Friday, 19 December 2014

The Other Woman !

A very brief explanation as this concept seems to be difficult for people to understand.

Babies and Toddlers do not look after themselves.
They need to be fed and watered and cleaned (the mundane tasks) and at a higher level they need to be interacted with and shown new things in the world, and for their enjoyment of life and building of a firm psychological foundation its great if they can actually have some fun thrown in as well.  And then there are the more technical things such as learning to swim, learning to climb, ride a bike, how to hold a pencil, how to listen to others, build sand castles, paint etc etc. All of these need a little bit of adult help along the way, even if its just to sweep up the sand and to rescue various nearby objects from a toddler with a paintbrush !

So what my post is about is prompted by the supposedly exciting news that a youngish woman in quite a public role has finally reached 38 weeks pregnant and has managed to stagger in to work in the fairly high public role she occupies. (the fact that people have been doing this in all sorts of occupations for many years seems to be overlooked) This seems to be news nowadays !!
And apparently by her taking maternity leave this somehow means that the Glass Ceiling has just been smashed.............

Now my first thought is that there have been numerous women in prominent roles for many years. Certainly in the area of medical physics that I worked and in medicine etc and University sphere there were many distinguished women and many women who just got on with their jobs. They seem to me to have been a different breed from this current type of women who seem to be in the news and who seem to occupy in particular politics and perhaps the media too.

So this working woman is being met with great acclaim and she is going to take maybe a year off to look after her baby and an older child too.  Now once she goes back to work, to great praise and acclaim as this is the new equal opportunities modern world, Ha Ha, the thing that gets forgotten about is ........................................................ THE OTHER WOMAN !!!!

Or should I say the other man / woman / gender neutral person who will be looking after the baby and toddler. Because as I explained earlier, they do actually have to be looked after !!

And funnily enough some women, myself included, actually chose or have chosen to look after their own child.

In either case - there is ONE CHILD CARER  and ONE WORKER !!

But in fact in the first situation we have one person who demands Mega-Respect (Respect with a capital R) and one person (THE OTHER WOMAN) who receives minor respect (small r).  They both get paid for their job so this ensures the respect.

In the second situation, there is one person working (Respect) and one non worker who is looking after their own children (= Hard Work) (=Fun) (= can be good for the child's psychological wellbeing) but this person does not get respect from society. Strange that !!

The first situation pulls in masses of subsidies - two personal allowances within the family and a third for the child carer. The mother in second case does not receive a personal allowance.  There are childcare subsidies in the first case and various councils and organisations promote the business of the childcarer)

But we need to sort out this situation to create a more level playing field because currently in our society in the UK it is becoming very difficult for the second situation to be a possibility, and dare I say it, but the more I see and observe of families who try to care for their youngsters at weekends having been working all week, I have to say I think they could do with a good healthy dose of actually learning how to look after their own children.  And I have to say that there are so many tips etc passed around mothers (and fathers) at things like toddler groups that in fact that is really where you learn to bring up your children. You learn tips such as the fact that young children should only be given grapes sliced, and also you can watch your child interacting with other children and you can direct them to be a more caring, sharing individual or help to smooth over situations before they get out of control etc. You are teaching children how to get on with each other and getting them ready to flourish once they hit the big wide world of school nursery and school itself.  And, you are also very much part of a community with the other families and children.

So please remember children do not look after themselves !
(I wonder if it could be a male agenda that has allowed this downgrading of the recognition that this role exists at all ............ hmm !)

And....on another aspect, surely it would be better for women to think of taking a few years out to take care of their children and then return to work raring to go once the children are older. I certainly know quite a few mothers in my acquaintance who are returning to full time work once their children are more like secondary school age or dare I say it even older. But these people are so much more ready to devote themselves to the workplace rather than being drawn in two directions and doing neither job particularly well.  In addition just as a little extra, so many lucky families I know have grandparents who are fit and healthy and very much involved with the family and the childcare. But if you dont have that for whatever reason then really your family needs some extra help. But the way society is pushing it, again its the lucky ones who are angling for subsidies, the ones who already get help.

Anyway as you may have noticed, if you have even read this far, I have diversified and come way off topic as per usual.

But my main point is that its all very well having your politically correct statements about family friendly policies etc etc but the fact is children do not look after themselves.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A Framework for Parents to Register as Childminders of Own Children

As more funds are directed towards subsidising childcare, what is to happen for parents who wish to bring up their own children at ages 0-3 ?

This is still the choice for many, and many of those parents do so because they believe it is right and make financial sacrifices. Others choose it because they want to enjoy rearing their own children and wish to take a few years out from their career. After all, a working life can be over 40 years so why not take a few years out ?  And others would like to have the chance to do this yet can't afford to take the time off work.

Other parents decide they want to stay in their career and prefer to hand over the care of their young ones at age 0-3 to a qualified childminder or to a nursery.

