Half-n-half: Mothers’ Centres

September 25, 2009
toddler running through coloured paper in a mother's centre

A look at a fast-growing, grass-roots tradition

The term “mateřské centrum” (mother center) seemed sexist to me when I heard it; however, when I actually visited my first Czech mothers’ centre in Prague’s Malešice neighborhood, I was struck by how appropriate (if still sexist) the label was at that moment. When I entered the center, housed in a section of a Czech state preschool, I found a group of mothers and children seated in a circle around one mother-teacher who lead the class in English songs accompanied by her guitar. It was the perfect hippy-bohemian dream, mothers in tights and woolen sweaters sipping on tea and coffee while small children shouted out English rhymes. It was mid-afternoon and not a father in sight, which made sense considering the Czech Republic’s then 3-year standard maternity leave.

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