Welcome to Flexi Mamas, a series about barriers for working mums. This edition features Sinead, who is mum to a chaotic nearly four-year-old and engaged to her partner of eight years. Before becoming a mum, she was an operations manager for an apprenticeships provider and was working hard to move up the ladder.
She and her partner never planned to have kids, so it was a shock to find out they were expecting.
“The plan was always I would have six months off, go back to work as if nothing ever happened and carry on as we were. I took nine months off in the end!” she said. But within four months of being back at work for a new company, she knew it wasn’t what she wanted anymore.
“The long hours and the responsibility just wasn’t worth it. I was leaving the house at 6:30am and not coming home until 7pm. I’d missed all of the fun stuff with bedtime, teatime and everything in between.
“I stood down from my management role and went part time. The childcare was crippling us. My partner had Mondays off and I had Fridays, so we managed to get back on our feet. Staying at home has never been an option for us, as we would put our house in jeopardy, so this was the best solution for us.
“Initially we were paying £185 per week for full-time care – that was more than our mortgage. I appreciate that these are businesses and that our private fees were subsidising the free hours, but we also know that this money wasn’t filtered down to those that care for our children 40 hours a week. Honestly, I think we really need to look at Finland and our Scandinavian neighbours to learn some lessons from them around childcare, flexible working and just the whole ethos around nurturing our children in everything they do.
“I was very fortunate. When I handed in my notice, I was leaving without a job to go to. I was going to go part time and work back in retail, but I was offered a part-time, flexible role with my company and so I jumped at the change. It meant I could be around for drop-offs and pick-ups and get a full day where it was just me and my son.
“I changed jobs again in June after being made redundant and I can honestly say I have landed on my feet. I am working full time again, but my employer completely embraces flexible working. As long as I am performing, then why can’t I finished for the school pick up and work from home later in the evening? The nature of my job allows me to do that – I’m not sure I’d be so lucky in a more traditional office/retail environment.
“The single biggest thing to help any parent that wants to work is the affordability of childcare. I think the 15 and 30 hours should be flipped – if you are working then the 30 hours kicks in on the child’s second birthday, and the 15 on their third. We know that the cost will never come down, so why not look at what we have and make it work for more? The 30 hours for us has truly saved us from a financial hole, and we only have the one child to support.”
You can find out more about Sinead on her blog, or on her social media channels:
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