A Matter of Money – Motivation

I have often been reluctant to join in the fight to demand higher wages for ECE’s – not because I don’t value what we do but rather, because I love my job. I think that my reluctance to complain about wages stems from contentment – for me it doesn’t feel much like work. The money is not what motivates me to be a licensed family childcare provider.

Before I opened my childcare home I volunteered in nursery and kindergarten classrooms and ran a recreation program for the children in the housing development where we lived – basically I was ‘working’ for free. Being able to earn an income by doing something I truly enjoyed was an added bonus. In all honesty, if I won a lottery I would still be a family childcare provider – but I would be able to offer the program of my dreams.

Yes, I know ECE’s earn far less than workers in other fields with a similar amount of education but compared to the years my family spent on social assistance this feels pretty comfortable. Yet, without the additional income that my husband earns as a school bus driver I know we would have difficulty paying the bills on my income alone. There are many things we would like to do but don’t do because we lack the funds to do them.

According to the descriptions over at PsychCentral, for me family  childcare is not a job, or even just a career – it is a calling.I’ve been called ‘altruistic’ – I had to go look up the meaning of that because it wasn’t a word I’ve ever used – and would definitely never use to describe myself. Actually, I would probably have to say that sometimes I feel selfish for enjoying my job. Yes, there are some aspects of being a family childcare provider that even I don’t relish. There are some days when I’ve had enough and I just want the day to end, but would more money change that? I don’t think so.

So, let’s say I couldn’t be a family childcare provider and had to choose a different job – I would expect more money because I would not enjoy my job as much. In fact, there are some jobs that no amount of money would make me want to do the work. Some jobs that would require such an enormous amount of effort to just show up that even a huge salary would not make it worthwhile. Yet, other people do those jobs so something must motivate them – and maybe it is the money – maybe not.

So, since we’ve already established that I might not the best spokesperson for the ‘Early Childhood Educators need more money’ argument, let’s talk about why I started writing this. When I hear ECE’s constantly lamenting about how hard their job is, how unfair it is that other people get paid more to do less work, making lists of everything they don’t get paid enough to do, my first thought isn’t “You deserve more money”. My first thought is “Maybe you need to find another job.”

Bracing for backlash.

Yes, I do think that ECE’s are underpaid – remember, my ECE wage comparison was social assistance benefits – it took me three years working as a family childcare provider before my income surpassed the need for an income supplement. I do think that the job we do is extremely valuable and that higher wages would help childcare programs attract and keep qualified staff. But – we are trained to speak positively to the children so why speak so negatively about your career?

Tell me what would make it better. How would more money positively affect the job you do? What would a higher wage for you mean to your program, the children in your care and their families. What would you do with more money? Please, don’t attack those who are on your side and doing their best to make a little go a long way.

4 thoughts on “A Matter of Money – Motivation”

  1. I get the point you are making. What I think is a concern for some providers is that this IS their dream job, they don’t WANT to do something else BUT they need more money to make a living. Not all providers have a partner to help make ends meet and it is difficult to pay the bills for some.

    1. Yes, few of us, myself included, could survive on our family childcare income alone. Those that consider this their dream job are not the ones that incessantly complain about how hard the job is. This is the first of several posts I’m working on about this.

  2. I think if you ask anyone if they want more money the answer will be yes. Remember though, we live in a society where usually sports figures make more that teachers, doctors, etc. In my opinion it is a matter of HOW we advocate, not if. We have come a long way as far as wages, respect and benefits. We won’t get all the changes right away, respectful, healthy communication is the way to move forward.

  3. I think that a great deal of the conflict here is in how our society is structured, and how it rewards individuals. There’s a lot of presupposition towards the current structure that it’s just how things are, and very little observation and discovery process of other structures that might be more mutually supportive. (This is why I blog about what I am. Ecovillages and community farms are an alternative to these structures that look very similar, but have fundamental differences in structure.)

    Statistics of the greatest earners, the CEOs of large corporations, show these positions are populated with the greatest number of psychopaths than any other position. And yet they are the ones who our culture heralds as successes and leaders. Isn’t this setting us up to fail?

    It also comes down to who is truly doing work that benefits our shared, collective future. And it’s the people who are tutoring, mentoring and caring for those who live in the future–our sons and daughters–that should be more highly rewarded. What if child care providers received everything their families needed

    If the society we lived in was actually designed with cooperation, education, care and mutual support in mind and living within the means of our planet, perhaps we wouldn’t have such local problems of high grocery prices, excessive waste and all the mental health problems we are faced with. A great example would be the high prevalence of narcissism.

    By the way, my latest blog post was published by the Aquarian where I talk about exactly this issue.



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