Any working parent with children due to start school next year will already have put their mind to the ongoing dilemma of just how the hell you are going to manage the school day.
It’s like trying to fit together two pieces of a puzzle that just won’t meet. The school hours – a throw back to the late 19th century – run from 9am to around 3pm and your working hours are firmly planted in the 21st century, running no where near 9am to 3pm at all.
Its hard to fathom just how such a system continues.
And yet with a patchwork of after school care (if you can get them in) grandparents, nannies, neighbours and after school activities to fill in the gaps, parents manage. But it makes you wonder why the school world can’t just step into the 21st century.
As a mum of two school aged children I know this dilemma only too well and see it played out every day in our bulging-at-the seams school.
More than 380,000 students aged five to 12 attend taxpayer-subsidised out-of-school-hours care, but the ABS has said there is unmet demand for another 80,000 children. Via IStock.
Parents who can take the after school hours they can get but they face long waiting lists for places, and in many cases only limited days are offered.
They have to fill in the other gaps with whatever they can, some to rely on the help of relatives and employers willing to shift around working hours on certain days, others book their children into expensive before school activities like tennis or chess club just so their kids are doing something while they go to work.
Others just don't even try full time work at all to the detriment of the family budget and their own preference.
Sydney mum Scarlett Patterson is typical of many working parents who finds herself unable to return to work full time due to the hours.
"How can I start a new job when I don't even know where I will leave my children and who picks them up?" she told the ABC earlier this year.
"I'm not going to be able to get another job where I can start at 10:00am and finish at 2:00pm, not anything that can pay my bills."
The waiting list for after-school care at her daughters' school is currently about 18 months.
Some parents simply drop their kids at school early. Via IStock.
Other parents who simply can’t get in to before school care take to dropping their children off early to unsupervised playgrounds just so they can get to work at time.
More than 380,000 students aged five to 12 attend taxpayer-subsidised out-of-school-hours care, but the ABS has said there is unmet demand for another 80,000 children.
But thankfully it is an issue that some schools have taken notice of and a small minority are doing something about offering 12-hour school days for working families.
Perth’s Presbyterian Ladies’ College have said they are considering extending their drop off and pick up times from 7am to 7pm.
Principal Kate Hadwen told News Limited they were trying to assist working mums.
“I fundamentally believe that we’re an organisation eventually supporting women in the workforce, we should be enabling our parents to actually work,” she said.
“I understand as a mum you want to know that when you’re dropping your children off there’s structure there, that you’re not just dropping them off to sit by themselves in a corner and be lonely.”