Flexibility for Parents who use Childcare 5

Toddler locked in van in Templestowe for hours – Education – News – Manningham Leader

This recent incident at a childcare centre in Victoria deeply disturbed me.

The negligence of the childcare centre, its staff and the worker in question are abhorrent, and while I can’t even begin to imagine the trauma this has inflicted on the toddler, my concern lay with the foundations of care for our children.

I started thinking about the inevitable feelings that the mother would face. Perhaps she felt anger that she had to rely on someone else who hadn’t cared for her child the way they ought to, or anger at the situation, which limits options for parents who rely on external help to support their family’s needs.

Society still hasn’t been able to adapt and keep up with the needs of mothers, making us consider options when we can’t have it all; be a parent, have a career, and our own lives. 

Women are forced to consider their options for care often when they resume full or part time professional work after the birth of their child. Motherhood is often not considered as its own career whose time requirements often can conflict and compete.

Why isn’t it possible for women to have both careers? Why should one be sacrificed for the other?

I have been faced with this decision recently when I requested to return to professional work part-time, due to not having the close proximity of familial care to care for my children. I was told that the request for reduced hours could not be met, forcing me to consider paid child care.

The other option is for me to resign, temporarily placing my career on hold. 

Instead of focusing on adapting to my employers requirements, it is time that the workforce began assessing their policies for parents. 

The culture of face time in an office is one that should be reconsidered in an age of video conferencing, remote office access and growing technology, yet it is still considered by employers that seeing employees at their desks past 6.00pm leads to greater productivity. 

A seminal study of 527 U.S. companies, published in the Academy of Management Journal in 2000 found that amongst industry peers, “organizations with more extensive work-family policies have higher perceived firm-level performance.”

There are some eastern cultures that allow women to work with the ease of keeping their children close-by. This could be an alternate option available for mothers returning to work.My husband has also considered becoming a ‘stay-at-home-Dad’ or commencing part-time employment while I returned to full-time work. However, the support available from employers for fathers seems even less encouraging!

Options are great, but firstly employers need to recognise that working parents should not be forced to rely on someone else to care for their child.

It is time that the workforce adapted to the needs of both parents and most importantly on the needs of children.

About Dinethra Menon

Dinethra Menon is a freelance medical writer based in Sydney with over a decade of medical communications expertise. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne and a post graduate diploma in genetic counselling.

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5 thoughts on “Flexibility for Parents who use Childcare

  • H N

    This is an important issue that you raise. Australia is very slow to catch up on the idea that a work and family balance is improtant for productivity. We live in a digital era of wireless communication yet we behave as if we need to sit in an office to work. A balance is required for the mix: the employee should have the opportunity IF possible in their line of work to spend time between home and office. Flexible working hours should be encouraged and this will lead to less burden on poorly staffed child care facilities. These places have an important role to play but obviously are stretched due to demand. The reflection of this incident shows that child care facilities will take anyone to do the job, and it only takes one bad egg to cause misery for a whole family.

  • HouseAndHomeTidbits

    The article was very disturbing. I can't imagine that poor child, not to mention its mother. It shows us that no matter what, no child care (paid or unpaid) compares to the care that a parent can give. I have noticed a greater prevalence of stay-at-home mothers here in the US and while yes lower cost of living could quite well explain why this does not happen as much in Australia, it is sad that mothers over there cannot even contemplate the choice due to finances, and career motives. I wish women had a greater choice in deciding if they do want to stay at home or if they could return to work (in whatever capacity). I don't think there is any solution. My only opinion is really that it is really important for children to be at home with a loving caregiver in those early formative years. Paid childcare just never compares.