Ikea vs. University
I have a child who, if you ask him what he would like to do for a special outing will beg to go to Ikea with his cousin. He loves to get the little numbered vest and be signed in and I’m guessing he plays in the ball pit (I can’t be too sure as my sister and I normally hot foot it over to the cafe to drink copious amounts of hot chocolate kid-free). We normally manage to make it out of there without buying bulk paper napkins or bags of dime bars – which means we often go to Ikea purely for the outing (oh how my pre-kids self would laugh at that!).
One of my earliest thoughts when starting my research was how come free, short-term childcare is available at places such as Ikea but not at learning institutions? I understand the economics of it – keep the kids under wraps in the hope that parents will buy more… but what about the same thinking from the higher education sector? Help with the childcare so that your students can carve out a few small blocks of time to get things done, like search for journal articles or attend group assignment meetings and you know, well…actually finish their degree.
Almost every uni offers some sort of child-based course from teaching to psychology to nursing. So from a logistics point of view students in those courses could be engaged to provide supervised activities for children on campus which would also spice things up for them in terms of assessments, while providing valuable hands-on experience. The other benefit too is that children become more familiar with the university setting. Like Ikea’s plan to create future flat-pack loving customers, universities could be creating future customers also by engaging with their students’ offspring. I realise some unis might already offer this type of service but what I would love to see is affordable, available short-term casual options for parents at all unis. I don’t buy all the nonsense about insurance and liability – just look at the taverns and some of the O-Day activities – and there are many areas on campus that are under-utilized throughout the day (and anyway these places have entire departments to work these things out). To those who argue the following:
1) We never had this option and just had to get on with it
2) Why should parents get special treatment? It was their choice to have kids
1) In the olden days they never had carseats either AND A MILLION OTHER THINGS AND CONVENIENCES that make life today safer, better and just more pleasant!
2) Those kids’ taxes will pay for your nursing home, be nice to them.
But until then try out places like Ikea if you are desperate for short term childcare to get some work done. Just make sure you buy something in exchange for the service, like a bottom-less cup of hot chocolate…it’s about $2 I think
Start the car!!!