Sunday, 24 May 2015

Stay at home mums.

It is such a precious time when your children are small. Each day is a new adventure. Each day you watch them learning something new. And each day, you learn something new yourself. Such a precious time.

And yet, it has become the norm for young mothers to resume work as soon as possible. Tiny babies are in childcare while the mother works.

When Women's Lib was becoming big in the 60s, we fought for the right to have a paid job as well as children. I don't think any of us imagined that we'd wind up almost being compelled to return to work just weeks after a baby was born.

But so many are compelled, and some only feel as if they are compelled.

Money. It almost always takes two wages to pay off a mortgage or simply to pay the rent. And even if there is a maternity allowance, it usually ends after six months. This is unfair. This is how it is.

Career. A  new mother learns so much in the years she stays home and looks after children - from time management to researching schools. And yet potential employers are reluctant to employ someone who's been out of the workforce for a period of years. It's as if they think they do nothing in those years, while they probably learn more than their colleagues who stayed at work. Taking several years out of developing a career almost always  limits that career. This is unfair. This is how it is.

Prestige. Stay at home mothers are looked down upon. Every now and then, there will be a condescending article about the value of their work, maybe how much the equivalent work would be worth in the market, but no-one quite believes it.  This, too, is unfair. This is how it is.

Boredom. Some new mothers swear they'd be bored out of their minds if they stayed home with their baby. I wonder if they would. Work is not the only stimulation available to a person, and a lot of jobs are not at all stimulating.  If a women truly wants to work, then, of course, she has the right. But sometimes, I think she might be only saying that, the same as people say they watch mainly documentaries on the ABC and not 'The Bold and the Beautiful'  on Channel 10.


So what is bad about returning to work when your child is still very small?

1. The mother. It is far too precious a time to waste. It is so fleeting, and all the rest of your life, you are likely to regret missing too much of these precious years.

2. The mother again. It is too much to expect every women to be 'superwoman.'  To work a full day and come home to do another few hours work, and then be kept up half the night by a crotchety baby - and then to get up, get the baby ready for childcare and go back to work... It makes me tired just typing it. It is not fair to expect a mother to work so hard. It is not fair on the mother and it is not fair on the child or children, who have the right to an unstressed mother.

3. The baby. Small babies in childcare tend to get sick far too often  - seven or eight colds a year, conjunctivitis, stomach upsets, in short, anything infectious. They are exposed to so much more sickness than a child who is home with their mother.

4. The child. Workers in childcare have little investment in trying to ensure a child learns reasonable behaviour. They also have fewer options to discipline - usually only whatever is the latest ineffective fad devised by some psychologist somewhere who once knew a child. But a parent will live with that child until he grows up. They have an investment in that child, and it is a lot easier to live with a reasonably behaved child. And you know what? A sharp smack to a child who bites is very effective. At childcare, they are not permitted to smack. A biter stays a biter, while other children get bitten.

What is good about childcare when your child is very small?

Full-time childcare?  Almost nothing.

Occasional childcare?  A mother needs a break now and then, a day every week maybe, or two half-days in a week. Just time to do something for herself. It is important, though if there's a willing grandmother around, that is probably a better option than formal childcare.


What is good about childcare when your child is beginning to grow up?

By the age of three or four, a child is looking for new experiences and will benefit from being with other children, and from the activities the carers provide. And yet, even then, a couple of days a week, and maybe not all day, is preferable.


No, I really do not want to go back a hundred years or so when women had a dozen children, worked very hard, and only rarely earned money outside the home.
But women should have a choice, and not one dictated by economic necessity.
And if you are thinking of returning to work merely in order to gain a few luxuries, think again.  You are missing too much, and so are your children. 






No comments:

Post a Comment