SMH opinion piece on child care

[smh] Paid care for babies a pale imitation

The warehousing of children in the guise of “care” or, even more implausibly, “early learning” (“That means the blocks have letters on them,” joked one staff member I spoke to recently) is something more and more parents feel distraught about. The research is now undeniable that babies and younger toddlers do not thrive in child care.

Perhaps it’s time to start talking seriously to the government about making provision for better maternity / paternity leave. At the moment, we seem stuck – everyone knows someone with a child in daycare, and so no-one wants to say anything for fear of offending others.

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  1. I don’t know about the research showing that children do not thrive in childcare. It seems whoever wrote the the SMH piece is being a little selective in their “research”. It depends greatly on how many hours a week they spend in care and what sort of care it is, and what their home environment is like, blah blah. Alex has learnt heaps at care (both cognitively and socially) and loves going – I don’t think it has done her any harm and on the contrary has done her plenty of good. In terms of school readiness, I also think it helps, and it is getting harder and harder to find the old-fashioned type of pre-school which oly runs from 9-3 in the year before school, because the demand is greater for long day care. In any case, working mothers already often feel guilty about putting their children in care – something they often can do very little about, and blanket statements such as the ones made in the SMH above don’t help with the “mother guilt” we all feel from time to time.

    Having said that, you won’t hear me arguing about the need for better maternity leave. Maybe the reason birthrates are so low in this country is that poeple cannot AFFORD the children. How do you pay a Sydney mortgage (or even Sydney rent for that matter) and be a stay at home mum? How do you even afford to have a year off? Who will pay your mortgage or rent while your family lives on one income. Are babies destined to be an accessory for the rich or for the poor who at least have the government to help support them?

  2. More akin to Erika’s comment an recent quotes on mortgages in the media of late, it’s more like half of our household income goes into our (non-Sydney) mortgage as opposed to 1/3 (which has been reported lately) and we find that tough enough, it would be impossible in Sydney. To spin the record again I grew up in a very strongly anti-working-mother home and have suffered the guilt only working casually and wanting to pace out a career (in goodness knows what) later on. I am truly blessed with wonderful carers (both family daycare and a long day centre based care). If I didn’t put Sean in care I can honestly say I don’t know how I would have coped. I finally have admitted to myself and those close to me that I HATE staying home and ONLY do it because we can just squeeze by on one income and that I love my son. I hope the working mother bashing stops soon – I have seen way too many parents who are supposedly home with the kids neglect them almost totally to make it (mother guilt/bashing) in any way justified. While I’m on my soapbox, does anyone know of any supports out there for stay at home Dads/Grandparents? K 🙂

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