The Stress of Child Care

So there has been yet another report released to pile more guilt onto the working mother.  It’s a bit like shooting a sitting duck, no?  Can the media not give parents just a teeny break once in a while?

Apparently, detrimental long-term effects on your child’s health can be caused by sending them to nursery or to the child-minder.  Awesome.  So added to the list of separation anxiety, guilt, worrying whether you’re a good enough mum/wife/partner/employee, and general emotional upset that many working mums struggle with, is the knowledge that you have probably successfully inflicted some awful medical condition on your child, just by choosing to earn money in order to keep a roof over the heads of the family and food on the table.

I have problems with this for two reasons.

1. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!! ENOUGH with the constant reminder that mothers are terrible beings, that we pay too much attention to our children/don’t pay them enough attention; that we are too child-centred/we are too self-centred; all we talk about is our off-spring/we never converse with our off-spring; we are too attached to our children/we don’t care enough about our children.  Just, enough.

2. Although it wouldn’t make for salacious headlines or juicy stories or, indeed, interesting scientific reports (in fact, this would render them utterly redundant), but what about the balanced view?  You know, the view that goes something like, everyone is different, each child is different, each family is different, each circumstance is different?

I knew I had to go back to work from the moment I started to plan my maternity leave.  There was no question.  I’m lucky enough to work part-time, and with The Boyfriend working shifts, between us we get to spend a decent-ish amount of time with The Baby.  We are also lucky to have family close-by on whom we could count on for child-care.  But we decided early on that we wanted The Baby to go to nursery for a little time each week.  She is a sociable creature, she loves being around other children, always makes a bee-line for other kids if we are out shopping or at the park (all of whom are referred to as “Beeby!!” now) and likes to be constantly entertained and stimulated.  For us, the arrangement of a half day or a day at nursery each week works.  At first it was very difficult, but now she is used to the nursery and the staff and the children she is very comfortable there.  Comfortable enough to slap other children, apparently, but that’s another story.

For other children, nursery would not work.  For some, only family will do.  For some, dad stays at home to be the main child-carer, for some it’s mum, for others it’s full-time nursery.  The point is, whatever the situation, surely there has been enough discussion, enough thought and care taken to ensure that it’s the right choice for everyone involved?  Can someone not comment on this for once?  Can the media just leave the mother-bashing alone for a while, not pour guilt over every difficult decison we have to make, and just let us be?  Can someone just say well done, mums and dads of the world, you are all doing your best and actually, your best is good enough?  And can someone tell me how to stop a 13 month old from slapping all the other kids in nursery?

20 Comments

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20 Responses to The Stress of Child Care

  1. I’ve just picked a childminder for my little girl and she’ll be going there in less than two weeks now…I’m terrified, wish I didn’t have to do it but ultimately we have no choice and like you say, we don’t need to hear more about how much damage we’re apparently doing 🙁

  2. Well I spent years working as a child-minder, primarily so I did not have to go out to work, and I object to their comments that I had a detrimental long term effect on the health of the children I nursed, nurtured, educated, loved and played with…and treated them all as my own.

    You get bad stay at home mums just as you get brilliant working mums, we all do what we see fit for the long term of our family regardless of what that is or how it is achieved.

    My sister never wanted to be a stay at home mum and readilt admits she had a better relationship with her children because she still felt fulfilled in her chosen career rather than as she said “staring at 4 walls and talking baby talk all day…..where as I didnot want to leave mine and loved talking baby all day.

    My kids are no better or no worse a human being than their cousins and both sides will tell you they appreciate what we did and never felt neglected or smothered.

    you carry on doing what your doing and shove the rest of the world.

    • Exactly my point; one thing doesn’t work for everyone! I am sure that, like you, there are child-carers feeling a little slighted by this report as well as working parents. Thanks for your comment x

  3. Sod the media and their mummy bashing when it comes to putting our children into nursery – one day they’ll realise their mistake when mummies rise up and take over the world then we’ll be smug ! …hang on maybe that was just my dream last night…
    I think the point to remember is that whether you put your child into childcare to go to work or just to get a day to yourself that you are the one making the decision, for your family and yourself. Who better to know what’s best for your family ? Certainly not that child Benefit snatching David Cameron !

    • Well said!! I am quite certain that most families do their best and make decisions that are best for the family as a whole, and I just get sick of hearing how wrong we all keep getting it. I like the Mummy World Take-over though…could be enlightening!x

  4. I can feel your frustrations jumping out from the blog but you are absolutely right, each and every familys circumstances are different and should therefore, be treated with individuality! It sounds as if you have a great balance for your litte one but it isn’t easy! I am a mummy now but many years ago I was a ‘London Nanny’ and my charge who has just turned 16 this year is one of the most sociable, vivacious, intelligent girls I know and yet, she spent many years with nannys and au-pairs. Time with children isn’t about quantity but quality. Remember that!!

    • You’re so, so right. It is about quality over quantity, and, apart from the days when The Baby screams her heart out at being left at nursery, I feel like we have the balance just right for us, and it works for our family. Thank you for your thoughtful comment x

  5. Well said! I felt like a terrible mum earlier this week, the day before F went to her new childminder. I was so worried she would scream when I left her (which she did) and that it wasn’t fair on her because it’s not a regular thing (I work freelance so don’t do regular hours) that I got myself into a bit of a state. Needless to say she was fine and I enjoyed the day too. Children are resilient. As parents all we can do is love them and be there for them when we can. That’s what I think anyway.

    By the way, did you see this article in The Guardian earlier this week?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/11/childcare-parenting-neuroscience-nurture

    Just goes to show for every study, there’s another claiming the opposite is true.

    • I’m so mixed up about it because on one hand I want her to go to nursery, to get used to being around other children and people who aren’t family memebers, so that she develops her confidence, but on the other hand I feel like a bad mum for shipping her off while I go to work! It’s my problem, really. But thanks for that article, at least there are some balanced, non-critical views out there!x

  6. Ahhh take no notice – the media seem determined to make all mums feels guilty for something. I am a stay at home mum and I have started putting the telly on sometimes as a bit of a helping hand for entertaining Iyla (13 hours is a long time to sing and play games!) and apparently this is going to result in her being ‘fat, stupid and target for bullies’, I mean really, it’s just ridiculous. As long as your little knows she’s loved the that’s all that matters. Haven’t got to the hitting stage yet but I think it is quite a normal thing to go through…Iyla is still just attacking me with her super scratchy nails! x

    • I’m sick of it!!! Just lay off the bad decisions that mums make daily, and let us do what we feel is best!
      This hitting/biting/pinching is really starting to bother me now. We keep responding with a firm No, but she pays no attention! Will have to ask Twitter for advice, I feel! Being scratched with tiny sharp nails is v painful. I cut The Baby’s nails regularly, having had my face torn to shreds!x

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