Parental Guilt and Pre-schoolers29 Jul 2020

There is never a shortage of idealised media images of home makers who are spending quality time at home with their toddlers. We all have friends and family members who pack perfect little snack boxes, they have colour-coordinated clothing for their child when they are out and about, they help out at playcentre, their homes are spotless, and they are the ones who have somehow managed to forfeit their career to raise their under-five(s). Sure, they made a tough call on their career, but they have prioritised what was truly important - their children.

And then there are the mothers that have it all together - the high flying job with the big ticket salary, the business travel, the perfect children (or not - that can also form a basis for judgement), that look immaculate in their fancy suit, with their leased company car. They are the ones who can afford to do ABC, and they XYZ. You know the ones.

As one of these types of mothers, with a friend of the other type, I can tell you that there was one thing that we each craved… to have made the decision of the other. When it all boiled down, we wanted more balance in our lives.

The housekeeper vacuumed multiple times a week because they were at home with the children. The worker had a cleaner once a week because that was just another chore that could not be faced, and let’s be honest, the house just didn’t get so dirty anyway - no one was home.

The homemaker pined the loss of self, and the feelings of worthlessness associated with being “just a mum” - which let’s face it, IS a full-time job, because the mess and the emotions were incessant. The corporate just wanted to snuggle on the couch in the evening but had reports to write after cooking dinner, wrangling homework, wrapping the presents at 11pm, and just feeling like a freaking failure, trying to prove ‘what’ to whom? Oh no - the bread rolls needed to go into the oven!

The one consistent in my many conversations with my bestie was that the grass is always greener, and you can’t have a “do-over”. Being at peace with your own choices is the most important thing, because guaranteed, we would all make the same choices given the same information, at the same time. But you only get that in retrospect.

My point is that it doesn’t matter your choice… home / work. The more important thing is accepting your decision with the benefits that it comes with and relishing every moment mindfully with whatever energy you have remaining. And to take vitamins.

In our experience at Montessori, most families are going through something. It will be a different something to yours, but there is ALWAYS a “something”. That’s where having a community is important. Especially when your family is in a different city, or even in a different country - especially if you need to work long hours. The right carers for your children will make all the difference.

If you need to go to work to maintain your licence or registration, to keep a chosen lifestyle, or just to pay the rent, there are care options that teach your children in a family environment, so your children will learn their numbers, how to wash dishes, grace and courtesy, and how to respect others. Better yet, these care options are now open for extended working hours and are run by staff that understand that you are simply doing your best, and that sometimes that feels awful.

If you are looking for a full care option for your under six year old, we invite you to come and view one of our two Fountain City Montessori sites - on Brooklyn Road (Claudelands from 7am) and Tawa Street (Melville - near the hospital from 6:30am). Both centres were designed to care for children of working parents, with great food, and both closing at 6pm. We currently have vacancies for under three and a half year olds, with nursery spaces being limited, and best planned ahead.

Be kind to yourself when making your work / family decisions. It is most important that you find an option that feels right to you. Whether you work, or whether you plan to add something not-home into your child’s day, come and visit us now. Parental guilt will always be a thing - embrace it for what it is, and let it go.

Rowena Harper
Managing Director
Fountain City Montessori