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Preschool pickup pressure 'hampers careers': Swedish union

TT/The Local · 7 Mar 2011, 10:49

Published: 07 Mar 2011 10:49 GMT+01:00

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The union - Sweden's largest with over 500,000 members - claims that 30 percent of its members with children in preschool cannot work full time because of the schools' limited opening hours, while 67 percent have never been consulted by the pre-school about suitable opening hours.

Half of the parents surveyed say they feel pressured to collect their children from preschool earlier than they would have done otherwise. One in four parents say that they feel they have to pick up their children by 4pm at the latest. Over 50 percent feel they must collect their children before 4.30pm.

The most common reason, given by almost every other parent, is they feel guilty when other children are collected earlier. Otherwise, parents say the preschool's opening hours forces them to pick up their children early, or that they are not comfortable with the quality of childcare.

Only 24 percent of parents say that they come earlier because their children do not enjoy long days.

Some 82 percent of all 1-5 year olds in Sweden attend preschool. But since the beginning of the 1990s the child-to-staff ratio has increased significantly, from 4.4 children per staff member twenty years ago to 5.3 today.

"The norm of collecting early is problematical, because it hinders parents from working full time and managing their daily lives," wrote Kommunal in its commentary.

Standard preschool opening hours are poorly adapted to the hours Kommunal's members work, concluded the report. Most preschools open between 6am and 7am, but around one in five preschools do not open until after 7am. The pattern is the same at the other end of the day. While the majority of preschools close between 5.30pm and 6pm, only one in five stays open beyond 6pm.

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The report also found that mothers are still taking responsibility for collecting their children from preschool. In over 50 percent of families the mother picks up the children 'always or almost always'. Around 24% of fathers 'rarely or never' collect their children.

The survey, which was carried out by Novus Opinion, was based on 843 interviews.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:31 March 7, 2011 by StockholmSam
This is one of the things that has always befuddled me about Sweden. I come from the US and while childcare there has a whole set of problems that belong to another conversation, one thing we could count on there was that the parents could get a full workday in before grabbing the kids on the way home. I have never understood how my sambo can so willingly go down to 80% at work simply to pick up our child at 1600 or 1630. It weakens her career prospects and our income takes a hit. Plus, I see no benefits to our daughter for picking her up an hour early. And we have discussed it; we definitely feel pressure to pick up early because if we get there at 1700, there are only four or five kids left and we feel guilty for having abandoned our child with all the other "forgotten children." We worry that it affects our child, but I think the dagis ought to stipulate and encourage later pick-up hours so that the parents can relax a bit and the kids can have their full day of daycare. It is ridiculous to feel pressured to pick up at 1600.
12:44 March 7, 2011 by California Girl 3
Don't a lot of parents work slightly different shifts? Most of the parents I knew from my child's dagis worked full time (both fathers and mothers). One parent went to work early, usually around 7 or 7.30 at the latest, while the other started later (usually around 8.30 to 9). The kids were usually dropped off around 8.30 or so and picked up by around 16.30, but that was after a full work day for the parent doing the pick up.

Fwiw, I'm not surprised that more mothers than fathers pick up the kids; that was my experience as well. On the other hand, a whole lot of the fathers were doing the drop-off.
12:58 March 7, 2011 by Mib
I drop my Daughter off in the morning and my Wife picks her up at 4pm. That is the latest they operate to and I'm sure that is againstthe rules, so there are discussions about this at the moment.

But to feel pressure to pick up your child early as to not look bad or other reason is just silly in my mind. RUn your lives as best you can for the right reasons. I'm sure most other people don't care if you pick up early or not. If they do, it's their problem, NOT yours. Pre-school children don't care as they get more time to play and at that age are normally very adaptable as long as they feel happy and secure in familiar surroundings.
13:41 March 7, 2011 by StockholmSam
We don't feel the pressure to pick up early because we feel we look bad to other parents. We feel pressure because we feel guilty that our daughter is there practically all alone with the straggling group of kids that are picked up late. We worry about how it affects her to see all her friends go home at 1530 while she gets sent downstairs to play with the few leftovers from dagis classes that have ended. She doesn't know those kids because they are older/younger than she is. I see the value of her getting to know different kids of different ages, but again, our stress comes not from what other parents think, but from what our daughter might pick up from it all.
14:25 March 7, 2011 by Irishmanabroad

I just read this today. Brilliant! For once it is the UK who are considering how it affects the children and not being selfish about adults lifes. If you have children, you must be prepared for it.

My mum was back in her fulltime job 4 weeks after my sister was born and we all had child minders since we were born. Be greatful the state pays for something and make the most of it!
14:39 March 7, 2011 by Rick Methven
The Dagis across the road from me has the first child dropped off at 06:30 and the last one picked up at 17:00. So I think it is down to local requirements
15:35 March 7, 2011 by Mib
@StockholmSam - I believe most children are very resilient ie. my daughter has gone through a traumatic experience due to medical issues, but she is a happy-go-lucky girl and playing with anyone who wants to join in. Of course, every child is different, but I think that they find things to occupy themselves if they are on their own and if the nursery is set up correctly, the teacher should ensure that any children still under their responsibility has something fun to do.

