Recession-hit couples turn to ‘shift-parenting’ to stay afloat

Click here for this Guardian article on how “Mothers and fathers take it in turns to go to work as a way of avoiding the expense of childcare”.

The families never spend time together as a whole. Sad.

6 Responses to “Recession-hit couples turn to ‘shift-parenting’ to stay afloat”

  1. Esther Says:

    This is really sad, isn’t it? Makes life harder than ever for parents. But on the bright side at least parents are pulling together in the same direction as the family focus is on the children instead of on the importance of the second job. I think it’s better for the children to spend time with their Dad rather than with a childminder or in a nursery. It’S sort of a step on the right direction, but bringing it’s own problems, much like the entry of women into the workplace during the war!
    If only we could take a step back and CHOOSE what we want to do, rather than always being “forced” by circumstances. But I think this is the nature of most people – they don’t want to face hard truths (such as choosing between having more money and raising a family), and they can’t bear to reflect on the truth of what it is that they really want from life. We find it difficult to be honest, or to get to the truth of the matter, even with ourselves, and so we just keep on blindly doing what we “have” to do, because it’s easier (more comfortable) than taking charge of our lives.
    The question of recession hit couples shift working is really a variation on the theme of how we choose/have to look after our kids.

  2. Julie Says:

    Besides the need of real CHOICE for childcare, this article also shows that the current work/family rythm is not in line anymore with what people want. Things need to be changed. The “Old Economy” does not respond to the reality anymore. Hopefully, the currently economic-driven society will move towards a more human-oriented society.
    Because, in the end, why do people in real poor areas of the world keep smiling and some other people who apparently have everything (on a consumerism level) are not happy?


  3. Esther Says:

    Yes, but what can we do if we want to actively encourage this process of change? Do we just sit back and wait for the change to happen, do we work to try and change society itself (we are doing this already every time we make a “human” choice ourselves) or do we to work to try and change how society functions within the current system where economics is always the driver?

    Despite the groundwork by the suffragettes etc, in my opinion it was a grassroots public response to the economic situation – accepting that women HAD to work – that finally gave the minority of women that really wanted it the choice to enter the paid workplace, and it looks like this is what will finally divert childcare back into the family. NOT the wish of a minority of women to be full-time mothers, but the wish of the majority NOT to pay someone else to look after their kids!

    I would be really interested to hear other poeple’s thoughts on this.

  4. Anna Lines Says:

    Through choice or necessity, there always were and always will be couples that pass like ships in the night.

    But what prompts articles like these is the phenomenon of back-to-back working of middle class couples. In certain strata of society it was always possible to pay your way out of chores and out of looking after children. That was the case before women worked and continued to be the way once they did.

    But when one parent goes to work first thing in the morning and then has to return home to pass the baton to the other one for the early evening shift then one cannot help wondering what this does to a relationship in the long run or to the work attitude. Who wants a 7 hour shift after a day looking after children and home? And what about the work attitude of a person who cannot travel on account of work, cannot stay later when busy, can never socialise with colleagues?

    Well, the party is over and in the cold light of day the young children are back in the home and so are the grown up graduates. And when they eventually leave then the empty nest will be filled by ageing parents.
    After all, like it or not, such was family life within living memory and we may find that a couple of generations’ departure from these norms turned out to be unsustainable.

  5. Esther Says:

    “Like it or not” raises a very interesting issue: isn’t it ironic – studies on happiness (that have been commissioned because, much to our surprise, and despite increased wealth, “choice” and health, our society is becoming increasingly unhappy) show us that relationships matter, and yet the more “success” we achieve, the further away we tend to have moved from our family (both physically and psychologically) and from other relationships based on love and need. (Those who achieve success are often required to spend more time away from home – should such lives then more properly be viewed as UNsuccessful?)

    So if, as it appears, this type of family life cannot be sustained (and surely the evidence is already there with divorce rates, unhappy children, has anyone done a poll to report on how the elderly, and I mean those elderly enough to need caring for, feel? I suspect they are also pretty miserable) then society will eventually be “forced” into accepting a lifestyle that will actually make them happier!! I wonder if those who remember the “bad old days” will then actually start proclaiming how grateful they are to be alive instead of moaning about it?! Will it be Heaven on Earth?! And finally no more need for campaigning groups like FTM?! (Utopia?!)

  6. Anna Lines Says:

    Heaven is within ourselves, Esther. It’s about not looking at ourselves and making the best of what we have got. No generation is without its worries, but the nature of the worries changes. In my mother’s family, so the story goes, there was a maiden aunt (one of 5 siblings) who moved away from her simple country folk. She eventually managed a section of a high class department store in the capital. When she came on rare visits she was beautifully dressed, spoke differently and never failed to correct her brother’s language and manners. All went well until the day when she became too old to work. Unlike her brothers and sisters she had put no money aside and they were the ones to pick up the pieces. Without grumbling they took it in turns to have her live with them for a month at the time…. I can tell you, when a Minister introduced modest state pensions for people like her, her family could have kissed him! It was the beginning of the wefare state but, like the Fisherman’s Wife in the fairy tale, people weren’t content with that, but kept on wanting more…

    There was a similar tale on my husband’s side of the family. Couple in a 2 up 2 down bring up happy family of 3 children. When there were three teenagers Granny and Grandpa joined them. Those not so lucky would frequently end up in the Workhouse. No, that was not so great, was it?
    What’s worse? Living like this or living with just the t.v. for company waiting for a quick visit from a home help that you hardly know?

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