I have just listened to the BBC 5 Live radio phone-in regarding the issue around taking your children into work. This has been raised after Scottish MP Kirsty Blackman took her children to a Westminster committee hearing, apparently unable to find appropriate childcare at short notice during the Scottish summer holidays, which start earlier than in England and Wales. I am quite pleased that she did this, because clearly she did it to raise the issue of childcare and working parents, although I am angered by the response on this particular radio phone-in show.
My anger was raised largely by the women on the phone-in, or least one older lady who said that we should not expect to have a career and children at the same time. How old-fashioned is that view? Seriously, this country is still stuck in the Victorian times! I am currently building a freelance writing career, because for all the childless years I spent applying for jobs and begging for work experience (none of which were successful), I had always planned to have a career set up before I had children, so that I could fit in all the necessary nurturing and care that would come with babies and toddlers.
Of course, life is not so neat and easy, as we all know, and for reasons beyond my control, I found myself embarking upon my career at the same time that I was pregnant with my first child. Does this mean I should abandon all hopes of having a career because now I have my little darlings to consider? No, I bloody well shouldn’t! A career is important to me, and so are my children. Surely I should be supported to develop both in order to raise my daughters with aspirations and achievable goals. My husband works in a job that is physically too dangerous for children (he’s on a waste management facility), so he could never take them into work. We have to fit around that. Which means I cannot get a job working for someone else, because we cannot currently afford the childcare that would be necessary for me to do said job.
Which leaves me stuck at home, tied to the kitchen sink, trying desperately to do my writing work, build my client list for freelance jobs, and give my children the time and attention that they need. We cannot afford to go on holiday or day trips without financial help from our parents. My husband’s wage barely covers the household expenses. And we don’t qualify for any state benefits, apart from the regulation free 15 hours of childcare during term time. So, my school summer holiday will not be a productive one. I have to keep my children entertained at home, or in the park. And, oh look, here comes the rain again. Crafts, anyone?
Catherine is the author of the adult paranormal romance series The Redcliffe Novels and also The Darkness of Love, She has short stories published in YA anthologies, freelance articles on various industry websites, and contributes to her personal blog, and her author blog .