My previous comment was not dircted at yourself...it was just a response to the main article. But, us parents naturally worry about our children and want the best for them and so trust your own instincts and don't listen to me, experts or books. We're bombarded by so much information of what is right/wrong, that you woulddrive yourself crazy. I mean, we managed to survive the world very well, despite our parents not having the internet etc that we have today.
15:55 March 7, 2011 by LHK
"The norm of collecting early is problematical, because it hinders parents from working full time and managing their daily lives," wrote Kommunal in its commentary.

PLEASE don't sell out your kids or your time with them. PLEASE drop them off as late as possible and pick them up as early as possible!!! This should be your daily life. They need you so much and deserve your time and attention!! You ONLY get one chance to raise up each child - Only one. Don't give in to this pressure to abandon parenting for more money or more career. It is NOT worth it. WE NEED SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT to be healthy happy PARENTS in order to raise up healthy happy kids.

Please work, educate or whatever but to be away from your young kids for more than 6 hours per day is too too much. Be real. Think about what your doing.

And please Do Not try to be like Americans or Britons. Those cultures DO NOT have it together. Just look at their crime rates, etc... etc....

Just be with your kids. Love them. Time passes very quickly.
16:29 March 7, 2011 by NJGirl
Well said LHK, except your remark not to be like Americans. Hardly any woman leaves her child in a daycare in America and definitely NOT for 12 hours daily. Reason for it could be the fact that there is no free daycare and actually daycare especially high quality is very expensive. I myself raised 4 children and loved every minute of it. Cut my professional hours to accommodate my children NOT the other way around. I have to say, my husband helped a lot, otherwise it would be hard. At least I know all my children very well and they know their parents. 12 hour daycare - no good!
17:45 March 7, 2011 by Puffin
@ NJGirl

Errm - I have never heard of a child in daycare for 12 hours - just because daycare is open for 12 hours doesn't mean that people have their kids there - it's to accomodate parents with different shift patterns from nurses doing the 7-4 shift to shopworkers whose store doesn't close until 6pm

However some places do try to limit parent's usage

- some places consolidate daycare after 4/4.30pm so your child is moved to another daycare if they need care after this time which many parents hate and adjust there working hours

- some of the private dagises have limited opening hours to save costs - fewer staff needed and no overtime!
19:43 March 7, 2011 by EtoileBrilliant
Gee I'm somebody finally stepped in and defended the kids. Leaving your child in care from dusk to dawn is not a way of life it's a stop gap measure. The anecdotal evidence in my children's school is: the "first-in/last-out" children are the one's with attention problems. They are bouncing off the walls driving their carers mad. They should be out doing after school activities that involve some moderate exercise.
20:07 March 7, 2011 by Mr G
No one ever writes on their gravestone ...'I wish I'd worked more hours and spent less time with my family'...
21:31 March 7, 2011 by bjorkon
I wouldn't expect anyone who shows up at work 9.30 and leaves at 3.30pm to really have much of a career. A job, maybe. Agree also with StockholmSam.

In the UK we dropped off 8.00am and often showed up 6.00pm stressed-out by the nursery/school gates (along with 95% of the other parents). Also for the "privilege" of working we paid the full cost (10000 SEK/Mo+) of childcare with no government subsidy.

So we moved to Sweden with the promise of a more relaxed lifestyle and "almost free" daycare. The reality:

* MORE stress - trying to leave work early.

* MORE stress picking up kids who are last to get picked up at 5pm.

We are now planning to use the money we saved on nursery fees to hire a nanny to make up the hours. Either that or forget our careers and just find "jobs" instead.

Happy Fulfilled Parents = Happy Kids. I don't want to put on my gravestone : Spent 20 years of my life bored and miserable and then my kids left home to get away from the atmosphere. Most of the stay-at-home mums I knew in UK were on prescription medicine. Not happy. Not fulfilled. Just bored. And more than a little lonely.
22:38 March 7, 2011 by Bringer
@LHK-- ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Almost everything in Swedish society is geared towards child-rearing and for people such as myself and my husband (who do NOT want children) it is down-right AGGRAVATING to have people claiming "kids" and running out of the office. WE are the ones picking up all the slack when parents work shorter days, have years long maternity leave, and can run out at any time claiming "child" issues.

How DARE you come in here with your ARROGANT rant telling people how to raise their children! Smug, self-righteous, parents such as yourself are the REASON why kids today expect everything to be given to them, and parents to DO everything FOR them.

Absolutely, mind-blowingly disgusting. Parents today seem to think they deserve the world for doing the very thing that humans have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years. Unlike the mouse, however, they don't want a cookie; they want a house, a nanny, a free career, and food to go along with it. Ugh.

Whatever happened to good, old fashioned hard work, dedication and PRIVATION?

