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Old 06.11.2017, 13:45
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

Statistically speaking, working women have fewer children. In fact, there have been numerous studies that show a negative correlation between a woman's education level and the number of children that she has. Given the demographic problems facing Europe, with ageing populations and women choosing to put off having children in order to persue careers, perhaps the Swiss system has some merit. I appreciate that you have three kids so obviously you've bucked the trend!
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  #42  
Old 06.11.2017, 14:23
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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@JanieCH
one aspect confuses me: you mention guilt and it sounds as if, for you, this is a big part of what is getting you down. Why? About what, exactly, do you feel guilty? I am being genuine in my question, because I can't see any major crime.
I suspect that you are a man, as I wouldn't have to explain mom guilt to most women. Where do I start? There are the two problems I already stated: my kids being excluded from village social events that occur while I'm at work, and being teased for going to the UAPE while the other kids go home. The fact that my house is always a disaster (how many times have my kids friends commented on our messy house???). That my kids don't have home-made treats to bring for "collation". The business and chaos. The thought that my job is an inherently selfish undertaking as it complicates our family life with little financial reward. Shall I keep going...?

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Even if she does feel left out, it may be for some other random reason which has nothing to do with your being a working mother.
She is 4 and just started school. She is not left out or picked on while at school. She is excluded from social events that happen outside of school because the other moms have been getting together for years while I am at work and she is at crčhce or UAPE. Yes she notices and yes it makes her sad, and yes it is because I am a working mother.

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About the playdates: nearly every parent I know who works part-time, including active dads, is involved in some sort of coordination with other parents, about who brings or fetches the children, plural, who cooks them lunch or supper, who'll help them to make their theatre costumes, etc., who'll host the sleep-over. This is regarded as a fair way to share the workload, so that each person gets to care for and clean up after a bunch of kids once in a while, and the exchange is that they also get to have some free-time so they can socialise with their partners or just enjoy a few hours alone. And yes, I observe that the children of the parents who choose not to participate in this exchange don't have as much of a social life as those whose parents do.
In this regard, my point was the following: after having tried it, I realized that organising with other parents on a regular and permanent basis was not a viable childcare option for me personally. Last year, when my oldest daughter was in 2P, I arranged with another mom that we would each do one lunch per week, and I HATED it. With two small kids at home, this meant getting 5 kids (my three + two extras) dressed and shuttled to and from the bus stop multiple times per day in all sorts of weather. In a 1.5 hour lunch break, it felt that we barely had time to eat, yet they somehow managed to ransack the playroom and bedrooms. I realized that the arrangement was simply adding to my stress and feeling of being constantly overwhelmed, and that this was not what I wanted to do with my time outside of work. Woe is me for admitting it!

However, despite having little free time, I most definitely punctually help other parents out (and have parents that I too can count on), shuttle groups of kids to different events, organise playdates, do the birthday parties, etc. etc.. I do it ALL, yet you seem to be suggesting that I "choose not to participate" and that my children's social life suffers as a result -- and you have trouble understanding my feelings of guilt? Really?
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  #43  
Old 06.11.2017, 14:27
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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I share the frustration:
Kindergarten in our small village is supposed to end at 11:45 on Mondays, but today the teacher has to attend a funeral, so kids will be sent home at 10:50. Of course, what are the working moms supposed to do? Re-organise whatever pick-up/transportation system they have in place and shift it one hour earlier? Well, it is not always that easy.
By the way, I think this attitude (letting kids off one hour earlier because of whatever private reason) is totally unacceptable. And I hate the fact that I am not going to do anything about it, because I don't want to risk standing out in this environment.
This is a regular problem with our 1-2P teacher, who is approaching retirement and just. doesn't. get it. The parent-teacher interviews, Christmas program, mother's day activity etc. are ALWAYS at lunchtime on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday... the exact days that I work. Scheduling changes are the norm ("we're going to go on a walk in the forest and then you can pick your kids up at 13:00 instead of 15:15" kinda thing). Drives me bonkers!
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  #44  
Old 06.11.2017, 14:28
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Given the demographic problems facing Europe, with ageing populations and women choosing to put off having children in order to persue careers, perhaps the Swiss system has some merit. I appreciate that you have three kids so obviously you've bucked the trend!
Really. Cause last time I checked the Swiss population has been reproducing substantially below "sustainment" level for decades (just like most other European countries), and the average age at the time of first birth is at almost 32 years, among the highest in the world.

So no, clearly, the system has no merit.

And as for the last sentence...
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Old 06.11.2017, 14:31
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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And yes, your kids are excluded from play dates. And possibly also birthday parties as the mothers do not know you as well as the other mothers.
Yes, you get it.
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  #46  
Old 06.11.2017, 14:38
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Yes, you get it.
Sometime children are the ones who exclude their mates, JanieCH. It might have nothing to do with you. Do they hear something at home, or do their parents object when they propose a playdate with x or z? It is possible too, although I hope that people are more mature than that.

The Swiss like structure. They like to organise lunches or playdates on a regular basis so this too can be a reason if you don't roll exactly the same way.
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  #47  
Old 06.11.2017, 14:38
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Having said that, the neglect from the other mums doesn't feel intentional or with bad feeling because when I do rock up to a school event, the other mums are lovely and they always remember my name. Plus a number of the other mums do work, albeit very part time and around school hours, so they kind of "get" the juggling act.
Indeed. I'm definitely not blaming anyone, and I do get on fine with the other moms in the village. It's just the reality of not being as freely available.

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If someone had handed me a massive millstone to hang round my neck in those days when we were planning to have kids and said "here, this is an approximation of the guilt you'll probably feel at every decision you make when it comes to children" I might have thought twice...
I don't know if I'd go that far But the guilt is very real and constant.
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Old 06.11.2017, 14:44
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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I don't know if I'd go that far But the guilt is very real and constant.
Ha! Sorry, I was being a bit melodramatic.
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Old 06.11.2017, 14:47
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Hi Janie,

I am answering this before reading the other answers, so sorry if it overlaps. Raising children as a working mother in Switzerland is pretty hard. The system is slowly changing to accommodate that option, but very very slowly. It's not easy.

It's not only the fact that the system is somehow built against working mothers (or single parents), there is still stigma and despise coming from other people when they find out you are a horrible mother for working [sic].

No matter the reason you are working, and you do not need to excuse yourself for doing it, you will face difficulties. But don't give up - a happy mother, no matter her choices, is the most important for your children (even if those choices sometimes make us temporarily pretty frustrated).

As for your daughters - children can be terrible. And your daughters will eventually have to face horrible people and their nasty comments in their life. If it's not because of the working mother, it will be because of clothes, or mobile, or body shape, or colour of hair.

Your job is not to remove all possible sources of stigmas - believe me, that is impossible, teenage girls will tease you because you were born on a Wednesday - it is to prepare your children how to face adversity. You haven't mentioned any bullying - which is good. Keep an eye on your daughters, make sure they are comfortable talking to you. At the sign of danger, do not attack, offer tools.
This is beautiful, thank you.

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What might help making sure your child has enough tools to bind friendships is perhaps a club of sorts - sports, for example - to which she can walk on her own and share interest with other children.
Both of my girls had good friends at their crčche (which is at my workplace and not in the village), so we have worked to maintain these relationships. This way they will always have friends outside of school, if ever things aren't going well for them at school. For now they are both doing great.
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Old 06.11.2017, 14:49
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Statistically speaking, working women have fewer children. In fact, there have been numerous studies that show a negative correlation between a woman's education level and the number of children that she has. Given the demographic problems facing Europe, with ageing populations and women choosing to put off having children in order to persue careers, perhaps the Swiss system has some merit. I appreciate that you have three kids so obviously you've bucked the trend!
The higher living standards the less children people have. This appears to apply everywhere around the world.

Given the demographic problems facing Europe, perhaps we should simply tax the hell out of the population, especially the better-off, to increase reproduction rates.
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Old 06.11.2017, 15:01
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Disagree - playdates seem to be a construction of very deliberate 21st century parenting. I remember as a child telling my mother who I would be playing with, or we met by chance at the playground. It is a pity that parents have taken such controlling roles in engineering what should ideally be an organic part of childhood and growing up. I know my daughter suffered because the mothers of her classmates didn’t “approve” of me, but seemingly my lifestyle choices were not threatening from the perspective of a boy’s mother so my son fared fine. Go figure
This is the great thing about living in a small Swiss town. Children have so much more freedom. They can go off and play like I remember doing as a child. I must admit, living in a city in Australia until last year, most of my children's interactions so far have been with the children of my friends, as I love the socialising as well. If you are in a relatively smallish town the children will play with each other without parent involvement at some stage. We arrived here when my son was 9years and that appears to be about the age where they start getting lots of freedom. It helps to be on friendly terms with the parents, but I never see one of the mothers and it has not been a problem. My other son is 6 years old, so he has had to spend more time with me but his older brother has often taken him along to friend's houses to play Our friends' children in Winterthur are 10 and 8 years and they go to friend's houses alone, walk to school alone, go to the park with friends (in the same neighbourhood).

OP, I also would like to point out that my mother worked when I was growing up. I would say she was only part-time/shift work as I remember her being at home quite a bit (my Dad worked a lot more), but I don't remember her doing much with me (she also feels a bit sorry about this, maybe more than she lets on). I think if you are enjoying work then you should keep doing it, you will be happier for your children, and it sounds like you still get enough time to spend quality time with them. When in Australia I work 60% (and love it!), as does my husband so we both get to spend quality time with them.
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  #52  
Old 06.11.2017, 15:02
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Really. Cause last time I checked the Swiss population has been reproducing substantially below "sustainment" level for decades (just like most other European countries), and the average age at the time of first birth is at almost 32 years, among the highest in the world.

So no, clearly, the system has no merit.

And as for the last sentence...
Actually, birth rates have gone from 1.38 per woman in the early 2000's to 1.54 per woman today.....so the trend is rising. It's still far below the 2.66 per woman in 1960 however. Whether the recent increase is due to Swiss women having more kids or certain immigrant groups having more kids is up for debate.
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Old 06.11.2017, 16:38
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Actually, birth rates have gone from 1.38 per woman in the early 2000's to 1.54 per woman today.....so the trend is rising. It's still far below the 2.66 per woman in 1960 however. Whether the recent increase is due to Swiss women having more kids or certain immigrant groups having more kids is up for debate.
Given that the big drop happened from 1965-1975, at the end of/after the baby boom, which of course coincides with the sexual revolution and the introduction of the contraceptive pill, and considering that the birth rate has been around 1.5 (in the 1.47-1.56 range to be precise) since 1976, with a short interruption 2002-2007 when it dropped below for a few years, it seems much more likely that those six years probably were the exception rather than the new rule.
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Old 06.11.2017, 17:01
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Actually, birth rates have gone from 1.38 per woman in the early 2000's to 1.54 per woman today.....so the trend is rising. It's still far below the 2.66 per woman in 1960 however. Whether the recent increase is due to Swiss women having more kids or certain immigrant groups having more kids is up for debate.
Check official stats for specific groups, if there are such things, and you'll find out.

Seeing (knowing) many Swiss families with 3-4 kids I would say the increase in birth rate is also due to the locals. I remember I had the same shock in France, when 3-4 kids in a family was not unusual.
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Old 06.11.2017, 17:29
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Check official stats for specific groups, if there are such things, and you'll find out.

Seeing (knowing) many Swiss families with 3-4 kids I would say the increase in birth rate is also due to the locals. I remember I had the same shock in France, when 3-4 kids in a family was not unusual.
I did of course. It's around 1.6 for Swiss and 1.85 for non-Swiss. Well below the desired 2.1. Just because it is up from the abysmal overall 1.3 in the early 2000s doesn't mean it's enough, let alone does it mean the conservative system and attitudes are working or are in any way desirable. Which was Brian's point.
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Old 06.11.2017, 21:15
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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This is the great thing about living in a small Swiss town. Children have so much more freedom. They can go off and play like I remember doing as a child.
This is very true! And one of the reasons that we will likely stay in the village despite my frustrations being a working mom. My kids can go in our shared garden (we're in an apartment) on their own, but I still accompany them to the park and the bus stop. A lot if my six year old's friends are already doing these things alone, though! I'm not quite ready, but mostly due to the personality of my oldest daughter (she's a daydreamer and easily gets distracted).
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Old 06.11.2017, 21:25
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Response: "well I mean you don't have kids to then not look after them, don't you".
Someone said this directly to me about two weeks ago, no joke. Unsurprisingly, it was a SAHM from one of the neighbouring villages.
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Old 06.11.2017, 21:55
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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A lot if my six year old's friends are already doing these things alone, though! I'm not quite ready, but mostly due to the personality of my oldest daughter (she's a daydreamer and easily gets distracted).
It was hard for me to get used to it with a 9 year old! Especially when he wouldn't wear his watch and wouldn't come home until up to 1.5hrs after curfew. He really wanted to push the boundaries and have some control like the other kids. I finally got that through to him though, that if he wants the responsibility of going out by himself, he also has to act more mature so that I don't have to worry about him. He is quite afraid of the dark, so he won't be coming home late in Winter
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Old 06.11.2017, 22:34
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

I just put a sidecar on one of my bikes, problem sorted.

Tom
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Old 06.11.2017, 23:26
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Re: Increasingly frustrated working mom

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Someone said this directly to me about two weeks ago, no joke. Unsurprisingly, it was a SAHM from one of the neighbouring villages.
It is astonishing, and not in a good way, how oftentimes women are women's worst enemies and harshest judges for no good reason, really.

Others have already commented on being a working mom in Switzerland. I have no experience on that and cannot offer any perspective. I can say though that this is hardly a Swiss issue - maybe it's more pronounced in CH, but definitely not unique.

I was the daughter of a working mom in an executive position in a male-dominated field, living in a small, relatively conservative subdivision of a smallish town. Most of my classmates had non-working moms, and, although I never felt excluded, there was always that unspoken "she is different" feeling. I distinctly remember asking my mom once in elementary school why she could not make homemade cakes, braid my hair every morning, sew costumes for school plays, etc. like the other moms did.

I don't know how my mom felt about this question (I can imagine: not great!), but very calmly she told me "I can do other things". She then proceeded to show me: she talked to the principal about having a "what does your mom/dad do?" class and arranged to come talk about her job at my school, followed by a tour of her office/company for my class. She got permission from the principal to take me out of school once-twice a year for a few days so I could go with her on some of her many business trips to exotic places. While she worked, she arranged educational activities and nannies for me, but she took time off so that we could explore the places. Once back to school, the teacher made me do small presentations to the class about what I had seen, I brought in sweets/treats from the places, etc.

I am sure the "guilt" was there (she told me years later that she felt it many times), but she refused to give in to it. She kicks ass and didn't give a darn, which helps too. Credit where credit is due, the teachers and the principal at the school were very helpful in the process, my dad was/is a fantastic, supportive partner, and my grandmother who lived with us was a great "head of household" (although she didn't make homemade cakes nor homemade costumes either!).

I am sorry for the novel. I guess what I am trying to say is: there is nobody in the world I am prouder of, my hard-working mom is a great role model, my best coach and the best professional advisor in my career over the years. I am proud of her because she was a leader and showed me that yes, you can do it. Keep your head high and pursue the career - your 4yo daughter as well as her sisters will forget about the stupid play-dates, but won't forget about their kick ass mom in the long run. Tell them, show them, explain it to them - kids understand more than we give them credit for.

And to the woman who told you "what's the point of having kids if you don't spend 24/7 with them", don't be afraid to call her bull****: as far as you are concerned, there were two of you involved in the process, and you don't think that your partner is some kind of incompetent/useless dud, but you both share equally in the joys and responsibilities of parenthood as two mature partners like you are should do. You are sorry for her that she has to do it all by herself, as apparently she things that her husband/ partner/ boyfriend is not qualified or competent enough to be a parent [insert sarcasm here].

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