PARENTING COLUMN: The struggle to juggle work, life and childcare costs

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I work part-time, 20 hours a week, and my partner works full-time but often has to work late or travel away for weeks at a time.

My tw0-year-old son attends nursery during those 20 hours as we do not have family that are able to support us with childcare.

As some of you may fully be aware, childcare prices are incredibly expensive and it often feels like I’m working for nothing.

After the birth of my son, I had decided I wouldn’t go back to work and that I would spend as much time with him as possible during his formative years. It only became apparent when my son was approaching his first birthday, that both he and I needed a little time apart, not least for his own social and personal development. He needed to mix with other children and adults more regularly – as much as I needed adult conversation.

I had worked full-time since I left school at 16, so although the time with my son was, and still is, extremely precious and rewarding to me, I found that I wasn’t completely comfortable with the isolation and enormity of being a new mum with little support. So I started work and, whilst it did take a little while for us both to settle, my son has come on leaps and bounds and l thoroughly enjoy my job.

Having spoken with others during my experience, I came to realise that it seems to be fashionable to judge on how we working parents provide care for our child. I recently asked some mums on Twitter about their childcare arrangements and it seems many of you also ‘struggle to juggle’.

But what I also found was that there are families that are financially secure and can afford the luxury of staying at home to look after their children but choose to work long hours either with their children in nursery or with relatives – in order to maintain the lifestyle which they are accustomed to.

Whilst it might be easy for us to judge this, the most important thing you need to ask yourself as a family is; ‘Is your child healthy and happy’?

If the answer is yes then regardless of anything else, you’re doing a great job!

By Reah Marshall