50 Years of Journeys: Journey When There Was No Childcare
Journey from Field Care to Daycare
50 years of reflections by Annie McBurrows
In the rural South, when we worked as young mothers some 50 years ago, childcare was simple for us. Our jobs were in the fields as the factory was not our first option since we lived on farms.
Our daycare options were either the older sibling would care for the younger children at the home, or the children would have to go the field with the mother.
In my journey, my seven children were basically 2 years apart, and when my oldest child was too young to watch out for the younger children I took my four children to the field with me.
I would carry the biggest chair I had with me along with sheets. The chair along with sheets and the bushes in the field became their protection from the hot sun. I would tie the sheets over the bushes then place the chair under the sheets and put my baby in the chair.
At the time the eldest was 5 ½ years old, and she and the other children would stay under the make shift shelter while I picked cucumbers or hoed grass from crops in the field. I would take bread and water to the field for us for lunch.
As my children grew some of the older children would work in the fields during the summer months and others would stay home to care for the younger children. There was no one to keep them and moms were expected to work.
Now some 50 years later, there are many childcare options for the working mother even those in the rural South. For younger children, there are nurseries and nannies. Also today, due to technological advances, some working mothers can have virtual offices, working from home while providing childcare for their children.
It may be viewed by some as a form of field care, because the child is accompanying the mother to work, however the field is now a corporate field instead of a farmer’s field.
As the children age, other options that the working mother may consider include public and private childcare centers, church daycare and early learning government programs such as pre-K. What a difference 50 years can make!