A Lot On Your Plate?


Let’s talk about child care.  Children. They are everywhere. Have you seen them? Cute little babies who need lots of love and care for many years, in the arms of parents who have lots on their plate.  Naww. I love kidlets.  I have three really good ones.

Now, as much as we all love our babies, sometimes we need to go and do other things. I’m not talking about holidays in the Bahamas or mani/pedis (although those are good things too.) Nope. I’m talking about basic things like going to the doctor, attending appointments or earning a wage. Quel horreur!   ‘Earning money?!  Gazooks!  But you’ve got a BABY!’

When parents need to do these things,  mani/pedi/doctor/work, as much as they may want to take their babies or leave them with a beloved friend or relative, it’s not always possible.  Then these parents need Child Care.  If they can access it or afford it.  And all indicators are that it may be easier to spot a Womble on Wimbledon Common than it is to secure affordable child care close to home.

Let’s start with the facts.  Everybody deserves to have the choice to work. If you decide to have children, this does not mean that you forgo your opportunity to work. Whilst shared parenting is on the increase, child care usually falls on the capable, yet often exhausted and financially stretched shoulders of women.  (But not always because some fellas DO stay home to care for their kids.)  Women deserve to have options. Parents need to be able to choose to work or to stay home…. or to do both.  We each get to make our own choices about how we live. This is not a cult.   We are not sister wives.  We do not wear prairie frocks and sit about braiding each other’s hair all day.  Nope.  And even if we do, we have the right to choose to braid.

If we choose to stay at home through those early years, it’s because we love our children A LOT.  And if we choose to work, we also love our children A LOT.  Working parents do not  love their children any less. Get your head around it. It’s true. We all love our babies, stay at home or out at work.  And we all deserve the option to share our kids’ care if we need to or want to.

Let’s consider some more facts.  Child care is unaffordable.  Rents and mortgages are unaffordable too, don’t you agree?  Doesn’t it tick you off?  Yes?  Despite what some may say, having  a mortgage does not mean that you are a wanky property speculator with golden teeth and shiny pants.  It is more likely to mean you need a roof over your head and are trying to invest in a future for your family so that they may be financially independent at some point.  Having to pay a hefty rent does not mean you are living beyond your means, drinking champagne in your spa all day and feeding your baby caviar. No. It actually just means that you live in Australia and have chosen not to squat in a dumpster (perhaps the only affordable housing option in Australia currently.)

Did you know that the cost of living in Australian cities is higher than it is for London, Hong Kong or Rome.  If you live in Sydney your cost of living is 50% higher than it would be in NEW YORK.  In the world rankings, Sydney came in at 7th most expensive and Melbourne 12th. Smaller Australian cities didn’t rank much better in the affordability stakes.  It costs A LOT to make ends meet if you live down under.

Now let’s consider this.  According to research by affordable child care advocate Make Care Fair, 50% of parents would increase their hours of work if care was more affordable.  So that means half of parents are not happy with their current arrangement and may be under financial or emotional stress because of it.  That is really not cool.

Formal child care costs between $70 and $130 per day in AU, with some parents receiving Child Care Benefit (thus reducing the fees by up to 50%.)  But sadly not everyone is entitled to reduced fees, and not everyone can get into child care in the first place.  There’s simply not enough care available for the burgeoning kidlet population and, in some centres, the demand pushes the prices up up up.  In New York parents pay around $200 a week for full time childcare. I looked it up.  In Australia that might buy 2 days. Gosh.  (Move to New York with me?  We can go to delis and do break-dancing and stuff?)

Let me tell you something else, in case you are about to tell me you don’t want your non-childbearing taxes subsidising The Breeders: For every AUD$1 the Government spent on childcare, the Government get back AUD$1.86 in revenue from improved workforce participation rate

So what do we want? We want more child care facilities. We want longer maternity leave for women who are not ready to return to work or are unable to find care. We want shorter waiting lists (so more centres, as just requested!)  And we want child care to be tax deductible.  How’s that for starters?  We want mothers and fathers to be able to leave their children in quality care at an affordable (tax deductible) rate, if they should so choose.

Remember when I said parents have a lot on their plate?  Well, having a baby is not like being served a big plate of vegies as  four year old.  We do not need to tell parents they need to ‘eat what they were dished up or go without’.  We need to acknowledge that sometimes it’s nice to share what you’ve got on your plate, and it’s often much nicer than trying to deal with it all by yourself.  And we need to offer these parents dessert, even if they can’t quite manage what’s on their plate.

Have you got a lot on  your plate?  Are you finding it hard to put your kidlet into care, because it’s too painful emotionally or financially?  Are you loving being a full time parent?  Do you want to return to work post-baby? Have you lived through this fraught early years dilemma?  Would you use child care if it was tax deductible?  Are you a sister wife?!  Perhaps you are a breastfeeding mama? Would you love some help, if it was suitable and financially viable?  How is it for you, JustBees?

How do you feel about child care?
If you could ask the Australian Government for what you needed, in terms of child care or family assistance, what would you ask for?

x Pip

Top image via



  • http://www.facebook.com/billyjoebob Bill Dennis

    I would ask, as always, for infrastructure to reflect population rather than average income. Seems to me that the places struggling for affordable child care places are the places that need them the most. I’m not sure if that made sense.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I agree with you entirely. It makes perfect sense. Suburbs where there a a ton of working or want-to-be-working families seem to have the longest waiting lists and fewer child care facilities. Thanks Bill!

  • http://craftyrie.blogspot.com/ Marie Biswell

    Would you believe, that just yesterday I rang up the local child care thingy & enquired about putting Bubba in day care 1 day per week.  Eek.  He’s never left my sight (other than to go to bed) since he was born… but I need time to myself. 
    He’s 14mths old today (sob) and I have no-one except my hubby to look after him – no parents, no reli’s to take him for a day. So I’m tired. I need to catch up. I need to do the vacuuming.   
    One day a week will be good for him, he’ll learn to socialise & apparently… it doesn’t cost a scary amount either for the day (phew).   
    Fingers crossed that I don’t spend all day crying whilst he’s in day care!!!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh what a big day it was for you yesterday, Marie. What a big step for you guys! Wishing you the very best experience and the very loveliest carers! x

    • Sharon

      Marie, I know exactly how you feel! I was the same with my kids. They never left my sight but I was going batty and needed some me time as I have no one to help except my partner who works nights and sleeps all day.. good luck hun stay strong it is hard but socially your child will love it..

    • http://pigsandbishops.wordpress.com/ Pigs & Bishops

      Oh, Marie – I’m in the same situation! My son is ten months old and I’ve finally agreed to go and look at some centres, although I’ve always said I don’t want him to go into childcare until he’s at least two. I’ve been working freelance since he was seven months old but it’s so hard when I can only work when he’s asleep, or on weekends. There isn’t anyone we can leave him with, but I’m not ready to leave him at a centre yet. I’ll go so far as to look and maybe put him on a waiting list or two if we find somewhere nice. There’s a decent-sounding place right near us but it only takes three- to five-year-olds.

  • http://www.dandelionandolive.co.uk/ Bluebird

    I can’t say anything about the system in Australia as I am in blighty, where low income parents who work get help with childcare costs.
    In regards to going to work though I am a huge advocate. Me and my partner are lucky, we have creative jobs we enjoy so we want to work and my 2 boys have been in childcare 2 days a week since before they were 1 year old. They are good at mixing with others, they learn to share, spend time with other kids and adults and have learnt loads at nursery that I probably wouldn’t have taught them. My oldest made the transition to school really well and seems really well rounded. But the most important thing is that I got a chance to keep hold of who I was before being a parent and feel less stressed and more fulfilled. I think you have to try to do what makes you feel good and ignore the people who have other ideas about it, whether you want to go to work or stay at home. Lets face it there are no right ways to bring up kids and whatever you do someone will always disagree so just try to do what keeps you sane!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

       I think you have to try to do what makes you feel good and ignore the people who have other ideas about it, whether you want to go to work or stay at home. ”  This is so true. Do what is right for you and your family. Ignore the nay sayers and carve your own path! x

  • http://twitter.com/kellyexeter Kelly Exeter

    Hmm, I am one of those apparently rare people who thinks that childcare is quite affordable. My child goes 5 days a week and he is at a $88/day centre. I get 50% of that back and if I was a lower income earner I would get an additional amount back.

    So while childcare is expensive for us (as in a lot of money going out on a weekly basis), it’s already pretty heavily subsidised by the government. I am not sure how much more we could ask for from the govt as they already give a fair amount!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh thank you for your view, Kelly! I think that some people can manage with the rebate, if their income is in the right bracket and their housing costs are not too high. I am so glad that it works for you!

  • Fionangan

    Oh Pip.. being a mother of only one 3 year girl who is a very easy child to look after, I struggle everyday with ‘do I have another one?’… and this is because I am a full time working mother who puts alot of effort into raising my child even while working.. my husband is a stay at home/small business owner dad and I am so thankful that he is willing to take on this role…  But it is the financial stability that my income brings which has guided us into this arrangement.. there was really no choice because we wanted at least one parent to be at home for her early years purely for her emotional security – that is just what we believed to be right for our daughter and she is extremely happy so it’s all worth it.  However living on one secure income makes it very difficult to consider having another one – purely because of a mortgage and stress.  I would like the Government to provide more financial assistance and options for Maternity Leave, and also mortgage options for single income families.. the only reason why I hesitate to have another child is because of the financial and emotional strain.. isn’t that just so wrong!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I think it is so regrettable that you may only have one baby, because there isn’t enough support for families such as yours.  You sound like a completely lovely bunch and just the kind of people who should be supported, as are thousands of other hard working, smart thinking Australian families.

  • http://eccentricess.blogspot.com.au/ eccentricess

    I planned to head back to my job when my buglet turned one.  After all the research was done, it turned out that going back to work would COST us $20 a week.  Guess who is a stay at home Mum? 
    I waited until she was one because of the breastfeeding, yes.  I was still breastfeeding her then, but it was down to a morning and night feed.  I loved (and still do) being at home with her.
    However, the pressure of being the only wage earner has not been good for hubby’s health.
    She is in High School this year and I am now looking for work. 

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Yep. That sounds totally familiar. That sounds like a lot of my friends who have babies. They want to have the option to go back, but by the time they do the sums there is just no point. They will be worse off financially. It’s completely crazy that women who want to work have to pay to do it, isn’t it? Geesh.

  • Emblue

    I have been a SAHM with both my kids, but the toddler girl has been a bit of a handful. I found that my default approach of attachment parenting  was simply too exhausting, plus she had no little pals of her own age.
    After a spectacular meltdown late last year we got her into daycare 2 days per week, it has saved my sanity, and therefore my whole family, and for that alone it is worth every penny.
    Having said that, I would not complain if it was cheaper, but I would hope that the staff were being paid appropriately, as they are the most amazing folks, providing such fabulous care and positive interaction for my lil’ miss, plus they are teaching her to bloody well sit down when she eats!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      That is a great point, Em. Child care workers MUST be paid well. They do such a freaking important job and need to be rewarded accordingly, with fair pay and lots of chocolate biscuits. Well said!

  • Sharon

    My kids go to daycare two days a week. We had them start 4 days so I could find work but we simply couldn’t afford the bill while I was looking for work so we pulled them out and now, like I said earlier they only attend two days a week. I would love to go back to work as I feel I could give my children a better quality of life (not that they miss out now) my partner works a ridiculous amount of hours per week and we all miss him! I would love for it to be tax deductible, it would make it a little easier. My children are still young (2 years and 1 year) so I’m lucky to spend these younger years with them but financially its very tough but in saying that paying for childcare and working full time wouldn’t put us in a better financial position as I would be working just to pay the childcare..

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I hear what you are saying about quality of life, Sharon. Esp when things like dental care are so necessary and expensive. It would be great if families who wanted to be in the work force could actually afford to re-enter. It’s so freaking naff that it’s not an option for so many.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louisa.gormley Louisa Gormley

    For years I dreamed about having a large family, and staying home with my babies. I had a career, I worked really hard, but all I wanted was to be home with my babies.

    Fast forward to having my daughter. The reality was I enjoyed staying home with my baby, my toddler – not so much. All I wanted was to be at work. She is an active little miss with a very enquiring mind. She needs lots of play, and stimulation. Our centre is gorgeous, the staff are beautiful. They are educators, and stimulate and grow her mind in ways we never could. Our little Miss is an only child, and she learns to share and be social outside the home, a skill some children lack. Moving away from the city meant we no longer had both sets of grandparents around us, child care was the only option for our little family. I am am so fortunate for that, if we were still in the city, and grandparents provided care, our little Miss would really be missing out.

    Our little Miss wakes daily, and the first question is “Childcare?” There is tears on the weekend, until we suggest the playground! Some parents are dead against childcare, yet I feel they are really missing out on a great opportunity. It is expensive, and in reality for our little business it is more costly for me to be working and have Ava in care, than it would be to employ someone to do my role – but I need work. That is really crazy!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I love it that you have found a solution that works for your family. I really love hearing that. It’s so wonderful.  It sounds like you are taking it on the chin financially to do what is best for your family. I guess that’s what  a lot of families are doing, and I really do wish that there was  a bit more of a tax leg-up for families such as yours. Thanks for your view! x

  • Cath @ Mybeardedpigeon

    It would be great if quality childcare was affordable. What would be even more great is if preschools were attached to primary school so parents just had to do one drop off. What would also be great is if more work places had childcare. This would also allow women to return to work and continue to breastfeed for longer.  

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      These are GREAT ideas. I love the one drop off one. It makes perfect sense and kids and parents would be A LOT happier if their care was centralized and flowed on to school in a more organic way. Great comment, Cath! x

  • walker

    I have just dropped my daughter off to child care this morning so my partner and I can do freelance work (if we have it). Unfortunately we don’t have grandies nearby. She goes 2 days a week (they will not allow her to go one day a week). Sometimes my partner and I don’t have work but we still have to pay for child care. It’s expensive. It was so hard to find a centre with a vacancy that if we pulled her out we wouldn’t be able to find another place for her. I don’t love the centre she is at (and frankly I don’t think she loves it either), but I can’t find availability elsewhere. She has had 3 new carers this year plus a whole new group of kids, that’s not fun for anyone. I know it will be good for her socially but it’s hard.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Argh. It is hard. It’s unfair that we have to compromise like this, isn’t it? These are our awesome little people and we need to be able to place them in awesome affordable care. Thank you for telling your story. xx

  • Shimmer_brite

    As a nanny I understand the demand for not just good child care but GREAT child care.
    I have been a nanny for 10 years. I live my job and do it very well,
    I think I offer great in home care for lil poppets.. What bugs me is patents who expect GREAT care but want to pay peanuts for it! I work 7:45am till 7pm, 5 days a week. So I work long hours every day and I do more then just read stories and make lunch. Every thing you do in your day for your kids, I do in mine and then some. That’s down to doctors visits? Going to the hairdresser. I do breakfast, lunch and dinner, kids washing and bedding, bathing, swimming (yes I get in my bathers with miss 2 and get in), kindy gym classes, kinder sports classes, school run, play dates and outtings in general, I keep the cupboard and fridge stocked as well… And I’m told I’m over paid glorified baby sitter.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Holy smoke, Shimmer. I totally get that. When my first child was tiny, I could not afford child care. I nannied for a couple who lived around the corner from me. That way I could take my baby and earn something. I did that that 3 days a week for $25 a day. (It was over 20 years ago, mind you!) Those days were long and busy, so I know how hard a nanny works. I agree that Nannies are NOT glorified baby sitters. And baby sitters are super important hard working people too! 

      • Shimmer_brite

        Pip that’s what I’m earning now. So the pay hasn’t gone up just the hours that are worked.

        • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

          Shimmer, that is crazy. I had no idea. That’s just terrible. x

        • Kate

          You earn $25/day?
          At $2.27/hr I can only hope you are an au pair, or live-in with other costs provided? (Meals, board etc)

  • Maggie

    I am lucky enough to be able to stay at home with with our little boy because that is what I want to do, but only because hubby is on a good salary. If he was on an average wage we’d be stuffed, and we aren’t livin’ large. Affordability of everything is a massive issue in Oz.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      That is so true. Going to the movies or eating out is a HUGE HUGE treat for this family! I am glad you are able to do what works for your family, Maggie. That is super important, because families are super important!

  • Jenna Appleton

    We have a hodge-podgey arrangment of childcare, in-home casual care, and me being home with the kidlets. We have no family in this state.

    I originally put No. 1 into daycare for short sessions (3 hours! how cool is that to be able to book just part of the day) from very early – about 13 weeks – because we had no family here, my baby was very active (he was moving around the room already, and didn’t need much sleep) and my husband had to go overseas for work for two weeks. I was initially so, so guilty about putting him in care (what is with the guilt that women put on each other?!) but I was slowly going crazy. Fast forward four weeks – eight sessions of 3 hours – and the kid was crawling AWAY from me when I came to collect him. I think that says boatloads about what he thought about the service! The stimulation and social activity was so good for him.We love our childcare centre (and so do our boys). It costs between $79-95 per day for permanent long-day care depending on age (inner-western Sydney), and a little more for full occasional care days. The centre is running at 100% capacity for long day care and under-2′s occasional care and there is a significant waiting list time, particularly for under-3s. It is a not-for-profit and the fees are set to a level that really does just cover the costs of running the service. After the 50% tax rebate, we’re comfortable with this (we’re not eligible for childcare benefit and neither should we be).
    I work 2-3 days per week for myself and since I have only been able to get one day per week for the 9-month-old at the centre (Mr 3 has 3 days), we’ve had to fill the shortfall with some in-home care. This is where it gets *really* expensive… no rebates! The boys love the young lady we have looking after them, and I love that I can come upstairs to breastfeed the little one during the day. Fortunately we can fit it into our household budget, but by the time I pay her out of my post-tax pay, I’ve lost money already. My husband is effectively subsidising my work because I can’t get what I need from formal childcare. I would love to see this sort of care become tax-deductible – I feel that this might fill some of the current demand for childcare.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I think you are right. It’s so crazy that women have to run a deficit and PAY to be in the work force. It makes much more sense to provide better tax breaks and subsidies so that women actually benefit financially from working (and men too!)  Thanks for telling us about life in Jenna-Land. It’s a really interesting peek into how this works for your family. x

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574224229 Jennifer Wright

    Can’t afford child care, My husband earns a good wage, I am a SAHM, and as we have no family in the same city, I have to be.  There is no respite, I went to bed at 8 pm last night after struggling to get my kids to sleep for an hour, woke at 6 am to a smiley (and cute) face next to my bed.  There is no break. none. nadda. zilch.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh gosh Jennifer. This is exactly what I’m talking about. There are no medals handed out for suffering through this stuff. We need to provide support for families who are deep in the trenches of raising kids. It’s NOT EASY and it really does take a village. It’s just that sometimes you can’t even get to the freaking village because you are so snowed under. Thanks for your comment. It rang true with me. x

  • http://julipbyjaninepeck.blogspot.com/ Janine

    Timely post… I dropped of my almost-17 month old daughter for her first full day of formal care this morning.
    It broke my heart a little bit… the first time I left her there (for two hours ‘settling’ time, mind you) I burst into tears as soon as I kissed her goodbye.
    But I have this whole other side which I need to nurture too.  My work is what keeps me sane and feeling alive… without it I would be less of a mother.  At least, a less happy one.
    I’ve been lucky – for the last 8 months she’s been going to my Aunt’s once or twice a week.  My Aunty is a retired childcare worker and is one of the best people I know.  We pay her a nominal fee, but I was finding the trek to and from her place (unfortunately she’s not overly close) plus the chats while I was there were eating into my working day far too much.
    My little one is now at Family Day Care one day a week and my Aunt’s one day.  I love having family to help, but am also very grateful for the ‘system’… if we could afford another day I would grab it.  For the service which is provided I think the cost is reasonable, especially with Family Day Care where that is the carer’s income.  But we would not be able to manage it without the rebate, and I think it should be available to all working families.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh that’s so great that you can use both family care and Family Day Care. I hope that it works out beautifully for you and your family, Janine! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. (I can totally relate to the teary bits!) x

  • Anonymous

    I am encountering that exact dilemma RIGHT NOW.  I am on maternity leave, breastfeeding my 6 month old and due to go back to work in May. May. I plan to keep breastfeeding. I am not ready to leave my daughter. We need money to pay rent and you know, buy stuff. Like food.

    My level of anxiety about this is is VERY HIGH. So high that I am seeking counselling to deal with it. If we would like to reduce rates of post natal depression I suspect we may need to help new mothers a bit more, make childcare more attractive and less commercial. And less expensive. Pay childcare workers better. Make workplaces nicer places to be.

    The other dilemma is putting baby in childcare to go to an unfullfilling job. So I get to be sad about leaving my beautiful daughter with strangers  and go to a job I hate? Geez, thanks. Am I being greedy?

    Argh. I just want to look after my own baby and have a bright working future. And who knows what options there are out there to retrain, go back to study because I can’t find them.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      This is it all. In a nutshell. With tears on the side. I wish things were not like this and I understand the pain you are going through. I think many mums and dads do. Big huge squeezy hugs for you.  xx

      • Anonymous

        Awww…. I don’t think you realise how much having a baby changes you, I really thought that I would want to go back to work but I just don’t. Well not the job I have anyway. The other thing is wanting to set the kind of example for my daughter that teaches her that her mum is a person who can be fullfilled as both a mother and a worker. I don’t understand why we can’t be both? It not about being greedy for money, or ‘having it all’ its about being well rounded human beings. I feel a lot of pressure to toddle off to a ‘little job’ to earn a few bucks to help at home. Not that there’s anything wrong with ‘little jobs’ and if you want a job that you go to and don’t think about when you get home thats fine but what if you want to get a career going? I went to university and I am creative so should I go and do a job that utilises non of those things? I want to take my daughter to kinder and to the library in the morning, but I also want a job where I have opportunity to grow later on.

        Thank you for the web hugs and ability to crochet Pip. You’re an excellent role model for women and mums.

  • Kate

    A nanny here. I know we have a bad rap, and I get treated abysmally by fellow parents (I was once told that a post-Kindergarten playdate at the park was for mums only – hard explaining that to little Mister!).
    I think if parents can afford it, a nanny is a wonderful resource. We have extensive knowledge of child development, and I can’t count how many times I’ve been able to assure parents a stage is normal, because I’ve seen it before! We are also able to work longer if the parent/s get caught in traffic or a meeting, and when your little one is sick you don’t have to worry because, generally, we’re happy to be there for them so you can still go to work. We, or at least I, will do laundry, tidy the house, give the floors a clean and prepare dinner. With a one-to-one (or one-to-few) ratio, the children get an amazing experience, and with swimming classes, music classes and playgroups there’s no need to worry about lack of socialisation!I know it mostly comes down to an affordability issue, and I completely appreciate that. But generally if you have two or more children then a nanny works out as around the same cost as a quality child-care centre, minus having to pack lunch, snacks and bags, get everyone ready and do the drop-off/pick-up thing, and then have to get dinner on after that.Another way that works really well is a nanny-share, especially if you have family/close-friends who live nearby and have children of a similar age. I’ve done this a few times and it’s always been successful.

    My point is that I think the government needs to realise the value of home-based care for young children (and their parents) and provide more financial help for those wanting to utilise the service. 

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I completely agree. I think you are so right! Financial support/subsidies for those who use home based care would be a FABULOUS idea and would go a long way towards ensuring that parents, kids and nannies are happier too. Excellent point.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      Totally agree Kate. I have a nanny who helps me out when I have to travel for my work. She is wonderful and my son loves her. She “enables” me to work and not have to lean on friends to help with drop offs and pick ups during those times. I run my own business but there is no assistance I can access for this help.

    • Tess

      Yes! I am almost-a-mum, and a self employed person, and the idea of a nanny/shared home care appeals to us very much for its flexibility and the type of care it provides. We’ll definitely be exploring this avenue when the time comes, but it is disheartening to know there are no similar ‘rebates’ for what is essentially the same service as ‘conventional’ child-care-centre care. When you think about it, the more people who hire nannies/home carers, the MORE people are employed in Australia! And that’s a good thing, no? Also I would love to be able to pay family members who offer regular care for our young’un/s (they shouldn’t by default be expected to work for free, just because they’re related…). Hmm. Lots to think about. Thanks for the post, Pip!

  • Erin

    My almost-3-yr-old son is in child care, and I have another bubba coming in April. We have juggled child care between a local child care centre, family and ourselves reducing hours/working from home, since he was 11 months old and I went back to work. This was due to me wanting to have him looked after by us/close family, rathere than being in a CC centre most of the week, but also because the CC centres around us (I had my name down at 5, from the time I was 4 months pregnant), could only offer 3 days per week..

     I always thought the 50% rebate made the cost of care quite reasonable, but that does change now we’re looking at having two kids in child care next year. While I’m on a reasonable wage, I will only be coming out somewhat in front by working 3 days per week, and staying at home with the kids the other 4 days – this is because of the $7,500 cap on the rebate, per child. Fortunately, my employer is really flexible, and is open to me further reducing my hours. However, this is not an option for lots of people. I’ve also changed to a job that is less pay and less senior, as my previous job didn’t have this flexibility. My husband and I used to earn comparable wages, but now he is the ‘bread winner’. This adds a whole new dynamic to a relationship, when you’re accustomed to being on a more equal financial footing. It basically came down to, ‘well, I’ve got boobs, so I’ll stay at home for a year’ – but the ramifications go way beyond that one year.

    I kind of struggle with this, because while I know it’s my decision whether or not to have kids, it’s also unrealistic to think most families can survive (let alone get ahead) on one wage – and that’s leaving out all the philosophical/moral/value laden debate about ‘choice’ – which is also very valid.

    I know we’re not doing it as tough as alot of others: I was really shocked yesterday when I saw an ad in the paper from a large, charitable organisation, asking the public to ‘sponsor’ children in Australia, to provide basic school supplies such as uniforms, shoes, books. Surely, if we’re considered one of the worlds’ ‘most liveable cities’, at a very basic level we need to be able to give our kids the best care and education that we can? It sometimes feels like we’ve gone off track when everything from utilities to transport is privatised for a profit, banks are all about protecting shareholder profits, and thousand and thousands of kids are going without. As a society, are we kind of missing the point of what’s really important?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      So many good points here Erin. A key one for me is that flexibility with employers. My first two were only 17 months apart but to reduce childcare costs when I returned to work, I was able to work part-time and also have one of my work days on a weekend so my husband could be the carer. It’s so tricky and families need support on all levels.

      • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

        You are so right Nikki. We are all juggling, aren’t we. And possibly filing our guilt away daily. But we shouldn’t feel guilty, should we? We are doing our very very best, I think!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I think that as a whole we are. It’s so hard to access quality basics like child care, dental care and health care in a lot of areas.  These things are expensive and out of reach/booked out a lot of the time. YES we have a lovely country, for sure we are luckier than many. BUT just making ends meet is extremely difficult for a HUGE NUMBER of Australian families.  I would love to know how tough some people are really doing it. I am thinking that there are a whole bunch of families living very close to the edge and the thought of that makes me shudder. We can do better, surely, as a  nation? We can make families much more of a priority?

  • blahblah

    It’s such a sad problem in our imperfect modern society – childcare.  Children are not a thing or even a pet!  They are our CHILDREN!!  They shouldn’t be shovelled off to be apart from their parents (unless this is impossible – which is is very sad indeed).  Children want and love to be with their parents and parents should love and want to be with their children! 

    Obviously I’m one for thinking childcare should just disappear and mums and dads should be with their children (whichever one doesn’t work).  Let the human love flow!  Forget ‘getting ahead’ and trying to get rich or ‘better off’.  Enjoy what you have – your children!!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I think you can’t enjoy your children very much if  you are evicted. But that’s just my point of view. Thank you for offering yours, blahblah.

    • Kate

      Yikes! Unfortunately, as nice as it is to dream of utopian times, the reality is that the government isn’t yet paying parents to be parents, nor recognising that parents need more financial support in the first FIVE years (not just the first five months). 
      I don’t think there is  a single contributor here whose goal is ‘getting ahead’ or ‘getting rich’. The same theme appears over and over, and that is that people are trying to do the very best for not just their children, but their families as a whole, and that this ‘best’ comes in many, many different forms.On an unrelated note, I disagree. I don’t think it’s healthy for children to be with their parents 24/7. I believe in the “it takes a community” saying, and that children should be (and are!) raised by a whole group of people, not just two parents… grandparents, carers, teachers, family, neighbours etc

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Goldney/522528367 Jane Goldney

    Yes indeed Pip, I have always thought childcare should be tax deductible! The more affordable childcare is, the more people can use it, the more quality centres will be able to survive etc etc. 
    I have sent my three kids to a delightful, small community childcare centre. I have been on the management committee for ages and boy is it hard for our lovely centre to make ends meet. Yet we hate having to put up the fees (currently around $73/day) because we’re community-based! For the families! But our staff are fantastic and frankly deserve more than they earn and we want to provide them with secure employment and be able to stop our dear centre (in an old house) from falling apart. Just keeping our heads above water is an ongoing stress. The government is demanding increased staffing ratios and increased numbers of qualified staff, which is excellent news for the children and we fully support it, but it just makes running costs greater and greater.The 50% rebate from the government has made childcare a lot more affordable, for sure. However there will be a cap put on it at some stage (they can’t keep paying 50% if centres just keep putting their fees up). So tax deductibility makes a huge amount of sense. It would me another factor to ease pressure on families, and help us feel better about charging a little more so we can, for example, replace the vinyl flooring in our centre that has been there for about 30 years. Or just have a fresh coat of paint put on the rooms. Or pay our awesome staff just a wee bit more to reward their wonderful care.

    I haven’t a clue as to how childcare in New York could possibly be run properly and only charge $200 a week. Of course staffing is the greatest cost… so perhaps their staff earn far less than ours, even. Poor staff.

    Phew. You got me started!

