Right now is a really tough time to be a parent.
If you’ve still got a job, you know you should be feeling grateful. But what do you do with your kids? PM Scott Morrison announced earlier this month that childcare would be free. But with social distancing being enforced nationwide due to coronavirus, some parents are feeling hesitant about putting their kids into care.
As for schools, they’re still open, mostly. But the guidelines on which students should be attending differ from state to state. In Queensland, schools will only be open for children of essential workers. In Victoria, they’re open for children whose parents can’t work from home and vulnerable children. In the Northern Territory, children will be expected to attend school unless their parents make alternative arrangements.
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What this all means is that many parents, trying to do what’s best for their families, are struggling with difficult decisions.
One mum, who works in allied health and has a husband in an essential service, says it might be the most stressful part of the COVID-19 situation for her.
“I have cried so many times from the stress of trying to decide what’s right and from the guilt of needing to send my children to school/daycare,” she tells Mamamia. “It’s truly awful.”
She says a lot of the guilt and worry comes from the fear of her children contracting coronavirus.
“But the health advice seems to be that they aren’t at risk,” she adds. “So much emotion caught up in the decision, because it involves our children.”
Another mum, Lisa, who’s working from home for an essential service, says she’s found it “almost impossible” to combine work and childcare.
“I am failing miserably at both,” she admits to Mamamia.
Lisa has made the “immensely difficult” decision to put her daughter back into daycare.
“The guilt is heavy, especially when I hear the judgment in others’ tone,” she says. “I question my decision to put my daughter back in every day and wonder – have I put her health or my family’s health at risk? I am 20 weeks pregnant too, so concerned for my unborn baby.”
First-time mum Trish has just spent 12 months on maternity leave from her government job. She feels “incredibly lucky” that she and her husband are still employed, and she’s reliant on the income, but can’t see how she can work from home with a baby.
“It’s impossible with a crawling, high-energy little lady who requires constant attention,” she says.
Trish is thinking of sending her daughter to childcare part-time, but worries because she lives in one of Sydney’s hot spots for coronavirus cases.
“The risk is incredibly high. I am a breastfeeding mother and am very concerned about how I would cope and look after baby, should I get sick.”