Don’t forget that having a job is a real privilege

Spending time with the kids
Spending time with the kids
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Just when we thought we were safe from 24-hour long child entertainment duties, following a string of school holidays, bank holidays and weddings for the privileged, we are hit with yet another bonus day of holiday in the form of the election.

Of course, to make things more interesting, not all my children’s schools are being used as polling stations – that would have made it easy logistically for me.

No, just one child will be at home, whilst the other two will need packed lunches/transportation to school/counselling to cope with the inequality of it all.

I am not one of those parents who complain bitterly about the seemingly numerous inset days that are imposed upon us.

Indeed, I actually enjoy it when the children are not at school.

Of course, for parents who work it can be a bit troublesome.

But as I have learned to realise over the past few weeks, for me work is a privilege and spending time with your children can be fun.

Let me explain. When I became pregnant with my first child I was working at a big publishers in London as an editor.

I loved the job, my boss was a reasonable man and I had a busy social life with my workmates.

The downside? The pay wasn’t great. Not a problem necessarily, until the economics of returning to work and having to pay for childcare were plotted.

It turned out that if I wanted to return to work, my wages would barely cover the cost of placing my daughter in childcare and the travel costs to the office. I resigned.

For the first few years of parenthood I did the odd bit of freelance writing, editing and design work for my old employers. But it was always done when the children were asleep.

I was keen to work but was aware that whatever I chose to do would have to be flexible, since the cost of childcare was so expensive.

Any work I did get done was a luxury, a real treat for me. And of course the money was very useful.

When the children were nearly all at school I bought a magazine franchise – a very flexible option.

It meant that I could still spend time with the children during school holidays.

I am now in a job where, although flexible, deadlines are set by others and simply must be met.

Yet, as far as I am concerned, work is still a treat for me and the children come first.

I want them to be entertained throughout the holidays, which doesn’t mean leaving them with the TV guide, a remote control and free rein to take whatever they like from the kitchen.

Balancing work and family life has always been difficult. But for mothers like me who, having taken time off to raise a young family, then return to work, it’s particularly tricky to see others taking work for granted.

With statistics showing that mothers returning to work still find the responsibility for domestic chores remains with them, as well as being the main carers during school holidays and sickness, this can add to the discord.

So mothers and fathers, embrace family life and enjoy your work. But in that order – don’t forget that work is a privilege.