parent opinion

'The viral TikTok about the daycare debate that had me in tears.'

Since becoming a mother for the first time two years ago I've learned many things about myself. Among the lessons that have come through thick and fast: I've come to realise that the bounds in which I can feel guilt are limitless.

On any given day I will feel the chest-tightening tug of guilt that laden my every decision...

She's had too much sodium in her meals.

I checked my phone too much in front of her.

Our house isn't child-proof enough.

I switched on the TV for a moment of peace.

I didn't read enough to her last night.

I lost my cool at the supermarket.

I'm not spending enough one-on-one time with her before the next baby arrives.

And the all-consuming: I'm working too much and she's being raised by daycare educators.

That one. That's the one that's breaking my heart in two at the moment. And my TikTok algorithm is doing everything to remind me of that.

Every time I open TikTok my FYP seems to know exactly how to kick me when I'm down. As I scroll video after video has a decided undertone or theme around childcare.

At first I saw this video from user @samdaneames whose post has reached one million views for sharing their thoughts on modern childcare habits.

@samdaneames Yeah its totally fine, i wont see my baby for 80% of the day 👍🏼 #workfromhome #daycare #childhood #networkmarketing #fyp #digitalmarketing ♬ original sound - Sam & Dan - Freedomintime

"You know what's messed up?" he says in the video. "That the world thinks it's totally normal, and it's totally fine for you to just have some kids, drop them off at a daycare, not see them for 80 per cent of the day, see them for a couple of hours in the evening and that's it. And no one has a problem with that."


It stung. It stung because as much as I understood he was simply putting forward his own opinions on daycare, it felt so personal to me. I've been living in that shame and guilt spiral and here it was blasted back to me from a stranger.

I cried. I cried because the reality is I have to work and so does my husband. We, like many others are being hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis. We left the city we loved because rent prices became untenable and in order to keep our family running we both have to work.

As a result our toddler has been in daycare since she was 13 months old. It hurt having to send her to daycare then, and it still hurts now. But by all accounts, I know that I'm one of the lucky ones who could look after my child until she had turned one — for many parents they have to enlist childcare support as early as 12 weeks postpartum. Still, it doesn't change the fact that I feel horrible for sending her to daycare. And a quick glance at social media tells me I'm not the only one.

@p_west_ Does this get easier?! I can’t help but wonder if I made a mistake. I miss him so much #workingmom #sahm #ihatethis ♬ take a moment to breathe. - normal the kid

There are endless posts from parents trying to reconcile their current situation. The push and pull and heartbreak of knowing that you're missing out on these beautiful early years but having no other option but to work. For so many of us we're stuck in this negative loop with no solution but to simply carry on and deal with it. But again, that doesn't take the pain away.

Then I saw a TikTok from a woman who, at the very least, helped me to make sense of the current socio-economic trends we're seeing amongst parents. Nicola Sherwin, a working mum, stitched the video from @samdaneames and shared her thoughts on why so many parents are having to send their kids to daycare.


"Individual contributions to socio-economic culture vastly vary across a spectrum and it is nobody's place to judge where individuals sit on that spectrum," she said. "It's incredibly difficult for a lot of people to live off one income, it's incredibly difficult for a lot of people to live off two incomes."

@nikkaloola #stitch with @Sam & Dan - Freedomintime Parenting is a win/can’t win life. I shared this in my stories but it resonated so it’s getting a permanent spot. #sahm #workingmum #momsoftiktok #mumlife ♬ original sound - Nikka

She then went on to dive into how stressors related to cost of living and the housing crisis is directly impacting families around the world.

"The cost of a house in some cities is 17 times the national average," she said. "People might not want to work but in order to keep their child fed and warm and with a roof over their head both parents need to work and send their child to daycare."

Recent reports from Australian Department of Education showed that as of 2022 48.3 per cent of children aged 0 to 5 years were attending daycare. Given those statistics are from two years ago, you'd imagine there would be a considerable upward trend since then.

Then there is the fact that there is a real lack of support and understanding when it comes to women returning to the workforce after having children. For me personally, I don't believe I could take the time I want to raise my kids and then come back and have a successful career.

"We also live in a world where a lot of mums aren't content being stay at home mums. Some are, but some mums also want careers and it's incredibly difficult to take four or five years off to raise your child," she said.

I need to work right now to keep my LinkedIn free from black spots so I look appealing to future employees. And I also want to keep working, I love what I do but I also love being a mum. So there's again, a real element of wanting both worlds, then feeling the guilt of swaying towards one over the other.


It's a really tricky line to toe and perhaps there isn't a solution to it all. We're all just doing our best to get by and with that we need to afford a fair bit of grace to parents regardless of their situation.

"Do whatever works for you just don't shame other parents for their decisions," she ended the video with.

I always knew there was a logical reasoning behind why I'm having to do what I'm doing but the heart takes over as it so often does with matters surrounding parenting. I can't change the fact that I have to work while raising a young child. I just can't no matter how much I will it away.

What can I do? What is in my control? Well, I can make those moments with her the most enriching and beautiful moments. I don't have to spend money; I don't have to plan lavish activities every day but I will commit to being present and showing her all the love in my heart.

Whatever you're doing right now — whether that be going back to work after three months, using the help of a nanny, receiving care from extended family members or juggling the working from home grind — it's all valid and should be free from judgement.

One day I know my daughter will understand the sacrifices we both had to make and I hope that others in a similar situation to mine will hear this too.

How do you feel about the daycare juggle? Tell us in the comments section below.

Feature Image: TikTok/@nikkaloola/@samdaneeames and supplied.

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