Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Who's going to look after the baby?

An alarming article in the weekend’s paper said some parents are waiting up to 2 years for places as child care centres scrap baby places. A new survey reveals 3 out of 4 long-day centres in Australia’s capital cities do not have baby vacancies and two-thirds don’t have any toddler vacancies. As a former nanny, perhaps the time is right to return to my previous occupation and make a motsa!
Sadly though, I have no intention of returning to work with children. I left that profession several years ago as I realised if I kept spending time with other people’s children, I may not want any of my own! Now I’m trying to have my own, the situation is all so different. In a perfect world, I would take 12 months off and return to work 3 days a week. But, given these figures, I’ll be lucky to find somewhere to send my child for those 3 days. So what does a family do when both parents need to work and there’s no where to send the children?

The situation is so dire that parents are being forced to quit their jobs, rely on grandparents or hire nannies. Quitting means money is tight, the grandparents are not always available and nannies can be expensive. The fact is, there are very few options available.

In my own city, more than 75% of centres don’t have vacancies for babies and 61% don’t have vacancies for toddlers. In terms of years, the babies are 6 weeks to 15 months and the toddlers are normally 15 months to 2 or 2.5. This means you’re flat out getting your child into care until they are at least 2 years old. Add to that the fact that many centres are closing their baby rooms down  because they are too expensive to run. I know we couldn’t afford for me not to work for 2 years. I wouldn’t leave my child with a nanny and my mother is now 62 and working herself so not available on a full time basis to baby sit.  

I think back to when I worked in childcare nearly 20 years ago now. It was a very different story. Non-working mothers were allowed to send their children 4 days per week just to fill the spaces. One director who was also the owner of the centre had to hock her jewellery on several occasions just to pay us. There was very little regulation of the industry and I learnt this the hard way when I had to dob in a woman for hitting the babies but she was then allowed to set up a family day care in her own home. Now, there is a lot more regulation, non-working mothers are lucky to get 1 day per week and working mothers are flat out getting anything at all. I’m dumb founded as to how it all changed.

When I was 5 weeks pregnant, I went and listed the baby at 3 different centres. One I could get on the waiting list, one I had to wait until it was closer to the baby going and the other didn’t accept waiting lists. At this point in time, you pretty much have to put the baby’s name down before you even fall pregnant! So, as we try to conceive a baby, I’m trying not to let this sad state of affairs worry me. I know we’ll get by with whatever our options are. But it does remind me I need to check my lotto ticket from the weekend! If my numbers come in, I won’t have to worry about it!

Image by marin
Courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

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