Working parents need better daycare, not posh playtime
As a working NYC mom, I’m horrified by the Wonder, the new Tribeca clubhouse where rich families can hang out for $450 a month.
Dyson-powered stroller cleanings? Nine-dollar milk flights? “Storytime influencers”?! These ridiculous extravagances would be funny if parents’ real needs weren’t already so unmet.
I’m not talking about finding a fancy French-speaking day care with organic snacks or an art class that will teach your kid to paint like Yayoi Kusama (yes, something the Wonder actually does offer). I’m talking about the basics, like making sure my kid is happy and safe and well-fed and loved — without sacrificing my career, or precious family time, in order to provide that for her.
As a mom with an office job, I feel a constant strain to deliver on these fronts. In New York City, the cost of child care often means that one parent’s salary is virtually paying for a nanny or day care, where there’s no guarantee they’ll be getting the best care.
Furthermore, part-time options are virtually nonexistent for infants — trust me, I looked — which means you either work full-time or not at all.
Working full-time while raising a small child is not easy. Many workplaces don’t have access to private lounges where mothers can pump (hello, bathroom stall!), meaning that they either suffer extreme discomfort and shame for pumping at work, or they end up buying formula, which can cost $70 to $80 a month.
Many day care centers charge fees if you’re late picking up your kid, which can put additional stress on parents, especially if they rely on the subway to get to and from work.
And then there’s the constant worry that you’re not spending enough time with your child — that you’ll miss her first step or her first word. That you’re a bad mom or dad.
Having some kind of co-working or meeting space that offered baby-sitting would help ameliorate those worries — somewhere where you could meet a client for coffee or work on a project while your kid stayed close by. Women’s club the Wing offers child care at their Soho location, but its price tag — $185 for a monthly membership, plus $25 to $35 for each two- or three-hour session — along with its air of cool-girl exclusivity can make it out of reach or daunting for many moms.
What do working parents actually need for their kids? They need more paid parental leave — like, a year — to bond with their newborn. They need more affordable child-care options, like offices and workspaces that offer baby-sitting on the premises or tax-subsidized day care. They need more flexible hours. And they need access to clean, safe and free public amenities like parks and libraries.
What they sure as hell don’t need is a kiddie Soho House.
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