Welcome to Flexi Mamas, a series about barriers for working mums. This edition features Becca, who has four children between 8 and 16 months.
She was a financial administrator before having children and always wanted to return to work.
“It was me time, time to use my brain. Time for me to be me, not just Mum,” she said.
But she was really worried about childcare costs with her first child.
“Thankfully I qualified for my child tax credits to pay for a percentage, meaning I only had to find about £50 per week, which was doable.
“When I had my second and third, my husband’s job gave him discounted nursery rates as they had their own nursery. We thankfully still qualified for a percentage to be paid via child tax credits.
“In all honesty, I think the free sessions that are funded by the government should be brought down to a year if you work over a certain amount of hours, say 6 hours per day, as this is a normal school day. Then if you need more, you make up the rest of the money like you would have to do once the children go to school.”
Making flexible working arrangements wasn’t an issue for Becca – until she found out that her youngest child had a disability.
“With my first three I asked to go part time and didn’t care what days or times I did, and my work was very accommodating. We discovered that my fourth child had a disability when she was three months old, and I had regular appointments on certain days. Not only this, but her daily routine meant I needed to start a bit later to be able to get her physio needs in before work and childcare.
“I offered to work specific days – these were days I knew were the quieter days in the office. They offered me the complete opposite to what I requested. They wanted me in earlier and ‘needed’ me in on the days I requested off. It was almost like they forced me out of the position. They offered me reduced time, so I couldn’t take it further.
“I did, however, thankfully find a more understanding job where I work shifts, and if an appointment clashes with a shift they are happy to change it, which is amazing. It also works around my husband’s job and school runs and so no childcare is needed.
“I went for a lot of jobs when I realised I couldn’t go back to work. However, finding a job that fitted around either the school runs or childcare was extremely hard, or there were so many people applying as they were in the same boat as me that the likelihood of getting it was very low.
“I had never been turned down for a job or interview until needing to have ‘child friendly’ hours. Having 11 interviews of being told no was very disheartening. Again, I am very lucky to find a job that could fit around my life.
“I now work four-hour shifts. Sometimes I do a long shift Sunday and Saturday which means I don’t work Monday-Friday. My shifts are between 8-6.30. My rotas come out three months in advance and we are able to shift swap right up to the shift, if needed, to allow for unexpected sick children or school assemblies.
So…what would make the biggest difference to working mums?
“More protection in work places turning away mothers, as discrimination still happens as workplaces know how to get round the laws,” says Becca.
“More nurseries that are open longer hours for shift workers. I’m lucky my husband can look after the kids if I’m at work, but if I was a single Mum this wouldn’t be the case.
“Better tax breaks for people paying nursery fees – nursery fees get taken off of annual wage in child tax applications/housing benefit, or bigger tax breaks for those that still don’t qualify for that which are better than the current childcare voucher system.”
You can find out more about Becca on her blog, or follow her on her social media channels: