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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
Working mums: Are you struggling to cope?
Working mothers are struggling to cope with five hours sleep a night and increasing career pressures, a survey has found.
A poll by Mother and Baby magazine has found that sleep deprivation is playing havoc with their relationships and working lives.
More than half of women said weariness left them in a "state of despair" and said tiredness made them irritated with their baby.
And 82% of working mothers admitted a lack of sleep affected their performance and output at work.
Only 31% of fathers woke up if their baby cried, even if both parents worked full-time, according to the survey.
How are you coping with life as a working mother? Has it affected your working and personal life? Are fathers struggling too?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Many women work because they need to feel validated by someone older than 8 and they need their peer group just as much as any toddler! My children are great company but I just can't get the three year old interested in the Middle East. I just feel the need to be involved with the big picture. There's also the issue of becoming dependent alongside your children on a partner's largesse - it doesn't matter how generous they are there's nothing like spending your own money even if it's on something for the children. The workplace was somewhere I managed to finish one hot coffee a day and where everyone remembered who I was before I gave different pieces of myself away to those who depend on me. It also meant I could work to make life better for vulnerable people and so make life better for my children. That's why I did it even though I got tired.
Who is it who is being selfish? A child is a huge responsibility and yet some people who have them seem to expect that they will have to give up nothing in return. They want everything they had before children in terms of lifestyle and they want a child on top, like some sort of icing on a perfect life and when it turns out that that isn't possible they want tax breaks and allowances made for them so they can carry on "having it all plus a bit more". Just crazy!
I am a member of the scourge of society. Sorry, I am a working parent, (judging by many comments here, also a second class citizen selfishly taking advantage of society for my own needs), and I'd just like to say that I am disgusted by the many comments against both parents working. For myself, the arrangement is working perfectly, no problems to report. The result is that we're both satisfied parents, and our child whom we chose to have (well actually, more of a surprise, but you have to live up to your responsibilities), is a very happy, confident baby of nine months. I don't plan to rear a delinquent child into this world, like some comments are suggesting of working parents. One of us could stay at home, but, we both choose to work and wouldn't have our life any other way. We also both sleep well at night as we have been kick started into a routine by work, and I'd definitely recommend it for parents, so don't knock it unless you're there!
You make your bed - you lie in it. To sleep perchance to dream... but perhaps not for a few years.
Marion Wiecks, Idaho USA
As ever the chattering classes squealing that they can't cope. This is a free country and you pay your money and takes you choice if you choose to work and breed then I am not surprised that you are tired, I'm sure I would be. Hey folks you can't have your cake and eat it.
I spent the first years at home. Two of those years I sat on orange boxes and ate off a trunk. We had no TV or fridge. But I look back on those years as the happiest of my whole life. People who miss out on those times can never recapture them. I would not have missed out being with my son for anything in the world. As for being a working mother, I never thought of it as a chore. I guess I just took it for granted and enjoyed every minute. I loved work and I loved my son and as you say Liz they are with us for such a short time.
For Graham D. Please tell me what you wrote about evolution and feminism was a joke. Because if it wasn't then you must be still living in the Stone Age - except in the Stone Age women were probably treated with more equality. Allow women the freedom to do what on earth they like with their lives - I'm sure that is only what you would expect for yourself after all.
Graham D., Scotland
Firstly, as a Christian, Jew or Muslim it is your duty to procreate, not a lifestyle choice. Without families/children the human race would die out. Secondly mothers should be given equality with other individuals and when not working should have the right to transfer their right to a tax allowance to their husband/partner. This would provide much needed extra money for mothers taking care of their children. The current Government treats them as second class citizens.
British, do cherish your children. They are the future of your society. We Chinese are still struggling with our population problem by adopting one-child-only policy. The price is an older society and spoiled children.
Having children is a lifestyle choice? That's ridiculous. Yes it's true that most of us can decide whether to have children but that doesn't mean society should treat parents and children as leeches. People don't start a family as a get-rich-quick scheme. I'd bet the people who complain about parents not working enough are the same people who complain about kids running around the streets at all times of the day, getting into trouble. You can't have it both ways either! A society without children will die.
Anyone who cites the need to have children for financial security in their old age is cold, calculating and shallow. All of you who have cited future economic gains as a reason for having children should plan for your own future and stop, at least in public, attributing a life style choice to your doing your social duty to supply social security by breeding future taxpayers. It is disgusting to equate children to money-making schemes.
