Should Mothers Work During the First 5 Years

There has been a bit of a furore over a recent article about working mothers. I rarely agree with Miranda Devine, however, as a psychologist and an early childhood specialist, I am completely in agreement with her views that women should either stay home or work part time, at least for the first 5 years of their children’s lives. Why only mothers? Because the infants who grew in their bodies unsurprisingly experience the greatest amount of security in the company of their mothers while they are young and are therefore much more likely to have a healthy developmental trajectory. So strong is this attachment that from day one infants can recognise the smell and voices of their mothers (and therefore also differentiate between mothers and others)! And why for the first 5 years? Because children’s brains grow faster then than at any other time of their lives. During this time the brain hard wires almost everything that will define the person as an adult: environmental input to their IQ, quality of their relationships, empathy, sociability, and more. There is no amount of child care fees that can pay for this connection or guarantee the optimum level of development that secure attachment provides. Instead, behaviour problems can surface quite quickly in children who attend early-to-late care – a fact rarely publicised – and can risk becoming a future burden on families and society alike. Finally, although children’s services can only operate with regulatory approval, 30% of approved children’s services still do not meet the government’s own National Quality Standard.