Dear Friend,

Bennett 051515 001My friend, Samantha, recently gave birth to her second child and shared with me the challenges of balancing her life at home with her professional career. “On the weekends, if I receive emails or a voicemail from work, I feel like I should respond immediately so that I don’t forget on Monday.” Similarly, when she’s at work, she feels that same pull from home. “There’s an expectation in my field that you are going to work late a lot. Before having children, I had no problem with it. But now, I want to rush home so I can make dinner and spend time with my kids.”

Of course, my friend isn’t alone in experiencing this tension. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, 56% of working mothers say it is difficult to balance the responsibilities of their job and their home. What I found especially surprising about the Pew study was that working husbands shared this concern in equal numbers. As a dad struggling to find this balance myself, it was comforting to learn that I’m not alone!

Although the study doesn’t explain why it is we feel this way, I think anxiety about child care plays are large role. Although American parents report that caring for our own children is by far the most meaningful activity in our lives, we spend an incredible about of time and effort figuring out who else can do it for us. For all of the planning our jobs require, my wife and I spent very little time thinking about who would care for our son after he was born. As Gabrielle describes it, she figured she would just strap Bennett into a Baby Bjorn while she ran her businesses. Before he arrived, we actually spent more time discussing what kind of furniture would go into Bennett’s nursery than child care.

Thankfully, we lucked into an amazing child care provider, but the situation won’t last forever. What do we do as Bennett gets a little older? Do we enroll him in a child care center or a licensed daycare home, hire an au pair, or enlist a relative to look after him? With two-parent families in New York devoting an average of 1/6 of their household income to child care, how do we balance quality care with affordability?

To help advocate for improving quality and affordability, the Child Care Council of Suffolk is currently surveying families in the County to find out how they access and use child care. My colleagues with children at CMEE and I have already completed the brief survey and I encourage you to fill it out, too. By collecting as much data as possible, we can identify the best practices for our children’s care.


Steve Long

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