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Should stay-at-home mums be banned? part 2

Should stay-at-home mums be banned? 

Part 2.

(not sure what the hell I’m going on about? start at part 1.)

Bubba’s daycare is a small school made up of 2 groups of 1-3 year olds and 2 groups of 3-5 year olds. Her class is called the ‘trumpets’. I’m not making this up. There are 9 other little budding musicians in her class and 3 patient and slightly deaf teachers.

She comes home singing little Swedish songs of which I have no clue to what she is trying to sing. I don’t think she has much of clue either judging by her ad hoc avant garde Bartok inspired melodies she comes up with. I am pleased to say however, that her works in binary form are coming along rather well. Yes Twinkle Twinkle, with its open fifths and delicate four bar phrasing is a noted favourite and she’s showing real progress with it.

Fast facts:

  • Cost per month for full time care is 1260SEK/184USD/180AUS, we pay the maximum amount. This amount is reduced for siblings and for people on lesser incomes. Everyone in Sweden receives a non-means tested child allowance of 1050SEK per child per month, so we effectively pay 210SEK/40 USD/38AUS per month for childcare.
  • Everything is included: food + nappies. There is an onsite chef, the food is prepared daily.
  • Opening times are from 8 to 6pm although she is not there that long.
  • It’s cleaned every night.
  • We receive a weekly email including photos of what she’s been up to and a menu plan.
  • It’s a 20 minute walk away. 40 minutes if you are pregnant.
  • Ratio is 3 carers to 10 toddlers however I think the norm in Sweden is  2 to 10.
  • She loves it. We love it. Mozart would have loved it. He would have been best in his class.

Sweden’s family policies are fundamentally good at their core and are usually offered as the model that Western governments should follow. Everyone (women) should have the right to be able to work + child care of a good quality, should be affordable to all. Bravo.

But what about the other side of the Pancake we call Parenting? What happens if you actually want to be your child’s primary care provider? Sweden just isn’t set up for this possibility. Unless you are the Queen.

Child care in Sweden and around the world is nearly always discussed as a ‘feminist’ issue and is attached to rights of women, but shouldn’t it be a ‘childist’ issue?

A long time ago in Sweden when everyone was a viking, family was considered the best option. Then a few decades ago everyone was offered 15 hours a week (of what is essentially free daycare) and now it is 40 hours a week. And everyone takes it:

92% of all children aged 18 months to five years are in daycare

Most people with small children however do work less hours and most kids are picked up from daycare in the afternoon. It’s not like every kid is Sweden is just left forever at daycare, everyone really cares about their children and are heavily engaged in their care, both mothers and fathers. I’ve also never heard anyone complain about the quality of their childcare. But I’ve also never met a stay at home mum (after 18 months when your parental leave runs out) and I’ve lived here for 12 years. It’s just not a choice, they’ve seemingly been banned.

So apart from paying 38 bucks a month for full time day care that specialises in music, Sweden also offers me this:

  • All parents have the right to work up to 75% of the working week until the kid turns 7, and you cannot lose your job, it’s mandated by law.
  • Between TSH and myself we are entitled to 120 days a year paid leave if Bubba is sick, paid by the state not the employer.

Is Sweden’s low cost day care, a high price to pay?

[Photos courtesy of ]

26 Comments Post a comment
  1. lisacng #

    Just the cost of daycare alone, $40USD/month, has me packing my bags and applying for Swedish citizenship. Though I’m sure the reason it costs so little is because taxes are so high. Good and bad in every country. Anyways, I’m so glad you are blessed with REALLY affordable child care, REALLY great childcare (food included!), and a government that SUPPORTS working moms AND dads. 120 days/year of sick time…I think I get 12 days/year (government employee) and my husband gets zero (private company). COST of daycare is definitely a reason that moms stay home, though a lot of them actually want to (LOL, not me! I love to work and I can’t imagine living on 1 income. Though if we have a 2nd kid, then it’s like living on 1 income). Anyways, hope Swedish moms who want to stay home aren’t experiencing discrimination from the “normal” moms. Why can’t we all get along, right???? As long as the child is cared for…

    May 16, 2012
    • Well there aren’t really any SAHM’s in Sweden, everyone goes back to work. The system is so good and very supportive but it doesn’t leave any room for anyone to actually choose to stay at home. The taxes are high here but really not that much higher than AUS and even some parts of the US (from what I’ve discussed with my US friends). Sweden enjoys free health + free education including university + great parental benefits + heaps of other stuff so I’ve never minded paying the them. However, we couldn’t survive on one income at all… I’d better get back to work, HA!

      May 16, 2012
  2. This is fascinating. Our government is hell bent on everyone being ‘working families’ & all the politics around child care fees are crazy, the government subsides it, so child care centres put their fees up. Thing is, i don’t care as i am a full time stay at home mother (or was, my 4th child is now 8 & in his 4th year of school) so what difference do it make to me, other than my husband’s tax going up & up to cover the child care subsides, that we never used!! Here in Australia people insist on new cars, big homes & living a lifestyle which insists on 2 parents working, often with only 2 children, so we just live simply so we can afford our 4 children & me home with them, as trust me, it only gets busier the older they get – homework, sport, socialising, i don’t know what people are setting themselves up for. Finally, people assume i don’t have an education thus loving being a housewife, i choose not to work, my 2 science degrees aren’t lonely, i use them constantly answering my children’s questions.
    Fantastic post, love Posie

    May 16, 2012
    • Glad you enjoyed it. It sounds like you made the right choices for your family, lucky you to be able to stay at home. I agree both in Sweden and Aus the government/society just love working families! 2 science degrees, well you haven’t you been busy…

      May 17, 2012
  3. samallen1975 #

    Well, good news…my bags are packed & the family’s coming to stay! Considering here we have little choice (as you’re well aware), we could do with the Swedish model. I’m currently paying the ‘cheap’ rate of $96AUD per day for J (1 yr old) & received the good news that it’ll go up to $98.50 in July! And that’s with the council-run childcare. Then there’s private….

    Could I please borrow some of T’s sick days?!?!

    May 16, 2012
    • 98.50 per day!!!!! how crazy is that??? OMG! I hope she’s earning a degree of something for that amount. Well after the Easter we had + chicken pox I’m not sure how many of the 120 days will be left :):)

      May 17, 2012
  4. Great posts , they had me wanting to have another child so I could move to Sweden and pay 38 bucks a month in cc …. A MONTH !!!!! I have spent a good fortune on child care as have many of us , lucky girl !
    But I can see where the model is flawed, with such affordable child why would you stay home , yet that is an option that should always be available to the mother and be supported by the government .

    On a lighter note , when my boys were toddlers, I wanted to go out and work to regain some sanity and enjoy adult interaction
    . I returned to work part time and eventually full time . Now that both boys are at school, I work 3 full days, 2 school hour days ( in which we fit in over priced extra curricular activities) . I am a single parent and probably could do with the money from working full days at but I figured these years when they are growing and need me around are never going to come back. In my perfect world though, my writing career would take off, I could quit my job and become a partially SAHM …. Here’s hoping !

    Thankyou for sharing a slice of Sweden, really enjoyed reading both parts xo

    May 17, 2012
    • Glad you enjoyed the posts! Thanks for your great comments, it’s interesting to here how others have experienced this. It’s good you have the time to enjoy your over priced extra curriculars with your boys, the time does fly so you’ll be back making the moula soon enough. Sounds like you’ve got a good balance and are doing a great job as a single parent…

      May 17, 2012
  5. maeschenbach #

    Wow! I quit my job because what I got paid didn’t cover day care. That’s awesome!

    May 17, 2012
    • I think that happens to a lot of women! How bad is that? Especially if you have more then one child, it just doesn’t work. That’s why the Swedish model is seen as a role model for others to follow…

      May 17, 2012
  6. worldoflaurab #

    Wonderful that you have such affordable day care. I’m struggling with the decision to go back to work because my salary would have to be fairly high to justify the cost of care for my kids. I would love to be a SAHM but it is tough living on one income.

    May 17, 2012
    • Oh I understand, we couldn’t make it on one income that’s for sure… I think it is like that for most of my friends in US + Aus, you need to find a really well paid job otherwise it’s just not worth it… good luck!

      May 17, 2012
  7. Daycare is awesomely priced in Sweden. When my daughter was an infant I was charged $800 per month which was a little over half my mortgage. How can I apply to become a citizen? You guys have it made over there!

    May 17, 2012
    • OMG! 800 per month, oouccchhh. You are very welcome over here, I know people that can get you in:)

      May 17, 2012
      • lisacng #

        I’d be LUCKY to pay $800 a month, so sad 😦

        May 18, 2012
      • Start packing…

        May 18, 2012
      • Packing my bags!

        May 19, 2012
  8. crashtestlaney #

    Australian daycare fees are super expensive. The full rate at the centre our kids attend one day a week is nearly $90 per day. Even with rebates we can’t afford to send them any more than that one day. I made the decision to stay home with the kids until they started school, but would love 2 days so I can start working a bit more. It’s just so expensive. I guess we have flexibility here, depending on how you choose to live. We find it extremely hard living on one income, but it’s our choice. I don’t feel discriminated against for making that choice.

    May 18, 2012
  9. wow, so inexpensive, and the quality of care seems so much better than the ones here in the States! childcare is so expensive here in the states and we don’t get benefits from the government. yes, i want to move, too!

    May 19, 2012
  10. We had a year and half of two kids in daycare here in the U.S. and everything we made was going out between mortgage and bills, etc. But I was carrying our health benefits and contributing to my retirement fund, so that was good, plus I like working, and that year and a half is now a distant memory. Interesting to see what different countries do!

    No SAHMS is fascinating. Do you get the “Real Housewives” series in Sweden?!

    May 21, 2012
  11. Kiwi #

    Hi Louise,
    This sounds awesome. Do you know of anything like that in Sydney? I asked Google but they weren’t helpful.

    May 23, 2012
    • I’m not really sure but I know there is one in Melbourne, a bit of commute though!

      May 23, 2012
  12. This is so interesting. I call myself a feminist and I’m also a SAHM, and I have to say the two don’t play nicely with each other. I have 3 children aged 6, 4 and 2 and if I had the level of support available in Sweden I would probably have gone back to work sooner than now. The quality and cost of childcare here in Australia is really prohibitive. Plus, I think it’s important for one of us (mum or dad) to be available for the kids while they are still young.

    September 19, 2012
    • I know it is a very tricky nut to crack. I’m a big believer in SAHS, a stay-at-home-someone either parent would do, but also love to work.

      Sweden is a great place to have and raise children in and it is often used as the model for other countries to follow, but would the world be better off if everyone had their kids in day care etc etc

      Good luck with the kids, you must have your hands and heart full!

      September 19, 2012

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