Archive for Daycare

No School!

In my area, the Jewish population is large enough that our local public schools are off for Jewish holidays.  So because of Rosh Hashanah, the kids are out of school today!  And because the main (read: cheapest) daycare in the area is at the local Jewish center, the kids in our neighborhood were all at home today.  In my sunrise exercise class, the responses were firmly divided between working moms and at-home moms.  To the working moms, it was a burden to find extra childcare today, especially since we’re also getting next Monday off for Columbus Day.  All of the moms who are part-to-full-time at home were celebrating our chance to just get to hang out with the kids today.  One mom was taking her kids down to La Brea tar pits, another one mentioned the pool, and even though my kids are homeschooled and thus technically had schoolwork to do today, we did some fun projects and had all the neighbor boys over all afternoon.

I mention this situation on the blog (after weeks of silence!) because it struck me forcibly that we as a society don’t tell young women about days like this when we’re assuring them that of course they can have it all, family and career.  A lot assume that once kids are school-age, the childcare dilemma will be over.  Maybe they have a vague sense that there’s this thing called summer vacation, but there are so many camps and summer programs nowadays that it’s not a big deal, planning-wise.  It’s days like today, unexpected holidays in the midst of a work week, that can throw working parents for a loop.  This morning’s conversation among a bunch of sweaty mom friends exemplified the down side of “having it all.”  Even in the relatively flexible field of academia, college courses and office hours are still happening today for my working friends.  When you have a career, you give up the freedom to enjoy these brief vacation days with your children.  Maybe most working moms don’t mind, and maybe those of us who get to spend vacation days at home with our kids don’t appreciate it enough.  My husband had to work today, after all, much as he would have liked eating chocolate chip pancakes and playing board games with us today.  Regardless of how you or I feel about it, this is part of the parenting/working equation.  Young women planning their futures should know about days like today!

(And in the spirit of full disclosure, I had typed up this much when my potty training toddler had an accident all over the bathroom.  It did cross my mind as I mopped up pee that the privilege of staying home and playing with my kids on vacation days also means I have the “privilege” of cleaning up their messes!)

Posted in Daycare, For Younger Women, Having It All | Leave a comment

To War

Did you see that the Senate voted to require women to register for the draft, starting in 2018? It’s not a law yet; it needs to be passed in the House of Representatives and the President has to sign off, as well. But half of our law makers decided that this was the next step for the women of our nation.

IMG_2505

I’ve got two thoughts on this:

First, this was an easy step to take. All the infrastructure is in place. If you were called for the draft and had a child or children, all you would need to do is find full-time childcare for them. Even one generation ago, our mothers would have thought long and hard about whether leaving their children for extended military training or deployment was a good idea. (If you don’t believe me, go watch the movie Beethoven.) Now, we don’t worry about it. Paying somebody else to raise your children is no longer a social experiment. It’s normal. Too bad we didn’t examine the data before we decided this.

Second, this is an official statement that moms are not important. Since the age when you would be most helpful for the armed forces corresponds directly to your best years for childbearing, it makes sense to conclude that many of these women being drafted could have children. By pulling them away from their children, we’re making it official policy that there is no reason a substitute cannot raise your children. In fact, as a friend of mine was recently told in a grocery store, an early childhood educator knows more about the abilities of your children than you do. The idea that there is something necessary or even special about a mother raising her own children is gone. Get the moms and kids out of the house: they’re not needed there anymore.

One final thought:

Will we all get a lot better at civil disobedience if this becomes law? I hope so.

Posted in Daycare, Importance of Mothers | Leave a comment

How the Childcare Economy Undervalues Children

We’ve talked about daycare and how it is bad for children.  So why do I care how other mothers choose to raise their children?  Today I want to talk a little about how the treatment of childcare as a commodity rather than a calling has devalued children and impacted the way even stay-at-home moms look at their motherhood.

If you’re surrounded by working mom friends, as I am, you usually find yourself at toddler birthday parties standing a little off to the side as they discuss daycare situations.  Yes, I know that most working moms like to think that they’re picking the daycare based on who is nicest to their children, but when I hear them talking to each other, it’s always about the price.  Comparing notes, figuring fees, suggesting the other move her kids to X school because it’s $100/less a month.  And as Anna has pointed out, the cheapest daycares are horrible places to be.  Yet money is the determining factor, because kids are resilient.  It’s always amazing to me when I discuss preschool with working moms that they know so little about what their children are doing there all day.  I asked a working mom friend what curriculum they used at her son’s Christian preschool, and she had no idea, but she could tell me how much it cost a week!  I remember talking to another working mom about our decision to homeschool my son after doing preschool at home and that I knew his temperament was such that the classical model would really work with him.  The other mom looked at me and said, “Wow, I can’t believe you know that about your kid.  I would have no idea what learning style fits mine.”  I knew because I’d spent the last 5 years studying my son; she had no idea because her daughter had spent the last 4 years in daycare 60 hours a week.  I know these are just anecdotes, and there are probably many moms who are much more tuned in to what their kids do in childcare all day, but the reality is that when daycare costs more than college, parents who choose to put their children there rather than raise them themselves have to find a balance of positive environment and affordability.  For all but the wealthiest moms, cheapness has to factor in, or they couldn’t afford to work.  Or I hear dads explain why their wives are taking on new jobs just as the baby is born: “She’s going to make more than the two of us combined do right now!”  When you make life decisions based on earning potential, you’re going to end up making childcare decisions based on a financial bottom line, too.

