ARTICLE: THIS FIRST APPEARED IN THE COURIER (PRINT ED)
With the school holidays almost in full swing, one woman is stressing the need for flexible workplaces so fathers can “share the responsibility” of childcare.
Catherine Ogata, a full-time child carer from her home through Kids Matter, says she deals almost entirely with just mothers.
“It’s the way things seem to be and it’s unfair in a sense,” she said.
“Most fathers don’t get a choice. They’re up early and home late, resulting in most childcare being left to the mothers.”
This comes in light of a recent report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, where 91% of the children studied were primarily cared for by their mothers.
According to AIFS Senior Research Fellow Dr Jennifer Baxter, the study highlighted the need for parents to ensure flexibility at work to share responsibility of care.
“The way mothers and fathers distribute their time is resulting in mothers doing more of the childcare,” she said.
“Longer work hours for fathers also reduce their ability to take on responsibility.”
The study also highlighted the “overwhelming” amount of children who were looked after by a mixed arrangement of relatives during school holidays.
This may be because many parents are trying to avoid expensive childcare costs, according to the study.
Ms Ogata believes that most families are unaware of the cheaper alternatives to formal child care.
“Depending on your benefits, leaving your children with a family carer can be as low as one or two dollars per hour,” she said.
“I think a lot of parents think all childcare is really expensive.”
When parents are able to care for their children themselves though, both need to share the load, according to Ms Ogata.
“When my husband is at home with the kids, people always seem to joke that he’s home ‘babysitting’ them”, she said.
“But he’s not babysitting, he’s their parent.”
Hopefully this holiday workplaces will be flexible with fathers, she said.
“I’m starting to see more fathers out in the park with strollers, it’s nice.”