First up I must state that this is not a post that in any way sits comfortably within the realms of 'mummy wars' or whatever other patronising term is used by the media every time a person has something to say on the subject of child rearing, work, breast feeding etc.
I've just been reading a bit lately about parenting and working and you know, the sort of stuff that is designed to make you think. And I've been thinking.
So now I'm writing, as much for myself as you. Just to see where I'm at really. So, I had a child eight years ago and made a decision not to return to the freelance TV world. I didn't always expect to have children. He came as a bit of a shock actually. But I did know that if I ever did have children I would not be a working mum. Although I knew there would be a lot of work involved in bringing up a child, and that is how I've looked at it over the years to be honest. I have a job to do. To raise a child. Or children, in fact, because I went and had another one 5 years ago, at a time when we were in a mess financially, my husband struggling to launch a new business in a recession. But I am in the lucky position of having a husband who loves and respects me and went along with my decision to give up a steady income (and a good income at that) so that I could be the one who took on the main carer role in the early years of our children's lives. It could have been him who stayed at home. We talked about that. But maybe he's more driven in terms of wanting to achieve things in the field of paid employment/career. If I'm honest nothing would have stopped me being at home full-time with the kids. I love it. And more than that, I feel it's what I am supposed to do.
But there are sacrifices. I'm not talking here about a loss of career, ambition, connection to the real world or friendships. The sacrifice for me has been purely financial. While successive governments are constantly striving to provide low cost child care and get women back to work the stay at home parent gets nothing. And so there's no choice for a lot of people. If they cannot afford to stay home, they won't. But for many working parents, I know, child care costs are the biggest expense they face, and it only gets higher the more children you have. But let's face it, the teenage nursery nurse or veteran childminder with 30 years experience aren't reaping the financial benefits. They're only getting close to minimum wage usually. And I don't think the kids are gettinig much out of it either. So why not just give parents the choice. Get paid to stay at home and look after your own kids or choose childcare and benefit from help with the costs if necessary. If people have a choice, can actually make decisions about their lives like the adults they are, I'm sure there'd be many more happy parents and the knock on effect? More happy children.
There are many issues here, and I'd welcome your comments or even a debate. I just feel we've lost something. And we need to start thinking differently about how we do things. Especially the big things. How we care for our elderly and sick. How we educate our children. How we eat and how we spend. And somehow we need to find the time to do all of this thinking, and then turn it into action. Because while we're all so busy working hard and often struggling to balance our finances, time, emotions, other people are making decisions. And I'm pretty sure they're the wrong people and the wrong decisions.