    Cheers, Jane

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Like nurses, child care workers are under valued and  underpaid. It’s a crying shame. They hold the future of our nation in their hands every day, they wipe the noses of our future and feed them and love them to bits. It’s so crazy that the wages are so low. I totally agree. I’m really interested to hear what you have to say, because you are coming from a different angle and it’s a totally informed, experienced one. You are living this from the inside! Thank you for commenting, Jane. x

  • Emily

    I  am a health professional, who (when I work) is very lucky to earn a good wage.  Together with my husband’s wage, this puts us into the bracket where you don’t get any child care subsidy.  Fine. 

    But if I work I need to pay for child care, and I end up paying everything except about $5/hr to the child care centre.  Now, working is great for my mental health, but to be honest, it’s just not worth the hassle and lack of financial reward.  I’d rather stay home, read blogs (!) and volunteer at my kids kindy instead. 

    I am lucky that financially, I don’t HAVE to work, so I don’t.  And I also recognise that because of our financial position, that perhaps we shouldn’t be the receipients of any type of subsidy or welfare.  But, surely, when my sector is crying out for skilled, experienced workers, there should be some kind of motivation to get me back in there? I can’t honestly be bothered working out the pick-ups, the drop-offs, the coordination, and the extra organisation that full time work + child care requires for the grand total of $5/hr!

    Having said that, I am certainly all for child care being quite expensive – you are paying someone to raise the next generation – your children – and it’s an area that shouldn’t be serviced by the lowest price provider.

    Maybe a voucher system, where every child is entitled to X number of hours of care, and parents can choose to purchase more hours?  I don’t know what the answer is, but I am enjoying reading everyone’ s perspective.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I’m really enjoying it too, Emily. Thanks a bunch for telling us about how it works at your house. I appreciate you taking the time to comment! x

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=681599151 Kate Forster

    I have tried a nanny, childcare and stay at home with each of my kids.
    The best solution was something in-between. 
    Childcare for short periods to socialise them and learn to share. 
    The Nanny was great because they loved her and I loved her and she loved them like her own but expensive. 
    Staying at home was great for the kids but hard work for me to remember how to have an adult conversation. I knew I had spent too long at home when i started to cut up my husbands meal when we went away on a grownup’s only weekend.

    There is no answer that works for every party. 

    Recently I saw a tired mum in a business suit picking up two small, tired babies from childcare at 6pm. She then had to go home, bathe them feed them settle them and do it all again tomorrow. It seemed like she was defeated and I wanted to hug her for a moment, but that would have been weird or both of us.

    We need to look after each other and never judge, that why I like your article Pip. It’s fair and smart. Just like you.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I really WANT us to support each other, Kate. I really truly do. I really want us to stop assuming we know how it is for everyone, and start assuming everyone is doing the very best they can.  I want us to celebrate the diversity of approaches and to respect each others. And I want us all to lobby for better choices, better pay for child care workers, better financial support for those using care and more financial support for those using home based care. And that’s just for starters.

      Getting bogged down in  a debate about whether child care is ‘correct’ or ‘right’ stops us from making sure that kids and carers and parents are being supported adequately. 

      I vote for choice. I vote for more financial assistance. I vote for more pay and recognition for child care professionals.

  • Kate Ulman

    We live in a small country town with one child care centre with an enormous waiting list. Luckily for us we have a place in that child care centre and receive a benefit. So Miss Pepper goes to child care once a week. She LOVES it there. And I love missing her and getting stuff done. My child care day is busy, busy, busy. I do have a bit of guilt about sending her off because I am a stay at home Mum. But on the other hand I know that I am a much better Mum to her and to my school girls when I have had a day all alone.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I had not even thought of that. It must be super tricky in little towns to secure a place! I know that you do an amazing-great job with your girls, Kate. And we all need a breather at times, it is super important!

  • http://radishandruth.wordpress.com/ Bec

    I have three lovely little children.
    After my first I went back to part-time employment and used some child care and my partner also looked after our son for a bit.
    I found working when you have a bub is very different to when you don’t. And helpfully, although unintentionally was pregnant again very quickly.
    I tried a different and tiny hours job after my second. Still found it very hard to balance work and home.
    We decided to change a few things around, we got rid of our car (a huge financial burden on any household) and I resigned my part time work. We had another baby (now I have a 5 year old, four year old and 20 month old) I love being at home (most of the time) and try to do a little crafting/market-y stuff for some extra here and there.
    I know not everyone likes being at home full-time with their kidlets, and i think it takes some getting used. I really appreciate being able to spend these few years with them while they’re small. And still occasionally wish the magic fairy would drop out of the sky and look after them while I nap on the couch. xx Bec

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh that makes perfect sense, Bec! It sounds like you’ve worked out a situation which works best for you. And it’s super great that you can be around for your kids… and yes I do wish the magic fairy would visit you, too!!!

  • Slightly Deep

    I think one of the biggest burdens parents face is lack if grandparent support. In previous generations, grandparents could afford to stay at home and help with looking after their grandchildren. we don’t have thatluxury nowadays, as most grandmothers are too busy and tired from a full time job. Maybe if the government made it a little easier for the older generations the younger generations wouldn’t suffer so much. I’m not saying it would work for everyone- but I know lots of mums who could really use more help from their mums. and I know of many grandmas who would like to do more for their children and grandchildren, but their hands are tied by a government who won’t let them.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      That is such a great point, SD. It’s not just parents who are toughing it out, but grandparents who are being denied the opportunity to care for their grandkids due to financial pressures. Good point. x

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828633080 Melanie Starr

    You just have to look
    elsewhere in the world and look at how the care of children is shared
    across local communities amongst relatives and neighbours. Childcare is
    essentially a formal version of this yet some of us seem to undervalue
    its …crucial
    role. The reality is we all bear the responsibility to ensure that all
    children are raised healthy and happy and loved. This means we need to
    make sure SAHM’s have the support they need to continue their important
    role and we need to make sure we continue to lobby Govts to ensure a
    high standard of childcare is maintained for its crucial role.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      What a balanced and thoughtful point of view, Melanie. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. You are right. We need to work at keeping the balance right for everyone. x

  • Katelyn

    We are soo lucky to have a wonderful child care centre around the corner for our 2 children.  Yes, it is expensive, and it means that after child care my take home wage from a 2 day work week is $100 or so.  However, they are looking after my children- (and they do it so very well) and if I had to, I’d pay them $200 a day- because I want those lovely carers to love their jobs and want to come to work with my children and all of the other children who rely on their care every day. And I think CARE is the important word there. Whether it be by grandparents, nannies, family day care, whatever model you choose- you want someone to care for your children.
    My babies were (unintentionally) born less than 2 years apart.  My employer has been pretty good about having me return part time and job sharing my position.  I actually couldn’t have given a stuff about returning to work, and second time around I wasn’t looking forward to it at all – but I am sooo glad I did.  I just like being around other people and not having to be ‘on’ as a mum all of the time (this surprises no-one more than it does myself).

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh wow! Look Katelyn, you said that! I think it’s wonderful that you can talk about what works for you, and how much you love your kids, and how much you like being around people at work. Thanks for sharing with us!

  • http://kimonoreincarnate.blogspot.com.au/ Melanie

    My little one has just started child care in the last couple of weeks.  She’s two and a half.  It was such a big decision for us and I felt that part of my heart was being ripped out that first week that she went into care.  

    Before then, we had an arrangement that we loved.  All three of us were at home as I work for myself from home and was the sole breadwinner, and my husband was the full-time stay-at-home dad, which also allowed him time to recover from a nasty year of chemo.  We had planned to keep it that way and were considering home schooling as well.

    BUT then it came time to get a mortgage… and try as we might, with talks to lots of banks and mortgage brokers, being self employed, they just wouldn’t give us one.  We’ve outgrown our little townhouse and with rents rising, we really want that little place of our own.  Nothing fancy but place with a yard that we can have some chooks, a vege garden and a dog.  To do that, with the cost of houses in Brisbane, we’re looking at moving into a more rural area to afford it.  So the decision was made that the man needed to go out to get a job and the little one started full time childcare.  It was a big shock for us all, the little one went from having two parents on tap all day every day, to being in a room with 16 other children.

    BUT we consider ourselves lucky.  We were lucky to get a spot in a really good place close by who cater to each child’s needs, they cook meals and are very careful about catering for our daughter who is coeliac.  The little one just loves it too.  The man got a job that he loves and I now have a quiet place to work uninterrupted all day so I can put all my energy into the little one when she’s home.  I don’t know how we’d be going without the good luck that came our way.

    The funny thing is, by the time we’ve paid childcare fees and for transport for the man to get to work, we’re actually not that much better off financially.  But that being able to tick that little “employed” rather than “self employed” box on the mortgage application means a world of difference to the banks.

    What would I ask for?  More affordable child care and more spaces for those who need it.  And for some way for the self employed to have easier access to home loans when they are in a position to be able to pay them off.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Melanie, do you know what? All three of my kids entered childcare at various points between 2 years old and 3 years old. Not a single one has even spoken about it as a negative thing. They are just super happy to be part of a loving, crazy family and have grown into amazing people!  I think that you do what you need to do, and you make sure it’s working the best it can for everyone… and that is GOOD ENOUGH. Great even! 

      • Kate

        Yep! As a kid, my parents gave me the full smorgasbord of SAHP, childcare, family day care AND a nanny! When they divorced they needed childcare options that suited their situation, and it ended up being a combination of the four. They still speak about this with a level of guilt and regret, but all I remember is what a great time I had!

  • Sarah C

     I have two girls at school, and have been through childcare – the first had a kind of family day care with a friend who was on childcare worker on maternity leave who looked after mothers’ group kids for not very much per day. Then we had a corporate childcare centre who went bust leaving us a week to find a place for our youngest (who ended up in a fantastic creche at at a university). Before the rebate it was hard financially, but still worth it (just).

    When my youngest was about to start school, I got a fulltime job, and though both of my kids love going to aftercare, I am struggling with the guilt of them being deprived of extra-curricula activities because we just can’t physically take them. This is the flip-side of childcare. It’s cheaper financially when they are at school, but I am finding it harder emotionally. And then because I work full-time, I don’t want to spend my weekends ferrying kids to activities, because when do I get time to clean, do the laundry and put my feet up? This is much harder than when they were babies. Or perhaps I am feeling particularly tired today, and daunted by an early start for swimming training tomorrow.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I think it sounds like you are doing your very best to balance a lot of things. And I’m not sure the balance is ever what you THINK would be perfect, sadly. I guess it’s just super important to try and reconcile the way things are for you, and be positive about your choices and your needs, as well as those of your kids. It sounds to be like you are doing a great job!

