Pondering on the politics of childcare

While I like to think I know what’s going on in the world I certainly wouldn’t call myself a ‘political animal’.

Although I do quite enjoy watching Question Time on a Thursday night – especially when someone like Kirstie Allsopp makes a guest appearance.

But with the General Election lumbering into view the issue of who and what to vote for is suddenly becoming more of a dilemma.

And after having been to the cinema to see Selma t’other night on a rare date outing with hubby, both of us agreed that abstaining just isn’t an option. Not when you consider what hardships other people went through just to be able to put a cross on a ballot paper.

Sorry this is all sounding rather serious isn’t it, but listening to a lively discussion about the soaring costs of childcare yesterday morning on Woman’s Hour (yes, am sad and ageing) only underlined for me that this could well be the issue that swings my vote.

As an ‘always under it’ working mum it constantly amazes me just how much stress, juggling and expense we have to go to in order to simply go about our daily profession.

Yes it’s a choice you make to go to back to work, but when you consider that the Government wants us to return to the daily grind but there’s been a whopping 27 per cent increase in childcare costs in the UK over the last five years (according to the Family and Childcare Trust) it’s no wonder that so many women are actually wondering whether it’s all really worth it.

Now I’m fortunate enough to love my job so much that sometimes I’d happily write for free, but let’s face it that’s just rubbish economics.

Plus when I spoke to a top educational psychologist a few years back for a feature on pre-schools, she insisted that sending your kids to some kind of formal day care setting before primary school is hugely beneficial to them developing good communication and negotiating skills and independence.

So frankly it should pay not only for you to work, if you want to that is, but also for them to go to nursery.

The worrying part about all this is that it’s Labour that has pledged to extend free childcare for three and four year olds from 15 to 25 hours per work.

Not worrying in the sense of supporting this policy you understand, but HUGELY concerning that this would mean actually voting for Ed Miliband to be Prime Minister.

This is after all a man who manages to look uneasy and a little surprised no matter what he’s doing and who, to be blunt, I wouldn’t trust to run a bath, never mind the country.

I mean come on, even Declan Donnelly says he can’t picture him as PM.

Have always had something of a crush on Dec. Hubby also used to get mistaken for him when he was younger and once fraudulently signed an autograph as Dec whilst on a cross channel ferry. I know, shocking behaviour!

Now he gets mistaken for Richard Hammond which massively irritates him and amuses the rest of us. Not that I’m going off on a tangent here or anything…

So getting back to the childcare issue, this is surely going to be one of the biggest factors in any or all of the parties winning women’s and family votes in 2015.

And what I’d like to know is which of them will really be putting the money where their mouth is…


4 thoughts on “Pondering on the politics of childcare

  1. A very political topic. The governement are putting a lot of effort into encouraging parents to work by backing childcare, the cost of everything is rising and that puts further pressure of parents to work. There is no dount that childcare, where children interact with other children, can be benificial to communication skills however are we sure it is benificial to their emotional intelligence and welbeing? Margot Sunderland, the Director of Education and Training for the Centre for Child Mental Health, suggets that separation anxiety (experienced by children up to the age of 4), like that experienced when a child is placed in childcare, can result in anxiety and depression in later life. Mental health issues are costing the government a substatial amount and as it become less of a taboo subject I’m sure more and more individulas will be diagnosed and treated for some sort of mental health issue. Maybe the government should also invest in families who choose to stay at home with their children? Something to consider I think!


    • Hi Catherine,

      I totally agree that women should be supported whichever route they wish to go down having started a family. It’s a pretty massive life change after all!

      I’m sure some children do find childcare challenging. In our family’s experience both have absolutely thrived as a result of attending and the experience has undoubtedly enriched their lives in a very positive way. We’re extremely lucky to have great childcare options in this area though.

      Thanks for your comment and hope you keep reading!


  2. I spend most of my time wishing I was a stay at home mum and then I actually feel guilty thinking that Zach would then miss out on nursery. He too thrives on it, is happy, well balanced and has developed so much since starting. Whilst I am sure that Margot Sunderland has done her research, I think it is wholly unfair that working parents are made to feel even more guilty than we already do on a daily basis. I have no choice but to work. In order to keep the warm roof over our heads, clothes on Zach’s back and food in his tummy, I have to work. This means that I have to send him to nursery and I do feel fortunate that it’s only 2 days a week as mum has him the other three. I feel guilty leaving him in the morning, but that guilt disappears at the end of the day when he bounds over to me with the biggest smile on his face and proceeds to tell me all about his day of fun with his friends. He simply has the best time!
    Anyway, back onto what your post is actually about…yes, I will be voting for whoever offers the most free hours, even if it is that horrible Milliband (I dislike him for all the same reasons as you!), because that will make a huge difference to our family.


  3. Couldn’t agree with you more Lisa! I feel guilty for a fairly large portion of every day. I took no time off with our second and worked right through, and yes that was my choice but I’d also spent more than two years building up my own business and wasn’t prepared to start from scratch again. If you work, for whatever reason, you need childcare and that’s just an unavoidable fact of life. As mums we’re damned if we do, if we don’t and for all the options inbetween as well! I wish everyone luck with their own particular brand of daily juggling!


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