22 July 2014

Stay at home parents are people too

I know childcare places are limited.  I know that once you get your child into childcare you'll do anything you can to keep them there despite the fact that renting Buckingham Palace for a week would be cheaper than the daily fees.

This happens at childcare.  Never at home.
 I know that for working parents are desperate for places so they can carve out some kind of work life balance where they work, raise children and somehow pay the bills as well as being an awesome life partner, great friend, superb offspring and sibling of the year.  I understand the irony that means you pay more for childcare than you do for university and yet no toddlers are rioting in the streets or spitting on effigies of Christopher Pyne.

And I know that when you have literally had to trip a parent over as you sprint to the office to get your child a spot in the worst childcare centre in the country, you might feel a bit resentful that there are children in those centres whose parents don't have paid employment.

The first rule of getting into childcare is there are no rules
Those stay at home parents.  With money to pay for childcare.  Without having to cut short meetings with clients because childcare has given you precisely 30 minutes to pick up your spewing infant before they use their cross voice.

You never upset the childcare centre.  When it comes to relationship management - this is the most critical of all relationships.  Being in thrall to those caring, gentle, kindly people looking after your children is tough.  Make no mistake.

And there is no point being annoyed with the government because not having enough childcare is of no consequence to any of them with their lifelong pensions and huge salaries.  They do nannies and can take spewing infants to work if they want.  It's good publicity.

So we all get mad at the stay at home parents.  Who should be attached 24/7 to those children, tending to their every need.  Just because working parents crave conversation that doesn't start and end with The Wiggles, doesn't mean that people that choose to stay at home with their children should have options.  Right?
Because to watch the new mob is treachery
Where they might spend a day donating their time to a charity, catching up with friends, exercising, doing the grocery shop without having to use UN worthy negotiation skills to keep the children in the trolley.   They might have hobbies or special interests or study that they want to explore.  They might just need some mental space where they potter about doing the three thousand billion things that you never get to do while you're building a duplo tower to represent a beanstalk.  They might be caring for elderly parents or supporting friends through a hard time.

Or, because it is a luxury beyond belief, they might just spend all day sitting on the toilet, alone.

But because people don't have to work, doesn't mean that they don't have a life that is rich and engaging beyond their children.  Or yes, they might just be over entitled, rich and hate arts and crafts.  But that's their prerogative. And we diminish the notion of choices for all when we say that only people that are in paid employment deserve childcare.

So let's stop hating on the stay at home parents that use childcare.  And put our energies into demanding more childcare options that allow people to access options like nannies, or au pairs, or even paying grandparents.  I don't have all the solutions, I am just absolutely certain that being cross at stay at home parents is doing nothing useful at all.

*PS - Never google 'lady on toilet' when looking for images to illustrate your blog post.  Can't unsee. 
*PPS - I'm not a stay at home parent

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