I agree that parenthood is a choice but for most people things don't go exactly to plan. A lot of children are a 'surprise'. I didn't have any financial stability when my children arrived, and as my partner is mentally unwell, it is down to me to earn our living. I am now working from home as my daughter is only three, but this also poses problems as each time I turn on the PC, my daughter wants to play games, and being my own boss I can allow for this.
I am proud of my kids and so glad I chose to have them but I admit to finding life difficult right now. I work on average a 70 hour week as a teacher in a "challenging" school - yes, like many of my colleagues I am in work this week, despite it being the Easter holidays - and have two toddlers. Childcare and repaying my student loans cost me over 75% of my salary - but because I have these debts, I cannot choose not to work. My husband's idea of looking after the kids is to stick them in front of the video for hours at a time, so I don't leave him in charge more often then strictly necessary, e.g. for after school meetings, parents' evenings and the like. How do other people cope?
As a father, I am supposed to be struggling twofold: first at work, and then at home. I do appreciate it that my partner gets tired at work as well, so I try to save her the hassle of housekeeping. Call me sexist, but yes, we men do have more stamina. However, what many friends say is that I am being exploited.
Ally P, UK
It is hard being a working mother, however it many cases it is now a necessity due to rising house prices and other costs. Childcare takes a large chunk of income, before bills can be met, so little if any is used for 'luxuries' as some writers suggest.
It is stressful leaving a young child at nursery, but surely integration with children of a similar age enables learning and social skill development and is preferable to being at home all day in front of the television 'child minder' as many children are.
Surely it is for the individual to decide what works for them, rather than others to dictate whose lifestyle is right or wrong.
I am a working mum and a single mum. I chose to give birth, I choose to work. I have never received a penny in additional support or asked for sympathy. More to the point I don't want either because it was my choice. Women and Men who can't cope shouldn't make the choice and certainly shouldn't expect tea, sympathy and money from everyone else.
Just want to point out that your employers/employees, doctor, train driver, partner, shop assistants, car mechanic, plumber and even the IT support guy are all somebody's baby - so let's have a bit of tolerance and support for families of all kinds.
and since when has lack of sleep making you feel crap been news?
Karl Peters, UK
To be honest I am sick and tired of this working mums business. I think it is about time that they decided what they wanted - to be a mother - in itself a full time demanding job, or to have a career. As a person without children I am sick to the back teeth of women trying to work and raise a family at the same time. As they are generally professional women why don't they apply their work principles and do one job properly rather than try and do two and make a hash of them both leaving the rest of us to clear up after them?
Please stop talking about having children as a "lifestyle" decision as if it were like joining a gym or something.
If you decide to have a family you need to realise that for at least 15-20 years your children and their needs will be the primary driver for everything you do. If you're not prepared to accept this go and join the gym instead, you're not suitable to be a parent.
If you decide to go ahead, it's the toughest job you'll ever do. There is no pay, on the contrary it will cost you a fortune, the hours are terrible, it will take you to the depths of despair, frustration and defeat and leave you an exhausted, shattered wreck. At the same time it is the most rewarding thing you will ever do in your life and the only true shot at immortality you'll ever have. The highs are so high you forget the lows.
You pay your money and you takes your choice. Just make sure it really is a choice.
Sadly it seems that leaving this country solves yet another issue.
Face it people if you want help you have to help yourself in England, never rely on the Government or your employer to assist, that way you won't be disappointed. When I have kids I am off abroad!
Oh dear! Any talk about families and children always tends to bring out the worst in the selfish "children are a lifestyle choice" brigade in this country.
Do these same people think that because they have never used services such as the NHS or fire brigade or any other centrally funded service think that they should get a rebate on their taxes as well?
How about people who go climbing and get themselves into trouble and a helicopter is sent out to rescue them. This service must cost a fortune and climbing is certainly a lifestyle choice. So maybe we should stop paying for things like that as well.
I'm not childless by choice but I hotly resent any suggestion that choosing not to have children is selfish. Quite apart from overpopulation considerations, perhaps I have missed something here but I was under the impression that most people have children because they want them, for their own satisfaction and fulfilment, and that any benefit to society is incidental. Is there really anyone out there who didn't want children but has had them for the good of society?
