I'd like to tell you a story, about a 19 year old girl who went to see 'A Clockwork Orange'. No no please stay with me I have a point.
Many years ago after watching a rather brilliant performance at a rather amazing theatre I stood in the theatre bar looking around at an army of performers, technicians and front of house staff, and I knew right then, right there with certainty that I would be part of that magic! So I worked, hard, I mean really hard, I worked 3 jobs to pay my way through uni, I slogged my butt off 7 days a week, about 50 hours to climb up on that stage and shake the hand of a stranger in exchange for a Ba Hons. I worked cleaning auditoriums after panto, I challenge you to do that once without sighing at the scruffiness of folk! I worked selling flashing wands and fairy wings to bad mannered children and their worse mannered parents! I worked selling tickets to the general public and let me tell you keeping your sanity whilst selling a west end show to a bunch of Geordies wanting a bargain, it's not so easy! I worked hard and long and I finally got a job as a manager in that amazing theatre I'd stood in 10 years before. And you know what the 50 Hour weeks they still happened, 4 shows a day, 5 days a week collapsing into bed at 3am and back again at 9 but it was AMAZING. Maybe its not the perfect job for everyone but I never ever questioned my path. Not even when I looked at the paltry £1000 on my pay check! Because theatre doesn't pay well you know, something to do with a lack of funding and the inability to create and foster emerging talent to create outstanding work, despite the arts bringing millions of residual spend to the surrounding economy, go figure eh?!
Then I went and had some babies, two in close succession actually. That's when I started paying for childcare, and that's when I knew my career was coming to an end, you see paying for two very young children for 3 days was costing me best part of £1000! Can you remember how much I told you I got paid? Yes Mr Chancellor I know you are mathematically minded so you will have figured out that my part time wage was less than my childcare and transport bill so I was paying to go to work. Add to that the difficulty of applying for flexible working, and the lack of support I felt upon my return to work. Now don't get me wrong two babies in 18 months is a lot of Maternity leave for any employer to provide so I understand a lack of enthusiasm but I don't think I could ever describe the feeling of leaving behind your babies to the care of a stranger (no matter how much research you've done that is what these people are, Strangers!) to go to a job that really really just doesn't pay enough!
So with a sadness that was eased somewhat by the knowledge that my babies would now be with me all the time, I handed in my notice, knowing that I will NEVER EVER, work in a position the same as the one I left without having to do all that ladder climbing again. So you might understand my crossness when I read this article about you wanting to send us mums back to work in order to contribute to the economy. So I wanted to share my thoughts with you on the difficulties mums face in returning to work and see perhaps if I can't convince you to think a little outside of your money box to support this idea of yours
First off I am supporting the economy, you seem to have no idea of the amount I spend on groups and clubs, clothes and food, travel expenses and craft equipment, entertainment and days out! Not only that but I'm bringing up part of the generation who will take care of you and I in our old decrepit years. I'm nurturing little people to grow into big, tax paying, economy supporting, citizens.
Next you seem clueless as to what it takes to get a parent into work, pre-school and post school care, juggling diary's to coordinate pick ups and drop offs and still get to work in a 24/7 world when child care seems to be 8-6. So maybe we could look at incentives for company's who offer home and flexible working?
Now then answer me this, I've been working in your office for 6 years then I take a break for 4years while I have some babies, then I knock on your door and say 'yoohoo I'm back can I have a job, same grade same pay and same responsibilities? ' would you say yes? no you wouldn't, you would think HA whatever! You are so out of the loop you couldn't explain simple math never mind current policy! So how is it you think women who have had a career break are incentivised at all to try to get back to their careers? I won't be able to get a similar job, not without taking back something from my break that makes me more attractive to employers, something to show for my 'time away' like a masters or a professional qualification, oh but hang on I gave up my salary so where would I find that £5-10k?
And your idea for extra childcare places, tax free, saving £2000 a year. Well that would make my child care bill a measly £22k a year (because now I have three children) still not worth working I'm afraid! I'd actually be paying more than I earn! So maybe you could look at not making chilcare inaccessible to anyone earning less than £40k. Or again reward companies who support home working.
Lets also remember that some women wish to stay at home, unpressurised and unbothered, they don't claim benefits and they don't complain about not working THEY ARE HAPPY TO BE STAY AT HOME MUMS. Despite the fact that they are judged, quite harshly, by some. Despite the fact that there's not much in the way of praise and celebration for getting through a tough day or dealing with a tough 'customer' (and they come no tougher than toddlers I can assure you). So unless you have some really special plans to help us Stay at Home Mums (yes I hear the derision in your voice) sparkle up our rather bleak looking Cv's or you have an actual workable childcare plan then I'm sorry Mr Osbourne, this SAHM is staying firmly AT HOME