A Mummys View

Telling it like it is

Babies at Work

I’ve just watched a BBC two programme entitled “Babies in the Office” which saw a London mini cab firm Addison Lee trial a Babies at Work scheme. They invited staff to bring their children to work, initially for a trial day and then for a month’s trial.

The idea being that if staff could bring their children to work there would be benefits for all concerned including:

  • Saving on childcare costs
  • Enabling parents to spend more time with their child
  • Enabling parents (especially mums) to actually come back to work after having children (a quarter of women who go off on maternity don’t actually return to work!)
  • Save the company money on recruitment costs for recruiting and training new staff when others leave for childcare reasons
  • Instil a sense of loyalty and productivity in staff

It was a really, really interesting programme and I can see both the positives and negatives that have come from it.

The average cost of full-time childcare in the UK is £385 / £5,000 a year and a study by The Daycare Trust recently showed that some working parents are paying up to £15,000 a year on childcare costs, with nursery costs having risen on average by nearly 6% in a year, whilst wages remain stagnant. With cuts to child tax credits, and a report from Aviva last year also stating that “The expense of childcare could make it more cost-effective for some parents to give up work and stay at home”,  schemes like this could mean the world of difference to the modern UK family.

The staff taking part in the scheme ranged from call takers in the call centre and administrative assistants to managers so those participating had really varied types of workloads, all with their different pressures, and the company “baby proofed” the offices ahead of the scheme and provided facilities such as nappy changing areas and feeding rooms.

The trial did have it’s high’s and lows and it wasn’t always easy for the children, parents and colleagues. Some days went better than others and if a child was over-tired, ill or under stimulated you can imagine the consequences. It seemed that the older the child (2+) the tougher it was but this is obviously because they need more attention and are more mobile.

There was a big variation on people’s views on the scheme initially, with many, especially male colleagues, very unsure of the scheme. However as the trial progressed it was interesting to see the change in views and the initial sceptics holding their hands up to admit their views had changed.

Babies at Work schemes have been running for some time in the USA and there are currently 170 companies running the scheme.

The Arizona State Department of Health runs a babies at work scheme. Will Humble, the director of the agency says: “We’ve invested a lot of effort in that middle management team and a lot of them are women in their thirties and they’re having babies and we can’t afford to lose them. What we gain is a long term increase in our productivity and we build and continue to reinforce the commitment we have with our employees, which helps us in the long run to retain those critical employees that may have made another choice.” (BBC – Eight Radical Solutions to the Childcare Issue)

I think that is an excellent and refreshing way for companies to think and frankly more companies should have that view! However I am also inclined to think that such schemes will have limitations in some environments, depending on people’s jobs and I can understand some parents wishing to have their parental / home life and work life separate. However I think to run a scheme like this and give people the choice is fantastic.

Addison Lee actually decided to introduce the scheme on a permanent basis and to combat the issue of older toddlers they have introduced an on-site nursery. One member of staff said it would save her £1,000 a month!!! I for one look forward to hearing how it goes and hope this is a step forward. In this time of austerity and with financial support for families being slashed something needs to radically change and I commend Addison lee for taking such a leap of faith! I would love to hear your views? What would being able to take your baby to work mean to you? Did you watch the programme? What did you think?

If you want to read more about the programme why not take a look at this Telegraph article or visit the BBC i-Player and take a look.

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Mum 101

What would you do if you were invited on to the show ROOM 101 for the night? Have you ever tried to narrow down what you’d like to throw in there?

Well now you can, the lovely Mummy’s Cheeky Monkey has tagged me in a new linky set up by Never Bored Of Bubbles To take part all I have to do is write my own ‘Mums 101′ post, list my top three gripes/bugbears relating to motherhood, tag some friends and link up over on Emily’s page.

So here goes, my top three gripes, they may be a bit controversial but isn’t that the point of 101?:

1.) The competitive mum

The mum who always has to be better than every mum, the mum who is always boasting about their little cherub or knows everything there is to know. This mum is full of advice, the font of all knowledge and is totally unimpressed with anyone elses achievements. She never congratulates or praises other children or their mothers, but always has to be one step better and have an even better story to tell.

Don’t get me wrong I am all for sharing our excitement of our little one’s achievements and sharing advice and experience, that’s what us mums do best, We all have an ability to boast or know the perfect solution to something, we are a support network for one another and have been for hundreds of years. However I do think there’s a line to be drawn in a face to face social setting before boredom and sheer annoyance creep in!

2.) Miserable healthcare professionals

People surely go into healthcare, with one end goal, to help people? It’s a caring profession and therefore requires a caring and nurturing attitude surely? I am pleased to say that on the whole my experience of healthcare professionals has on the whole been good.

However I have come across one or two ‘healthcarezilla’s, who  frankly I am quite sure may well have ended up in the wrong profession! Miserable, snappy and rude. It is as if you are inconveniencing them in some way for daring to require their ‘care’. How dare you press the red buzzer by your bed for assistance or why call me to ask advice do you think I’m an expert?

My sister and her husband recently had an experience of a ‘healthcarezilla’ and I have to say I am glad I wasn’t there to experience her attitude myself as I don’t think I could have kept my thoughts to myself.

My advice to such people… you went into a caring profession, put a smile on your face, do your job and serve the people who need you well, otherwise find another profession where a caring attitude isn’t essential!

3.) The ongoing struggle for a work/life balance

So you have a child, expand your family and bring to the world a new generation. It’s an amazing experience but one that seems to pose a whole new set of challenges for you as a parent.

In the current economic climate a large section of the population are struggling to keep afloat, families are struggling with the increase in fuel and food bills and some are struggling to put meals on the table for the family, others are managing to get by but at a cost.

Once you have had a child most are faced with additional challenges and costs of childcare. It’s a double-edged sword, you often need to go back to work to help pay the bills but by doing so you often end up spending most of your salary on childcare (which contradicts the reason you were going to work in the first place, to bring money in). Unless that is you are lucky enough to have family who can share in the responsibility of the childcare with you. Even if you have managed to sort that, there’s still the issue of working hours and flexibility. Whilst technically speaking you are meant to have rights as a working parent, in all honesty the likelihood is that the day-to-day reality is much different.

When my mum had me women didn’t have to necessarily go out to work and often remained as stay at home mums, at least until children were of school age, and even then jobs and working hours were more flexible to enable mum’s to do the school run and fit work around their life as a mum. God how I would long for it to be like that again!

These days, in the current climate many women have to work and flexible part-time jobs during normal 9-5 working hours are a lot harder to find. Shift work, which often comes up is hard as it means having to have childcare out of normal working hours, it’s all a juggling act and frankly one that’s a bit pants for not only mums but parents on the whole as it can also affect the quality time they get to spend with their children.

I can’t see things getting any better in the forseeable future and I truly believe this situation will mean many mums continue to take a new approach… all hail the mumpreneur! Credit to these ladies for doing their own thing and hopefully as a result getting their work-life balance right.

I tag:

Dolly Daydream of Sex, drugs, rocker and stroller baby

Actually Mummy

Emma of Me the man and the baby

Kerry of Multiple Mummy

Mrs Jones of Keeping up with the joneses

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