Sunday 11 December 2016

The cost of farming out our kids so we can work

Published 06/12/2015 | 02:30

GUILT RIDDEN: Some mothers are wracked by guilt at leaving their child to be reared by somebody else. Picture posed by models
GUILT RIDDEN: Some mothers are wracked by guilt at leaving their child to be reared by somebody else. Picture posed by models

We obsess about making childcare more accessible, but why don't we figure out how to spend more time with our kids instead?

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It's that time of year, isn't it? Any of you who are the parents of young children will have experienced the inconvenience of a sick child recently. I use the word inconvenience because, sadly, that is the first thing many of us think of these days when we discover we have a sick child. Obviously, you are sad to see your child feeling poorly and you want to look after them. But the overbearing issue for many parents when a child is sick is not the well-being of the child but the fact that the child will need to stay at home from creche or school, causing knock-on effects for work.

In most households where two parents work, a sick child is still the mother's problem. And if she is a working mother, her first thought will be for work. And it will not just be about whatever she has to do in work that day. It will also be about perceptions. A working mother worries that missing a day in work because you have a sick child feeds into a perception that she's just not up to it any more, since she went away and had children. Her brain is gone to mush. She's lost her focus. She can't be relied upon.

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