Lots of parents (mums, in particular) can be made to feel guilty about returning to work before their child starts school. I was recently faced with making this tough decision, and I thought I would write a post about it to help any other parents out there who are struggling with the prospect of putting their little one into day care.
Recent national studies suggest children who are put into day care at an early age are more likely to exhibit signs of developmental delay and behavioural problems, including frustration and moodiness. This is scary news for the millions of mums and dads out there who can’t afford to stay home full-time to look after their bub. But is there really a need to panic? Should you quit your job right now so you can be home 24/7, there to witness every grazed knee and temper tantrum?
First of all, let me assure you this is just findings from a selection of studies. There are plenty of other studies out there that have shown children can thrive in day care, or that it makes little difference to their psychology whether they are in day care or not. And this particular study found that, on the bright side, children who attend day care are more sociable and outgoing. That’s a definite positive, right? But I’m no child psychologist. I’m here to talk about the practicalities of being a parent and how I reached the decision that I felt was best for my family.
My mum was a stay-at-home mum, and she was amazing. She did everything: cleaned the house, washed our clothes, made sure we were fed, listened to our problems, took part in fun and educational kids activities with us... the list is endless. Unfortunately, Sydney house prices have soared since I was a youngster, and it wasn’t financially viable for me or my husband to give up our job to be at home with our kids.
I know that if I was at home, my children would miss out on so much: family holidays, eating out, taking part in expensive extra-curricular activities... again, the list goes on! I also know that if I was at home and we were financially stretched, I would be very stressed and this would surely impact my kids. Instead, I have chosen to use a large portion of my income to pay for quality child care for my little ones. Their day care centre is great – the workers are warm and knowledgeable, and my kids are given plenty of attention, love, and education.
But I also have friends who have made it work. Even though living on a one-parent income is difficult, there are some savings that come from not working – just think how much working parents have to spend on child care, travelling to work, buying corporate clothes, and eating out! At the end of the day, every parent has to make the decision for themselves. If you love work and can’t imagine giving it up, then you probably shouldn’t: it will hardly be great for your kids having a grumpy, unfulfilled parent around all the time! But if you really want to be home, and think you can manage financially, then give it a go!
If you’re looking for a great child care centre of kids activity, check out the ActiveActivities Directory.
Bec is a married stay at home mum who spends most of her time sorting out the chaotic lives of her two daughters, Jessica (7) and Tessa (3). When she’s not carefully coordinating her kids’ outfits, or addressing their notoriously complicated culinary requirements, she likes to share in the busy lives of other parents. After devouring mummy blogs for years, Bec decided to start blogging from her Cape Town home last year. She hopes her experiences will inspire other parents and help them feel less alone when things get tough.