As a registered child minder for many happy years, I was always aware of parental guilt at having to leave their children in childcare. Even now, hardly a week goes by without a related topic being brought up on television programmes such as Loose Women and This Morning. But, really, parents have nothing to feel guilty about.
Childcare and parental guilt
I was once told by one of my child minding parents that I must think her selfish for leaving her baby with me while she went out to work. In reality, I don’t think that many mothers have a lot of choice in going back to work after having a baby. For most working parents, their job is a necessity, especially with the rising cost of living.
For others, the breathing space that childcare provides can have a positive impact on their parenting. The same mother who worried that I would think her selfish for returning to work also admitted that having a weekly break made her a better parent. She explained that she didn’t have the same amount patience I was blessed with and so only spending part of the week at home with her child was healthier for them both. This women was, and still is, an amazing parent who should be very proud of her daughter!
Other parents I have worked for appeared not to be overly interested in what their child had to say when they come to collect them. Again, this doesn’t make them a bad parent and they have nothing to feel guilty about. It’s understandable that they may have had a stressful day and probably just want to get their child home for some peace and quiet.
Finding solutions and resolving guilt
One of the most practical ways to overcome parental guilt is by shifting the focus on to choosing the right childcare for the parent, child and even other family members.
I once came across a grandmother who was suffering pangs of guilt because she felt that, as a grandparent, she should be the person looking after her grandson while his mum worked. On the flipside, however, she admitted that she didn’t want to be tied to a young child at her time in life. After all, she had already brought up her own children!
Eventually, between myself, the mum and grandmother, we came up with a solution – she would look after her grandson for one day a week and also paid the fees for me to have him the other two days required. This same granny eventually told me, when I saw her a few months later, that she felt that her grandson had benefited from spending times with me as I did a lot with him, such as taking him to toddler groups, whereas she tended to entertain him at home.
Another new mum became very upset when leaving her baby with me for the first time. I tried to reassure her by saying that I would look after him. She replied, “If I didn’t know that, we wouldn’t be here!” I told her that she was welcome to phone me as often as she wished, but she said she wouldn’t ring, as if she heard her son crying in the background it would upset her and if she didn’t hear him, she would worry why she couldn’t hear him!
Doing the best for your child
The point I am trying to make with this post is that whether you are a stay-at-home mum or a working mum, the decision is down to both personal choice and life circumstances. You just need to do what is best for your whole family and not feel guilty about it.
I strongly believe that the children I looked after benefited from coming to me, just as children who stay at home can do equally well. Spending time in childcare certainly doesn’t do children any harm them!
As always comments/ questions are welcome.
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About the Author: Karen Dennis is a mum, step mum, grandparent and blogger at The Next Best Thing to Mummy. She also worked as a childminder for 14 years, until ill health forced her to give up. She has an NVQ Level 3 in early years care and education, as well as many more qualifications. She has also been employed as a pre-school development worker and by the children’s centre as a support childminder.