Childcare and work – how difficult is it for single parents?

So, of course, balancing childcare and work is a problem for many families – not just single mums.

That teeny logistical issue of school or nursery hours being shorter than the average working day (plus travel time) means that many of us have to fix childcare for our kids.

Sure, breakfast and after school clubs help, but often they still cost and may not be long enough to be of much use. Luckily, my wonderful parents collect my son from school (thanks Mum and Dad!), but if I couldn’t rely on them, I’d be a little bit… stuck.

So it’s not surprising to read today that, Gingerbread – the fabulous single parents’ interest group – has found that:

  • almost 50% of the parents they surveyed found that childcare was a barrier to them getting work
  • with 46% saying it was difficult to find childcare that matched work and study hours.

Is it just me who finds this deeply troubling? Surely something needs to be done to break down these barriers? After all, child poverty and poor life chances should be one of the biggest worries for those of us who want to see a happy little society in 20, 30 years time.

Thinking back to my own experience, when my son was really small he went to nursery every day. The cost was astronomical (particularly before the statutory 15 hours free childcare kicked in). And there was always the threat of a £10 fine for being late. (In truth,  the thought of having to grovel to the stern nursery manager made me more anxious than the fine).

But again, I’ve been fortunate – I work for an employer that supports flexible working and the nature of my job allows me to work from home once a week.  I can usually take time off in the school holidays (splitting holidays with my son’s dad).

But I don’t think all employers are as family-friendly or flexible as mine and that’s something that really needs to change in order to help all parents juggle work and family life. I’m sure most of us would like our wages to go towards our families rather than childcare costs.

I’d love to hear your experience and thoughts on this. How do you juggle childcare and work? Have childcare issues prevented you from working or caused you difficulty when in work? Please comment below or send me a message…

 

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