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Stress for parents

“Queuing early for before and after school care”

I’ve heard of some people queuing for a preschool place for their child, but I hadn’t heard of before and after school care having queues. I should add that the Bangor centre mentioned in this article is half the price of the care that I send my darling daughter to. No wonder it’s popular!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in children

 

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Working mothers – will the guilt never end?

Opinion piece here.

Like the writer of this piece, Amy Gray, I don’t feel ‘working mother’s guilt’. I may feel guilty about other things (like when I demonstrate poor language choices by swearing at other drivers in Canberra’s annoying traffic!), but I don’t feel guilty about working to earn money so we have a roof over our head. I’m a widow. I don’t have a big fat pension to lean on and we hadn’t paid off our house when DH died. Like my mother, I’m giving my daughter an example of how to work and how to be a mother, and that neither is a walk in the park, yet both can be enormously rewarding on many different levels.

My paternal grandmother was widowed young with two small children. She also worked and had support from her mother with childcare. I have support from paid childcare. Believe me, I appreciate the fantastic young women and men who run exciting activities after school. I couldn’t come up with that variety of activities (soccer, monkey bars, tag, cricket, craft, etc.) for DD and me to do on our own – some things need a number of kids to make it work. DD loves being with other kids. She’s extroverted and very sociable. Hence the endless cries for playdates on the weekend.

 

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Holidays approaching

Surely there are people who look forward to kids going on holidays? People other than teachers, I should add, given that I used to be a teacher and enjoyed the hols waaaaaaay more than the kids.

OTOH, as a working mum with no hubby to help out with entertainment of The Small Person aka DD, I have to really put on my thinking cap as well as calling in the troops for assistance.

DD is going to have a holiday interstate for a week without her mummy. Can you believe it? She managed OK in the June holidays and this time she will travel on the plane with her uncle, whom she adores. She gets to spend a couple of days with him and his wife plus the much-loved dog (feelings sort of reciprocated) and the chooks (chook poop is reviled). Then she goes to my mum’s place. I will fly there the next week to have a few days with Mum and then bring DD back to Canberra.

OK, one week down. What about the next week? Well, there is a long weekend for the second weekend in the school holidays. I am looking at what’s on at the National Gallery of Australia , National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of Australia, and more.

Next bit – Tues. 11 to Fri. 14 October. DD is a people-person. She is extroverted with a hint of shyness, rather like her mama LOL, and really, really needs to spend time with kids. I think I will take her to vacation care. She has been there before, she had lots of fun playing in the playground with the other kids, made new friends, made a heap of craft works, played with a Wii game for the first time ever, and apparently learnt about Angry Birds.

And the last weekend of the holidays. Hmmm. What shall we do? I think I’ll try to arrange a playdate one day, maybe a sleepover. On to the phones and e-mail!

ETA: This planning must be in the air! Go and visit the lovely Little Gumnut blog .

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Life Matters

 

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Our dads are better than yours

Yup, it’s official. 🙂

Go on, read the article. Thoroughly readable and you may or may not agree with the findings.

Here is the researcher talking about Australian fathers:

‘They do less than Australian women but they compare favourably to men in some other countries,” says Lyn Craig, a senior research fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW.

Australian fathers, her study shows, are run off their feet. Their long hours in paid work combined with their domestic labours means they work harder than Danish, French or Italian fathers and the same as Americans.

Mind you, Australian mums don’t necessarily have it easier just because many dads are more involved. Aussie mums spend more time on housework and children than mothers in all other countries, which sure makes for a looooong, tiring day. (See the blisters on my feet and my fallen arches, not to mention the delicate eau d’oignon behind my ears from frantic cooking.)

‘Intensive parenting seems to be a phenomenon of Anglo countries,” she says. ”Australian men and women -but especially women – spend more time with their children than do parents in the other countries, with only the US coming close.”

I am grateful that Dr Craig points out the reason for the inequality: it is

not because fathers do less childcare than fathers overseas, but because their wives do less paid work, and much more housework and childcare than elsewhere.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2010 in Academia, Article, children, the mummy race, women

 

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Parental Leave

Note: Not ‘mother’s leave’ or ‘father’s leave’. Choice for both.

Opinion piece by Lesley Cannold here.

The Government’s new employment standards are not just blind to persistent inequalities of gender, but to social class as well. As Labor knows, bearing and raising children is expensive. Add to this the soaring cost of housing, and few Australians have the luxury of having one parent not working for years at a time. Any government serious about offering the bulk of Australian parents real opportunities to care for their children would ensure that parental leave was paid.

