By Genie Price
The decision to put your child into care is one which can be both unsettling as well as emotionally challenging. Whether it be a day care or before and after school care programs, guilt consumes us, trying to convince us that we are doing wrong by our children and that we should stay home.
A survey conducted by Care for Kids Australia found that parental guilt, Mother’s in particular, is the hardest part about returning to the workplace, so let’s ease this factor and talk about why you shouldn’t feel remorseful about leaving your children in before and after school care.
- Your child becomes more sociable
Before and after school care programs often run while hosting 30 plus children of varied age groups [between ages 4-14]. Being in large groups similar to school is important because these environments expose children to many social situations where they will be able to adapt old and learn new ways to deal with friendships and conflict as it arises.
How children deal with these situations emotionally can be tested and developed more.
- Mixed aged settings encourage acceptance
When your child is exposed to mixed aged settings, they begin to develop an understanding of the needs of others and an appreciation towards those children not at the same level or age as them.
Often in these settings, you will see older children foster and nurture relationships with younger siblings as well as younger peers. A positive benefit all round, as it strengthens not only a bond between siblings but also encourages acceptance of others also.
- Helps with routine
Another benefit to having your child in a before and after school care program is that it can help establish a routine. Often, these routines are ones you may find difficult to implement due to the emotional attachment you have with your children, such as homework time and quiet and rest times.
Your child will also establish consistency and build relationships with other trusted adults. Strong attachments and relationships early in life help your child to learn about the world around them and what to expect. Research informs us that through positive interactions with other adults, your child is more likely to have better physical and mental health and fewer behaviour problems.
- Helps boost independence
When we spend many days and weeks with our babies and young children (even though we won’t always admit it), we do everything for them (at times).
Therefore, having your child in either before or after school care can support their independence from you.
When your child is among others and being instructed by another adult, it confirms the external relationships helps them to adapt their behaviours in social settings by promoting self-confidence in their own choices while you are not around.
- Promotes further learning and development
School is for learning as are before and after school care programs, which are great for supporting the individual interests of each child. Whether it be that your child wants to learn about bugs or that they want to explore science, after school care programs can often cater for these interests, supporting your child to be actively involved in the process.
There is no stress on you to find the appropriate resources, however, we do suggest collaborating with your child’s interests with the carers to be a good idea.
- Makes you feel good and equal
We left the best till last. We know you feel guilty, we all have at one point or another. And, even though you may be having second thoughts about returning to work and leaving your children in care with others, you will slowly see the benefits of choosing to do so.
Doctor Gayle Peterson, a prenatal and family development therapist confirms that when a mother’s employment is satisfactory, both she and her children benefit.
Such benefits are:
- You will become more attuned to your own needs and will strengthen your own sense of self and see the positive influences you are making within the family.
- Your self-confidence will be heightened, which then helps boost your child’s self-esteem as well: after all, children inherit and learn self-esteem by identifying with those they love.
- You will also feel as though you are contributing more to the finances and the family as a whole.
- Children will see a positive role model.
Is it really any wonder that when mothers take care of themselves, they also have more positive energy for their children?
Parenting is never easy and unless your baby or child came with instructions – a lot of what we learn is through experience and talking with others. It is not about whether we are home or not, it is, however, the quality of the parent-child relationship that matters.
Mothers and fathers who are fulfilled in themselves are not only good role models for their children but are happier people too. As long as you ensure enough time to harvest the seeds of growth and healthy development in your children, then clearly you are doing a fine job of staying connected with them and balancing your job too.
Do not allow cultural myths to undermine your family’s happiness or shadow you with remorse. Work toward acknowledging your success, while eliminating the guilt. All too often, Mothers (and fathers) accept blame for the things that go askew but give little credit to themselves for all that goes well.
About the Author:
When not chasing my own two boisterous sons around the house, I can be found enjoying the sound of birds while tapping away at the keyboard – writing for My Child and researching new topics of interest.
I enjoy nature and being able to explore the wild surrounds of the desert. I love being able to listen to the sound of laughter as my own children make discoveries and grow along with the many others at the preschool where I teach.
You can find me here: