Childcare Challenges of a Working Parent

Making the decision of when to return to work after having my youngest two children was tough, I believe that as parents we have a conflict within us between collecting our children from school, never missing a play, assembly or class presentation and then setting an example by working hard for a living in whatever form that takes, whether that is full time, part time, from home or whatever you do. But what I actually found more difficult was discovering that in fact I couldn’t afford to work full time at all as I had planned to. This was simply down to how much my childcare costs would be every single week. After doing the maths I quickly realised it just wasn’t doable. One nursery I found was £50 a day, so a cost of £250 a week, but that wasn’t even the worst bit. In order for my child to start, a deposit of four weeks fees was required, as well as 4 weeks fees in advance. £2000 just to walk in the door! You could move into a rented property for less than that and I certainly cannot afford that. 

The way we have tackled the childcare dilemma in our family is to both work part time, but at opposite ends of the week. For us, this was the only affordable way to be able to work. Looking into childcare has been a minefield, and has dictated my choice between full and part time work. But it isn’t just financially that the childcare system is problematic, sometimes identifying childcare providers and deciding their suitability is just as difficult. One of my children has non verbal autism and attends a specialist education provision, his childcare needs are more complex in terms of needing someone who understands autism enough to meet his needs but on a basic level he would need someone to meet him from his bus and look after him for approximately 1.5 hours. While searching I was unable to identify a single person that would be able/willing to provide such care and I will be honest I did not know where to look. 
I think as a nation we would be so much more productive if parents weren’t pushed out of the workforce due to inaccessible and unaffordable childcare. Two of my three children are school age so the difficulties I have found relate to the search for one childcare arrangement for my youngest. I don’t doubt that parents with two or more children requiring care would likely not be able to afford to work at all. I know if childcare were affordable I would certainly work full time. 

Save the Children UK are campaigning for better childcare in England, giving parents choice and giving children the chance to build a better future. There is a petition you can sign here the UK childcare system is confusing and expensive, but hopefully together we can make a change and give parents the choice to return to work in whichever form they choose, not whatever they can afford or find childcare for. 

Please share your childcare stories, in the comments, on your social channels and on Save the children UK’s social channels, using the hashtag #MakeChildcareWork

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