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Too think a Scandanavian-style child-care scheme wouldn't be so great after all?

(176 Posts)
newnoo Thu 23-Mar-17 12:11:19

What do you think is the best child-care system the UK should have? I always thought the State-funded Scandi system looked great - you can go back to work after a year and all your childcare is heavily subsidised etc. More women on top company boards than anywhere in the world etc. Shared care etc.

Yet then I read this article (from 2015) and as a SAHM myself, I did wonder if that's the right thing after all? AIBU to think it might not be such a great child-care model after all?

If you could choose your ideal set-up in terms of work and having children, what would it be?

scaredofthecity Thu 23-Mar-17 12:19:54

That makes for interesting reading. I am very grateful that I work in a sector (nhs) that allows me to work part time hours. I work half time and I think it is a great balance, I get to work and use my brain at the same time as doing the majority of bringing up my son. I don't work more hours as it doesn't make financial sense, but even if if did I'm not sure I would.

I do understand that it's not so easy for women in other sectors.

HeteronormativeHaybales Thu 23-Mar-17 12:22:34

That article is intensely annoying. First, it just drips with self-congratulatory smuggery about her 'careful financial planning' and her clearly high-earning dh. Second, I'm not sure the examples she cites are signs of Danish children being 'overly infantilised' - we might equally suggest they get to develop at a much more child-centred pace rather than being pushed into phonics aged 4 and having toilet accidents in reception. Third, fathers are left completely out of it - apart from implied in the background as the default financial providers. hmm The 1950s called - they want her back.

I'm in Germany - very similar model, and it works IMO. There's a lot wrong with here but the kindergarten system and school transfer age are not among them. I feel a mixture of horror and pity at reading about UK parents' childcare bills. And I'm a real convert to starting school at 6ish (varies a bit, generally happens between 5.5 and 7).

LostSight Thu 23-Mar-17 12:25:21

I live and (now) work in Norway. People did seem amazed when we first came here that I didn't see going back to work as a priority, but I never felt judged.

I don't know what it's like in Denmark, but here, if you don't use the subsidised nursery, you get paid additional child benefit to acknowledge the fact that you are caring for your child. So clearly the government message is not that one way is right and the other isn't.

I did ensure my child went to nursery before srating school as I felt it was important he learned some Norwegian.

Something you haven't mentioned (though by the time I post, likely someone else might have) is that the whole child-centric thing extends way beyond nursery care. Working parents are allowed ten days paid leave each year if their children are ill and need time off school. Most companies that can, allow flexible working, so that one parent drops the children off and the other picks them up.

Also, it is wholly normal here when parents split, that the children spend 50% of the time with each parent. So lone parent families will not skew the employment figures in the same way they might in a country where it's acceptable for men to have very little to do with bringing up their children.

Natsku Thu 23-Mar-17 12:46:23

Urgh annoying article, just another unhappy expat wishing her new life was like her old life.

I'm in Finland, with heavily subsidised daycare from roughly a year old where you pay on a sliding scale according to your income. BUT you can also take the opportunity to stay home for the first three years (with your job security still in place) and you'll get paid by the State to acknowledge that you are doing an important job.

Stay at home parents aren't looked down upon, and they're not that rare either, also a lot of mums (sometimes dads but mostly mums) choose part time work while the children are young (another thing that is supported by the State with laws that companies have to follow and sometimes small benefits to help with families doing this)

It is rare for a child to not attend daycare at all, most attend from the age of 3 as its not just daycare but early education and is considered very important and the right of the child. I'm at home and DD has been going to her daycare 'full-time' (6ish hours a day) since she was 4 (full time to begin with at 3.5, then part time for a while, then back to full time) because its good for her and she's come on so much socially and emotionally thanks to it.

She's 6 now and will start school this Autumn - she hasn't been 'infantilised' by not learning to read yet, she's had the benefit of a 'proper' play-centred early childhood (the years 2-7 are called 'the play age' in Finnish rather than toddler/preschool because of the important of play). And anecdotally, she was the last to be potty-trained out of her whole daycare class, she trained soon after she started at 3.5. When she started there they didn't even have facilities for changing nappies in her class (which was 3-6yrs) at that point because all the children trained before 3 years old. Now the class is for 1-6yrs so there are of course children in nappies still but they are encouraged to use the toilets as well. Independence and doing things themselves (e.g. the children get their own drinks of water using a tray of cups and the taps in the toilets) are strongly encouraged in Finnish daycares - its the opposite of infantilising them.

newnoo Thu 23-Mar-17 12:53:51

Wow, these are amazing insights into how things are elsewhere in the world.

Thank you.

Natsku I love that in Finland you have job security for 3 YEARS. Wow. And that you get paid to do the job of being a SAHM.

What would happen if you had another child after 3 years? Does the 3 years turn into 6 years of job security?

The shared caring of the children in Norway too is amazing to read about LostSight.

Hetero - I didn't realise they had the same kind of system in Germany. Very interesting.

Thanks too scaredofthecity, yes NHS positions, state-type jobs seem to offer fairer ways of working part-time than the corporate world.

I wonder what is holding the UK back from following a similar system.

From what I've read about a state-funded childcare system in the UK, it looks like the extra tax that the govt would make back on all the women working again, would mean the system would pay for itself....

I am still confused/disappointed as to why it's not happening here.

redexpat Thu 23-Mar-17 13:01:35

I think that article misses some fairly crucial point about Danish culture and lifestyle.
1. Your identity is very much built up on your job.

2. If youre not contributing to state coffers then youre seen as a scrounger, I think people assume you are on benefits even if thats not the case. You can get the subsidy paid to you in some cases.

3. I think also by being a sahm you are seen as rejecting the danish culture and lifestyle.

4. Living standards are higher, but so are expectations. Most household budgets are built on 2 incomes. For those who are single parents you get maintenance. If the nrp doesnt pay then the state does and he pays it back to the state. I think you get more CB if you are a single parent. Most couples cant afford the lifestyle unless both work.

5. The idea that you should be financially reliant on someone else is almost abhorrent. The law xhanged a few years ago for people on the dole so if they were married or living with someone then they couldnt get the lowest dole. Lots of people were really shocked that the govt considered this acceptable. The law has been softened so only married couples are obliged to support each other.

6. Social relationships are different here. Most people have a core group of friends that they remain friends with for a very long time. You can go to a mother group but you are assigned to one by your hv. There are no open drop in groups like in the uk. Well very few. In my county of 25000 there is one which isnt meeting atm because there is no suitable location. As a sahp you can very easily go a whole day without speaking to another adult. This is not seen as a desirable way of life.

Ive read enough threads on mn saying that the childcare costs negate the financial benefit of them working, so actually I think a state subsidy of 75% in the uk would do wonders for a lot of families, and probably bring a lot of people out of poverty.

1AnnoyingOrange Thu 23-Mar-17 13:05:33

My ideal

To be off for 1 year on paid maternity leave. I wanted to breastfeed for over a year so had to be off for the first 6 months to physically do this. Would have preferred to be off for 12 months but managed by getting daughter brought to workplace for some weeks. I would have liked DH to have more than 2 weeks but maybe 6 weeks might help. It wouldnt help me for him to be off for half the time as really me going to work and expressing/ night feeds etc is impractical, whilst him at home.

Then I would prefer low ratio childcare 1-3 years. Subsidised but SAHM can get this money as child benefit instead if child is at home. I think this is fair. I would have been back at work.

Then from 3 years old nursery schools type setup with breakfast club from 8am to allow optional use of this as childcare for working parents.

To me scandanavian system sounds really good.

newnoo Thu 23-Mar-17 13:06:53

Redexpat - can I ask - are you Danish? Living in Denmark?

Do most Mums work part-time or full-time?

Same in the other Scandi countries? What sort of set up is there with Mums' hours of work?

I'm thinking in the UK a lot of women would like to work part-time but the roles just aren't there. Well, there are some but it's often not doing what women did before they had children and big change in salary and promotional opportunities etc.

So do most women return to work in their old jobs in Denmark?


EineKleine Thu 23-Mar-17 13:12:06

It's interesting. My one swedish friend thinks the childcare is very good but there is less scope for PT working than in the uk. She and her friends all work either 0.75FTE (5 days a week, finishing at 3pm rather than 5pm or so each day, no option of compressed hours or 4 day week) or FT. She thinks we are lucky to have the option of working fewer hours - albeit that's just one anecdote and finding decent PT work is an issue here too.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Thu 23-Mar-17 13:20:00

it runs into problems here as have such long hours, and so little vacation time

indeed for a young child to rarely see either parent wont do much good

My relationship with my children can suffer as I work FT, and am often too tired to engage as I would like

If I worked more Nordic hours and had a better work life balance, it would be better!

Natsku Thu 23-Mar-17 13:21:51

With the child home care leave its until the youngest child turns 3 so yes potentially longer than 3 years old. I'm not exactly sure how that works when it comes to job security but it says that according to the law, employers are obligated to offer the same or similar job to the parent when they return.

Parents can also do partial home care leave, so work up to 30 hours at their job and spend the rest of their working time looking after their children and receive a partial allowance - this is allowed until the youngest child finishes their 2nd year of school (but the allowance doesn't last for that long so you need to be able to afford it otherwise)

howabout Thu 23-Mar-17 13:24:26

I don't know what I think but it is interesting that for all the plaudits for the Scandinavian model they have lower birth rates than in the UK - implication being that their model tends to discourage having children.

