19.09.2013 Family & Parenting

Managing Marital Stress Related to Childcare Breakdowns

By Michelle
Managing Marital Stress Related to Childcare Breakdowns
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Parents who've needed childcare know just how crucial it is to find dependable and excellent care. It can take weeks or even months to wade through what seems like countless applications, interviews or phone calls before you find the right one. If the process of simply finding a competent caregiver is stressful, how stressful can it be when a trusted caregiver is no longer available? As it turns out, it can be extremely stressful, and in more ways than one might imagine.

There are many reasons why parents might find themselves in a position where they can no longer use their childcare provider: their nanny quit or needed to be fired, their daycare center is closing, or perhaps worst of all, the nanny they once trusted has turned out to be dishonest. The event of simply losing the security of dependable childcare can be stressful in and of itself, but there are other life factors that can magnify the difficulties, such as the parents' work demands and life obligations.

If both parents have significant responsibilities outside of the home, it can be an especially stressful situation because childcare is needed immediately for several hours a day, multiple times a week, which increases the sense of urgency. One parent may feel stuck with all of the responsibility to hunt down new applicants or be the one missing work, which can cause some resentment. Both parents may feel more tired than usual because of the amount of stress, which can cause them to shut each other out. That can lead to a breakdown in communication (and every successful partnership is built on communication). Research has also shown that marital stress can cause serious health problems.

Though the stress of losing much-needed childcare can negatively affect a marriage, it isn't only felt by the parents. There are studies that show children are also negatively affected by stress, even if it is marital. Children can also become confused or upset that their nanny or childcare provider is suddenly gone, which compounds their distress. Just like adults, stress can negatively affect a child's health and well-being by impeding cognitive function, increasing negative behaviors, causing sleep disturbances or causing more significant health issues if the child is constantly exposed to stressful situations.

Knowing that stress is not healthy for anybody, parents need to be able to utilize healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the situation and eventually solve the issue at hand. Below are some healthy ways parents can deal with the stress of finding a new childcare provider:

Make a concise plan on the responsibilities each parent has when looking for a new caregiver.

Talk! Both parents need to be on the same page throughout the process.

Breathe. It's important to just stop and breathe when feeling overwhelmed. Otherwise it'll just lead to more stress and anxiety.

Get some exercise. Exercise is great for blowing off steam, plus it releases endorphins and helps clear the mind.

Talk! This cannot be repeated enough; communication is key to a healthy marriage and resolving conflict.

After another childcare provider is hired, it might be a good idea for parents to arrange some sort of back-up childcare especially if using the services of a nanny or babysitter. Even with a highly regarded and dependable nanny or sitter, there is still a very high chance of the occasional emergency or sick day, since you're just relying on one person. With back-up childcare taken care of, a significant amount of stress and uncertainty can be avoided if emergency childcare is ever needed in the future.

Marriage and kids can be the source of a lot of stress, but that stress doesn't have to affect the whole family negatively. If parents are proactive in dealing with the sudden loss of childcare by working together as a team and finding a new provider, much of the stress can be reduced or avoided altogether. All parents want what is best for their child, but that should not stop with excellent childcare. Children also need healthy and happy parents to help show them how to treat others and give them a healthy worldview. After all, even though it may take a village to raise a child, parents are their most important and constant teachers.

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