Now, before everyone thinks what I am about to say is outrageous, lets not forget that children still need a carer. If you go to work, the child is cared for. There is a worker and a carer.  If you stay at home, you are the carer, but the person who might have been paid to care for your child is perhaps free to take up a job in the wider labour market. If you have three young children, it probably balances out about the same effect overall whether you work or care for your own children. It still takes two people to do the job plus the childcare !

So, my argument is, why not have a subsidy for a family with a young child age 0-3 and it can either be used to cover nursery fees or else to subsidise a parent who wishes to do the child rearing themselves.

This could be organised in a informal framework and if parents are to receive a subsidy they should be required to show at least that they are getting involved in the following types of activities, perhaps not in quite as strictly monitored a way as is required for a childminder, but still to make sure that there will be positive outcomes for the children and in fact this should also be beneficial for the parents as I will discuss further on. So the types of activities the parents would be required to get involved in could include :
  • taking their children to various activities such as baby and toddler groups, playgroup and swimming classes. (all of which usually cost money, hence the tie-in with funding)
  • Taking part in some small amounts of training such as basic First Aid for children (which was provided in my case post-natally and was excellent) and Triple P Parenting classes which show you how to do positive behaviour techniques, so avoiding having to resort to such things as physical punishment etc. (this was provided as training for parents if they wished at our local school nursery).  This already does happen in post-natal support groups and education of parents via some school nurseries but it would be nice to record such training.
  • taking short online modules in child psychology, health, nutrition and behaviour lcould be taken or post natal support classes at health centres could run short sessions on these as currently happens, but in this case attendance could be recorded.

Placing the whole thing in a slightly formal framework could actually lead to parents having a basic childcare qualification at the end of the three years of parenting, and this could even lead to enhanced job opportunities at the end of the process.  It could also eventually lead to there being more childminders in the system, which is particularly needed in rural areas and in areas where childcare services are already stretched to the limit.
If the parent takes part in this process and has registered as a childcarer then they would have access to the funding that all children are entitled to for their childcare.

Why Not !!?

I phoned in to a radio phone in to make this very point, and someone else phoned in to reply "why should parents be paid to stay at home ?". Yes you might agree when it is stated like that. But child-rearing should involve much more than "staying at home". It is usually the very opposite to that and involves being very much out in the community and meeting other people, learning new skills and learning how to generally get on with other people. You might have your first experience of running a toddler group or being on a playgroup committee and dealing with accounts etc. Personally I ended up as a representative on a community council for the first time. These are all worthwhile experiences. And you learn how to entertain groups of children - a very useful skill if you do decide to make a career of it afterwards !
But more than that its fun !
And that is what is sad about the current arguments - certainly no-one dares to say that now.

But come on folks, from a purely logical point of view - Why can a Parent not be a Childminder ?


And an additional question to the SNP in Scotland - Why Not ?
Can you really disagree with anything I have said ? Would this not lead to a better and more secure future for Scotland's children ? And give parents the freedom to have control how they run their families ?  Freedom, Choice, Future - these are all things I would like to see in Scotland and elsewhere.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Mothers (or Fathers) Returning to Workforce Should be the Best Employees - But they are not recognised !!

Mothers who have taken time out to have children and who then try to return to the workforce are often discriminated against for those years out and can find it very hard to find employment.  I know - I've tried !!

However, if firms and employers had any sense they would recognise that these are the first people they should be employing as these people have added some great life skills to any previous expertise they had gained in previous working lives.
And not only that, these very mothers are the ones who have worked out their work-life balance. They know what they want, and they know exactly how many hours they can afford to work in order to keep their family life together.

So what skills have been gained....child rearing involves all sorts of practicalities - communication skills, whether with your own children or with other mothers, fathers and agencies you encounter - whether that is in healthcare or schools, toddlers groups, sports clubs etc.  They may have gained committee skills or skills at putting on fundraising or social events.  They have perhaps met and mixed with people from different backgrounds or expertise to what they have encountered before. They have had numerous new experiences. They may have gained budgeting skills, whether the family budget or as treasurer for a playgroup or PTA. And if you have been involved with playgroups you will know that nowadays there are all sorts of relevant regulations whether to do with the children's education, welfare or to do with employment of playleaders.

So... really...come on employers - Recognise this Great Resource !

And come on politicians - lets hear a bit more for mothers - and the occasional father who is brave enough to give this a shot as well. Lets see things like child benefit and family taxation and benefits recognising that a parent who takes some time out to bring up their own children makes a valuable contribution to society.
And the kids love it !

Reference words for article :
Mothers, childcare, returning to work, politicians, liz truss, SNP, returners, workforce, experience, expertise, employers, employees, Mothers at home Matter, SAHM, stay at home, stay at home mother, Liz Truss, SNP

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Alex Salmond, Childcare and the SNP - Independent Scotland ? And a bit about David Cameron and his friends too !

I have been trying to think how best to reply to Alex Salmond's latest idea to have free universal Childcare in the new Independent Scotland.

He wants to emulate Sweden but before reading what I have to say below, read this cry for help from Sweden -

My thoughts, as I tried to compose my letter to a newspaper are too many to include in one letter, so here are the various angles from which I view this whole issue of childcare, benefits, families etc.

