It’s all change for me from next week onwards. Having mostly been in permanent editorial roles for the last 10 years, I’ve decided to enter the world of freelance copywriting, editing and journalism.
Along with the fact that I’m really looking forward to all the challenges of starting and finishing new projects and pitching for work, the impact of high childcare costs in this country is another reason behind my decision.
No, I will not be attempting to work with a small child attached to my leg all day in order to save on nursery bills – childcare will remain an essential part of my working life – but with my pay remaining as frozen as a bag of peas for the last two years and the foreseeable future, something had to change.
Monthly childcare costs more than a mortgage
Childcare costs in London for a three-day week is nearly twice as much as our mortgage – shocking – and we didn’t even pick one of the ‘best’ ones. Research released this week from the Daycare Trust and Mumsnet found that four out of 10 families are now spending as much or more on childcare as their mortgage every month.
It will be interesting to see what happens now that David Cameron has launched a commission on childcare to look at how to bring the cost down and increase childcare places, because something needs to change.
Back to work after maternity leave
I remember getting annoyed at colleagues when they assumed I wouldn’t want to remain in a full-time role after having a baby. “Of course I will,” I exclaimed! It really annoyed me when people would think the worst. “Just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you can’t work full time,” I insisted.
Well you can, if you earn lots in the first place and it’s worth your while, you don’t really like your baby (I am joking!), or you manage to bring home more than you would on benefits alone. But they were right, I just couldn’t do it… and not just because it wouldn’t make sense financially.
As well as the incentive to write for a number of publications at the same time, keeping my brain ticking along nicely, I also want to enjoy these baby years before they pass by in a flurry. This is not an attack on mums who work full-time, or who are stay-at-home mums; it is a personal choice.
Part-time writing jobs
But ultimately, I want to work; I love being creative and I want to keep doing what I trained to do all those years ago. I want it all – is that greedy? No. I just wish that employers would start to advertise more senior part-time opportunities for mums and better pay for women. (Says me, who isn’t exactly a feminist, but now I really am starting to notice the divide.)
I watched a very interesting edition of ITV’s Tonight programme ‘The Parent Trap’ at the end of May about the crippling costs of childcare. I was shocked and just a little bit jealous of how parents in Sweden receive generous parental leave and affordable state funded childcare. Families spend a mere six per cent of their income on childcare compared to 27 per cent in the UK.
There was also a thought-provoking feature in the Metro about how more workers are going part-time, but many are ashamed to admit it.
Moving pace of digital media
The digital world changes so rapidly that to be out of it for too long would be tough for any journalist and would probably entail a lot of retraining.
By the time I got back to work after 10 months off things had changed in a number of ways, but mostly there was a stronger shift towards social media, blogging and mobile apps. Who knows what will happen in the next year, but I am excited that I will still be a part of it.