I used to have to manage staff when I worked, some of whom were part-time because they were mothers and now that I am a mother myself I cringe to think of my suppressed irritation and silent tut-tuts at having to accommodate these part-timers with their half terms and inset days, not to mention their sudden absences when their children were ill.
My children are very young and I haven't returned to paid employment because my real work is with my children. Child care is too expensive to warrant foisting my two onto someone else even if I wanted but I worry for the years ahead when I will have to, with unsympathetic work places but still the need to look after the really important things in my life. I truly admire working mothers and am baffled as to how they manage it, and what it must cost both emotionally and financially. To be derided as well, they can do without.
Society, or rather areas of the media have led us to believe that women, "can have it all". Motherhood, employment and an outstanding relationship with your partner. I'm afraid I've never met anybody who fulfils this role. All this information appears to do is place pressure on working mothers, who worry when they haven't, "got it all". As a working mother myself, something has to give and for a while at least it is my career. I'd rather hug my young daughter and partner at the end of the night than a larger bank balance, thank you very much!
Parenthood is not a job, it's a choice. Parents do not have children in the spirit of altruistic endeavour for the nation, they have them because they selfishly want their own children. The bottom line is this - if you can afford children and want them, have them. If not, don't have them.
As a working single Dad, who looked after his son from when he was 18 months old, I am fed up with being ignored. Perhaps the term "primary carer" could be substituted.
Our situation is difficult but it is of our own making. We are part of the buy it now and pay later generation where consumer items are put on credit or loans taken out. So when baby came along we both had to work full time in order to pay off debts/loans, mortgage etc. However, with London nursery fees setting us back around £1000 a month we are left with very, very little disposable income. To say we feel trapped is an understatement. I would love not to work and hate leaving her with a stranger every day (the turnover of staff is so high in the nursery that this is often the case).
I don't think my parents' or grandparents' generation had this predicament as they didn't live off credit. A bit of advice for someone planning to have a child - you don't need loads of money but try and clear up most of your debts beforehand - then you will truly have a choice on whether to work on not.
Jennifer (below) would have us believe that were all meant to be robots working in a big machine, with no human needs or desires. Here are some facts: working parents are more likely to be loyal to their company, and increase their productivity at work. The mortgage still needs paying! Working parents do not have endless time off at the expense of their colleagues. If this is happening, perhaps those who feel they are working extra hours to cover someone else's time off should raise this with their employer. Nobody should force anyone to work longer hours than they should.
Jennifer from the UK has some strange ideas. Give 100% to the company all the time? What about the days when you yourself are sick? What about your evenings and weekends? I work to live, not the other way around. I don't see that taking a day off because your child is very sick as being very different from taking a day off because you are sick, or taking a sickie when you feel like having a lie in. At least the person who may need time off due to their child's illness is less likely to pull a sickie to avoid a busy day.
Jennifer's comments are a little harsh in my opinion. You work to live, not live to work, and if being expected to give 100% to an employer, all of the time, regardless of having a family or not, would breed intense resentment and counter-productivity. My partner and I work full-time, and we have a child. We have an excellent balance with our personal and work lives, and to be expected to choose between family life or a career, in my eyes, is discrimination against a certain class of people (parents).
Working mothers? Being a mother is a job in itself. Considering that when you take into account the cost of childcare, transport to and from work (be it a car or a season ticket on public transport), work wardrobe and other costs associated with going to work, most people will find that they are not much better off if both continue working while their children are still young. But most do it for selfish reasons: e.g. they don't want to miss out on future career development possibilities, they enjoy the perks too much or for financial reasons (although this can be debated).
Employment is a contract and usually the employee is required to give 100% to the company at all times. If you are not able to do so for whatever reason (be it illness, personal problems or family reasons) you are counter-productive to the company and being unfair to your colleagues who then have to make up for the lack of "productivity" on your part. The job still has to be done.
I wouldn't miss having a family for the world, but let's have a sanity check here.
What about full time working Dad?
So often they are portrayed as lazy drunks at home.
The silent majority pull their weight - and don't make a fuss.
As for myself. It's midnight. I am still up, working to pay the bills that people seem to take for granted, and the rest of my family are asleep in bed.
How about some equality here?!
