Thursday, February 9, 2012

Juggling Parenting And Work

It never ceases to amaze me how much of a learning curve parenting is and the very distinct stages we go through as parents. In the early stages of my daughter’s life, the advice I got from my doctor, Maternal Child Health nurse and that wonderful book called What to expect when you’re expecting were invaluable.

The adjustments from focussing entirely on baby to juggling parenting with work, followed by the sources of advice and information were added to by other parents in playgroup, childcare centre professionals, and then school. The last has been far more supportive to both my daughter and me than I ever anticipated, not only with her learning challenges but also after school care and family guidance.

There were other huge contributions to my own little family world with the discovery during preschool that my daughter has a disability. Added to the professionals were counsellors and therapists through organisations such as Pinarc and CAFS, as well as specialists including regular paediatric consultations.

I have always felt very fortunate living in a community such as Moorabool Shire because without these resources, the whole parenting experience would have been terrifying to me in these initial years, particularly as a single mum.

Halfway through my daughter’s primary school years though, I am now anticipating a new era of challenge and concern. There are two major concerns. The first is what arrangements can working parents make for their children when they are too old to participate in after school care and holiday programs? The second involves the decisions I must make about my daughter’s secondary school choices as a child with a disability, but that will come later.

Juggling work with family life surely is one of the greatest challenges modern parents face.

In Victoria there are no laws which state a specific age at which children may be left at home alone. There is, however, laws covering the responsibility of parents and guardians to keep their children safe. Therefore, a responsible albeit young teenager, could be left at home alone in afternoons after school without infringing on any laws. However, how many parents would be comfortable with their children going to an empty home after school when they are aged only 12? (This is a typical age at which after school programs discontinue admittance).

Some parents make informal agreements with family and friends for the care of their children until they get home from work. But not everyone is able to find people available to do this on a regular basis.

What options do parents have open to them for the care of their teenage children? Is this a gaping hole in the support network currently available to local families?

Do you have stories to share about the challenges you face as a working parent?

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