The relationship between a mother, a childcare worker, and a child is a complicated one, and not something we talk about as much as perhaps we need to.
For one, it’s a paradox. Mums want their children to feel safe and to trust the childcare workers that take care of them while mums are at work. At the same time, those mothers don’t want their children to grow too attached to the childcare workers, lest they threaten to emotionally replace them.
The phenomenon is one we at SAHM have come to call ‘Childcare Worker Envy’. It’s increasingly common among mums who have chosen, for one reason or another, to go back to work either on a full or part time basis. So how do mums deal with that envy, so that their children aren’t caught in the middle of a nasty war for affection?
1. Know There’s Much You Don’t See
Mums often feel jealous of childcare workers based on the evidence immediately in front of them. Their children may no longer cry when dropped off at childcare. Instead, they run into the arms of their favourite childcare worker, forgetting mum by the door. When time comes for them to go home, kids sometimes cry and whinge to be separated from their carers. But childcare workers tell a different story. They know that when kids are in care, much of what they talk about are their mums, the biggest influence in their lives. They pretend to call their mums, pretend to be their mums, and want their mums when they’re hurting. Mum is number one, even if that isn’t always clear.
2. Remember Clan Childcare
In the early days of human history, children were raised by the entire clan. While mum had a big part to play, so too did the other women of the group, and even the older children. Now, our families are much more nuclear in their makeup, but that doesn’t mean that ‘clan childcare’ should be forgotten. Those childcare workers that we rely on to take care of our children while we work are merely secondary carers, not intended to replace mum’s care, but merely to supplement it when she isn’t available.