OOAOML Thu 23-Mar-17 13:26:14

She's very judgey. I can see it must be difficult for her being out-of-step with those around her. But I also dislike the assumption that women are brilliant natural mothers - I would be awful if I was at home all the time, and I would hate to be judged for working just as I would hate to be judged for not working.

Pigface1 Thu 23-Mar-17 13:27:25

I'm sure the system for parental leave and childcare in the Scandinavian countries is great but they have much, much smaller populations than the UK, lower birth rates, and higher taxes, especially on consumption.

newnoo Thu 23-Mar-17 13:28:39

So what I'm getting is that women are treated very much equally but need to follow the 5 days a week (male) pattern, no flexi working.

I'm thinking my ideal would be

1) 3 years job security

2) SAHM benefit paid to Mums who don't work for those 3 years

3) State-funded child-care system

4) Flexi-working and part-time working permitted

5) Government should legislate to make all companies over 250 employees provide at least 10% of new jobs they create each year given to job-sharers.

I did some basic research couple of years ago when I was looking into this subject and my survey showed that 95% of Mums want to work part-time, not full-time.

So again, this shows that the Scandi system, whilst offering many benefits, doesn't really give us exactly what we want in that it seems to force Mums to work full-time.

I'd be curious to hear from RedExpat again about this.

Or anyone else who can shine some more light on the subject.

Most Mums want to work part-time, don't they?

I wonder if there's a middle ground anywhere...

AutumnMadness Thu 23-Mar-17 13:31:00

This article just stinks of privilege. Basically this incredibly privileged woman is complaining that the Danish childcare system makes her lifestyle choice look bad. Never mind that the same Danish childcare system allows people to avoid poverty, dependence on benefits and probably abusive marriages by providing them with an opportunity to become financially independent while having children. Looking like you made a bad lifestyle choice is clearly so much more important than these things.

newnoo Thu 23-Mar-17 13:32:50

Yes lower birth rates.. good point.

Higher taxes - for sure.


I think the existing system isn't right that's all.

Where is the middle ground?

What could we improve?

CheerfulMuddler Thu 23-Mar-17 13:33:28

I would like more employers to support part-time work and for e.g. job-sharing to be more accepted. More paid days off for e.g. looking after sick children. More subsidised childcare - a sliding scale based on incomes sounds like a good idea. I'd also like the self-employed to be able to share their maternity allowance with the father in the same way you can share statutory maternity pay. So, if I was eligible for maternity pay, DH and I could split our parental leave however we liked. But because I'm self-employed, I can take maternity leave and get maternity pay, but DH can't take anything except the first two weeks.
I think starting school at 6 sounds like a great idea too - although as others have pointed out, 4-year-olds in Scandinavia are still learning things at daycare, it's not all playing.

newnoo Thu 23-Mar-17 13:34:07

I mean the existing system in the UK.

Gosh I wish we could edit stuff on MN - but I can see why they don't allow it! smile

CheerfulMuddler Thu 23-Mar-17 13:35:27

In some Scandanavian countries, isn't there a six months that can ONLY be taken by the father? I think that's a good idea too. So good for the relationship between the father and the children.

expatinscotland Thu 23-Mar-17 13:36:12

Who is going to pay for all this, newnoo? And why are all these options for PT, flexi-time and job-sharing only aimed at mothers? That's sexist. There is zero chance in hell businesses are going to turn themselves inside out, or taxpayers, to fund 'mums' to stay at home and work PT and as they please because they chose to have children. No 'mum' is being 'forced' to work FT, it's just the that model is set up to support parents who both work FT, and 50/50 custody in the event of splits. I fail to see what is wrong with that.

badabeedabom Thu 23-Mar-17 13:36:44

I don't know what I think but it is interesting that for all the plaudits for the Scandinavian model they have lower birth rates than in the UK - implication being that their model tends to discourage having children.

Howabout, I believe it's very much the other way around - these policies have been introduced precisely because of the population decline in these countries. With a falling population they were setting themselves up for all kinds of problems in the future, and needed to try to do something about it.

Saltedcaramel2016 Thu 23-Mar-17 13:38:39

Children are young for a very short time in the grand scale of things. I think there should be more done to make work open to parents after a career break and more focus on part time and flexible working. I hate the way if you take time off with children you are suddenly wasting your education! We are all going to be working until our late 60s so why can't a parent take some years out when children are young and still get back into the workplace.

Natsku Thu 23-Mar-17 13:38:45

After the first 105 days of maternity leave which is just for the mother, all other leave can be used by either parent or shared (e.g. one month mum, one month dad, one month mum again etc.), the partial care allowance can also be shared (e.g. two days a week mum works shorter hours and three days a week dad works shorter hours).

Birth rates are lower here though, some municipalities are trying to increase birth rates with extra benefits - one town paid thousands of euros for each child born, others gave extra gifts to the families, planted trees in honour of the babies and things like that. People aren't going to have more babies for things like that though so those extra benefits are a bit of waste.

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