My parents were both working when my sisters and I grew up, as were my husbands parents. Strangely enough, we're both self-reliant, empowered adults.
22:45 March 7, 2011 by dammen
WE have always tried to maintain an 8-4 rule with the kids . I do not like children being away from home so long especially if they are under 5 yrs. We took a huge drop in money just so that one of us was there for the kids - that is what having kids is about- CHILDREN ARE WORTH MORE THAN ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD AND MORE THAN A PERSON'S CAREER. If you want a career don't have kids - you do only get one chance to bring them up and they are all different - I have 5!
01:46 March 8, 2011 by JoeSwede
Love your kids. Work variable shifts in order to pick up the kids early. Raising kids means some adjustments in life.

Careers will progress after the kids are older. We're talking 10 or so years.
03:51 March 8, 2011 by scandaphile
I worked in childcare for almost five years (Australia).

My experience taught me that most children have had enough after approximately six hours. They are tired of being cooped up and of having people around them constantly. Many of them just want to go home.

Daycare is a very artificial environment. Toys and activities with people who are paid to be with them just prepare children for the world of the all-consuming career They want to spend time in their own home, with their own parents, doing their own thing and being led out into the world by the people they know and trust the most.

Playtime with other children is important but not all day, every day. Apologies to all those parents who fervently wish to believe otherwise: Your children want to go home.
07:37 March 8, 2011 by farnoxo
Firstly let me add that I am a parent who has a 2 year old at dagis. Both my sambo any myself have high pressure careers and we manage to work between 45-50 hours a week and only have our child in daycare from 8-4. This is possible because:

1. We take turns to pick up and drop (this is possible because we both work in an environment where the hours are reasonably flexible). When I drop off I get in to work at around 8:45 am and leave work at around 18h00-18h30. because I eat lunch at my desk on these days I can get in between 9,5-10 hours. When I pick up I get i to work at 06:00am and leave at 15h30 - again 9,5 hours

2. If one of us has a need to put in more hours, the other will temporarily take up the slack (but it costs escados!), or if not possible, we hire our babysitter to pick our daughter up.

This system generally works, but requires that one's employer is flexible about when the work hours are put in, I sacrifice the 45 minutes "wasted" for lunch by eating it at my desk and my sambo and myself share the burden of picking up and dropping off equally - so it is possible.

As to the "pressure" felt because one's child is one of the last, in the case of our daughter, she is always busy with something when we pick her up and does not seem overly-tired or stressed - but this is clearly dependendant on the child itself.
08:23 March 9, 2011 by Thomas Dolby
Is this a joke, are Swedes really this dumb?

Unfortunately not.

Dagis is a Service to the working class, and it should be used as much as possible, especially in todays economy.

I don't give a second thought as to giving the kids an eight hour day to be 'Social' with other children. BTW, Dagis does provide nap times for the younger ones, so being tired of an all day stay is ruled out here.

I love My kids, but My job is not a hobby, it pays the bills, and puts food on the table.

I do have one suggestion to the Swedes... Please, when your kids are sick, DO NOT bring them to Dagis, call in to work and stay home with them so the other kids, as well as staff members, don't get sick as well...

It's called Respect. Learn it, Live it, Love it : )
19:41 March 9, 2011 by Stockholm Girl
Really people?

I have worked in a preschool here for over 5 years! Some parents do drop their kids off at 7 and pick them up at 17:00 and blame us because they are bored!! The poor things are tired and have done everything there is to be done after 7 hours at there! They sure don't need 10.

Have any of you thought about the staff numbers? There are normally only 2 staff members with up to 20 kids in the afternoon (after 3pm) do you actually think any 'activities' down time, or fun stuff is possible?? NO!! Its just a matter of crowd control!!

The happy kids are the ones who actually get to see their parents; and to those of you complaining: maybe if you paid more for the service your getting we might actually be able to have better child-staff ratios! I suggest you spend a day at preschool with your kids and see how it it! I am sure you will want out of there by 15:00 too!!!
21:58 March 9, 2011 by dianawouters
I am a stay at home happy mother of two. I think it is about time people speak about the children rights too. Parents demand more day care hours!!! I consider that almost as bad as sending chindren to work. I know it sounds hard but it is an alarm bell.

I think there should be laws, forceing parents to care for thier kids, to spend time with them not only when they are babys. Happy and healthy individuals are an investment for the society, so children should be tax deductible.

Western society is based on the principle of independence, this is a sad thing for all of us. One cannot be happy alone! We should learn how to find happiness in our dependency to our loved ones husbands, wives, children.
19:44 March 13, 2011 by ann2
They grow up so fast. I'm fortunate in being able to pick up my kids at 2. I actually feel pressure to have them stay longer, and to have my eldest attend fritidsverksamhet. If I needed the money it would be another story, of course, and if I hadn't already done the career thing then maybe I would have different priorities. But honestly, investing time with the kids will have a bigger long-term payoff than with my job.
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