Friday, 23 March 2012

A Mother's Work MeMe!

I'm a Mummy get me out of here!
A month ago mother.wife.me and I started our very first MeMe - A Mother's Work.  We were pretty hacked off about the cost of childcare and the inflexibility of employers towards parents who were allowed to "request flexible working patterns" -  but all the employer had to do was consider their request. There is still nothing in place to ensure parents are allowed to work flexible hours. The ridiculous of this situation is compounded when you look at all the lovely tax revenue the government is missing out on by making is nigh on impossible for parents (and when I say parents, I mean predominantly women) to work in well paid, satisfying and fulfilling jobs with real career prospects.  But this isn't the only issue, even if women can get flexible jobs, it is unlikely they will be able to  afford childcare. The cost of childcare for a nursery in the UK ranges from around £25 a day to over £100 in some areas. You would have to be on a very good income to be able to "afford to work". Annoying isn't it.

From the A Mother's Work MeMe I was astonished to discover that the UK is pretty much alone in this attitude. In France, for example, parents are able to claim back approximately half the cost of their childcare from the government. Apparently the SAHM is a rare breed in France as childcare is so affordable.

I was foolishly expecting something to come out of the budget announcements the other day, silly me. As mother.wife.me rightly says;

"Until we have universally better childcare support, huge numbers of mothers will continue to have to make tough financial and personal decisions about returning to the workplace.  Women, and mothers in particular, are being forced out of the work market."


The cynics among us might argue that the government is making it purposefully hard for women to work, that they want us out so there are more jobs for the boys, that the country is more stable when mum is stuck at home.  Oh and thanks Tory government for taking away child benefit for those who earn over 60k.  If you have two partners each earning 49k though you can keep it, it's nonsense. 

What do you think?

8 comments:

  1. i too was suitably unimpressed. as you know i pay a small fortune in child care and my employer is pretty good with parents and treat working dads in the same way as mums.

    i do feel that as a whole there needs to be more focus on the "working family" and not just the "working mums". dad's need support too, as often they feel very pressurised and at the same time left out completely. it's an old stereotype which i know is hard to break, you know, dad goes and earns the cash whilst mum keeps the kids and house in check, but there are many mums that are more successful than there partners and things work better the other way round.

    if there was more flexibility for both parents then businesses & families could potentially be in a win win situation (apart from the cost!) and end up getting the most out of everyone as dads could support more in childcare and more mums could then go back to work and the family could then flex more in general.

    there's a great example at the nursery my son goes too where both parents work and both employers allow them to work flexi hours. so dad does the nursery run in the morning, whilst mum gets in early. then mum can finish early and do the nursery run in the afternoon and dad works a little later. how perfect.

    sorry that was all a bit much, forgive me!

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    Replies
    1. Good points well made! I agree about the dad thing, don't want to exclude them as dads work really hard and are knackered (well my husband is anyway). His employer is pretty good about his working from home whenever it's appropriate, but they expect him to work (rightly) not look after two screaming kids.

      As you say there are also many many stay at home dads now. I assume they would also take care of housework/cooking/shopping etc which would lighten the load for the working mum. Whichever way you look at it parents are not being considered by the recent budget and seemed to be held in contempt by employers and politicians alike!

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  2. I agree there should be more support for childcare and working mothers but I also feel that there should be incentives for SAHMs too - I sometimes feel that women feel a bit forced back into the workforce when they would actually like to stay at home. I think you should be allowed an extended maternity leave (say until child is 2 or 3), there should be tax relief for the working parent etc.
    I totally agree with you about child benefit. I can't see any sense in a policy where a couple with one partner working who earns £61k gets nothing and yet a couple with £80 both working get benefits - its ridiculous!! - Emma Perrott (sorry still won't show my name!)

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    1. I agree about the extended mat leave, though prob not practical for it to be paid, i.e. statutory mat pay, as lovely as that would be! Companies should all offer career breaks, esp public sector ones and in big companies where it doesn't really matter to them if they lose an employee for a couple of years.x

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  3. I think the biggest shame about the budget was that it was supposed to be about working families and yet it was anything but.

    I also agree with Emma above that there needs to be more support for SAHMs, that doesn't necessarily mean big £££ benefits, but legislation that ensures that mums can stay home for at least the first couple of years to be with their children. I made sure I was at home for my daughter's first 2 years, but it hasn't been easy and I know I am lucky that I had a choice, when so many mums would love to be do the same, but simply can't.

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    1. Agreed about staying at home. I for one, would love to be a stay at home mum. For me it isn't an option, I know that is the case for lots of women. It seems we can't win. If we stay at home people say we are lazy and not contributing, if we go to work we are criticised for not being there for our children?!

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    2. Yes - I have often thought we can't win. And yet for men it seems to be the other way round. If they go out to work they are great for supporting their family and if they stay at home they are great for looking after the kids and not conforming to stereotypes etc!!
      Unfortunately it just seems to me that the government couldn't care less about families at the moment. I've actually written to my MP about it but just got the usual weasle words back. What can we do?? - Emma x

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  4. It also stays tricky as the kids get older as it's really hard to get childcare for just a few hours after school two or three days a week (and then you need more in the holidays). We need a real culture shift in how this is viewed, but I'm not sure we're going to get one. Thanks for the post.

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