  • Claire

    Childcare has been a sanity saver for me and it has helped our family in a massive way.  Motherhood has taught me many, many things and one of the biggest things was that I need some time on my own on a regular basis otherwise I become a very unhappy person and not much fun to live with. 

    My almost 3yo goes to day care 2days per week.  We have not had any trouble getting him into a care… at first a family day care and then an early learning center for over 2′s.  He enjoys it, he learns alot and he has made friends. 

    I plan for our 5mth old to start in childcare 1 day a week when she is between 12-18mths and is weaned. 

    The cost of childcare is reasonable for us.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      Claire, it’s so important for us as mums to get a grip on ourselves and what works for us as a mum and a woman – love that you’ve found your balance with this.

  • max

    We put off having kids and went without in a big way for a long time until our mortgage was paid. 
    I just didn’t like the idea of my child being away from me, until she can talk and tell me if she had a bad day etc. Now I’m a relatively elderly stay-at-home-mum, loving it not missed my previously loved job for a minute, but with vague worries about losing my professional registration from having too long off. My mind boggles at the genius of people who manage to pay a mortgage on one salary and have a parent stay home. We struggle even though were still in the 15-year-old-tv-no-iphone lifestyle we adopted to pay off the mortgage . Staying home has also enabled me to keep breastfeeding 2+ years which makes us feel very, very  good. 
    If our mortgage wasn’t gone I would have had to have returned to work. I would have chosen in-home child care with a primary care giver (we have no willing relatives near by which would have been better). It’s expensive here too (NZ). If there was a change to funding child care I’d like it to be flexible so that stay at home mothering is financially encouraged too as the literature indicates that is best for the young child.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      Wow Max … that is amazing. Hard work but amazing. I love that you both made choices and sacrifices to make the early years of parenting really work for both of you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=669660772 Angela Osborn

    Oh, man! Why is it so hard for families? I’ve loved reading all the comments and really admire everyone for sharing how they are making things work for their families. This is not a situation that I’m facing at this point in time, as husbando and I don’t have children yet. To be honest, I want to have a baby in the not too distant future, but I just don’t know how we’ll be able to afford it. Sob. Articles like this, and the open conversation it’s started are really important. I think just hearing other people’s stories in a supportive and positive environment (such as this) is a great way to encourage one other. Thanks for another fab article, Pip. 

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      It is so important Angela – that as mums we talk about this – no one mum has the perfect answer – but we also work to find the best solution we can for our situation.

  • Bec

    Tax deductible child care! It’s like a light bulb just went on in my head. I don’t have children, and my husband has gone back to uni, where he will be for some time, so it’s not a question for me right now. As a woman however (and one who is constantly getting in trouble for bringing up tricky feminist issues in a very conservative workplace) I firmly believe women should be able to give their children the best care possible – whether that is through stay at home mumming, stay at home dadding, relatives, or  childcare. And of course that would be a work related expense and should totally be tax deductible. I can’t believe I never thought of that before. I wonder how the ladies in the tearoom will cope with that idea tomorrow….

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you drop that one Bec! But having come out the other end of childcare but now utilising a nanny if I’m away for work (mostly my work is flexible around school and nights!) then it would be great to have that has a business expense – as I couldn’t do my business without it!

  • Pauline

    I knew before I finished work that I would not return. We have made sacrifices living on one wage but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do plan to work again when my youngest goes to school but even then I will do everything possible to make it a family friendly job. I don’t have family to help me out and child care wasn’t an avenue I wanted to take.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      I think it would be wonderful if by that time (whenever YOU are ready) that there are more family friendly jobs. School hours are SO tricky unless you’re self-employed.

      • Kirsty Ellen

        I agree Nikki, school adds a whole other dimension of logistical nightmare and expense!

  • Melissa

    You know, I’d really be interested to know how many women would be unable to go back to work if they started to means-test the CC rebate based on a family income. Currently it’s about the only family benefit that is not means-tested, and I hope it stays that way. I certainly wouldn’t  be able to afford to work!
    I have just started working part time for the first time since I had number 3 2 years ago due to a combination of young child and too many school and kinder drop-offs/pick-ups to make it work. Currently I work “school hours” 3 days a week, with the 2 older kids at school and the youngest in childcare, which costs me BEFORE the rebate around $270 for the 3 days. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge the cost, as I know the girls working at our centre are well trained.
    However. I get quite a good hourly rate for what I do, but seriously, once I factor in CC costs, tax and contributing to my meagre super fund, I don’t really earn much at all, and it makes me wonder how on earth women manage to work and have kids in care if they are on a minimum wage! I work because I enjoy what I do, and really, it wouldn’t be worth it if I didn’t! At least I’m earning a bit of “pocket money” that means I don’t have to feel guilty if I buy myself a new T shirt, and we can afford to put the kids in after school activities like swimming classes.
    Being a stay-at-home mum doesn’t suit everyone, just as being a working mum isn’t for everyone. It’s great that we have options in Australia, but it would be nicer if the decision to go back to work wasn’t complicated by difficulties finding childcare places etc! It’s one thing for governments to encourage women to go back to work, but they really need to put their money where their mouth is, and make it financially easy to make the decision to work.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      I hope that means testing doesn’t change either Melissa. I really don’t.

  • Tiffiny

    hmmmm ….. childcare.  Stay at home or not … topical and thorny issue.  I have a 9yo and a 19 mth old so have done the childcare journey 2 decades apart.  It is just as hard now to access it as it was 10 years ago.  The cost is high … we are paying at the $130/day level.  First time around we did not have the financial option for me to stay home, so I went back to work when #1 was 5 months old.  The shock of weaning, and the trauma of leaving her in daycare almost led me to breakdown.  many many tears and regrets.  There is still a secret voice inside my head (not articulated until today) that wonders whether #1′s neediness at times is a direct result of scars I inflicted by making that choice.  Really sad thinking about it.  Im not sure i will ever quite recover from those early days of leaving her :-(  

    The second time around I stayed home a full year (bliss) although with no paid mat leave.  On returning to work 9 months ago we chose to explore having a live in au-pair.  This is BY FAR the most cost effective solution for childcare today and is more personal than a daycare setting ($200 / week salary because you provide room & board).  That said, you are making a sacrifice in your home every day to share it with another person.  We do not live in a big home, and have sacrificed some of our space to squeeze the au-pair into our home.

    Overall we have found it a good solution.  It doesn’t offer your child the social contact that many children require (hence #2 has some daycare) - and your recruitment skills and instincts about people need to be finely tuned to find the right person to fit with your family.  We have had 3 au-pairs now, all of them cared for our youngest with tenderness and care.  She has been more settled and happy being in her own home.  As a family it has also eased the challenges of 2 working parents because the au-pair does some cooking and all the laundry HOORAY!!!!  This has meant that when we get home we focus 100% on the kids and don’t think about getting a meal on the table or putting a load through.  When there is a work dinner, or one parent is travelling, you have the comfort of another adult in the house at 6am or 11pm if needed.  Each girl (usually 19yo) has given us a brilliant insight into the machinations of teenage girls which I am sure will stand us in good stead for our future with 2 growing girls.

    I hear horror stories from our au-pairs about Aussie families abusing this unregulated field of work … so it is only a matter of time before there are stricvter rules around fair work conditions.  We chose to put all details in a contract for the girls so they have the chance to review it with their parents and genuinely understand what is entailed.

    As it happens – 9 months back from mat leave I have just been made redundant.  So I look forward to some time 1 on 1 with my 2 girls.  Having a break from a live in helper … and re-navigating the issue in a few months when I figure out what is next for me … hopefully something flexible allowing me to parent the way I want :-)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki Parkinson

      Good luck Tiffiny – the right thing for you will fall into place. I know it will.

      • http://freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com/ Sarah

        !!! I Ewana Parks Post This Testimony Coz My Husband Is Back Thanks To Dr.Ukaka

        My Name is Ewana Parks..I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this powerful man called Dr.Ukaka. My husband divorce me with no reason for almost 3 years and i tried all i could to have him back cos i really love him so much but all my effort did not work out.. we met at our early age at the college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 4 years with one kid and he woke up one morning and he told me he’s going on a divorce..i thought it was a joke and when he came back from work he tender to me a divorce letter and he packed all his loads from the house..i ran mad and i tried all i could to have him back but all did not work out..i was lonely for almost 3 years…So when i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for her full name and her picture..i gave him that..At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos have tried so many spell casters and there is no solution…so when he finished with the readings,he got back to me that his with a girlfriend and that his girlfriend is the reason why he left me…The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring him back.but i never believe all this…he told me i will see a positive result within 24hours..24hours later,he called me himself and came to me apologizing and he told me he will come back to me..I cant believe this,it was like a dream cos i never believe this will work out after trying many spell casters and there is no solution..The spell caster is so powerful and after that he helped me with job promotion spell 3 days later i was promoted at my place of work..Now we are very happy been together again and with our lovely kid..This spell caster has really changed my life and i will forever thankful to him..he has helped many friends too with similar problem too and they are happy and thankful to him..This man is indeed the most powerful spell caster have ever experienced in life..Am Posting this to the in case there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out..you can reach him via email:freedomlovespell@hotmail.com contact him on his website address: freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com,,.

  • Tiffiny

    that would be 2 times … a decade apart :-)

  • Emsie

    I am a breastfeeding, stay at home mama, taxi driver, personal chef, cleaner, home care nurse and psychologist to 2 kidlets aged 4.5 & 1… (well only one of them is breastfeeding). I am not a career focused type, as in I only really work to live and just have jobs, rather than high paying positions, because that is just how life has worked out for me. When my first son was about 11 months old, I had to go back to work to help out with mortgage repayments and household costs. I worked 3 days a week and managed to find a place in a childcare centre very close to where I was working. I know how lucky I was to get that position, and the cost wasn’t too terrible at the time, but since then, the costs have skyrocketed. I was considering going back to do some part time work in the next few months, but the cost of having 2 kids in childcare cancels out any money I make working 2-3 days… Luckily, my husband is in a job that covers our costs without me having to go back to work, so it’s not a huge issue financially. But for my own sanity, I sometimes wish it was viable.
    We have it pretty good compared to a lot of struggling families, so I do count my blessings for that at least!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh that is great that you are able to make ends meet on one income. And it’s ace that your kids have you at home, too! And yes, we all really DO need a break sometimes, Emsie. It would be good not to have to tough it out all the time, wouldn’t it?  Thanks for your comment. x

  • Carolyn

    Decisions are sometimes difficult, and they have to be made knowing what’s best for you and your family at the time. There is no perfect answer for anyone to default to and no one should feel they have made the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision in the eyes of society. At that time for me, my decision to stay at home was based on the unaffordability of daycare, my personal need to be with my child as she developed (tears would well every time i even thought about her going to daycare), being in a loving marriage to a man with good job, feeling able to make the changes required to cope on half the income we were on pre-baby and wanting to make a break form my previous career to begin something new when she started kindy. These circumstances are particular to me.
     I would love to see society support all of our decisions, with affordable daycare, a higher value placed on parenting and less judgement. We can’t expect the government of the day to answer our needs unless we put pressure on them by voicing our concerns and denying them our vote if the situation does not change.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      “I would love to see society support all of our decisions, with affordable daycare, a higher value placed on parenting and less judgement.”  I totally agree with you, Carolyn. And you are right. It is really important to speak up. Thanks for speaking up!

  • http://dreams.theotherday.com.au/ Scarymowse87

    I haven’t got a child yet, but I’m close (baby is due next month!!) and I’m already coming up against all kinds of pressure. Its not people saying you MUST do things its the subtle remarks, or just the out and out: “So when are you going back to work?” 

    I have chosen (so far) to be a stay at home mum for at least the first year and then…well I don’t know it depends on how much I want to be at home, how much I enjoy it, how bored I get and if one income really is enough for us to live off happily…

     But even though I have an open mind about going back to work part time/or back to uni part time (assuming we can do child care etc.) I resent that the first thing someone will ask me is “So when are you going back to work?” and then the look of surprise and judgment when I say I’m going to stay at home (as if thats not a valid job?) and then I end up having to explain that I won’t be going back to my latest job anyway and I don’t have any maternity leave because I was only contracted on for 12 months (which they were going to extend at the end of the year) but I fell pregnant in the first month and only managed to be there for 8 months out of the 12 and so I’m not entitled to maternity leave (from work or the government) and I had to resign…*Sigh* I hate having to explain these things to people who really don’t need to know that much detail of my working life and everything. And who judge me. Ack. 

    Anyway the point of this comment was that I actually feel pressured to be a working mum who puts their children in day care, rather than a stay at home mum (which is slightly different to Pip’s argument)…

    Either way there should be no pressure instead we should be able to choose whats best for us and our children and partners!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      That is really interesting. I think that there is definitely pressure on women to return to work… maternity leave is so short and financial pressures are so hefty, at times. I agree there should be NO pressure! We should have the freedom to choose the best resolution for our family.  Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Carolynjamesbailey

    In reading these comments I am wondering why there isn’t  an enterprise set up which harvests women who have mothered children who are now off in the world making their own way and what these mothers  do best is cook, drive, create, draw, read, play and absolutely adore the joy of engaging the minds of  young children. While they may not  enjoy working in a regimented child care environment and wouldn’t want to work every day  they are totally capable of taking people under  4 to singing and dance lessons, gymbaroo (is this still an early childhood development activity?) the library,a cafe, out to lunch at the park and a walk around the block hunting cats!  This group of women have  had years of experience as stay at home mums and miss this energy and for the first time in their lives they would be paid for this skill and yes, it would be a wise person in politics who made this payment tax deductible.  I wonder what the demographics are?

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      That’s an interesting idea, Carolyn!! 

  • Mel

    What’s wonderful article. I’m totally drawn to articles like these. With my son, now nearly three, my husband and I took turns staying home while the other worked. This works okay in theory, but I struggled with self employment and pulling my head out of baby land into work land two days a week. I now have a five month old daughter, the light of my life. A month ago I went back into full time work, as did my husband. We found ourselves so far in financial crisis land after our time at hme with our son that we needed to do it.
    My daughter is in the care of her aunt five days a week, and although I miss my children, I also find work super rewarding, and when I get home in the evenings, nothing makes my day sparkle as much as seeing my beautiful babies.
    I express milk three times a day at work for my baby the following day. It’s full on, and still early days, and hard, and guilt ridden, but enjoyable.
    Thank you so much for writing this great article, it’s lovely and honest.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      It has been so interesting to read how everyone is trying to balance babies and money! Thank you for your comment, Mel!

  • Emma vW

    For me, the biggest concern about child care is about the quality of the staff. Child care workers have one of the most important jobs in society: looking after our most vulnerable members ( kids) at a critical, formative stage in their lives. Yet, child care workers have some of the lowest wages in the community. On top of that, long day child care centers are competing against preschools and primary schools for Early Chilhood Teachers who can offer them higher wages, better hours and more holidays. To me, the government supporting higher wages for child care workers is far more important than higher subsidies for families.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I think it’s super important that child care workers are paid fairly… and I think it’s super important that there is accessible affordable care for families too! Thank you so much for your input, Emma. I really appreciate it!

  • HomeFromNYC

    I am all for decreasing childcare costs in Australia, for sure. However, it is worth pointing out that we are actually on a pretty good thing here in Australia. I’ve been living in New York City for the past ten years, and recently moved home to Australia to have my first baby. Why? Because in comparison we have things great here. My NYC friends with new babies paid between $1700 – $1900 a month for childcare, not $200 a week. Childcare rebates in the US? There are none available, whatsoever. Family Tax payments? Zilch. Parenting Payments? You’ve gotta be kidding. Parental leave payments? No siree. I could go on! I’m almost embarrassed to tell my American friends what benefits we get here. Add to this the cost of healthcare in the US (anywhere between $900-$1500 plus per month for a family), and the added difficulty that minimum wage is $7.25 per hour? Makes Australia look like paradise! I thank my lucky stars that I am able to live here in Australia, life is sooo much easier here, especially when it comes to raising little ones. :)

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh thank you for your on the spot information. Those fees are exorbitant. And I totally agree with you, if we are making comparisons, we are doing VERY well. But how about we set the bar as high as we can, and make care as accessible and affordable as we possibly can here in Australia. Rather than resting on the laurels of ‘Well, we’re doing better than some’…? I wonder? Do you think?!

      I loved reading your comment, and hearing your NY experience! x

  • Sally

    I think society is paying a big price for outsourcing the care of children. If babies and toddlers could debate on forums such as these, I think they’d all say they prefer to be at home with mum or dad (or another trusted family member) FULL TIME rather than looked after in a noisy room of kids and a couple of teachers. I’m all for women having a choice but what about kids having a choice?

    I have two children, one 4 and the other nearly 2, and I’ve looked after them full time through gritted teeth most days since they were born. It’s a very hard slog and feels like penance of sorts at times. I think it’s this role that needs support and recognition. If mothers/fathers got it, I think many more parents would do it willingly and not feel so isolated.

    I don’t see myself as fortunate to be experiencing unpaid parenthood, I deliberately deferred having kids until I was in the position to look after them and then I changed things around so I could do it and cut back on expenses massively. Australia’s expensive to live in but it’s no easier to be a full-time parent in a poverty-stricken country than a rich one. The duties are the same: watching/educating the kids, cooking, cleaning, tidying up, washing… It’s boring but it’s for only a fraction of my life and I’d far prefer to be the person they can trust and learn from full time than outsource it to people who don’t have the time or inclination to develop their fragile little bodies and characters into confident, secure and happy children and adults.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      I think parenting is a hugely important job.  I really do. You are completely right. Work is not more important than children. But sometimes it’s vital that families work…  for all kinds of reasons. I think you are spot on. Parents do need more support and recognition, whatever their choice. Thanks for commenting today. x

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Thanks for you view, Sally. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. x

  • http://www.recycled-fashion.com/ E.

    Such an interesting debate, thank you for raising this Pip.  When I had my son, other than my husband and distant in-laws, I had no one for support, my family live on the other side of the world as I migrated to Australia 3years prior to my sons birth.  I suffered with terrible PND, and shudder to think of that dark place I was in as recent as 2 yrs ago.  I did try to go back to my old job, but couldn’t manage the guilt of leaving my child.  Despite not working, I did need a break, something, so I could try to think straight, eat something, go to counseling appointments, doctors appointments etc….  That is when I discovered Occasional Child Care, it saved my sanity, it saved our family.  I could send my child to a safe, affordable childcare facility, where he would prosper, and make friends.  I made friends too, I see them every week, and so does my son.  Occasional Child Care works differently, the hours are 9am – 2pm, at a maximum of 3 days per week.  I managed to gently find work that I could focus on during the hours my son attended care; I write, and run an online business, from home.
    Last year, the Federal and State cut funding so that many of the 220 Occasional Child Care Centres across VIC closed down.  Ours, has managed to stay open this year, but are still fighting to reinstate funding and keep these centres running. (there is a facebook page about it) http://www.facebook.com/SaveTakeABreak

    Every parent, every mother, has a right to decide what is right for their child.  Whether a parent sends their child to full time care, or stays at home full time, unfortunately, we all seem to be judged.  Everyone has a story, and individual circumstance, what is right for one family, may not be right for another…

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Thanks so much for the link re Occasional Care. I think that it’s a vital resource for parents and I had no idea that there was an OC crisis. That’s terrible. I’m going to look into that further. Thank you. x

  • Nolimitsforhanna

    I am a parent of a 9 year old and a nearly 4 year old. My 4 year old is at an independant kindy 2 days a week and it is expensive for us as my husband is a phd student and i work casually nights and some weekends as a performer. We live around the poverty line i expect and have done for about a decade. I am good at organising childcare swaps and even offer to look after other people’s children as my son loves a playmate while his sister is at school. I would work more if I could access more childcare. I sometimes accept cash for looking after other people’s children whilst they go and earn a crust. If children were valued more then chidcare would be more of a funding priority for the government. Only one more year until my son is at school!

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Children really DO need to be valued more, as do those who care for them. It would be great if these child raising years were celebrated and rewarded, rather than seen (by some) as a kind of treading water period.  Whether you are at home, or at work, raising kids is one of the most important jobs you will do in your life. We need to recognize and reward that. x

  • Suzygill

    My 2 are in childcare - I work 3 days a week, less from choice but because my hours were slashed.  I can’t afford to give up work because I know that once they are at school full-time there will be no jobs available and I have to hold on to the one I have.  I pay £78 a week childcare costs and (through Tax Credits) I get just over £900 towards my childcare costs – about 12 weeks?  Not much but it helps.  A friend of mine pays over £1000 a month on childcare for her 2 children – more than her wages.  But it is worth it because in a couple of years they’ll be in school and she will still have a job.  It’s a speculate to accumulate affair.

    I admire women who stay at home – but for me I would miss the adult interaction and the feeling of financial independence.  I guess it is up to the individual.  What I hate are those people who use having children as an excuse not to work and then claim unemployment benefit – purely because we are responsible and factor our finances into whether we can afford to have our kids and when.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Thanks for weighing in, Suzygill. It’s interesting to see how child care impacts/assists you in the UK.  I think this is a global issue, not just an Australian one. Thanks for commenting! x

  • Tali

    Yes, we do need more centres! Yes, we do need shorter waiting lists! Yes, child care does need to be more affordable!

    I am a mum with a 2 year old and a six week old. But before I was a mum, I was an early childhood teacher working mainly in the child care sector. I love EC teaching and I really loved working in child care, but let me tell you – you do it for the love!

    My first job, 11 years ago, was at a centre in Darwin. I got paid $14/hour (full time wage). And that was after studying for 4 years to get my degree. If I had decided to teach in a school ( I can teach up to grade 3) I would have been earning about $20/hour. And while I was at uni, I was working in a restaurant earning $21/ hour. Child care wages are really crap. I can understand why people don’t want to work in child care when you can make better money doing something else.

    So finding good people to work in child care is really hard. I’ve had many students working with me who get turned off while on Prac placement when they discover how long the hours can be (both in the centre and all the extra work you take home), what they might have to do (changing nappies? Ooh gross! Take out the nappy bin? But it stinks! Clean the children’s bathrooms? Isn’t that what cleaners are for?) and how very little they get paid for it all. And if everyone could just have a little mind shift about the status of child care workers, we might find more young people wanting to make it a career. It’s not just babysitting!

    The government wants all people working in child care to have some form of qualification (the minimum being a Cert 3 in Children’s Services or the like). This is a great idea! They want Early Childhood teachers in every centre. Fantastic! We SHOULD have staff who have a clear understanding of child development and the skills necessary to implement appropriate play programs for children. But this all COSTS BIG TIME!!

    Basically, if childcare was any other business without government funding, it would fail dismally. The overheads are so high – rent (as usual based on square meterage of the property and children need a LOT of space – there are rules about how much they actually need)  + insurance (public liability for all those children!) + staff wages (remember staff/child ratios have to be maintained at all times so lunch breaks and tea breaks have to be covered by more staff members) + food + quality play resources etc, etc.

    The centres are having to increase their fees to cover costs, which puts a huge amount of financial strain on the parents when really, the government needs to step up, put the needs of children and their families first and heavily subsidise child care.

    Personally, I’m lucky. I now work at an art studio teaching children with two of my dearest friends. We all have children and we bring our kids to work with us when our family or partners can’t look after them. We are able to walk the line between “stay-at-home mums” and “working mums” because our families, our partners and our working environment allow us to do so.

    It would be lovely if the Australian Government was able to do the same for all mums and dads through greater financial subsidies for child care.

    • http://meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com meetmeatmikes

      Oh YES! And we need mums who stay home to be supported too. We need everyone’s choices to be supported, so that everyone can make the right choice for them, don’t we. Thanks so much for your great comment!

  • Suzanne

    My children are now 18 and 15 but reading your comments took me back to those stressful years of the high cost of childcare.  Nothing much seems to have changed over 16 or so years.   Disgraceful.  Federal and State Governments – are you listening?  

    The one positive I feel came out of the whole messy scenario was that they went to such high quality care they benefitted enormously from the care, activities and social interactions.  

    My nephew has recently married a Swedish girl and now lives over there.  They came to visit this Christmas with their one year old son  and between them they have about 500 days of parental leave on half pay (from memory).  They can cut and paste this any way they choose.  How sophisticated is that?

    Sweden seems to be a country and culture that understands the social responsibilities to their community.  

    It’s not rocket science and we are rich enough to fund a high standard of care at a affordable price.  

    I hope your forum moves things in the right direction.    

    • Georgiasutton

      Right on!

  • Georgia

    I just wish the quality of child care centers was better. We pay a lot for what is, in a large part, a sub standard service. We need to demand better care of higher quality but it seems it’s like the Emperors new clothes, parents don’t want to criticize because of the emotional elements tied up in having kid’s in care. My experience has been with having to put a 4 month old in care to pay the bills and then being a stay-at-homer for over six years with the two younger ones. I put them into a kindergarten when old enough. I considered care for them but couldn’t face the care centre options. I wanted a babysitter for in home care, but this was very hard to find. Staying at home with the kids was excellent and bloody horrible and brilliant. It’s all over now, they are school age and I work five days a week to pay their school fees. But, I digress, better quality care would be a great start.

  • Sarah

    Both my girls have been in childcare, from about 5 months old – 3 days a week. I always planned on returning to work after each of my babies was born (monetary reasons), but it still didn’t make it any easier when that first day of care arrived and I had to leave them at the centre and head off to work (still brings tears on to recall it). It would have been nice to have had more time off prior to returning to work but that wasn’t really an option for me.  Both my girls have loved their preschools, and their teachers were genreally excellent. We haven’t had too much grief from other people over our choice to put them in care – most people seem to be in a similar position to us – it’s not financially viable to have only one wage coming in. Here in NZ, we now get a subsidy from the Govt for kids over 3, which does help.

  • Hasbee

     I am a Child Care Educator  myself and have three children, I am a single mother. Yes it is expensive! I would just like to say that in this profession we have so many qualifications to have and meet many, many, regulations and standards to adhere to that it is worth it. But unfortunately we are as educators  are not the ones receiving the money. We put put in the hard yards to educate your children but are not being paid accordingly. 

  • Ashley Carr

    Thank you for the hard work you are putting in to this cause. I am a mother of three- two of my own (5 & 11 mo) and one 10 year old foster child. My husband is studying full time and I work as a social worker on the weekends (as the weekend penalty rates make it possible for me to only work two days per week).

    I would absolutely utilise child care for my 11 month old son and after school care for the girls if it were more affordable. I am a highly skilled professional and I am a mother. I love my children more than anything in the world but I also need to acknowledge that the professional part of me needs a space to run wild without needing to revert to, snot wiping, nappy changing, veggie cooking mummy- just for a few hours a week. I don’t think this is selfish. It keeps me sane! I helps me be a better mother. This is MY experience.

    I would ideally like to work two extra weekdays per week however I absolutely would not earn enough in those extra two days to justify the cost of the care.

    • http://freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com/ Sarah

      !!! I Ewana Parks Post This Testimony Coz My Husband Is Back Thanks To Dr.Ukaka

      My Name is Ewana Parks..I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this powerful man called Dr.Ukaka. My husband divorce me with no reason for almost 3 years and i tried all i could to have him back cos i really love him so much but all my effort did not work out.. we met at our early age at the college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 4 years with one kid and he woke up one morning and he told me he’s going on a divorce..i thought it was a joke and when he came back from work he tender to me a divorce letter and he packed all his loads from the house..i ran mad and i tried all i could to have him back but all did not work out..i was lonely for almost 3 years…So when i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for her full name and her picture..i gave him that..At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos have tried so many spell casters and there is no solution…so when he finished with the readings,he got back to me that his with a girlfriend and that his girlfriend is the reason why he left me…The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring him back.but i never believe all this…he told me i will see a positive result within 24hours..24hours later,he called me himself and came to me apologizing and he told me he will come back to me..I cant believe this,it was like a dream cos i never believe this will work out after trying many spell casters and there is no solution..The spell caster is so powerful and after that he helped me with job promotion spell 3 days later i was promoted at my place of work..Now we are very happy been together again and with our lovely kid..This spell caster has really changed my life and i will forever thankful to him..he has helped many friends too with similar problem too and they are happy and thankful to him..This man is indeed the most powerful spell caster have ever experienced in life..Am Posting this to the in case there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out..you can reach him via email:freedomlovespell@hotmail.com contact him on his website address: freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com,..

  • Ashley Carr

    Pretty sure my comment just disappeared..  :(

    • Ashley Carr

      oh scratch that.. no it didn’t :)

  • http://www.petalplum.blogspot.com/ Ellie – Petalplum

    Just want to say that this is one of the best, most well researched, caring, thoughtful, understanding and wonderfully presented talks on child care I’ve read for a long time. Pip – why aren’t you a politician?? I’d vote for you!! You’d be the lovely one actually wanting to hug and kiss babies, and you’d have yarn bombed Parliament House…….

    I worked part time (and sometimes part time for myself / own business) when my little ones were littler. It was hard, and expensive. And I was getting the highest rate reductions – basically I was dropping my kids at care (having the angst of leaving them in a long day care centre, that didn’t have enough staff to fully attend to all children in the way each mama & papa wishes). And then driving to work (or to my studio) and craming as much into the day before I had to pick the little ones up again. And mostly paying my whole day income to have them in care. Not a good situation. I’ve been lucky to have family (sister + mother-in-law) to help me out with child care, which meant I actually could keep my income, but that still involved getting my children to their house and back again at the end of the day. A long day for all involved.
    I was ‘lucky’ also to be able to choose (or do without somethings – though we did have to sell our house due to high mortgage and go back to renting) to not have to go back to work full time…
    My sister is a single mum (well, she now only just has a live-in partner). Her son is 10 and she can’t have a full time job, or even a regular part time job as before/after school care is not easy for her son or their life. But she can’t really afford to not have a job!

