I went back to work when my son was six months old, as the centre director in an early childhood education and care centre.
It’s been a challenge. Since we started childcare my son has been constantly sick. Now I’ve got no sick leave left and I am paying childcare fees while not getting paid from my employer when my baby is sick.
Now that my son is one year old, my employer wants me to work five days a week, beginning 2023. I said I could only do four days a week at 9.5 hours a day - all my workmates have the same shift at four days a week. But, as I am the centre director I am not offered these hours.
Being forced to work five days a week does not give me enough time to sort things out at home. It’s tough to juggle everything when you have a young baby at home. I want to spend at least one day with him to look after him one on one. I said having a day off helps my son and me recover from daycare, but my employer did not agree.
So I have no option but to look for another job. I hope there will be an employer out there who offers flexibility in work hours. That way I can keep a work and family life balance.
It’s not an easy decision to leave this job. I love my staff and my workplace, and I wish I didn’t have to leave. But my employer has put me in a very difficult position. I wish women were protected from workplaces like this. It’s very unfortunate I have to deal with an inconsiderate boss, and now my future is uncertain.
At the centre, we are under a lot of pressure due to not having enough staff. A lot of our families have requested casual days but we are full and don’t have enough staff. We can’t even do our jobs properly because the ratios are way too high: in the babies’ room it’s four babies to one staff member. Think of the nappy changes, feeding, bottles and sleep with four babies. It’s a lot.
Our resources aren’t sustainable. We are only allowed to order Coles homebrand products and have $500 to spend on resources for three classrooms (nursery, toddlers and preschool).
The job requires hard labour with not enough incentive for educators to stay. The pressure of the National Quality Standard is very high, which is amazing to think of but difficult to implement without enough staff and without proper wages. It’s not fair to put this much pressure on the educators and not pay them wages.
As a family, we don’t have any savings at this time. It’s impossible as the childcare fees we pay are putting a big dent in our bank.