1   Many people believe that it is by no means ideal for children to be placed in full time care in a nursery from the age of 1.  Many parents and psychologists believe that up until the age of 3, a child should have one primary carer. Usually up until now this care has been done by the mother but many fathers now also take on this role.  Interestingly it's often full time fathers who get the interviews on radio and the media publicity ! But as a full time mother myself for a few years, I did meet some full time fathers and I also met some parents who shared care by having two part time jobs or two jobs on different shift patterns.

However, leaving aside the pros and cons of nursery care vs stay at home parent, it should be recognised that families should be free to choose either option and in both cases a financial sacrifices have been made. If nursery care is chosen, up to now that has involved some financial sacrifice although it is subsidised through some benefits, but, if one parent gives up a job or goes part time to care for their own child this also involves a massive financial sacrifice and yet the latter option is not supported in the benefits system at all for either low income parents or middle income families.

And we are being encouraged to take on the Swedish system (a high tax country by the way !), but in Sweden, stay at home parents of young children receive 1/6 of the average pay to support their valid choice to stay at home. And Australia is also looking to adopt this model, partly to filll the gap in a lack of recruits to the childcare "industry".

Which takes me to another does not seem to be seen as a valid choice to look after your own children yet we expect young women (usually) to take on this role as childcare workers !

And again, this also brings to mind the annoying statement from was it George Osbourne in 2013, who stated that being a full time mother was a "lifestyle choice " - how insulting.  I would invite him to watch videos of my children having a fantastic childhood - full of laughter etc and they also spent every day at toddler groups, swimming, playgroup at age 3 - tell me to my face that I made a "lifestyle choice" George !

2   The second part of this issue is that the SNP seem to see this policy's main benefit as being to generate income !  I have heard that stated a few times.  However this is based on the idea that all the mothers will return to the workforce. one childcare worker is needed for every 3 or 4 children aged under 3 (see ref 1) then what I would say is why not free up that childcare worker to take a full time job and instead use the subsidised childcare money to divide between the parents of those 3 or 4 children, giving them 1/3 of a wage to stay at home.  = SORTED !!   And .... it would leave two extra jobs to be taken by two other people.  So if you pay the subsidy to the stay at home parents, it still leaves 3 people in the workplace and 3 happy people paid to stay at home.  If the nursery option is taken then you have only 4 people working and two unemployed people needing a job and needing unemployment benefit.

In Summary :

Using Nursery :
--- 3 parents return to work   -----   1 childcare worker -----  2 unemployed people in society

Subsidising the parents instead to care for own children :
--- 3 happy parents ----------- 3 workers taking the vacated jobs from the parents

So I hate to tell you Alex Salmond and Co. - it would pay to have people look after their own children - and they would be more economically active out taking their children to swimming pools etc than sitting in an office or stuck in a nursery !

3  With Regards to Independence Debate for Scotland

With regards to the Independence debate, I am sorry that this issue has become part of the debate at all. I was all for voting for Independence. I would like Scotland to be a thriving, modern European country, fully integrated and trading in Europe. I have seen many of our modern IT and engineering/design companies which tend to be invisible generally but are tucked away in numerous business parks etc.
However the concern for many parents is actually where are our teenagers and graduates going to get work? Currently many graduates have to work abroad. And not through choice in many cases. And graduates and students are taking all the jobs in supermarkets etc and it is now almost impossible for those aged 16-18 to actually get a part time job, certainly in the Glasgow area.

4  And finally the benefits system must be changed so that family benefits come directly to families and are not tied to childcare use.  The current childcare tax credits, child tax credits etc provide subsidies of up to £23,000 for nurseries for a 2 child family.  Both parents must do at least 6 hours of work to get these benefits.  So there is a huge pressure and a huge amount of money involved in pressuring low income mothers back to work.

But similarly at middle incomes, families where one parent earns £60,000 have now lost their one last benefit and no longer receive child benefit.  The partner may either not work or may be working part time on a low income but the overall family income is not taken into account. So that anomaly is that a family on 2 x £49,000 income (ie joint income of £98,000) will keep ALL their child benefit, which amounts to about £2,000 for two children.  In addition those parents have not been hit by the 40% tax rate so much AND, they receive two personal allowances.  So, society has decided to reward those families.  But...often the two parents on the £49,000 income are in maybe state employed secure jobs. No worries - they can get a mortgage and know they have a job for life. They can make plans !! Lucky them !!

But contrast this with the family with one parent on £60,000 - often this salary has been achieved by them working overtime, working abroad or away from home or unusual hours. You don't get a salary for that for nothing in most parts of the UK !  Maybe in certain better off areas you do but not in Scotland !! However the other side of this story is that often this entails the other partner having to reduce their hourse, take a less responsible job etc or becoming self employed and working from home. This is why there are many families with one main earner and one lesser earner.  But....has David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the government taken this into account in their policies ?  You got it - NO!   A big fat NO.
Come on guys you must do better - did they not teach you to look at the whole picture at Eton ?!?!??
Come to think of it....what did they teach you ?

Ref 1 -