A Mother’s Work

Brits pay more for childcare than anywhere else in the world, this combined with flimsy legislation to support mothers, is either discouraging many of us from returning to work or making life extremely tough.

Mother.Wife.Me and Pret-A-Mummy realised that they both felt strongly about this issue and have started their own meme to spread the word and get people talking.  I’ve been tagged to take part.:

A Mother’s Work Meme.

Rules:

  1. Please post the rules.  Done!
  2. Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you.
  3. Leave a comment on mother.wife.me so they can keep track of the meme.
  4. Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
  5. Let them know you tagged them
  6. Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but it would be great if you could use the hashtag #amothersworkmeme)

Questions:

  1. Did you work before becoming a mum?
  2. What is your current situation?
  3. Freestyle – got your own point you’d like to get across on this issue? Here’s your chance…

I’ll just combine the answers in one post:

The Monster was born in 2007 when I was 26 years old.  (Wow, I felt so old and grown up, but now I hear 26 and think I was just a slip of a thing.  I’m really starting to feel old.)  Before he was born I had spent 6 years at university – 5 studying Scots Law and 1 doing a post-grad in Primary School teaching, and by the time the Monster was born I’d been teaching full time for a couple of years.  I love my work and couldn’t imagine that that would ever change.

I took essentially the full year off with the Monster and was “fortunate” enough to find a nursery that would not only use his “real” nappies but that let me put him in for term time only.  This was a God send because it reduced our nursery payment significantly.  But still, at the end of every month there was barely enough money left to pay all the bills so we had to refinance and start to look for alternatives.

At first, we decided to stick with the full time working and aimed to get pregnant again as soon as possible.  We dug deep and dealt with leaving my son in childcare from 8 till 6pm most days (don’t believe anyone who tells you teachers’ working day finishes at 3pm) and prepared spreadsheets of the cheapest places to buy all the basic items we needed.  It was challenging sticking to the budget, but on the plus side I lost the remaining 2.5stone of baby weight (taking me to 4.5stone in 9 months) very quickly because we couldn’t afford treats.

It took almost a year to get pregnant the second time around, so in the end we fought to get my hours reduced to part time.  This was a stressful time because, although there were other part time teachers, they told me it wasn’t feasible for me, but they were eventually persuaded to change their mind – but not without additional stress and pressure on me.  To make ends meet I started to take Weight Watchers meetings at night.  This left us slightly better off until my little Minx was born.

As my second maternity leave drew to a close I was faced with the following choice:

  1. Take the Monster out of his state nursery and start paying for him to be in a private nursery again – and this time I’d also be paying for his sister.  This had barely been feasible with one child so we just couldn’t see how we could make it work with two children in nursery.
  2. Put him in for 3 full days in his state nursery and find a childminder who could both drop him off at 8.45 (too late for me to drop him AND get to work) and collect him at the end of the afternoon.  This childminder would need to have space for the Minx each day, too, and be cheap.  There was simply no provision for this in our area.
  3. Use a childminder and state nursery for the Monster, and pay for a private nursery or different childminder for the Minx.  This would mean that we could be using 3 different sets of childcare.
  4. Stay at home.

It didn’t matter which of the first three options we chose we’d have had no money left after the bills, so we decided that if we were going to be skint anyway I was as well staying at home, so that is the position I find myself in now.  I’ve taken a 5 year career break (which started after a year off on maternity leave) and am not due back until April 2016.  Bliss, right?

But recently, because the Monster is now at the stage of getting prepared for school I have been thrust back into the world of education.  I can smell that distinctive school smell and I come up with a wide variety of lesson plans that I’d love to implement.  I miss being a part of all that.  It’s made all the harder because we have no money.  We can pay all the bills unless a sink gets cracked, the washing machine dies, or a tax bill needs paid and then we have to rely on the great generosity of our families.  We get food parcels from my in laws and my parents covered the costs of the Minx’s new clothes when she changed size again (and said tax bill).

And yet surely it doesn’t have to be that way.  I’d love the chance to go back to work if it meant that in return for the work I was doing I’d have the money to enjoy my free time at the end of it, but unless and until childcare becomes more affordable it simply isn’t an option.

I could go on but I’ll leave it there.

And, now, most importantly…. you’re tagged!!

Mummy’s Cheeky Monkey @mummyandmonkey

Psychology Mum @fayecarlisle1

Adopt and Keep Calm @BaGi1972

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4 responses to “A Mother’s Work

  1. Thanks so much for taking part in the A Mother’s Work meme. Something is certainly wrong with a system that leaves mothers having to make decisions based on such stark financial options.

    I’ll leave a link to this meme in the comments section of A Mother’s Work meme along with the other responses. I’m going to do a round-up post after the first week and include a blogroll of all taking part.

  2. Great post! I didn’t know that teachers could take a career break or is that just in Scotland? What a good idea.

    As you say though, it seems a shame that if you really love your job that you are unable to work because oft he RIDICULOUS cost of childcare. In France childcare is very reasonable and mothers are able to work (should they wish to) because of it. If France can manage it, why can’t we?!

    • I don’t know if it’s a Scottish or Local Authority thing but I knew I was entitled to request a maximum of 5 years so that’s what I did. It means that my job is technically as safe as it would have been if I’d been working. They told me that they couldn’t guarantee that I would be returned to the same school. However, I’m Permanent Supply so although I have a permanent contract, I don’t have a fixed school anyway. When Personnel twigged that I was told that they couldn’t guarantee that the pool wouldn’t have been disbanded by then so I would find myself placed in a permanent school. Suits me!

      It’s just so frustrating how much childcare costs. You really need to be earning above average to comfortably afford childcare, which is a shame because there are loads of people out there who are skilled and would work if they could.

  3. Pingback: a mother’s work meme update « mother.wife.me·

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