It isn't just mothers. Other carers
suffer likewise. I have to work full-
time to support myself and severely
disabled elder sister. I am older than
most mothers of toddlers. She is
heavier to lift than a child, her wheelchair
is heavier than a pushchair. Toddlers
don't have tons of paperwork to complete to
get help with their lives. I have to do
this for her if we don't want her to go into
a home. Yet bosses seem less sympathetic
to those caring for an adult. But we get
just as tired.
I am a Working Mum and a Single Mum. I chose to give birth, I choose to work. I have never received a penny in additional support or asked for sympathy. More to the point I don't want either because it was my choice. Women and men who can't cope shouldn't make the choice and certainly shouldn't expect tea, sympathy and money from everyone else.
To Victoria Brombacher: What you say might be true but I don't suppose providing people to support the rest of the population in their retirement ranked high on the list of reasons for having children when you decided to start a family.
So not having children is selfish is it?
I have not met a parent (who is a parent by choice) yet
who could tell me why they had children
without giving a selfish answer. All answers contain
"we wanted" or similar in one form or another.
So, Victoria Brombacher, USA and others - don't come calling
us selfish for not wanting children. First evaluate your own
needs that were fulfilled by having a child.
Victoria Brombacher, USA
When my first child was born I thought I'd never survive! My life was carefree and independent before then, and I had no idea what I was giving up to have a baby. Women have more choices today, most have a full life before having a child, and that makes the dependency of children all the more difficult to adjust to. However they grow up, you forget how hard it is (amazingly) and then they become your little friends. It's all worth it, whatever anyone says - our lives are richer because of the experience. I must be living proof of this - I'm having my third baby in two months time!
If Linda, USA feels children are not a "necessity" can she offer any suggestions as to how the human race is not to become extinct?
What about all us full-time mums? We get sleep deprived as well. We are constantly on the go running them to school, nursery, etc. Our days are non-stop and if we are sleep deprived (which most of us are) we find the day very hard. Trying to reason with a screaming toddler is no fun on a few hours sleep.
"Phil, UK" is exactly right. What is needed is not so much an expectation that "everyone else" will support parents, but perhaps the government could try giving meaningful tax breaks to parents. Forget the usual glib token gesture of a couple of hundred pounds, we need something that reflects the fact that parents not only have to pay for child-related things but also need (as opposed to want) to live in a bigger house than non-parents. Especially in the South-East it costs more than token gestures to find the extra money.
Reading the comments from parents, one would think they had no choice in the matter. It's not the job of the government, your employer or your colleagues to 'support' you in raising your children. Why should your co-workers, male or female, be 'sympathetic' to you taking time off work for your child? Why do you take it for granted they should work longer hours to allow for your lifestyle choice? If you can't afford children, or aren't prepared to sacrifice the time to raise children - don't have them.
My husband and I have been unable to have children despite spending the first eight years or so of our marriage and about £12,000 trying to do so. However reading some of these comments perhaps we should be glad we've been spared!
The fundamental problem here is a lack of support and childcare facilities for parents per se, not just working mothers. This problem will be felt by everybody - and affect all of us until society realises that we have to accept responsibility for all members, including those that are trying to contribute to the economy AND bring up well-rounded and competent citizens of the future. The lack of sympathy is outrageous - heaven help those who are so uninterested - I hope that they find more sympathy when the shoe is on the other foot.
I am a working single father. I get a lot of support from my parents. I cannot begin to imagine how I would cope in the situation of most single working parents - with no help from family, government or employer. I've always woken up when my kids cry, always looked after them myself and I'd hope the BBC would point out that fathers are often as stressed and exhausted as mothers- bet there isn't a Father and Baby magazine!
1) Most families who have two incomes do it out of necessity, not greed or selfishness.
2) The work environment must become more sympathetic to families in general, otherwise society to will suffer as a whole.
3) If both partners are working, men really do need to do their fair share of childcare.
4) Women who want it all only want what men already have and take for granted.
Wendy S, UK
As one of the 31% of fathers that took an equal share in sleep deprivation I would say it affects everyone, not just mothers. Neither of us got more than three hours uninterrupted sleep for the first year, followed by about five hours a night in the second year. Work became much more difficult and work relationships suffered but home life didn't, we were probably too busy or tired to fall out!
BUT - we still wouldn't swap it for anything. The good times with the kids far outweigh the bad times of little sleep when they were very young. It was hard - but there is light at the end of the tunnel and well worth the effort!
