One of the most painful moments in my journey in motherhood was being told “I didn’t need childcare” and “I didn’t deserve childcare because I was just a student managing a website.” Those words haunt me to this day. And it’s my biggest fear as we move out of the Emergency Pandemic Childcare and back into this new normal amidst a pandemic.
Why is it my fear? Because I fear that we will never really get back to normal, and never make the changes needed to make childcare accessible to all who need it and want it. Over the past 3-4 months, childcare spots shifted with the health officials urging us to keep our kids home and then childcare providers shifting to just “essential workers only” and just “phase 2 workers only.”
The childcare situation is now mixed up and backwards with essential care children filling temporary spots of those now working from home or unemployed. But those who are working from home or now returning to jobs need our spots back, and that transition isn’t looking like it’ll be as easy as it comes.
For me, I planned to shift my kids into full time care as I continued my part time contract, my other little side gig, and hopefully pick up some more side gigs doing social media management. However, that part time contract that pays for half my childcare is on hiatus till about September, and those little side gigs don’t add up to a $1,000 per child per month bill that’s due on the 1st of each month.
I don’t profit from anything, ever. I have been going into debt since returning to a somewhat regular job. It was kinda the plan until Kindergarten started. It’s just the name of the game – if I’m going to try to get anywhere with my career, mental health, or passions, I pay more for childcare than I bring home at the end of the day. Debt was worth the climb out of crippling, suicidal depression.
For some of us, the return to work isn’t as easy as getting our jobs back and paying that monthly bill. It’s about that transition into the workplace as our own entrepreneurs and contracts. That journey is a little bit messy and knowing if I can afford childcare for two months after being off for four months is a risk, I don’t feel empowered to make. (because you need to give one months notice, so assuming I started back July 1, I’m committing to August 1st as well).
At this point in the essay, this sounds like privileged white woman hogwash and it probably is. I’m a privileged white woman of upper middle class standing complaining that she has to be a stay at home mom for a few months.
Here’s the deal – not everyone loves the stay at home mom thing, and my career goals are just as important as anyone elses career goals.
Someone told me – that burn out wasn’t more important than their need to get off social assistance. The last time I burnt out my husband was off work for week here and a week there, our family income suffered, debt climbed, and nothing got better. Yes, we survived, but we barely did. And my mental health never really recovered, we just held in a holding pattern of keeping me from doing something stupid or crying all day.
We need to figure out the bigger picture and stop bickering over who needs it more, and actually build a childcare system that empowers all women to go to work, to stay home, to live healthy lives that make them better parents. It’s more than a $10 a day system, because yes affording childcare is half the battle, but finding the childcare spot is even more impossible.
And finding a childcare spot you trust – because I could find a childcare spot with a dayhome provider in town, but the rumour mill in town makes me wary of any off the books childcare with people I don’t really know. So in the meanwhile, I rely on my trusty friend Janessa.
I’m lucky that my husband is okay with the fact that childcare creates more debt than income – but I can imagine many families are not so lucky to be in that situation and many mothers are trapped physically and emotionally.
They are talking about the she-recession. I hope the she-recession means we can come back stronger than ever.