide will be what is best. There are pros and cons to either of them. I think allot of it should be based on your childs personality. Jackson, my 7yo is they type that makes 10 friends within a few minutes of walking into a room. So we didn’t really need to do any school before Kindergarten. Dan on the other hand is opposite. He will play along side the other kids, but he doesn’t really play with them. He’s the type that will make 1 or 2 really good friends and that’s it. This is the reason why we have him in preschool 3 days a week. So it’s not such a big change for him when he starts kindergarten next year.


  7. We started Evan in daycare around the same age as Emory. The first year was rough for illnesses but every year since has been 100% better. He doesn’t get sick nearly as often, and when he does, it’s usually the sniffles for a few days.

    In our experience, the socialization has been wonderful. He not only does well with other kids, he is more respectful of adults and can sit and focus on one thing for more than 2 seconds. Even when he was just 17 months, he did really well and got into a routine in very little time.

    We’ve had to take him out of daycare full time in November (husband’s school schedule allowed him to stay home more, and our subsidy was cancelled) and he is starting up again tomorrow part time. He has been pretty miserable this last month because he doesn’t get the kid interaction he needs. I am hoping that he will be back to his old self very soon. He is starting Junior Kindergarten in September and he needs the structure in his every day life if he’s going to be successful there!
    (I know you have a long way to think about real school, but watch out! It sneaks up on you! We’ve had to pre-register him already!)

    Good luck with your decision!


  8. I should probably have mentioned this in the post, forgive me for being confusing. We are definitely doing this. We can’t back out at this point, not that we’d want to if we could. :] It’s paid for and he starts THIS WEEK! :]

    So, maybe I’m just trying to feel better about this? Hehehe


  9. You are doing the right thing. He isn’t too young and I think (based on your stories) that he will LOVE school and being around other kids.

    And it will be good for you, too :-)


  10. This is absolutely the right thing. My son has gained so much by being in daycare, and no, we don’t feel that they are pushing him at all. He plays with trucks, he crawls through tunnels, he scribbles with crayons, and he eats around a table with other little tykes (which is just the cutest thing eve). We have watched him as he learns how to deal with other children “taking his toy” and we have also watched him hugging other kids. All sorts of good things to learn. My husband and I truly believe that the time he spends away from us is time well-spent. When we go to pick him up, the other children all wave bye-bye, and when we drop him off, they all come running over to say hi and start playing. Matthew smiles the whole dang time.


  11. My son, Max, is the same age as Em and we started him in a Tues/Thurs morning class back in September. I went around and around about it in my head too, but it has been one of the best things we have done.

    I totally second everything Greta said about the projects/activities that I would probably have not thought of, or avoided. In addition to helping him do new things, the teachers have been a wonderful resource and I definitely feel like they have helped me be a better parent.

    FWIW, I was planning to go back to work while he was there, but realized that the 8 hours a week were better spent on me – so I could be a better mother to my son. I go to the gym, run errands he would hate and basically take care of me in the meantime (having lunch/coffee with a friend without a toddler is so much more enjoyable!).

    When I am with him the rest of the week, I am much more relaxed and able to focus on him, and we enjoy each other so much more.

    As far as socialization, I have noticed that Max is MUCH better at sharing than kids in his playgroup and I have to admit that he totally learned it from school. He has been in a playgroup with kids his own age since he was 4 months old, but school has taught him things that just playing along side other kids hasn’t.

    Good luck! I’m excited for you and Em!


  12. Here, I’m make you feel better about yourself: I don’t have a job and my daughter is signed up for full-time daycare. OK, let me qualify. I’m in the process of looking for a job (and start a two-week 10/hr per day freelance gig next week; hey, it’s a start!), and when a spot on the waiting list came up, we decided to take it. And this particular daycare only offers F/T, so she currently goes M-Th 9ish to 3ish (until I start this freelance gig) and we pony up the dough for the extra hours. No, we can’t really afford it but when we signed her up it wasn’t clear the recession was going to be as bad as it has been. So knock wood I get some regular work soon!

    In any case, it’s been a great experience. I enjoy our time together so much more and she gets socialized and worn out by the end of the day (and yes, a lot of colds). I felt HORRIBLY guilty the first few weeks (particularly b/c I wasn’t working) but I think the benefits justify the cost, especially if I can get enough work to off-set it. She loves her teacher, squeals excitedly in the parking lot when we arrive, and I get the total luxury of grocery shopping alone! (Hey, it’s the small things. My two big goals of getting a haircut and going to the dentist still remain on my to-do list.)

    Anyway, good luck! Can’t wait to hear how it goes.


  13. My parents started dropping me off at daycare when I was a mere 3 months old – my mom worked at a university and could come to breastfeed me during her breaks. I have never had difficulty socializing, but hard to say if that’s a function of genetic predisposition, the fact that I’m the youngest of three, or because I went to daycare from an early age. Many of my memories from childhood are related to daycare, actually – I think because the days were so variable (yet so routine!). I do have a knack for remembering people’s names and faces and I work really well in groups.


  14. Theya has always been very socially anxious around kids of all ages. Totally fine with adults, even strangers but would FREAK if another kid approached a playground that we had to ourselves and want to go home, even though she’d been having a blast. Shortly after we moved, I found out that a woman across the street (and down a few houses) ran a Day Home so I thought it would be good for Theya, while being convenient for us and let me get some work done. I’m SO glad I did. She was 2.5 yrs when she started and I am still amazed at how much she has changed. She loves meeting new kids now and isn’t afraid. She shares better and has WAY more self-confidence. I consider myself a fairly creative parent and try to come up with cool projects but it’s not the same as doing things next to other kids. She’s starting Play School this week since I think she’s ready for more structured ‘learning’ sort of play and also in hopes of preparing her for the crazyness of public school/kindergarten next fall. She’s a little apprehensive but also excited. A part of me thinks she would do better in a Montessori sort of environment but I also think that if she can handle the ‘regular’ system, then it makes everything easier (and frankly, less expensive) for everyone in the long run. If she has problems, I won’t hesitate to switch to Montessori.

    Sorry for the run-on but I’m trying to it down while Theya’s occupied. :)

    Good luck, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Like one commenter said, having time to yourself can help you be a better mom, too. I’m certainly more patient when Theya’s been at the Day Home and I’ve been able to accomplish more.


  15. I’m a little jealous actually! I am still at home with my E – ALL the time. The time to be a grown-up and do grown-up things like work will be nice. Maybe a little anxiety-ridden for a week or two, but overall good!

    Socialization is great. Glad you are doing it. See how it goes this semester/sign up period and if it isn’t working for the both of you, change your mind. It’s ok. You don’t need my permission. :)


  16. just remember to ask yourself:

    Who is Emory socializing with ?


  17. Well, I don’t know the babies personally yet, but I do know their parents are all Al Qaeda trained.


  18. I stay at home with our 18-month old girl, and I get little breaks to run errands and whatnot from my mom, but try not to take advantage of that too often. I’d love the idea of taking my daughter to our gym’s daycare for an hour or two, or to a school for a couple of mornings a week, but so far she won’t let me leave her anywhere without a massive meltdown. I’m hoping the separation anxiety improves enough for that soon. I have no advice, but a few questions. What kind of program will Emory be going to? How many mornings? Is it costly? I might begin to look for something around here, but really have no friends that have done this at such a part-time level. I think one friend had her daughter at The Goddard School (do they have those over there). Many have nannies, one has her kids at an in-home daycare.

    I think it will be nice for you to have a break and will probably benefit Emory to see other kids, play in different ways, etc. I know my daughter has loved going to Music Together (with me). Overall, I think it will be good thing for you guys. I’m a little envious.


  19. See, that’s the worrisome part. The only few times we tried to leave Em with strangers (at the gym) things didn’t go so well. After he realized we left the room, he had a meltdown and they had to come get us. It ended up with me watching him in the daycare while TJ worked out and vice versa.

    We will see how this goes. I do worry.


  20. Re: the meltdown possibility. We dropped Matthew off on his first day and left him for about an hour. Day two we dropped him off for about two hours. And then he was all nonchalant about us leaving, save for the occasional whine once in a very great while. Stay strong! ;-)


  21. oh yes, i’ll be honest about this, the first time we left our baby with someone outside our home it was tough for everyone. that was just sharing a nanny in someone else’s home, not a school setting. we were told that she cried for about an hour the first day. then she demanded a nap, slept for about two hours, and was fine for the rest of the day. each day after that got easier – by the end of the week there were no more tears.

    a few months later we started with the preschool and honestly, that went much easier. maybe because she was already used to being away from us more, or maybe because the school was just so exciting to her (new kids! new toys!) that she was easily distracted. the teachers were always very good too about holding her (so she’d feel safe) while we left and pointing out a game or toy to entertain her. she does still get upset sometimes (like today after 2 weeks of being with us full time for the holidays) but i know that she has a lot of fun while she’s there and will soon be back into the routine of it.

    also, there’s nothing as awesome as the excited “mama!” she yells when i go to pick her up. seriously, i think that time apart makes us both more excited to hang out together.


  22. Ellie is also a melt-downy type and she cried every single day for the first two weeks. But her teacher said she calmed down after I left (I would stay for a while at first) and then voila! just as her teacher said, the first day of week 3, she didn’t cry at all! Occasionally she still does, but it’s pretty short-lived and I know she’s in good hands. They adjust. It’s not easy (on us) but they do.


  23. Both Simone and Shep had separation issues when starting MMO and daycare. Simone was probably around Em’s age when she did MMO and she was great the first week. She went insane the minute we pulled in the parking lot the second week. Shepard cried almost every day for the first few weeks at daycare. He was probably 15 months when he started. Once they both adjusted, they LOVED going. I think it was especially helpful for Simone because she was incredibly shy around new kids. She didn’t even really talk to her play group friends.

    I will add that I think it is important to repeat the exact same routine every single day until he adjusts. Drop off at the same time. Pick up at the EXACT same time. Always have the same parent drop off or pick up. Repeat the same goodbye routine. Hug, kiss, tell him you love him and will be back and get out! The kids that seem to have the hardest time in the programs we’ve been in are the ones whose parents hover and don’t get out the door. It is torture for the poor kids! Stand in the hall and listen if you have to but get out of sight! I’m sure he will do great and you will enjoy the new freedom:)


  24. Anthony started daycare when he was 3 months old. It was simple! So, it was a rude awakening when he graduated to the toddler room and had a harder time with the drop off and was sadder to see us go. that was three months ago, and now he is happy as a clam. In fact he calls out the names of the children in his class in the car on the way to “school”. It is so, so sweet to see the kids play together. Yes, there is some pushing, his was bit once, but he is a jolly, fearless social little boy, and I think the early association with other kids his age has really helped shape his personality in a good way! Just remember – translations are HARD – for Mommy and baby – but this too shall pass…


  25. Gage has been in daycare since he turned 9 months, and it has been the best thing for everyone involved. He loves his friends and Mommy loves her job. It’s really a win win. He plays very nicely with other kids and actively seeks them out when we go to places like museums and parks. He willingly shares toys and will go up to kids who look sad and pat them on the back.

    I truly think it will be harder for you than it will be for him. Emory will love the interaction. Trust me.


  26. I’m all about the daycare. Mook started full-time daycare in a home setting at 5 months, then at a daycare centre at 15 months. I don’t have the option of staying at home and even if I did, I couldn’t hack it. I’m a better mummy when I have time to myself (ha!) to work.

    To be honest, she’s reminded me, at times, the importance of socialization. I needed to learn how to add such phrases as ‘This is my body. Don’t touch my body.’ and ‘You’re in my space. I need space, please.’ into my daily phrase-ology. Very helpful as I navigate the dating world.

    Plus, it’s just awesome to have those rare times to chat with her teachers and have it confirmed that she’s an awesome little kid. And, when she isn’t, that it’s normal and I’m not the only mum who wonders what my kidlet could fetch on e-bay.


  27. We started Henry at daycare MTRF when he was 17 months or so. I was home with him full time up until that point (then I started school full time myself). I was so worried and so sad. The night before he started was really, really hard. But he ended up liking it and now he loves it. His teachers made us a collage of his first day- eating waffles, riding a toy truck, etc, and all my fears went away. It’s neat to see him as his own person, with his own friends. And I enjoy my time with him so much more. He does better with family members watching him (doesn’t always need mommy and daddy) and he listens to other adults (getting his picture taken, gymnastics). The first year at daycare was hard with all of the colds and stuff he would bring home. Now, he rarely gets sick to the point it knocks him out.

    Bottom line is that it has been a really positive experience for us. Just make sure he is in a great daycare. Not a so-so one, not a good one, a great one. It makes such a difference if they are doing crafts and activities or if they are having constant free time and watching TV. Also really look at the ratio of teachers to students. This makes a huge difference in your child’s development.

    Good luck to you guys!


  28. Darn – I’m home full time w Henry who just turned 1, and there are a bunch of awesome moms and a couple of dads who are around full time.

    Too bad we didn’t hook up earlier.

    If I didn’t have these play dates, I’d surely lose it altogether. Henry too. He LIVES for them.

    So it sounds like school is the answer for you guys.

    But, if you are ever around on his off days, get in touch, we’ll “party” up a storm playdate style.

    Oh, and re being sick – I am now ARMED w baby wipes for germ infested, post-play little hands.


  29. Well, Emily is very social and she started last month going to the Gold’s Gym Kids room while we workout. (She is 2 on March 7th) We decided for social reasons and financial reasons to hold her back from preschool until age 3. With huge life changes getting ready to happen and not knowing the future…we have to. So I am very glad that she is so social at the gym and with her cousins (who are her age). I always wonder if we are making the right decision as well. I think you’re doing the right thing. (I feel your pain with the colds from other kids- we have experienced this already.)


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