Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who "cares" for your child?

Ok, so today's announcement of the imminent closure of 19 ABC Learning Centres made headlines across the country. I'm not going to get into that - apart from saying I think it could have been a whole lot worse.

What I'm really interested in is the resulting war of words on between stay-at-home parents and those who have chosen (or been forced) to return to work after having children.

If you've read recent posts, you'll know that I'm a bit of a mixed bag. Olivia (2.5ish) goes to "school" three days per week while Sophia (8-ishmonths - 6 months corrected) stays home with me...but she'll go to school once she's well enough.

We made the decision to leave Liv in care a few days a week pretty much as soon as we found out we were pregnant with our second child. Why? A combination of factors: first and foremost, she LOVES it. Give her four days at home with me and she's sooooo ready to get back to her friends. And she learns so not even three she can count to 20, recite the alphabet and interacts beautifully with other children.

Secondly, I wanted to have the opportunity to do some things with Sophia that I'd done when Liv was a baby (i.e. gymbaroo) and to spend some one-on-one time with her. Lastly, it gives me a bit of time out a few days a week. It works for us.

But getting back to the issue at hand...I understand that the decision to put your child in care, or stay home, is a divisive one...but I wasn't prepared for the venomous outpouring on Here's just a small sample:

"All you parents out there that so casually throw your children into child care places, I have got news for you - you CAN afford to stay home to look after your kids. I don't care about all your lame excuses about mortgages and so forth. If you can't afford a bloody mortgage then rent. If you can't afford new furniture then buy second hand. You are all full of BS and it makes me sick to the stomach. By the way, I don't live an extravagant life style. You want to know why ??? Because I am a stay at home mother and I want the best for my children. Putting them in a child care centre is NOT THE BEST. Wake up !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

...and one response

"Get a life. I choose for my daughter to go to daycare as I believe she needs more in life other than me & her father, not to mention that my husband & I also need a life of owr own. I love my daughter more than anything in this world & resent the fact that you would think different of people who you have never met. By putting her in a loving educational day care centre, she is learning values and social skill, which you obviously haven't yet accomplished in your pitiful little life."

Strong stuff, eh?! So where do you stand on the issue of child care? I'm firmly in the "individual circumstances, individual choice" camp. Share your thoughts and, if you're interested, read the 100+ comments on There are some absolute doozies.


Fiona Dixon said...

Wow its always been a hot topic and I suppose always will be. Im a bit like you. I think it comes down to each family making a choice on what is right for them.
My son now 8 only went to preschool 1 day a week in the first half of the year and 2 days in the second half of the year. We did have a personal carer who came to our home once or twice a week in between the start of my husband's shift and the end of my shift. The reason for that was ...for the little time our child would spend in child care it wasn't worth it and I had trust issues putting my child into somewhere I had no ties too.
My second child came along and she was born almost 13 weeks premature. For the first 2 and a half years she was only with myself, my husband or my mother(who lives 8 hours away so that wasn't very often) I finally made the break and put her into a preschool for 2 days a week 8:30-3pm. This is great becasue she has grown her social skills and her educational skills too. It gives me time out to work from home and to get a few hours to myself. This only happens during school terms.

I think we all have to stop judging each other on this issue. It is a personal decision to work or to stay at home so I think we need to support each other rather then shooting each other down.

I would like to say also that I think its great that Mission Australia is going to take over the ABC Child Care Centres.

Kate Beddoe said...

Thank you for the blog, I discovered it through Facebook and I'm really enjoying it.

I completely agree it's time for mummies to stop being so judgemental. Like you, I went back to work between my two babies and it was a rare day that I felt I was doing either role right.

Now, I've got Harriet at home and Callum doing two days in childcare which is working for my family, which is all that matters. We're all capable of beating ourselves up no matter which path we choose. Even so, I know we don't need other mums, who you'd think we'd be able to count on for support, making us feel bad for our decision we can do that all by ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Ditto Fiona! I'm so over the judgement on this issue. My girl's in childcare 3 days a week and it really works for her and us (mum and dad).

I can't believe some of those comments on !

Barb Fisher said...

Isn't it funny how everyone has such strong opinions on this topic? It's like once there are children involved, it's a licence to let loose and cast judgements every which way people can. This is my best stab at working out why this is so:

Nobody REALLY knows what the hell they are doing.

This child rearing business is far from an exact science, and let's face it - we are all flying by the seat of our pants, winging our way down life's highway and hoping like hell we don't f*#k up royally in the process. So maybe to feel like we are just somewhat slighty in control, we criticize other people's actions to justify our own choices in our own minds. Each of us can only do what we feel is best for us, our children and our families as a whole. What works for some doesn't always work for others.....and thank christ for that. What a big old beige coloured bucket that would be.

For me, I look to my own childhood and the life that my mother and father worked hard to provide us with as a guide. I couldn't have asked for a happier, more loving and a more stable and secure environment to grow up in. If I can replicate that, then I've struck gold. My mum stayed home with us and Dad worked hard, six days a week, to make that doable. I feel that foundation of having mum at home for the first 5 or 6 years of my life was the most important thing of all in shaping me as a person - hence I have made the choice to do the same with my little girl. But that is my choice, for me and my family....and I am certainly not naive or arrogant enough to presume that I know best and that this would work for everyone. Each to their own I say. Let's support each other's choices and have more confidence in the ones we make for ourselves.

Aneets said...

Once you become a parent you realise that there are always two 'camps' regarding every issue related to kids and parenthood that you can think of.

I think this is seriously a personal choice, what works for each family is what is best.

I wish women could just support each others choices in life!

Rowe said...

I'm a staunch stay at home full-time mum planning to put my girl into kindy next year for two days purely for social contact reasons. She will be three and I believe it will be good for her. I reckon she would go there happily tomorrow, but mum is not ready for that. I am grateful I do not have to go to work and I do understand that other parents have their own reasons what they will choose for their pre-school-aged children as far as whether to stay at home or go to work. I have learned that is their business, not mine.

bugmum said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments - I think the general consensus here is that no size fits all...and that, as women, we should support each other no matter what we decide is right for us!