Tony Abbott’s proposal to provide taxpayer-funded rebates to subside the cost of nannies made me roll my eyes, but not much more. It’s Tony, after all – I don’t expect any better from him.
The string of self-indulgent, self-justifying, sense-of-entitlement utter bullshit articles by female journalists and commentators like Tracy Spicer, on the other hand, makes me want to throw up. And then send them off to the naughty corner with Tony, preferably after giving them all a good spanking.
Actually, cancel Tony’s spanking. There is just far too high a risk that he might enjoy it.
But Tracey – consider yourself well and truly spanked by a very, very cross (former) nanny and current parent.
Childcare has never been my main career, but I like children and have done stints in the formal and informal childcare sector in Australia and in the UK.
Tracey is right when she says that nannies are not (or not necessarily) “chauffeurs or chefs” employed by ladies who lunch. In the UK, most are employed by working mothers like Tracey.
However, working mothers can be princesses too – and like Tracey, they can have a strong sense of entitlement. And believe me, they are more than capable of treating their nannies as chauffeurs, chefs, cleaners, and all-purpose lackeys. I imagine that any government-subsided scheme would have strict guidelines regarding the tasks that the nanny would be expected to undertake. But I can’t see how those guideline could be effectively policed, when the nanny would be working in her employers own home.
Tracey is right when she says that home-based care is a good choice for many children. In fact, it’s the choice that I made for my own daughter – and I got a tax-payer funded subsidy as well.
But I didn’t use a nanny. I used the Family Daycare System, in which children are cared for in the carer’s own home. I am not pretending that this was an equitable choice, either. Wages and conditions in the childcare sector are woefully below par, even as workers have been expected to undertake more and more training.
But the power dynamics of care in the childcare-workers home versus care in the employer’s home are very different. For a start, the family daycare system is more easily overseen by agencies that provide a buffer between the carer and the parent. And somehow, although relationships between children and family-day care workers can be very close, the parents are far less likely to fall into the habit of referring to the carer as “just like a member of the family, really” – a favourite line of the nanny-keeping class. It sounds so warm and cosy – and of course, family members undertake extra work without even recognising it as work. It’s not really being a chauffeur, chef, cleaner and general lackey as well as a childcare worker – it’s just – well, love, really.
And now Tracey and Tony would like it to be tax-payer subsided exploitation – sorry – “love”. As an academic in gender studies, I know that I ought to be able to come up with a well-thought out analysis like the one offered by Eva Cox, but this issue brings my former-nanny streak to the fore and all I can manage to say is Make. Me. Barf.
As a nanny, I didn’t generally resort to the naughty corner – let alone to spanking. But then again, none of my charges were as spoiled and brattish and Tony and Tracey.