Childcare, like many industries, is getting crushed by the current economic recession. Recent Wall Street Journal articles estimate that nanny hiring is down between ten to thirty percent in "When the Going Gets Tough, Some People Lay Off The Nanny" and that demand for daycare for young children is declining too, as reported in Sue Shellenbarger’s "Families Cut Back on Day Care As Costs -- and Worries – Rise" and in The Washington Post’s "Squeezed on All Sides, Parents Forego Day Care."
Many of the cuts come from families where childcare is a luxury – albeit an important one that allows parents to delegate errands and household chores to allow greater quality time with children. But there are millions of moms (and dads) who know that you cannot go to work without someone you can trust (and afford) taking care of your children. That’s no luxury – that’s a necessity.
Which leads me to scratch my head at how badly some families treat their childcare providers. Forget the Mommy Wars. The real battles are the Nanny Wars.
I know firsthand how hard it is to get and keep good kid care. Most families I know treat their childcare providers like trusted partners. But if you are going through babysitters faster than soy milk, I wonder if it’s you who needs a performance review.
Some of the most ambitious women I know – moms who are justifiably proud of how hard they work – disdain their hardworking female childcare employees. They repeatedly sabotage family balance by treating their childcare providers poorly. At times it seems these smart, savvy women are blind when it comes to their childcare employees. These toughies would never tolerate a workplace filled with the kind of discrimination, low wages and unreasonable schedules they mete out regularly.
Now I’m no angel – I’ve made my mistakes and I’m sure my babysitters have a word or two on how I could improve. But over twelve years of motherhood, I’ve had longterm childcare providers, one for seven years straight. Some of my savviest friends, however, shock me with their reckless approach to childcare, the most critical foundation of work/family sanity.