Longer childcare, less satisfied parents

Herald Sun June 24, 2011

THE longer children spend in childcare, the less satisfied parents are with work and life, Australia’s biggest study of families has found. And mums and dads are most content when their youngest child is aged under 2, the research reveals. As families struggle with the cost of living, women are working longer and returning to work earlier, leading to longer stints in childcare. This is placing increasing stress on mums as they juggle work and family, says the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey — Families, Incomes and Jobs report, released yesterday. The number of women returning to work while their child was aged between eight and 11 months has rocketed up from 5 per cent to 11 per cent over the past 10 years. “But life and job satisfaction for men and women decreases the more hours their children are in formal care, especially if they are aged over two,” said HILDA researcher Diana Warren. “It could be because it adds to the stress of the day, getting the children organised for care, dropping them off before work.” She said men’s satisfaction levels dropped when their children spent 30 hours or more a week in care. The research, by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, tracks 7000 households and more than 12,000 respondents.