Swiss Child Care Services Part 1: It takes a village…

Moving to a new country means not just learning a new language, a new place, and new culture. It also often entails leaving behind our support networks. This is particularly difficult for families, who may be juggling new jobs, new climates, learning new languages while trying to parent in a different cultural context.

Switzerland protects its traditions well. Much of Switzerland’s child care and school system reflects a more traditional role distribution. Perhaps this is also due to a lower percentage of working mothers. I was surprised to find out it is often assumed children will return home at lunch to a parent or caretaker for a home-cooked meal. Also school days end at different times and can last till 11:45 or 15:15. This break in the day for lunch and the half school days can be stressful for many parents, especially if they are working. Even for non-employed parents this means juggling household tasks, groceries, navigating new developments (learning a new language, new friends network, etc) within short restricted time blocks. When we don’t have a significant break from our jobs – be it paid or as a parent – it can be draining. Then just when we think we’ve figured it out, or found something that works… something changes – sickness, vacation!

I was reminded of this recently when one of my sons was sick. I had to scramble to adjust my work schedule and find coverage for other moments. I envy my neighbour who can ask, either her parents of in-laws to jump in such moments. My parents being in another country are not an option in such moments, likewise during school vacation times. I therefore needed to have a range of options to support me and my kids. Many non-swiss families report having less supports they can count on. Others may not be aware of the resources out there.

Either way being a parent, and especially a working one, requires having additional support. It can be helpful to know the main options in regard to child care.

Many of examples of each are listed in the Brochure on this page: