Who should look after my child?
We asked Barbara Campman how she discusses solutions with her clients. “Mothers often find it difficult to let go of their babies and hand them over to someone else, but they should. Looking after their own interests and meeting friends is important for mental health in this phase too.” It’s also good for the newborn and the father to give them the opportunity to develop a bond.
“It’s important to bring a degree of flexibility into childcare from the start. Learn to pump – that way you can treat yourself to a break and include other reference people like grandparents,” Campman advises breastfeeding mothers. Ideally the father would take on a good amount of the childcare, but the counsellor says a babysitter or a baby minder are good alternatives too. In the first one to two years, though, the social worker recommends not putting children into groups that are too big, as they still need a great deal of proximity and a direct approach at this point.
Later on, nurseries are a great solution as the children will learn a great deal from their interaction with others.
“Try to build a good network in your environment. If one of the parents looks after friends’ children sometimes, they will be happy to return the favour. That can help, for example, if you want to go out of an evening,” says Campman.
It’s just important to stay relaxed and not to insist on doing everything the way you are doing it. “Childcare in general can be learned in the case of a babysitter. But you need to be tolerant with the grandparents because they often do things differently to you.”
From the age when they can use a phone, so around 9, children can be left unsupervised for a manageable amount of time. The counsellor feels that leaving the children by themselves is even an opportunity to learn something: “children benefit from being left at home alone sometimes. They learn to deal with situations that are unfamiliar, and in an emergency they can use their phones.”
If you would like to talk to a professional about childcare, the Austrian family counselling centres are there for you with free appointments.
Our interview partner
Barbara Campman is a Social Worker, Mediator and Head of Kindersozialdienste St. Martin in Tulln, Lower Austria.
The interview was conducted in June 2022.