Monday, 13 February 2012

Working mums and childcare

It’s half term again. The holidays seem to come round in a flash, and for once, I’m relatively organised in terms of child care this week. My daughter (2) has finally settled in to her new nursery; my youngest son, Sam, is skate boarding today, has a ‘Maths Challenge’ day tomorrow (making maths cool – how great is that?), he & I are going to London for a couple of days and then he has a footie day on Friday! My other 2 lovely lads (14 & 16) tend to either lay around playing Call of Duty, see their girlfriends, or surf, with very little in between!

Some holidays I seem to end up totally stressed, torn between doing something fun with my kids or answering all the emails that are filling up my in box. I mostly seem to end up doing neither very well and then just feel very guilty & useless! I don’t know how I’d get through most normal weeks, let alone holidays, without the help of my mum and dad or “Grandma & Papa” as they are known by my kids. I am incredibly fortunate that they live just 10 minutes away and they look after Lizzie when she’s not at nursery and I need to work. My wonderful mum also does my ironing and cleans for me once a week, and my dad is otherwise known as “John the Jobber” for, as marvellous as my ELSH (Extremely Long Suffering Hubby) is, a handyman he is not! So my dad is tasked with teaching my very handy middle son everything he knows! I rely on them both so much and they are amazing!

074However, while I pay them for the ironing and cleaning I always feel a bit weird discussing paying for the child care. However, I suppose I really should pay them? I pay for Lizzie’s nursery, but not mum & dad – why? One answer is if I paid for 5 full days of childcare it would cost approx £640 per month, a huge amount of money. I guess grand parents = free child care. I’m sure I’m not the only parent taking advantage of willing grand parents, however it’s yet another tonne of guilt!

The government is currently considering giving vouchers to women who start their own business, so they can reclaim tax at the end of the year. There is also talk that these vouchers may be extended to grandparents which would be extremely helpful. I think they need to take it further than that. For many women it is impossibly expensive to go back to work, which is why so many female entrepreneurs start a business based at home, fitting work around when the baby is sleeping. Child care provision of 15 hours a week comes in when children reach 3 years, but what about those first 3 years which is often the time when we start our businesses? The business is unlikely to make money for at least the first year, and may well cost a fair amount to launch, so this is when help is needed most.

I found the report last week that David Cameron was considering tax breaks for working women who employ domestic staff, incredibly irritating. You wonder what planet these MP’s live on! They need to help us with the costs of child care – that is what stops so many women going out to work, not whether or not they can afford a cleaner!

Link to Working Mums Magazine: Government considering vouchers for working mums

Link to Telegraph article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9073334/Tax-breaks-for-hiring-a-cleaner-could-save-middle-class-thousands.html

Friday, 3 February 2012

One of those weeks...

It's Friday night and I cannot believe another week has flown by. I have barely ticked a thing off my lists (I am a HUGE list maker) and the days have been a jumble of juggling things through a haze caused by lack of sleep.
Lizzie has been poorly all week, too poorly for nursery Wednesday,Thursday and today, so the sitting room has been turned into a sick bay office! I don't actually think I would have spent much time in my "official" office (the shed) as it has had frost on the inside of the windows for the last 2 days! I also think I may have developed chilblains from spending the days virtually sitting on my radiator (the joys of being a work at home parent, eh?!) 

At least it has been sunny and crystal clear and I've escaped down to the beach a couple of late afternoons to drop my older lads off for a quick surf. Yes, they are nuts! They assure me that the water is fine (10-11 degrees) and the pain only starts when they get out of the water...

Today, with Lizzie on the mend and insisting on sitting on my lap whilst I was making vain attempts at phone calls and emails, I gave up & took her for a mini "photo shoot". We're about to launch a small limited edition collection to celebrate the Olympics and Queen's Jubilee and we needed to get some shots done, so it seemed a good time to kill 2 birds with one stone, so to speak!  

We walked up the narrow lane, checking out the early Cornish lambs, to the old phone box (very British) where I wanted to take the photos. Lizzie co-operated for a while until she spotted some horses curiously watching us over their gate. So we fed them hay for a while, after which she refused point blank to get back in the buggy, and I gave up on the idea of getting any shots or doing any work and surrendered to being a mum and enjoying the weekend!