Last week, the ordinarily very impressive Dr Kerry Chant shared some words regarding parents sending their kids to childcare in NSW: “If they’re just working from home, that wouldn’t be, in my mind, a reason to do it.”
The statement generated some pretty heated debate - not only on social media, but in my group chats, awash with parents worrying they’re doing the wrong thing; that they’re terrible mothers.
The choice to use the word ‘just’ exasperated the already depleted parents working from home at the moment, who are doing everything in their power to survive another week of lockdown, another week of homeschooling, another week of spending hours in Zoom meetings trying to get through a mountain of work.
Whilst we know that asking parents to work from home and look after children is literally impossible, as covered in this brilliant piece by Mamamia's Laura Jackel, what we also need to acknowledge is that we’ve already asked so much of working parents over the last 18 months.
The price has been high for so many people, the strict health measures an absolute necessity in making sure we navigate this pandemic as safely as possible - yet the cost can not be denied, particularly for parents of young children.
If you have a child that’s younger than two, chances are you went through pregnancy and birth during some form of COVID-related restrictions, preceded by a period of the worst bushfires we’d ever seen. Fires that raged for 79 days, meaning we were being encouraged to stay indoors from as early as December 2019.
My son was born on the 29th of November 2019. When I took him home from the hospital at midday, the sky was an eerie orange that made it feel as if it were almost night time.
The air was thick with smoke. I didn’t leave the house for almost three weeks until the air quality improved and it was safe to do so.
From there we had a brief period of normalcy where I was lucky enough to go to a few mother's group sessions before we were plunged into another period of lockdown.