Woman asks for advice after husband says he won't pay for daycare

A mother-to-be is concerned about her husband's plans for when the baby arrives and has turned online for advice.

The woman says her husband doesn't want to spend money on daycare, even though they both work and have busy schedules.

He believes he has come up with a system that will allow them to both work and look after their newborn baby.

The concerned mother wrote to the advice columnist at Slate in the US and expressed her reservations about his plan.

She said they have a tight income and qualify for a childcare subsidy as they are also both at university.

However, her husband refuses to pay for childcare.

"My husband is open to this but has offered up an alternative," she wrote.

"We each take three days a week 'on' and three 'off.' When we're 'on', we're responsible for being the primary caregiver for the bulk of the day, and when we're 'off' we can go onto campus, get work done, but would split responsibilities in the morning and evening. (We'd share the seventh day.)"

She worries things won't be as simple and straightforward as her husband is predicting and feels like childcare will be essential if she's going to be able to complete her studies.

"I feel heartless, but I'm pretty insistent about daycare," she adds.

"Almost every mother I talk to tells me about how difficult it is to send their child to daycare and how it's best to care for your child yourself. But I need to write my doctoral dissertation, and I'm worried that won't happen if I'm caring for an infant."

"I'm also sensitive to equity in my relationship, and I worry that our on/off days are going to slide into more days for me as I'm hoping to breastfeed and that will take time and energy even on days when I'm off. My husband is wonderful, and I know neither of us would plan for that slip to happen, but I am afraid my work is going to get pushed to the side."

Slate's expert laid out the flaws in the husband's plan, saying that, while it does sound good, it is impractical, because babies do not follow schedules or rules.

"Your husband's plan sounds ideal but it's hard to implement. It's tough to make a workable strategy for dealing with an infant; babies do not follow adult timetables and rules. If you're on Monday and your husband is on Tuesday, who deals when the baby feels like hanging out from 10pm to 2am? If you're on childcare duty, can you spend the hours she's napping answering emails, or are you required to deal with the laundry?"

"It can be very hard to envision exactly what life with a baby will be like when the baby is still a distant idea and not a cooing, crying human being."

The columnist advised the woman to insist on childcare and pursue that option without guilt.

"It can be tough to send your little one off to daycare, I wish I could yell at the mothers who tell you it's 'best to care for your child yourself'. There are great daycare providers out there, and there are plenty of parents who have no alternative but to rely on them. And parenting an infant is a 24/7 task, so you'll absolutely still be caring for your little one plenty."

"Daycare will not solve every logistical challenge - it won't do the chores, it won't mitigate the logistics of breastfeeding, it won't guarantee you a good night's sleep. What it will do is grant you a handful of hours a day that you can declare are wholly for your work. If your budget can accommodate it, I think it's a superb investment."

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.