Tag Archives: Childcare

Breaking news: nearly half of Australian mums back at work before their youngest turns one

A report in The Australian today says that almost half of all mums in two-parent families are back at work before their youngest child turns one.

Is this true for you?

Is this why it is impossible to find a child care place for kids aged 0-2?

The story, written by George Megalogenis and Sophie Gosper, also says almost all the mothers who went back to work in this period took part-time jobs with fewer than 25 working hours a week.

You can read the full piece here but you need a subscription to The Australian to read it in full, so here are the key points:

  • The trend for mothers returning to work has accelerated in line with higher rates of female education and rising property prices.
  • This generation of women have jobs worth going back to and the typical mortgage requires two incomes to service.
  • In the mid 1980s, the majority of mothers in two-parent families waited until their youngest child was three before returning to work.
  • In the mid 1990s, the benchmark had fallen to two years.
  • About two-thirds of mothers with jobs are employed part-time while their children are in preschool.
  • By age three, though, more than half the working mothers are in full-time work. Sole parents are the exception to this pattern.
  • Most are still at home when the youngest child is aged 4-5.

Do these figures represent your family, and your choices?

If your family part of an Australian trend?

If you are new to Working Mums Australia and interested in more about part-time work, you may be interested in the personal stories of Juliet, Tamara and Kellie, who featured in our series on part time work a while ago.

They shared their stories, choices and influences to help us all work out a way to muddle through this challenging set of decisions  🙂

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Miss Three is at war with her carers, and I’m on her side..


Here’s a confession, I haven’t had major sleep problems with Miss Three since she was four months old.

That’s not to say we’re not up a lot during the nights; there are often bad dreams, illness, heat or cold issues and sometimes a need for emergency cuddles, but we know that in the grand scheme of things, we’re pretty fortunate.

I’m the last person to claim the credit.  We had fantastic support from the sleep support centre provided by our local area health service when Miss Three was four months old.  As hapless parents who knew very little, this was a godsend.

Since then things have gone fairly well.  Miss Three gave up her daytime sleep about six months ago, it made the evening bedtime quicker and less stressful and we’re quite relaxed about that.

But every day she’s at daycare, her carers spend two hours trying to get her to sleep.  They pat, cajole and beg and she just doesn’t sleep. I get reports (from her) about how they will try and get her to ‘be good and have a sleep today’.

And I really don’t care.

I understand that those who work in daycare need a break during the day – this is absolutely not about that.  I also understand that some kids need a sleep, and others a little quiet time, but I do not understand telling a child that good behaviour is sleeping when they really have no physical need for one?

We spend the first few years of our children’s loves agonizing over their sleep patterns.  There’s a very good reason that Go the F*** to Sleep is a bestseller.  And it’s a serious issue for working mums, who are trying to commute, make decisions and function like regular human beings during the day, often on very little sleep.

I’d love to get an afternoon kip on the weekends, and it was lovely while it lasted, but if they don’t need it, there’s simply  not much you can do about it.

I try so hard to support our lovely carers and any rules or processes they implement.  I think consistency in expectations, especially on things like manners, eating patterns and treatment of other people, is really important.

But I’m sorry daycare, I just can’t back you up on this one.

Kirsten

Six options for mums with sick kids

We’ve been fairly lucky this winter (touch wood nervously), but when Miss Three is sick, things get pretty tense in our house.  Negotiations about who has the most critical meetings and deadlines at work occur.  There are thin lips all round.

Like a lot of families, we have no real backup plan.  Our parents live too far away and missing a day’s work can seem like a crisis.  It’s usually worse for Miss Three than it is for us, but at the time it feels like a disaster.

The other challenge is that, when kids are sick, it’s usually going around in the family, so you’re probably struggling with something too.  But there’s no sick leave as a mum, right?

Coping with Jane has published these tips on Four ways to avoid a sick child in day-care which has some good ideas, but there are times when none of them work, and you just need to get by.

Here are your options.

OPTION NUMBER ONE

Force your kids to get up and ready for day care.  Often a bit of a false economy as the carers are pretty expert at spotting a sick kid and will whip out that thermometer and call you home by mid-morning.   The rules are often that they have to stay away for 24 hours after being sent home, so you may have turned one sick day into two.

