Even as schoolchildren begin to head back for the year, many parents still have to tackle the challenge of finding childcare for their younger children. Eye care professionals face the same challenges.
More than 50 percent of poll respondents in a September 2022 Women In Optometry Pop-up Poll say they currently have young children who need consistent childcare. Of those respondents, more than half say they consistently use a local drop-off childcare or preschool to care for their little ones during the day, or they juggle watching the kids with their spouse or family. Just under a quarter say they have a full-time nanny or au pair, and 40 percent say they have significantly adjusted their work schedule or paused working altogether in order to watch their children.
“We found daycare to be more dependable than a nanny,” one respondent says. “Nannies can quit at the drop of a hat or call out with no backup. The downside was that if our child was sick, we had a problem, which wouldn’t be so with a nanny. My husband and I both had reasonably flexible jobs so we could take off if needed to care for our sick child.”
While 20 percent of respondents say finding childcare providers they trusted was not at all difficult, with grandparents being “more than willing” to help out, the same number of respondents say it was “very difficult.” This was especially true for many during the depths of the pandemic.
“My son did not have a full week of care for the first three months of 2022 between him being sick and being exposed to COVID-19,” one respondent says. “My five-month-old daughter had a fever the other day and couldn’t go back to daycare for 24 hours. She came to the office with me the next day, because my husband and I could not miss work. I’m glad I have a flexible workplace!”
An additional challenge to finding adequate childcare can be finances. A quarter of respondents say that less than 10 percent of their personal income goes to childcare, while another 20 percent of respondents say they spend about a quarter of their income.
Some made the choice to stay home. “Raising my child myself is more important than making money,” one respondent says. “I’ll work part-time until she starts school.”
Eighty-seven percent of respondents were female ODs and 9 percent were non-OD females. Four percent were male ODs.