Thursday, November 17, 2022

Childcare and Capitalism: A Rant

 Thanks for the thoughtful comments on yesterday’s post. I want to take a second and acknowledge my enormous privilege in being able to raise all 5 babies exactly how I wanted to.

I also want to gently push back at the notion that everyone should just choose what works best for them. I mean, yes we should, assuming, of course, that we have good options available to us. But also! We don’t live in a vacuum, and our collectively held ideologies about parenting shape the policy decision that give us our options for our kids, you know? Right now, our culture sort of punts the childcare issue down the road by invoking notions of individual choice and subtly arguing that moms should be home with kids by refusing to provide good childcare options across the board, paying women less than men, etc. The idea is that some kids deserve good care, if their parents can pay for it. (But the catch, of course, is that our culture simultaneously guilts these same middle-class and richer parents about working in the first place.) Everyone else? Gets a free-for-all of care that’s not affordable and doesn’t even work very well. And by not requiring that childcare providers make a living wage or obtain professional certification, our culture reinforces the idea that this work is not very valuable and should happen outside the marketplace. It’s like the very worst of all of capitalism’s sexist, racist, classist impulses working together to make a world that doesn’t work for families: privatization and good choices only for workers at the top, while the average workplace still assumes the disembodied, untethered worker whose needs are all magically being met at home (by a partner who can no longer afford to care for the family as their sole job but is still expected to do ALL OF THE THINGS). It’s a lot. And no wonder our birth rate is declining.

Anyway.

People expressed some incredulity at my sheet-changing operation, but I mean, what else would my toddler do all day since I don’t  educate her in any way? LOL LOL LOL 

This bunk bed is her favorite jungle gym

I don’t know about you, but when I am thirsty in the middle of the night, I always reach for a warm yogurt smoothie.

The first snow snuck up on us, and now the dog poop will remain here until May. (I always air this room out when I make beds).

I mean, clearly this is an educational time getting pelted with pillows in the recliner.

Which! SHE LEARNED HOW TO RECLINE

Bam! Cleanish
And now there’s just a small amount of laundry. FML.




7 comments:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I should have caveated my comment about families choosing what is best for them by acknowledging that choosing what is best requires a level of privilege that my family enjoys. I feel like working mothers can be judged at times for working outside the home and that there is an assumption that being home with your kids is what is ultimately best for them. But no one is putting that expectation upon fathers, so that is why I made the comment about doing what is best because I am certain we are all happier because I work outside of the home and my kids attend an excellent Spanish Immersion daycare. You and I are both highly educated women with a tremendous amount of privelege who have made different choices based on what makes us happiest. But that ignores what you address in this post - childcare is ridiculously expensive and forces families to make a decision they might not have otherwise made. We were lucky to be able to choose a daycare that treats it's employees extremely well and requires certifications to be a classroom lead/etc. But I know that is the exception and not the norm, and our daycare comes at a high price that we can luckily afford. I wish our country could develop policies to make daycare more affordable. I have heard from Canadian friends that at least at the province level, they are making changes to make childcare more affordable. I have zero hope in our country attacking this at the national level since we can't even solve the issue of our terrible maternal leave policies, though. But I hope my state can do something eventually.

tessa said...

Since we're talking about child care,what do you for child care for your under 5s (Minnie currently) while you're working on campus? I'm a long-time blog reader and have never seen you address that.

Elisabeth said...

Yes, they are making huge changes in Canada to make childcare more affordable. I think daycares are to be capped at something like $10-15/day!

When both my kids were young enough to attend preschool we were, according to the Canadian government, officially "living below the poverty line." We were starting a small business and made approximately zero dollars. We were able to get heavily subsidized rates for an absolutely incredible preschool (which charged the highest rates around). When I talked to the "caseworker" he said that so many people just...don't apply for the subsidies. They had all sorts of excess money to give people to make childcare more affordable and people either didn't apply, weren't aware of it, or were embarrassed to pursue this form of help.

This reminds me of the conversation I opened up last week on my blog about dental work; again, the subsidies (free in my province for EVERY child under 15) are largely accessed by people that fall within a socioeconomic bracket that don't NEED these things.

Having affordable childcare was a huge and important part of my husband and I building a successful business and now we pay gobs of taxes (which I have NO problem with and love the thought that some of those taxes go toward supporting affordable childcare)...but there are so many layers to the system and so often the people who are most vulnerable miss out on the very things that make it more affordable...
Sigh.

Also, another important piece of this puzzle (again, it can be complicated, but the at the baseline at least) is the fact that Canada provides women with a year of maternity leave. In my case, my husband and I split my first leave (an option in Canada), so we each had about ~6 months off work! This is all paid - not at 100% unless your employer tops it up, admittedly - too!

Jenny said...

Yes, EXCELLENT point. One of the reasons I chose to stay home when my kids were little is that we didn't have any good childcare options. We didn't have family nearby to help and it was so expensive. We need to look at what Canada is doing.

Home Here and There said...

I have so many feelings about this. I took 3 months off after each birth and then went back part time. I was on a visa and did not want to loose it. I could have stayed on my husbands visa but that would have been tricky and would have felt like loosing my independence. And I love my children but my work, too. Needless to say my salary mostly went into childcare. There are quite a few options around here but I heard that it's really hard around here. I clearly remember a woman who moved with her family from the midwest to the area in the middle of the school year and the aftercare options she was able to find were out of her comfort zone. I recently so another post from her on the school facebook so she must have stayed but it's not easy out there.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Such a good point, and you're right of course. Childcare being a choice is a position of privilege.

San said...

I am not surprised when I hear that couples say they can't afford to have children. They can't stomach the high cost of daycare, but they also can't spare a second income. It's really not a good situation here in the US, and most people cannot chose what's best for them, because they have no choice.