Better to have less money and more mummy - Argus Friday 19th June 2015

Posted Monday 21st September 2015   By Ericka Waller

SO David Cameron’s Childcare Bill offers to double free childcare for three and four-year-olds. Apparently this is a great incentive for parents to go back to work, but is it what’s best for our children? The Bishop of Durham warns that this incentive is too focussed on childcare and not on the child itself. I am a stay-at-home-mum to three daughters, aged three, five and seven. I went back to the office six-months after having my first child, and was about as popular as a fart in a lift as I ‘only’ did four-days a week.

I was promptly made redundant six months after I returned, along with all the other part-time-mums.

I did not even have to finish the day, let alone a notice period. I barely had time to retrieve my breast-pump before being frog-marched out the door.

I don’t fancy going back to that in a hurry.

But now, with this pressure on to get us back to work, is being a stay-at-home-mum a good enough excuse to keep bunking off?

Other mums manage to raise kids and work five days a week.

Honestly, it puts people like me to shame. No one likes a show-off.

Two of my children are in school.

The last one will start next year.

Should I be polishing up my CV and having my power-suit dry-cleaned (shoulder pads have come back in, right?) or should I continue to do what I’ve been doing for the last six years?

I often look back on my days at work in a rose-tinted haze.

No one needed me to wipe their bum, or asked me to put clothes on small unmalleable figures.

No one claimed to not be hungry when I said I was off to get lunch, and then proceed to eat my entire sandwich.

I did not have to break into a round of ‘for she’s a jolly good fellow’ when someone tripped over to stop them crying.

Occasionally, people even did what I asked.

I tell myself I’ve made a profession out of raising my children.

Their happiness and wellbeing is my responsibility.

They are my employer. I try and offer a gold standard service.

By being a stay-at-homer, I have the time to give a high level of care and attention. (See, I even make it sound business-like, send that up your flagpole and see how it flies).

I spend hours setting up dens and dolls houses, or building a fairy garden out of plant pots.

They wear clean pyjamas to bed every night and I spray lavender on their pillows.

Perhaps I’d be better off going out and getting a job/life?

Would it be better for my children to have more money but less mummy?

My eldest daughter is at an age where she is starting to shed off her first skin like a snake, leaving it discarded behind her.

She’s losing teeth and ignorant bliss at an alarming rate.

She won’t get in the bath with her sisters and refuses to let me put photos of her on Facebook.

I have to clear my mind of everything else before I go to pick her up from school or I may not notice the slight slump in her shoulders, or her reading bag dragging along the floor.

She will not tell me if she has had a bad day.

I have to work it out from the colour of her eyes and the tone of her voice.

I worry that if I take on more than I’ve got, if I fill my head with ‘ real work’, that I will lose the dedicated headspace I have for my daughter.

It’s a tiny hummingbird buzzing in my ear, a connection we have built up by the fact I am always there for her.

My life is about her and her sisters.

I wake them with tea in bed. I get dressed last.

I don’t care about the state I leave the house in as long as they have their teeth brushed, hair tied back, sun cream on and everything they need for the day.

My children are my career.

My home is my office.

I do not believe that anyone can look after my daughters as well as I can.

These early years are so precious, so vital.

Why give them up just because I can get a discount on the cost of someone else minding them?

Will this new bill affect your decision to go back to work?