OPTION NUMBER TWO

Call someone – anyone – to look after your sick kid(s).  Mums, neighbours, friends, paid babysitters, can all come into their own at around 7am on a sick day.  A paid babysitter can earn more than you do, so this can also be a false economy.

OPTION NUMBER THREE

Try and do it all.  Call your employer and explain, offer to work from home, and then, if your work allows it, log in and try and get as much done as you can.  This method usually involves using a television as a babysitter, or taking calls with a child whingeing in the background.  In many jobs, and for many employers, it’s also not allowed.

OPTION NUMBER FOUR

If you are one of the very fortunate, use one of your carer days as a leave day and explain to your employer that your child is sick and you will not be at work today. They understand and know that their flexibility will be appreciated by less time goofing off at work and a more engaged and loyal workforce.

OPTION NUMBER FIVE

Try and get your husband or partner to do one or all of the above.

OPTION NUMBER SIX

Lie and pretend it’s you who is sick so your employer doesn’t regret employing a working mum and just thinks you’re always ill.

Have you used any of these strategies?

Kirsten

Local Council candidate ridiculed for asking about childcare support

Is childcare a right or a privilege?  What about for local councillors?

My friend Aisha Amjad is a candidate for her local council next weekend.  She’s a mum and activist, and I think she’ll be a great advocate for her community if she’s elected.

But this week in The Hill Shire Times, she and her other female candidates were  ridiculed by another councillor – a woman– for querying whether childcare was available for meetings.

You can read all about what happened here.

I asked Aisha to write for us about what happened.  Tell us what you think.

I’m a candidate for the Hills Shire Council (North Ward). Our ward is the only one consisting of all female candidates, two of whom (including me) have young kids under the age of five. A question was put to the Council, whether it would consider on-site childcare if any of the young mothers were to be elected.

The reaction, from a Liberal Councillor, Robyn Preston, who is a mother herself, was unbelievable. She scoffed at the suggestion but declared that “it’s the choice you make” and that the “cost of childcare by council would be better spent on footpaths.”

Yes, being a mother is the choice that I have made, and if it came down to money spent by Council on childcare or footpaths for my community, then I would obviously go for footpaths, but I wonder whether it is possible to do both, to ensure that mothers are encouraged to run for Council knowing that the support will be there if they are successful.

If I was elected, I may have to attend Council meetings for up to six hours. Yes, I would be sacrificing time with my son. Yes, it is the choice that I make, but only because I think I would be doing something important by making our community a better place to live.

If I was elected, I don’t need to rely on Council childcare, but it would be great to be able to count on them for support. So far, with all my busy campaigning, I have relied on the goodwill of my family to look after my son. I may not be a perfect mother, but I’m sure when he grows up he will understand that you make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.

Yes I am trying to have it all, and often with heart-warming, sometimes heart-wrenching but also humorous results. Where I can, I try and take my son as child care can be expensive. However, I have also found it is hard to juggle being a mother and an MC at some events.

Last Saturday, I had to speak at a function with 600 guests. My son was close by, being looked after by his ‘digital nanny’ (the iPad). He casually strolled onto the stage, pulled my clothes and declared, “Mama I need to pee”.

Now that I can handle, but if I had to drag my son to a council meeting for six hours that would be unfair on him and even the iPad wouldn’t last that long!

Many other women, especially mothers, are trying to have and do it all, but sadly often it is other women which cut them down. The former U.S Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was famous for saying: “I think there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Now that is quite harsh, but I’m sure most women in the workforce have encountered women who have been more of a hindrance than a help.

I for one, am extremely excited, inspired and motivated whenever I meet a ‘succexcellent’ woman (that is, successful and excellent!). I think successful woman are great role models, not only for other women, but society in general.

I’d love to be elected to Council, because I think I could make the Hills Shire a better place to live and work. But if not me, then I’d at least love to see some mums get elected to Councils to help improve the footpaths, playgrounds and services for the benefit of all residents.

Aisha Amjad is an ex-lawyer but is currently studying for her Masters in International Law and International Relations. She has lived in the Hills Shire all her life and is a mum to her 5 year old son Miraan.

You can email her on aisha.amjad.govt@gmail.com or Aisha AK on Facebook (aisha.ak.16@facebook.com).

In New South Wales, it is compulsory to vote this Saturday, September 8. The fine for not voting is $55.

You can find out more about your local candidates and where you can vote here .

Do women want it all, or do they just want better child care?

