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Don't judge me, but... I'm one of those parents who 'dumps' their kids at school.

I know this isn’t ideal, but I have no choice.

I am one of those parents who ‘dumps’ their kids at school unsupervised in the mornings. If there was any other option for me, I would take it, but I simply have no choice.

On the weekend the headline “Parents ‘dump’ kids at school” screamed out at me from the front of one of the Sunday papers. And it made me cringe, because I am one of those parents.

I’m also not the only parent at my school who does this.

My job is in the city. I have to be on the 7.45 bus or I won’t make it to work on time. School supervision doesn’t officially start until 8am, so my children aged 10 and 6 are alone for 20 minutes before official school supervision begins. I tried to get them into the before school care program but there are no places. The waiting list is so long and the enrolment process so complicated it seems to be impossible to get in.

When my children started school I thought working would get easier, but it has become harder. Long day care was expensive but at least I could drop my children off at 7.30am and pick them up at 4.30pm. But school doesn’t start until 8.30am and it finishes on the dot of 2.45. How on earth could I possibly keep my job with these hours? So I took it for granted that my children would at least go to after-school care, but that’s even busier than before-school care.

And the reality is I would struggle to pay for it five days a week for two children. But I’d try and find a way.

So each week I organise a jigsaw puzzle of child care for my boys that leaves me exhausted. On Mondays and Tuesdays my mum picks them up, on Wednesdays my mother-in-law picks them up, on Thursdays they go to a friend’s house and on Fridays my boss reluctantly agreed to allow me to work a half day so I can pick them up. I make up for that half day by doing some work from home over the weekend.

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An increasing number of parents are forced to leave their children at school unsupervised.

When my mum or mother-in-law can't pick the boys up I am left scrambling to find care, at short notice. I normally ask my sister or a friend to help. Sometimes they can help, sometimes they can't.

The child care and before and after school care systems in this country are completely and utterly inadequate and it's hurting families.

I want to work, I want my children to be well-cared for, and I keep feeling as though these are two opposing goals. They should be completely in sync.

So my children are technically unsupervised for 20 minutes each morning at school, a safe environment. And they aren't the only ones. Several of their friends are there too.

But each day as I drive away I feel regret that there are so many obstacles to being the kind of parent I want to be.

It's time something was done to fix it.

What arrangements have you made for children before and after school? What are the challenges you face when it comes to care for your children?

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