Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Mother’s Work Meme

This meme was started by and as it's a subject I've been pondering recently I thought I'd chip in.

  1. Please post the rules
  2. Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
  3. Leave a comment on so we 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 how about if we start a hashtag – #amothersworkmeme
Did you work before becoming a mum?

Yes. Before heading off on maternity leave I had worked in the IT industry for over a decade, building up technical skills, knowledge, a nice salary and a good reputation.

What is your current situation?

I am back working at the company I was at before my maternity leave. They have a good maternity policy so I was lucky enough to be able to take a full year's leave and return to my job.

Freestylin’ on Childcare Costs and Expectations

I work full time. I am lucky: my parents and my mother in law live locally so between them Baby Badger has two days a week with family. That's great for our bank balance, but more importantly great for her to grow up knowing her grandparents. The remaining three days are spent at the nursery on the business park where I work. It's a good nursery: the staff are engaged and enthusiastic, the standard of cleanliness is good enough without reaching obsessive levels, and the staff all know my daughter by name. I've made a point of observing out of view before I collect her and she seems to be genuinely enjoying her time. In this respect I have no qualms over our decision to use nursery time.

Standard day rate at the nursery is just over £50. Again I am lucky: I get a discount for working on the park, then I save almost 50% because I pay via salary sacrifice (saving tax and national insurance). Three days per week costs me approximately £300 per month.

Consider someone using the nursery that has to use it five days a week; someone whose employer is not forward-thinking enough to offer to offer the salary sacrifice option. That monthly bill comes in at around £1,000. That's a serious amount of money. What do you have left from your pay packet once the mortgage/rent and bills are paid? I'm guessing a lot of families wouldn't have that £1,000 available.

Father Badger and I are considering adding a second cub to the sett and I'm honestly wondering what we'll do when it comes to my career and childcare costs. We could perhaps come to an arrangement with the grandparents with regards extra help, but they're not getting any younger and it seems unfair to expect them to either give up extra days or contend with two children. I'm guessing that we're at least looking to double our childcare costs. We won't make a loss, but it's a big enough dent to wonder whether a change of approach is required.

It's ridiculous that at double the UK national average salary (2010 figure), and a household income of double that, I'm considering whether it's worth going back to work with two children in part-time childcare. Absolutely ridiculous.

And now to the second part of my rant: expectations.

Expectations of flexibility. I am writing this post from a hotel on the outskirts of Leeds, 200 miles from home. My husband and daughter are at home, 200 miles from me. It's not the end of the world, but I don't like it. I've reached the point in my career (ignoring the fact that I'm not sure what I'll do after baby number two) where I need to take on bigger projects, more responsibility, hence I'm travelling. It's not required of me, but it is expected. If I refused, it would be "ok" but I would struggle to progress any further with the remaining opportunities. Thank goodness for Skype and FaceTime - without being able to see the faces I love I don't think I could bear being away from home.

Expectations that I am no longer breastfeeding. That's probably not fair: it won't be a conscious expectation as it won't even cross their mind that I might be. I'm the first employee in a company of thousands to request somewhere to express when returning from maternity leave. I no longer need the facility but that doesn't mean I'm not feeding. I was also up in Leeds a few weeks ago when Baby Badger was so ill that she couldn't keep any food down. I literally was her only source of food but didn't feel as though I could give it as a reason to cancel my trip. Maybe I should have plucked up courage, but honestly - do you think an employer would have understood?

You're tagged!

End of rant. It's late and I should be in bed...

I am tagging:

  • Beth aka @plasticrosaries as I'm guessing she's got a lot to say on the subject of trying to juggle work and motherhood.
  • Menai aka @MenaiN for a different perspective as a working mum on a break as an ex-pat



  1. Hello! Thanks so much for taking part in the A Working Mother Meme. It is truly great to see an example of a company that is embracing flexible working for employees and offering real support in meeting childcare costs.

    But yes, you are absolutely right on the childcare cost front - managing with one baby is doable, especially if there is financial help and grandparental help available. But the cost of childcare in this country is literally pricing some parents out of the choice of extending their families.

    I totally understand what you are saying on the working away from home front - I have a friend who recently had to go to NY and leave her 1yr old for three days. Not a comfortable position for a mother to be put in.

    It is so important for change to come via the government, with clear legislation in place - and also support for business in supporting working mothers.

    1. I really am very lucky with regards my employer's policy and general attitude to parenthood and family.

  2. Great post. I know many people who are waiting until their first child is in school before having another one due to the cost of childcare, it seems so unfair. It is heartbreaking that you cannot be near your daughter when you are still breastfeeding, you are right, an employer wouldn't understand.

    I was asked today could I work Friday (I don't normally). Despite the fact my boss refused to let me attend a course on one of my normal working days without "making the time up" he fully expected me to agree to work on my non working day. I realise that jobs are hard to come by at the moment but surely it has to work both ways.

    1. It should be give and take. Flexibility should work both ways otherwise there can never be a good working relationship.

  3. Once you start the "multiplying effect" of more than one child, childcare costs become unaffordable.

    One of my OH's cousins has 3 children (twins + baby) all under school age. At the moment she has returned to work. 100% of her wage pays childcare. She wants more children. There lies my quandary. Part of me thinks (1) You have 3 fit and healthy kids already, why does she need more? and (2) Who is going to pay for these children's needs? Quite harsh opinions I know, but the practicalities of affordability should kick in, shouldn't they?

    I'm just watching the Panormama programme from Monday night. I think employers with a turnover in excess of £some specified figure, should supply a heavily subsidised creche/ nursery facility within easy reach if not on the premises.

  4. I'm trying to link up but my blog has crashed. Oh dear. I'll be sharing my thoughts very soon! In the meantime, there's flexibility and flexibility. My employer would have understood (and I think was a bit disappointed, as advocates on the subject, that feeding little H didn't work out so well for me). Couldn't agree more on the ridiculous front. No wonder so many people head for unqualified nannies/au pairs in the home as once the numbers of sproglets increase it just doesn't make sense...

  5. I got there eventually!


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