Many of you may have seen Anne-Maree Slaughter’s piece in July edition of The Atlantic magazine about women trying to have it all, and the subsequent internet debate about it.

If you haven’t, you can read it here.  You can also read pieces responding to it, here, here and here. It caused a bit of a fuss, largely because it allowed lots of journalists to get excited about whether feminism had got something wrong.

Most of this debate misses the point entirely.  Many women in Australia grow up thinking we can have it all, and then the reality of having children and raising a family hits us.  For some, it is the first time they experience any sort of discrimination, or realise the world isn’t fair.  In Anne-Marie’s Slaughter’s case, she realised it was impossible to commute across the country and still see her children.  I’m not sure what she expected or why that was news to her, but we’re all learning I suppose.

In my experience, many women are perfectly fine with taking a backwards step in their career to spend more time with their children, especially while they’re young.  We know that this means less superannuation, a slower career path to seniority and less involvement in major work decisons that might happen when we’re not there.  It’s frustrating, and when we know we’re capable of doing our bosses job it can drive us crazy, but we can cope.

The problem arises when we are willing to work, and know our kids will be fine if we worked at all/more days/different days, and we can’t find the childcare or the employer who will help us manage these responsibilities.

To that end, I am pleased to see that Childcare Minister Kate Ellis put removing restrictions on childcare centres being open after 6pm onto the agenda.  For many families, this would reduce our burden considerably.  As would more reliable public transport.

Another option could be to allow some centres to open on Saturday in areas where there is local demand among miners and shift workers.  No-one wants to have children in 24 hour care, and so this would need to be regulated, but having some help available for families at odd hours would surely help the many shift workers we have in our economy, as well as those of us (like me) who battle Sydney traffic in the evening to avoid a fine by getting there after 6pm.

Would more flexible child care make a difference to you? What else do you need for your version of ‘having it all’?

Kirsten

 

3 things to do before the end of financial year

I’ve got a guest post at Mamamia today on 3 things to do before the end of financial year.

Regular readers of Working Mums Australia will already know some of these tips, but you can check them out here.

Happy end of financial year!

Kirsten

Is your child care costing you more than it should?

Apologies for the hiatus, but our day care arrangements are changing and our house is in a state of chaos.

However, we break from this personal hiatus to share some important information all working mums need to know, and potentially do something about, before the 30th of June.  Yep, that’s in a few days ladies.

DID YOU KNOW ALL MUMS WHO WORK OR STUDY MORE THAN 15 HOURS A WEEK ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CHILD CARE SUPPORT?

Not just those who earn below a certain level of income.

Not just those who receive Family Tax Benefit.

All of us.

If this is new information to you, and you had kids in care in between July 2009 and June 2010, you have only a few days to get your forms into the Family Assistance Office because you can get the money retrospectively, but only for two years.

If your children started care more recently and you’re not claiming the rebate, you have a bit longer to get everything in order, but it’s still a good time to get your finances in order and claim all you can.

Here are the facts you need to know.

  • The Child Care Tax Rebate is not means tested. You have to be working, studying or training to qualify but you can get up to $7500 per child per year regardless of your income.  Verification of this from a government website is here.
  • The other form of support, the Child Care Benefit is designed as what the government calls an ‘equity measure’, in that it is designed to help people who need the financial help most.  This one is only available to families on incomes up to around $160,000.  You can read more about this one here.
  • For both forms of care, long day care, family day care and outside school hours care and occasional care all qualify but any informal care (grandparents, nannies or babysitters) doesn’t.
  • You can get the form for both forms of support from the Family Assistance Office (located in Medicare offices).

There is an online process, but you need to know things like your CRN number.   If you don’t know what a CRN is, or whether you have one, I’d suggest an in-person visit.  Personally I found the website incredibly clunky and unfriendly, and I like my local Medicare ladies, so I gave up and went into the office where all of my questions could be answered and my form received with confidence.

They even gave me a little receipt that is pasted on our fridge until they process my form.

The form itself is pretty straightforward and took about 15 minutes to fill out.  You need to know things like your Medicare numbe, bank account details and passport details if any of you have travelled overseas lately.

Working mums work really hard, and many of us are also responsible for managing the household finances and general administration as well as our paid job and the mum job, but the benefit of adding this one to your To Do list is that it has the potential to make you money.  And hopefully make paying that heating bill just a little bit easier 🙂

Kirsten