In an ideal world, we would all have partners who made enough money to support the family and it’s growing list of
necessities luxuries. In an ideal world the dads would go to work at 8:30am, come home at 5:30pm, dinner would be on the table, the kids would all be bathed and put to bed by 7:00pm. In an ideal world mums would stay home with their kids until they started school, at which time they would drop them to school, do the grocery shopping, go home and prepare dinner, do the laundry and clean the bathrooms before picking the kids up from school and coming home to cook said dinner. In an ideal world no child would have to be “dumped” in daycare.
But guess what? It’s not an ideal world. It’s far from it, in fact. Wages don’t keep up with inflation. Families struggle to get by on 2 incomes, let alone 1. There is a very real need for daycare, and from my perspective, we’re fortunate to live in a country that tries to make it affordable.
I just read a blog on the New South Wales Association for Gifted and Talented Children that says mums should stay at home with their children until they are 4, as that is what is best for them. It also says: “Rule 2: Send your child to a community preschool (not day care) when he or she turns 3. With all the talk about early childhood teacher shortages, you will find that there is no shortage of early childhood teachers at preschools. Why? Because teachers love the short hours and the exciting atmosphere created by the fact that preschools are for the children. There are hardly any unhappy children at preschool, it’s a treat, and they love it. Day care, on the other hand, is there to support working parents. The kids know it and the staff knows it. For teachers, day care is hard work, and for kids it is compulsory, with the result that someone is crying somewhere in the centre on most days.”
This statement gets my back up for all kinds of reasons. My son started daycare 2 days a week when he was 16 months old and I went back to work part time. I did this because I was going slowly insane (later found out it was post partum depression) and the extra money also helped around the house. We probably could have kept going with me not working, but a $10 bottle of wine was a luxury and something I didn’t have often. We were barely keeping our heads above water. Working part time seemed like a win-win situation all around. I got socialisation, Nick got socialisation, we had a little bit extra money every week to be able to afford some luxuries here and there. The statement above offends me because it insinuates that working parents 1. choose to work rather than stay home (for many people there is no “choice” be it for sanity or financial reasons) and 2. that working parents don’t care who they drop their kids off with and the carers don’t particularly care to do their jobs, either.
The carers at Nick’s first day care centre were outstanding. I’m still in touch with a couple of them on Facebook today and they still show an interest in Nick’s activities/school/etc. The centre Nick currently goes to is Montessori based and he has come on in leaps and bounds since he started there 16 months ago. Both places have been great for Nick, and if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have continued to send him there. They’ve helped him make friends, helped develop motor skills and social skills. And he loves going. It also means I get to work 3 days a week, and again, we can afford things like family holidays, a newer car, little luxuries that make life that little bit easier.
I think an ideal world would be one where our decisions as parents aren’t criticized around every corner. As for what is best for our children, well that is different in every situation, isn’t it? Each child, each parent, each day care worker is different. What’s best for our children is that they feel safe, they are loved and they are cared and provided for. As long as we ensure that is happening, how can we be doing wrong by them?