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Helping working parents isn’t a rejection of other parents

I don’t know if it is just me but every time that someone coos ‘I don’t know how you do it all!’ I’m really very tempted to explain in detail EXACTLY what goes into doing all – if it looks effortless from the outside, the reality is a whole heap less tidy and poised

The reality is that life is held together with luck, not enough sleep and the hope that nobody is watching too closely what I’m doing

Put it this way, discovering dry shampoo has made my life better – yes I may be less technically clean but at least my hair looks sort of ok and pins up an awful lot easier

The fundamental thing propping it all up is decent and trusted childcare – the slightest wrinkle in arrangements and stress levels soar and my ability to do my job starts to rapidly fray at the edges

We hit a perfect storm recently – my work got silly busy which coincided with Mr M having to travel away for a couple of days with his work which coincided with our nanny having a couple of days of holiday – theoretically I have some backup childcare through work but it doesn’t get Bigger to school or pick her up at 3.15 and I have yet to find a working day that can fit in between 8.30 and 3.15 and include an hours commute each way. The end result was begging back up from grandparents and chalking up more on my gratitude account – yes they say they don’t mind but it is exhausting for them and I do worry about how to pay them back for helping us out of a hole

The trouble is not just that there is a whole heap of juggling to make childcare ends meet but that it then has a knock on effect onto work – instead of being fully focused on doing my job I have one eye on the phone waiting for the inevitable call from school that something has gone wrong or the quick call to ask about this or that – I’m distracted and just not quite as good as I normally am

There’s also the irritating fact that on paper you can seem to be earning a reasonable wage but once you take out tax, commuting costs and the eye watering expense of having someone else look after your children you end up taking home only a tiny fraction of what you earn – yes I’m lucky that I take home more than I pay out on the costs of work (unlike when I went back to work after having had Bigger…) but the amount doesn’t really feel worth all the effort at times

I’m looking to today’s budget with interest – there are supposed to be measures to help bridge the cost of childcare, measures which I suspect will do very little to actually help and will end up being watered down because they are targeted at working parents

The thing is though, working parents do need help with childcare – we need more flexible, more affordable childcare – yes we should be supporting all parents in their choices but can we please try and focus on how to help stay at home parents rather than making these proposals even less helpful

Please can we recognise that a family with two working parents could benefit from help with childcare costs, that finding a way to ease the cost of childcare might let women who want to work back into the workplace rather than making them face the dilemma of work and taking home little or no pay or not working at all and avoiding the complications it creates – this is not about not supporting families where one parents wants to stay at home, it is about helping those families where both parents want to work but it is uneconomic for that to happen and easing the financial burden on two worker families where it can frequently feel that the bulk of your pay is going to pay other people to do something that in an ideal world you’d like to do more of yourself

The world isn’t perfect, all parents aren’t the same, all our choices should be respected but just because a proposal doesn’t fix everything for everyone doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen

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10 comments to Helping working parents isn’t a rejection of other parents

  • Crystal Jigsaw

    I think the country is divided on so many political decisions these days, we can’t all agree on everything and it’s very frustrating to see parents who probably need the help more, being punished for not having a job but wanting to stay at home to look after their child. It’s a very difficult situation.

    CJ x

    • Hannah Brewer

      And yet the flip side is also that if you are working a 60+ hour week shouldn’t you expect to keep more than a very small % of your earnings – why struggle to work if your reward, especially compared to child free or 1 income families, is far worse?

  • very well put. I find it so irritating when the discussion about extra help with childcare costs always goes down the the route of “why have children if you’re not around to look after them” which really is so beside the point. We need a system where parents have a real choice, to stay at home if they prefer, or to work if they prefer, to work part time or full time whichever suits. Work should pay rather than the full wage going on childcare and work related costs but it should also be possible for a parent to raise the kids at home without being plunged into poverty and not being able to pay for essentials.

  • It seems that whether you go to work or stay at home, once you have children you’re destined to take a major financial hit. It doesn’t empower women to make either choice.

    • Hannah Brewer

      Also think it doesn’t empower fathers – see new Dads struggling to come to terms with financial and personal implications of starting a family and see very little support from them, attitudes in some ways are almost stuck in the 1950s

  • You’ve hit the nail on the head. My blood boiled when I happened to read the front page of the Mail on Wednesday. This isn’t a reflection on SAHMs, this is to help those of us where both parents choose to or have to work. This should actually help more parents as well as giving some of those SAHMs who would rather work, the opportunity to do exactly that if they so choose. Thanks for saving me a rant of my own :)

    • Hannah Brewer

      Exactly – I know parents who want to work but it doesn’t make sense financially so this might just might help them

      Which is not to say there shouldn’t be other support for parents in other situations – watering this down doesn’t make things better for another group, just worse for this one and ideally we’d find ways to sort it out so everyone is helped

  • 2 income family…..that would be nice try working when you are a single Mother. Now that’s fun! I’d love the help with childcare costs and be able to treat my kids a little more. I do sometimes wonder if it is worth going out to work when I see other single Mothers not working and their kids seemingly better off than mine. I go to show mine a work ethic always pays but at times I really question this. This is something I think the Government should support.

    • Hannah Brewer

      Totally agree – you shouldn’t be worse off because you work but with childcare so expensive it seems that so many are and that’s plain wrong I think

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