I use childcare and I don’t work

August 23, 2015

As I dropped my son off to childcare the other day, I got chatting to another mum.

“Oh your baby is growing quickly – how old is she?”

“One, I plan on starting her here one day a week from January”

“Going back to work are you?”

No, I’m not. I haven’t worked outside the home for over 8 years since my second child was born. But my daughters went to childcare two days a week from 2 years of age. My 3-year-old currently attends three days a week, and all things going well in January my 5th and last child who will be 18 months old will start one day a week and increase slowly to three days.

The assumption I must work outside the home is a common one. Reactions are mixed when people find out I don’t –  “good on you, I’d need a break from all those kids too” or the other end of the scale.

“You’re taking up a valuable spot for a working mother” I consider what I do work, and a very hard job at that. Interestingly enough, I have only ever heard this comment from women. Other mothers who should support mothers. Mothers who should get its hard work. I’m not taking anyone’s spot – childcare is for any mother who wants to use it.

“Playgroup is for mothers like you” Playgroup is not a break from your children. Playgroup is a hall with 20-40 other kids and a bunch of toys. If you’re lucky you get coffee and morning tea thrown in. You play with your kids and chat to other women. It’s interaction – but it’s not a break.


“Do you do stick your kids in care so you can go and do coffee and lunch?” I don’t drink coffee. I eat lunch but not at a restaurant during the week.

The truth is – I use childcare because I need a break from my children. I find motherhood hard, very hard. It’s demanding, it’s tiring and it’s draining. On childcare days I can’t wait to drop my toddler off. The freedom of only having the baby means I can get more done around the home. I can go to appointments I avoid like the plague when he’s with me. I can sit and relax when the baby sleeps and watch some trashy tv and read a few pages of a book I’ve been reading for months. It’s me time. I love him all the more when I pick him up – he’s had a day filled with running, jumping and interacting with 20 other kids his age. He’s played outside, done craft I am often too tired to do at home, and he’s happy. And because he’s happy, I’m happy.

And come January, when I drop my baby off for her first day there won’t be tears, there will be relief. Relief that I can have a child free day for the first time in years. I can do what I want, when I want for a day.

Who knows, I might go and sit in a 5 star restaurant and order a skinny black 2 sugar latte.


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  • Reply Alison August 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    You do work, you are a working mother. Everyone needs a break and it’s so hard! thanks for writing this!

    • Reply MumToFive August 23, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      I agree all mums work and need a break xx

  • Reply Danielle @ Several Kinds of Crazy August 23, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Whilst my kids have never gone to daycare, I don’t belittle you for your choices to send your kids, no matter what your reasons. Because at the end of the day everyone needs to do things for different reasons in order to cope etc. For me, personally I couldn’t cope with my kids at daycare, so I take my breaks when Hubby gets home from work or late in the evening after my kids have gone to bed. But I can understand that doesn’t work for everyone & im not going to judge, just like I’m sure there are people out there judging me for staying home & not socialising my kids etc. we can’t win really, no matter what we do, so we just have to do what works for us & our families 🙂 next year my youngest will go off to Kindy & I’ll head back to teaching ~ something I’ve been waiting to do for 4 1/2 years. But I’m sure I’ll have the odd day off to have a cat nap & catch up on Dr Phil ? xx

    • Reply MumToFive August 23, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Good on you! I hope your return to teaching goes well. I know lots of people who don’t use childcare. I married a workaholic husband so get little relief that side. Thanks for reading

  • Reply Ingrid August 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Screw the skinny black – go the full fat milkshake with a side of cake!

    • Reply MumToFive August 23, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      A big chocolate cake !

  • Reply Sarah Armstrong August 23, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    I believe every child needs early interactions with lots of other children to learn how to socialize with others. Regardless of whether you work or not. Mothers also need a beak from their children to connect with themselves, thus making them better parents. You are great parent 🙂

    • Reply MumToFive August 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks Sarah ?
      It’s a hard gig this parenting we need to stay sane

  • Reply Stella September 6, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Holy cow, what a nasty thing for anyone to say to you. We have a childcare crisis in this country, with demand exceeding supply, and some childcare providers are very poor quality. These are serious issues I wish the voting public cared to address. We need enough quality childcare spaces for everybody that wants them – whether they engage in paid work or not.
    You have as much right to childcare as any other woman…. You have as much right to childcare as me, and I’m in full time paid employment. If you got a space and that meant I missed out, I wouldn’t begrudge you, I would begrudge our lack of political will to properly fund childcare.
    The only exception I would make is that there are some particularly disadvantaged parents/carers who should get priority placement over people like you and I, but that’s another debate altogether!

  • Reply Sigrid September 19, 2015 at 4:32 am

    All women have the right to childcare – but you are selling yourself short. Why say you don’t work when you are obviously a writer?

    • Reply MumToFive September 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Sigrid, I like that! But I am definitely not a writer. Just a mum who likes writing. In hindsight I’d have said doesn’t work outside the home!

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