    Yes – some big big changes need to happen around this country. And the debate over mothers in full time work not loving their children. Come on! Gotta stop! Us mums have to support each other and yes, share the plate and offer dessert as well (love that Pip – dessert for the mamas who need it even if they didn’t each their vegies..).

    Yah to Pip for writing this great great great post.

  • Nadi

    Amazingly we were really lucky to get O into a good child care centre really quickly. Not counting the fact that I drive 30-40 minutes depending on the traffic, we are pretty lucky.
    Do not get any assistance on the fees though and we recently cut back on care and work for me because it just wasn’t viable… Go figure, I can’t afford not to work but if I work too much it’d almost be better not to work at all.
    Our trouble begins with next year. Kindy. 2 1/2 days. I leave for work at 7am, so O would need to get taken to and from kindy but there just aren’t any where we live that cater for before school care! Looked into a Nanny but that just made me laugh until I cried, I’d be better off quitting.
    Lucky for me I’m a teacher and have managed to wangle my kids into my school , meaning I can have O with me before and after school and just won’t work on his half days.
    So though I laugh, sob and pull my hair out when I think about what on earth to do with my children when I’m at work, I can still honestly say, I am pretty lucky, lucky that I work in the area I do because there is NO WAY I could afford any full time care!!!

  • LindaB

     I have experianced both f/t stay at home mum & f/t worker with kids in care neither worked for us.
    im about to turn 35 & now have a 17,15 & 5 year old who just started kindy, i still only work p/t and spend the rest of my time being mum & volunteering with a fav charity & the kids schools.  While i feel very lucky to have had the choice to be able to raise my children it has had sacrifices from being so young without any family support and minimum finacial security, to missing out on many school activity’s with the first 2 while working f/t &  time with hubby when working odd hours (he day/me nights), we still rent as buying would mean i would have to return to full-time work, which would mean missed school occasions and before & after care increased, My balance now of p/t work does work  for now, but at a financial cost.
     You can only do your best with the knowledge you have at that time & what works for one family may not for another. The sooner you find your Balance the happier YOU & the Family will be GOODLUCK its a personal journey.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1599503946 Sylvia Davey

    oh i wish i could afford child care for my boys! i would be a happier, less stressed mummy, my house would be cleaner and i would be able to return to both TAFE and work, this does not mean to say i dont love my boys because i do i just know that as a person i need something outside of my kidlets so returning to tafe/work and affordable childcare are going to have to remain dreams for now unfortunately though the longer i leave returning to tafe/work the harder it will be to get back into work because a lot of employers do tend to hesitate hiring a)a parent and b)someone who has been not working for a few years

  • Kerrimerrall

    Frankly, I would FRIKKEN LOVE to be a sister wife!  Or perhaps, more accurately, HAVE a sister wife. I love sharing the daily tasks of living with another woman. It happened often back in my share house days, not that much housework was done, but when it did…well, to quote Pooh Bear “it’s so much more friendly with two”.
    But once we do the married and baby thing suddenly we think we have to live on this little tiny island called My House. Cut off from the rest of humanity and we get lonely and start sending up smoke signals like drinking too much, accidently nearly killing the dog and the old chestnut, flirting with tradesmen….
    I have four children ranging in ages from 18 to 3 and my 10 year od has a severe disability. I have stayed at home for the best part of 20 years.  Most days I feel like some kind of dinosaur from the 50′s, lost in the ancient task of mothering in a distracting and unsupportive modern world. We have no family within 2000 kms and minimal community support. And because I am a ‘busy mum” I gonna go all dot point on yo ass re the Child Care question…

    *CC…I am most of my way through a Grad Dip in Early Childhood, so I have been out there and honestly, I wouldn’t PUT MY DOG in most of them. I say most because there are a very few with a very high standard.
    * Most parents are forced to put there kids in the CC that they get a place in, NOT the one they think is the best for their child.
    *CC will never be of a very high quality untill workers are paid considerably better and more is expected of them academically. (teachers and nurses are still waiting for this so I’m not holding my breath)
    *As for what I would ask for from a government? Well, yesterday I was having a rant on FB about musicians and artists being asked to give their talents for free and I suggested their needs to be a Musicians/Artists pension. A no questions asked minimal stipend for servies that go towards the up keep of the heart and soul of the community. (Ok, I know it screams naivety but ya have to dream) So perhaps there needs to be similar for stay at home parents but something more like an actual wage and not just the scraps thrown at us in the form of Family Payment.

    Got to go put on a load of washing and play dragons and magic guinea pigs with my son now…

    Love your work Pip! Keep it up!

  • Kirsty Ellen

    Awesome Pip! I just worked out vacation care for three of my tribe will cost me $4600 this Christmas, add to that $500 per week for the little poppet and working is an expensive affair. Oh, and no reduced fees for me.
    When I hear discussions at work (in my corporate day job) about ‘barriers to entry’, I say, actually it’s simple really. Women can’t return to work and stay there happily unless they have access to reliable, quality child care and after school care. Even then, when your child turns 12 what do you do? No more after school care! I wish politicians in Canberra had the same depth of understanding about this issue as you do Pip. Brilliant, brilliant article. Just what I needed to read at the end of a long work week, thank you!

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    • http://freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com/ Sarah

      !!! I Ewana Parks Post This Testimony Coz My Husband Is Back Thanks To Dr.Ukaka

      My Name is Ewana Parks..I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this powerful man called Dr.Ukaka. My husband divorce me with no reason for almost 3 years and i tried all i could to have him back cos i really love him so much but all my effort did not work out.. we met at our early age at the college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 4 years with one kid and he woke up one morning and he told me he’s going on a divorce..i thought it was a joke and when he came back from work he tender to me a divorce letter and he packed all his loads from the house..i ran mad and i tried all i could to have him back but all did not work out..i was lonely for almost 3 years…So when i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for her full name and her picture..i gave him that..At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos have tried so many spell casters and there is no solution…so when he finished with the readings,he got back to me that his with a girlfriend and that his girlfriend is the reason why he left me…The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring him back.but i never believe all this…he told me i will see a positive result within 24hours..24hours later,he called me himself and came to me apologizing and he told me he will come back to me..I cant believe this,it was like a dream cos i never believe this will work out after trying many spell casters and there is no solution..The spell caster is so powerful and after that he helped me with job promotion spell 3 days later i was promoted at my place of work..Now we are very happy been together again and with our lovely kid..This spell caster has really changed my life and i will forever thankful to him..he has helped many friends too with similar problem too and they are happy and thankful to him..This man is indeed the most powerful spell caster have ever experienced in life..Am Posting this to the in case there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out..you can reach him via email:freedomlovespell@hotmail.com contact him on his website address: freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com

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  • http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com/ Jeffrey Dowling


    I am Sandra Jeffrey from USA, I have been trying for 5years to get pregnant and needed help! i have Been going to the doctors but still nothing. The doctor said that me and my husband are fine and I don’t know where else to turn. Until one day my friend introduce me to this great spell caster who helped her to get back her lost husband back with love spell and also made her pregnant, So I decided to contact this spell caster Dr Brave on his EMAIL:bravespellcaster@gmail.com after interaction with him he instructed me on what to do, after then i should have sex with the my husband or any man I love in this world, And i did so, within the next one months i went for a check up and my doctor confirmed that i am 2weeks pregnant of two babies. I am so happy!! if you also need help to get pregnant or need your ex back please contact his email address: EMAIL:bravespellcaster@gmail.com or through His web address http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/ As HE did it for me, I am now a mother of twins. He will also do it for you. THANKS.

  • http://freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com/ Sarah

    !!! I Ewana Parks Post This Testimony Coz My Husband Is Back Thanks To Dr.Ukaka

    My Name is Ewana Parks..I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this powerful man called Dr.Ukaka. My husband divorce me with no reason for almost 3 years and i tried all i could to have him back cos i really love him so much but all my effort did not work out.. we met at our early age at the college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 4 years with one kid and he woke up one morning and he told me he’s going on a divorce..i thought it was a joke and when he came back from work he tender to me a divorce letter and he packed all his loads from the house..i ran mad and i tried all i could to have him back but all did not work out..i was lonely for almost 3 years…So when i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for her full name and her picture..i gave him that..At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos have tried so many spell casters and there is no solution…so when he finished with the readings,he got back to me that his with a girlfriend and that his girlfriend is the reason why he left me…The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring him back.but i never believe all this…he told me i will see a positive result within 24hours..24hours later,he called me himself and came to me apologizing and he told me he will come back to me..I cant believe this,it was like a dream cos i never believe this will work out after trying many spell casters and there is no solution..The spell caster is so powerful and after that he helped me with job promotion spell 3 days later i was promoted at my place of work..Now we are very happy been together again and with our lovely kid..This spell caster has really changed my life and i will forever thankful to him..he has helped many friends too with similar problem too and they are happy and thankful to him..This man is indeed the most powerful spell caster have ever experienced in life..Am Posting this to the in case there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out..you can reach him via email:freedomlovespell@hotmail.com contact him on his website address: freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com

  • http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com/ Jeffrey Dowling

    How to Get your Lover Back after a Divorce or Breakup

    Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in Texas,USA.and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same Website: http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/,if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{bravespellcaster@gmail.com} Thanks for reading.

  • Natasha Johnson

    i want to thank Dr.Brave for bringing back my ex husband, we broke up for more than 4 month and he told me that he never want to see me in his life again. i love him so much to the extend that i could not do any thing again, i was confused and depress due to the love i had for him.i did everything i could do to have him come back to me but all went in vain. so i decided to contact a spell caster, i did not believe in spell casting i just want to try it may be it would work out for me. i contacted Dr.Brave for help, he told me that he have to cast a love spell on him, i told him to start it. after 3 days my husband called me and started to apologize for leaving me and also he told me that he still love me. i was very happy and i thank Dr.Brave for helping me get back my ex husband back to my hands. his spell is the the greatest all over the world, it was the love spell he cast on my ex that make him come back to me. all you ladies who want back the ex husband back i want you to contact Dr.Brave at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct at (bravespellcaster@gmail.com) OR visit he Website: (http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/ ) and get your problems solve or you can call his cell phone on +2348070370762

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