Barbara Daly with her two children Callum and Beth Johnson.

Thu 25.11.2021, 09:27 am

Last update:
Thu 25.11.2021, 10:35

The lack of childcare options for parents looking to return to work was highlighted by a Mayo mother.

Barbara Daly of Louisburgh is the mother of two children. When she decided to go back to work, she found it easy to find a job. It proved impossible to find someone to look after their children, Callum and Beth.

Below, Barbara, who writes the monthly Mummy Mania column for The Connaught Telegraph, shares her story that many readers will identify with.

My childcare problem

I have two young children and I would like to work part-time again. I like to work from home or away from home. I think it would be good for me, but also for my family. Time out from each other would be healthy, and not always being available to mom would be a valuable lesson for the smaller family members. Then there are the financial reasons, no less important.

Of course, I feel the usual guilt of a mother who has to leave her children to go to work. I struggled with the idea and it took a while to justify it to me. Part of allowing myself to do this is making sure they are happy everywhere while I am at work.

So what’s stopping me? Only one thing – available and affordable childcare.

It turns out to be almost impossible to find in the rural community in which I live. Those with families nearby usually use them for childcare or vital support when needed. Those of us who are non-local and unsupported have few options.

There is a preschool, elementary school and even a secondary school in town, but there is no day nursery and few child minders remain after the pandemic.

If you’re lucky enough to find childcare but don’t have a family support network, it can still be difficult. My partner often works in his own business six or seven days a week, so a childminder needs to be flexible and reliable so that we can both work.

Work is not a problem – there is a lot in my area and I can even find a job that allows me to work flexibly, but without childcare it doesn’t matter.

When I decided to go back to work, I first applied for a job, thinking that finding childcare wouldn’t be the problem. I soon discovered that the job could be found, but couldn’t take a job as I couldn’t find childcare.

It’s a frustrating situation and I know that I am not alone. There is a whole cohort of parents with valuable skills and education that could add to the workforce. However, you cannot even start because childcare is either not available or, especially if you have more than one child, not affordable.

I am aware that this is a big topic nationwide. I listened to the stories on the radio. One woman described how she was advised to secure a place in a crèche as soon as she confirmed her pregnancy; another couple said that childcare cost them € 20,000 a year.

I don’t understand why the provision of childcare is such a low priority in this country, especially when so many industries are currently vying for staff. I wonder if it is a throwback to the belief that one of you (most likely the mother) should be happy to stay home and look after your own children when you become a parent, that that is your job and that should be enough for you?

If you are trying to get back to work, you will have to find out for yourself. Since it is not easy to find childcare, it becomes a chore and you wonder whether it is worth it.

I suspect that many households where both parents work (or where a single parent works) experience a lot of stress related to childcare.

I am happy and so grateful that I was able to become a mother at a ripe old age and that I had a lot of time at home with my children, but now I think we would all benefit from going back to work. There are many valid reasons a mothers (or fathers) might want to get back to work, and they should be able to do so with ease.

Thu 25.11.2021, 09:27 am

Last update:
Thu 25.11.2021, 10:35