Paid parental leave has been a political football for too long. Last month the National Civic Council took Tony Abbott to task for supporting maternity (not parental) leave, which it sees as part of a feminist conspiracy “to reward women who make feminist-approved lifestyle choices”. Conservative Christians are able to influence Labor as well – the party dropped its commitment to paid maternity leave from its platform before the last election, then flipped the issue to the neo-liberal Productivity Commission to rule on when it won the election.

Feminist conspiracy? Why wasn’t I invited? Where was my memo, or e-mail at the very least? Oh. Maybe there wasn’t a conspiracy at all.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2010 in children, Motherhood, women

 

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Is this my child? Or me?

This is one of the things that I hope is “a stage that they’ll grow out of”, rather like the 9 weeks of hell that DD went through last year while progressing through to a new, more advanced stage of speech.

DD has started slapping and punching. Not normal behaviour in this household. Sure, we’re loud and we wave our arms around dramatically (what do you expect from performers?) but violence isn’t OK. It’s not OK for me to slap my child though it has been very very very tempting and I’ve given in a couple of times when my smarter, more adult brain hasn’t kicked in fast enough. I know that slapping didn’t make me a smarter, more thoughtful, or quicker adult.

I was pinched yesterday on the arm (something I do not do to DD, or others for that matter!). Today I was slapped and I was thumped in the stomach. Again, out of the norm. DD was aggressive in her language and her stance and got to spend some time in a boring part of the hall until she and I calmed down.

No comments from childcare but I will ask how her behaviour towards other children and her carers are, rather carefully. I am going to find out if the aggro and cheekiness is generalised around her group of friends at this time of year, too. It’s easy to say that each out-of-the-normal bit of behaviour is due to her father dying and no longer being here but I am not sure that this is the full reason. Yes, she did say once today that she wished her dad was here. (So do I.) I do know that her peers are being really lippy and sassy right now, so maybe it is a conjunction of a developmental movement and her own reactions to this family’s changes.

Lord, grant me patience, the smarts to work things out, and friends to suggest good possible solutions.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2009 in Child Development, children, Motherhood

 

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The Mummy Wars and Childcare

In an article in The Australian today, I learned something new thanks to a government minister.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the so-called “mummy wars” between working and stay-at-home mothers ended some time ago.

“The thing I feel strongly about is that our system of support – whether it’s financial support or service-based, childcare for example – it does have to recognise that families are different and that we need to respond to their individual circumstances as best as we can,” Ms Macklin told The Australian. “We want to do everything we possibly can to support children, especially when they are very small.”

Dear Minister Macklin, the mummy wars have not ceased in real life. You might believe that thanks to policy and a rosy view of feminism that all us women are in it together and looking for the best way to co-operate.

Please remove your rose-tinted spectacles. The next battle has just begun thanks to the data shown in the above article.

Almost half of all stay-at-home mothers are using formal or informal childcare by the time their youngest child is two, based on new figures that debunk the old distinctions between working and stay-at-home parents.

How does the crabbiness start? Let me count the ways. It’s the mums in paid work who wonder why SAHMs need a day off, and the stressed SAHMs who need their own time out, just one day, please, to get to the doctor/dentist/supermarket. It’s the mums who are on their own, who need childcare for a full five days a week but are livid to find that spare places are used for an SAHM who wants time to run her own errands. It’s the SAHM who wonders why the working mum is mean and won’t give her a break, and maybe that’s because the working mum doesn’t spend enough time with her children and perhaps the working mum should budget better so that she doesn’t have to go to work during the golden, formative years of her offspring’s childhood. It’s the working mum wondering why the SAHM doesn’t want her children to mix with others.

Oh boy. I’ve heard all this. It gets much nastier than this (I’ve used the sanitised versions), and it is frequently irrational and incorrect, ends up in reductio ad absurdum and worse.

I’ve noticed that the dads don’t get into this debate face to face. Fear? Complacency? I’ve seen dads write plenty on the net at a safe distance where their anonymous faces won’t end up scraped by fingernails of either side.

I kinda wish the rosy feminism expressed by some brave souls really existed. The one where we would all support each other’s choices, whether it be to stay at home while a child is little, or to return to the workforce. The one where we would help each other, where we wouldn’t snipe at or judge each other, and where maybe, just maybe, we could rejoice in the wonder of living in a country where choices such as these can be made.

In the meantime, I’m looking for a bike helmet and a chest protector for the next installment of the mummy wars. Whichever side I’m on, I’m sure to be in the wrong.

 

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