Living with children
PregnancyLife with children starts during pregnancy. If you have questions about the subject of pregnancy, you can go to an antenatal counselling service.
You should see an obstetrician regularly during pregnancy. He will answer your questions and monitor your child’s health. A midwife has similar responsibilities. She will advise and support you during pregnancy and also after your child’s birth. The midwife is also present at the birth. Your doctor can help you to find an obstetrician and/or a midwife. Many women also attend antenatal classes. They will give you lots of tips here to prepare you for the birth. And you will get to know other pregnant women.
Legal protection for working mothers, parental leave and parental allowanceIf you have a permanent job, you can take advantage of Mutterschutz (legal protection for working mothers) even before the birth, in other words you do not have to work. In most professions that means 6 weeks before the birth. The maternity leave under the terms of Mutterschutz lasts a minimum total of 14 weeks. This period can be extended. Your employer may not terminate your contract during this period either. After the Mutterschutz leave, you can take parental leave: you can stay at home until your child is 3 years old. After the 3 years you can return to your job.
In the first 12 months of parental leave you receive parental allowance. If your partner takes parental leave as well, this extends to 14 months. The parental allowance you receive is dependent on your net income. You have to apply for parental allowance. You also get it if you have no job. In addition to parental allowance, you can also apply for child benefit. You will receive child benefit at least until your child’s eighteenth birthday.
Preventative health careYour child must visit the paediatrician regularly. The doctor enters every examination in a special log book. These are preventative health checks. Even if your child is not ill you have to have this done. The paediatrician will also inoculate your child.
ChildcareIf you want to go back to work earlier, you need to arrange childcare for your child. There are many possibilities. Children under 3 can go to a crèche, or to a childminder. Children over the age of three can go to kindergarten or to a children’s daycare centre (see: “Early education”). Children aged over 6 or 7 have to go to school. School attendance is compulsory (see: “School system”). If you work, your child can go to an all-day school, or be cared for in an after-school care centre. Your child can stay there until 4 or 5pm. Usually your child can have lunch here too.
Leisure activitiesThere is plenty to do with your child in your spare time: There are outdoor playgrounds for small children. Older children can join a sports club, for instance. In the summer there are open-air pools everywhere, and indoor pools in winter for swimming. Towns offer special deals for children in the school holidays that do not cost much. You can find out information from your local Jugendamt (youth welfare office) and the town hall. Many clubs also offer special leisure activities for children (see also “
Many German children celebrate their birthdays at home with a party. They invite other children to it. If your child is given an invitation and goes to the party, he or she will make friends quickly. Sometimes children invite other children over for a sleep-over. That can help your child to find friends as well.
der Mutterschutz (legal protection for working mothers): These are rules to protect pregnant women and mothers with a permanent job. The most important rules are: a woman is not allowed to work for a certain period before and after the birth of her child. In Germany it is 6 weeks before the birth and at least 8 weeks after the birth. During this time the woman continues to receive her wages/salary. From the start of pregnancy until 4 months after the birth, the employer is not allowed to terminate her employment. There are some professions in which women are not allowed to work for the entire duration of the pregnancy. This applies in particular to jobs where you work with chemical substances.
das Jugendamt, die Jugendämter (youth office): The youth office helps children and their parents. For instance they can offer psychological advice if there are problems in the family. Sometimes the problems are so big that a child can no longer remain in the family. Then the youth office finds another family to take in the child for a while. Youth offices often have kindergartens/children’s daycare centres. Every town/city has a youth office.