Not everyone can afford to give up work entirely and stay at home with their children. Some of us need, or choose, to go to work. So when is the right time to return to the workforce? And how do you choose the right care for your baby or toddler? What should you look for in a child care centre? And why does the topic of child care seem to raise the ever-present issue of ‘motherguilt’.
When is the right time to start child care? There really isn’t a ‘right time’. Quite often the need for childcare isn’t about the development of the child, but the requirement of parents returning to work. *Melissa Bell *works full time and uses child care for her youngest daughter, Isabella. She does feel bad about placing her into childcare and feels that she suffers from ‘motherguilt’.
Dr Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, an early childhood educator, reminds us that full time working mothers don’t own motherguilt, all mothers feel guilt as soon as they become mothers, and that means while we are pregnant as well. She recommends that we don’t let the guilt overwhelm us and that we do the best that we can with the resources available to us at the time.
Children love being in a social situation and learn alot from each other. Remember that it’s the parents that feel the separation anxiety much more keenly than the child. Follow a regular routine to help make drop off easier for both of you.
Choosing the best child care is not easy, as we are leaving our babies in the care of others. There are many considerations: long daycare, preschool, creches, family daycare, nannies, grandparents and multiple care arrangements are all options. However they each have their pros and cons and obviously cost varies greatly.
So what do you need to look for when choosing a quality child care centre? Look at the centre’s policy, does the centre feel right? Are the staff empathetic? What is the staff to child ratio? Is it a stimulating environment? Are the kids happy?
Tracey Corbin-Matchett, mum of two and fulltime worker, has her mum as her main carer, which is great from her perspective, but it doesn’t come without some complications. For example, if her mother is sick she has to change everything and call on friends, change her work hours, call in sick and at times take her daughter in to the office.
A shortage of childcare in some areas means that you have to start the process of looking for childcare long before you need it. Especially the 0-2 age group who require a higher ratio of carers to children so it is not as cost effective for operators.
*Cathrine *suggests that we should all be working towards having strong support networks, which includes friends, neighbours, family and parents. In fact they are essential to any working parent.
The cost of childcare is prohibitive for many women returning to the workforce and they need to earn a lot to justify the cost of childcare. Sally Burleigh suggests that if you have two children requiring care, the cost of long day care is comparable with the cost of a nanny. Of course both have advantages and disadvantages.
It’s never too early to introduce your baby to new experiences and begin their informal education, says Dr Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett. Even while you are pregnant it’s possible to begin the interaction with your child by reading and singing to them. There are obviously many structured activities available for parents to do with their children, but there is no substitute for spending time with your child, talking to your child, playing with your child.
We live in such a hurried and competitive environment that many parents feel they need to hothouse their children. Cathrine says that psychologists recognise that developmental play is incredibly important to a child’s learning experience. In fact, 1 hour in play can be equivalent to around 5 hours in a structured and scheduled program.
Tracey’s children are not involved in structured programs but they have a varied day and learn through their experiences that they have in the garden, home and when they are out and about. Integrating learning into everyday life is easy to do; in fact you have probably already been doing it without even being aware.
Brett Osmond from the Huggies Book Club, thinks that a variety of books is critical to making reading fun and exciting, and the perfect vehicle for learning.
He says that children learn all sorts of things through reading a book, often without us realising, such as place names, different animals, emotions and feelings, colours and numbers and so many other things.
He shares a number of books with the girls on the couch, that are among the hundreds of other books available on the Huggies Book Club, all of which will help to encourage a love of reading and a great opportunity to teach your children new concepts and ideas.
You can have these delivered directly to your door and receive great member discounts as well; visit the Huggies Book Club to find out more.