Sadly, since daycare prices seem to be the baseline, the moderately more tolerable alternative of hiring a nanny suffers from the same childcare-as-commodity mindset. Recently a friend of mine, seasoned homeschooling mother of three grown children and grandmother of several, was asked by a couple in her church to nanny their new baby while the mom went back to work.  Although my friend is a firm supporter of stay-at-home motherhood, she considered taking the job to supplement her husband’s income…until she found out that they wanted to pay her five dollars an hour.  Not only was that offer insulting (my friend makes four times that much doing ESL tutoring, a part-time job she loves), but it was illegal, a fact this Christian couple ignored in their efforts to save money.  We can talk elsewhere about the minimum wage in general, but as long as it is in place, it is our duty to be good citizens and uphold the law of the land.  What kind of example is this couple setting for their daughter?  Oh honey, you were not worth paying an expert to care for you, so we found someone else willing to break the law and watch you for less. The woman who ended up becoming the nanny was a stay-at-home mom who clearly had bought into this mindset that her time and expertise were not worth even a legal level of remuneration.

What’s most tragic for me is watching the generation of stay-at-home moms who knew better buying in to their daughter’s desire for free or cheap childcare, totally ignoring the value of the work they themselves did in raising children.  A grandma I know recently told me that her daughter had had to move her son to daycare because the sweet little lady from church who had been his nanny was charging ten dollars an hour!  I looked at her quizzically and said, “The teenagers around me charge $15/hr for one-off work.  That’s a really good deal for an experienced caregiver who is not only watching your grandson, but probably giving him a spiritual grounding, too.”  Oh, the grandma insisted, but usually when you have more hours, you get some sort of discount, like $40 a day or something.  It’s not fair to charge that much 40 hours a week because they can’t afford it!  I thought, but did not say, Does your daughter think her employer deserves a discount for her services since she works for them full-time and not just a couple hours a week?  Does she think it is unfair to ask to be paid what her work is worth for every hour that she works for them?  The mom in question got her degree in math and does statistical analysis for her employer, so she’s good at crunching numbers.  She and her husband  love Jesus and want to serve Him–in fact, their wedding was one of the most inspiring I have attended.  But when it comes to who is caring for their children 40+ hours a week, they’ve decided that the bottom line is financial, not spiritual.  They don’t want the most qualified non-family member raising their son; they want the best bang for their buck.  What saddened me the most about the whole scenario was that the grandma in question had been a stay-at-home mom!  Where between my friend’s upbringing and becoming a mother herself did she and her mother reject the values that made her the woman she is today?  How did they decide that the next generation did not deserve the same degree of care?  Why was the grandma going along with her daughter to undervalue the worth of a Christian homemaker willing to put the rest of her life on hold to raise her grandson?  How tragic that this amazing woman was willing to sell her own vocation of 18 years short rather than communicate to her daughter that the work of raising a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is priceless.

It’s no wonder that once we think child-raising is something we can buy and sell, those of us who do it for love, not money, will not be respected.  When my upper-middle-class working mom friends shop around for the cheapest daycare option or cheat their nannies out of a fair wage, their actions affect not only their children, but the whole culture as well.  And a culture that values money above children is doomed.

Posted in Daycare, Having It All | 2 Comments

Why Mom Is Best: Grandma’s Not as Young as She Used to Be

When I show up at the park, I’m often the only mom there–all the other adults are nannies or grandparents.  The way that a lot of moms justify working is that their kids are with Grandma, who loves them just as much and did fine raising her own kids.  Grandma is a perfectly acceptable substitute for mom, right?

There are several issues with this statement, and I’ll tackle a few of them after making a few things clear. The Bible admonishes us to honor the old and the wise.  Godly grandparents are a blessing to any family, and I try to get my kids together with theirs as often as possible, considering the thousands of miles apart we live.  I fantasize about living down the street from my mom, sending the kids over to help her in the garden every evening, and weekly date nights with my husband while the kids are at Grandma’s.  This post in no way is critical of stay-at-home moms who get some much-needed help from Grandma.  But I have a different response to the idea that there’s no difference between kids being raised by Mommy and those spending 40-60 hours a week with Grandma.

First of all, if Grandma raised her own kids, it was 35 years ago.  She was a lot younger then.  Every grandparent caregiver that I talk to says, without fail, “I’m not as young as I used to be!”  Kids are exhausting.  And there’s a reason God designed our bodies to have them in our late teens, twenties, and thirties, not in our fifties, sixties, and seventies.  Modern science has allowed us to artificially stretch fertility into our 40s and even 50s, but older parents are finding that they don’t have the energy of their younger counterparts.  Imagine pushing that back another 30 years–how much energy will they have to care for their grandchildren?  I know several families where the daughter (or daughter-in-law) gushes about how great it is that the kids get to spend so much time with Grandma.  When I talk to Grandma, she always talks about how tired she is.  But what Grandma can say no to watching her beloved grandchildren, especially if the alternative is a nasty daycare?  I think of my kids’ own grandmas, who are both young, fit and energetic, but find my kids exhausting after just a week of us visiting (while my husband and I are there watching the kids, too).  They are amazing women who raised my husband and me well.  They’ve both watched our kids here and there when my husband and I have had the chance to get away.  But would I ask either of them to watch my kids full-time?  No way.  They dedicated 25 years of their lives to raising our brothers and us.  It’s my turn to follow in their footsteps.

Secondly, in a lot of cases, Grandma wasn’t the one raising her own kids.  She stuck them in daycare and, empowered woman that she was, went to work.  She’s just decided to retire now to help out her kids, who can’t afford to pay for childcare.  This seems to me to be a single-generation, short-term solution to the problem.  Are all these working moms dropping their kids off at Grandma’s going to be willing to quit their jobs in the peak of their success to stay home and raise their grandchildren?  And if they are, why not postpone their working years a bit and just stay home with their own kids, when they have the energy to do it well?

Another sad thing I’ve noticed with women who are their grandchildren’s primary caregivers is that they can’t spoil the kids the way every grandparent I know delights in doing.  When you’re watching children 40+ hours a week, life isn’t all special desserts and fun field trips to the toy store.  Last year, I had a heartbreaking encounter with a grandma at the library.  She was watching her son’s daughters and sadly said that her daughter-in-law had such strict rules for the girls–organic food only, no refined sugar, no unapproved snacks, no screentime, and no licensed characters of any kind.  She’d bought her granddaughter a My-Little-Pony coloring book, and when the little girl babbled joyfully about it to her mom (gone on a work trip), the daughter-in-law got her to put Grandma on the phone so she could yell at her for buying that trash.  The Grandma looked at me with tears in her eyes: “I didn’t know it was on the no-no list.  I can’t bake for her or buy her any special treats, so I thought a coloring book of horses would be safe.”  I wanted to cry for her–and give her daughter-in-law a piece of my mind!

When Grandma becomes a primary caregiver for some of her grandchildren, it affects her relationship with the rest of the family, too.  What does it do to a homemaker’s children’s relationship with their grandma if she is the full-time caregiver to their cousins?  How does Grandma differentiate between being the authority figure for the grandchildren she’s raising and the fun playmate for the grandchildren in town for a visit?  How does she try to keep things fair when she’s donating her time to one child (and giving up the chance to work a paying job) but wants to support her other children who are living a single-income lifestyle that she believes is best for kids?  And how can she help out her out-of-state children in emergencies (illness, early pregnancy, new babies, accidents) if she’s tied down to watching the children of her local child?  What if one of your kids’ grandmas is emotionally, physically, and financially available all the time, while the other is tied down raising your sibling’s kids?  How do you explain to them that both grandmas love them equally, it’s just that one of them is busy donating her time to their cousins, who she doesn’t love any more, it’s just that their mom doesn’t feel like staying home with them, so grandma has to?  At best, it’s a complicated and stressful scenario.  At worst, you have huge potential for guilt on the part of the Grandma and resentment on the part of the family members who are in essence donating their share of Mom/Grandma time to the sibling who is making a life choice they fundamentally disagree with.

Should Grandma be the primary caregiver?  She may be amazing, but she’s not the same as Mommy.

Posted in Daycare, Having It All, Importance of Mothers | 2 Comments
  • banner sidebar
  • favorite books
  • When you search Amazon through our site or buy through the affiliate links in our posts, you're helping us cover the cost of maintaining this blog. Thank you!
  • banner sidebar
  • subscribe

Swedish Greys - a WordPress theme from Nordic Themepark.