When I was a child my mother was at home and raised the children on a day to day basis. We were not well off at all and the disposable income available from my father's work was an awful lot less than relative amounts today.
When I came home from school, my mother was there. This was all about 40 years ago, hardly Dickensian times. I'm sure this system had its warts but by and large, it worked, unlike the mess we seem to have today. Today we have a very disparate society, with breakdowns in all kinds of relationships and functions. If that's what we prefer then fine, but it's hardly likely to be easy and we shouldn't complain. Sadly and as usual, it's the weaker, less able members of society that suffer the most.
I'm very lucky - my husband and I have split all of our family/baby/work responsibilities between us in a way that allows us both to remain working and enjoy a fairly flexible lifestyle, and my boss couldn't be more supportive of me. I'm lucky to be in a high-paying job and have a fantastic childminder so don't have any right to complain. However, it is an exhausting life and every single aspect of it is compromised - time with my husband, time with my baby, time spent at work, social life, weekends etc...
Well, women did ask for more chances in work etc and they got what they wanted. Not saying it's all perfect but at the end of the day one person can only do so much, a child has to be looked after and if someone wants to work so be it, but understand that it comes at a price. And no I don't think employers should burden the costs. Why should an employer give a job to someone at extra cost over someone else with less commitment? Life is about choices, choose your path and stand on your feet...
Sonya, British living in US
Melanie Buswell, Alaska, US
When our first child was born, my wife and I chose to lose one income until the child was of school age. It so happened that as the higher earner, I remained at work, but I took equal responsibility for the baby when at home.
Having a child means sacrifices, and reducing incomes and lack of sleep is just the start of a whole series of lifestyle compromises.
Mary - you must be fun at parties. That is of course, if you actually have a life outside of the home. Have you evolved into the 21st century yet? I'm amazed that a woman can take such a narrow-minded, Dickensian view of where a woman "belongs". Are we not allowed to be stimulated then?
The way people canonise the relationship between mother and child as some ethereal bond puts too much pressure on the mother and relegates the role played by fathers completely. My sister is a single mother and is constantly battling to make her ex-partner see why he should pay for or do anything to support his own children now that they are no longer together. If you don't work, you will struggle financially and socially to be accepted, but this isn't conducive to raising happy, healthy children is it? You only have to look at the thug culture among kids to see that. I can't think of a worse life of drudgery than getting pregnant and having to work full-time then coming home to do exhausting childcare until bedtime while my partner leaves most the housework to me, or my ex thinks he deserves a medal for taking them for the 'odd' weekend visit. Try living like that and still doing both jobs well!
I've been a working single mother and it was hard. But previous to that I was a stay-at-home mother with a dead-beat partner - that was a lot harder. In an ideal world mothers would get the respect and recognition that they richly deserve, for doing the most important job that there is. But unfortunately the job is unwaged and if you don't earn, you don't get respect in this society. That is why women are under pressure to put off having children until after the years when it is physically most healthy.
Thanks Richard, for your very constructive comments. We realise reproducing is not compulsory but who would want to live in a world without children?
Yes it is hard work, even for us dads, but a little bit of sympathy from bosses and work colleagues would make life much easier.
If society and the media were more honest about parenthood and its drawbacks, and didn't go on about how rewarding it is, parents would not have unrealistic expectations about the experience and those who can't have children wouldn't feel driven to undergo stressful, expensive and for the most part unsuccessful fertility treatments in order to feel like full members of the human race.
Jane from Wales- your comment is the one I most agree with, although I am sympathetic in one way or another with all of the contributors here. I am 35 years old, and to this day I cannot understand why anyone would willingly want to have children. I'm sure many would have been influenced by societies "rose tinted "nonsense of parenthood - that you're somehow obligated to have a family. Not only should the true gravity of what they're getting themselves into be advertised from every magazine and billboard, but those who do have children should be supported considerably more than they are to ensure that they bring up responsible human beings and less of the "animals" that appear to be making up some of our youth culture today
Mike, UK: What a short sighted comment to make. I am a father, both myself and my partner work full-time, and believe me, you can have both! We both have the enjoyment of pursuing our careers, satisfying our need to fulfil our lives, and bring up a child. Parents satisfied with their lives will reflect this onto their child. Our child, since starting daycare, has a thoroughly enjoyable day, and wouldn't miss it for the world.
If both parents have to work to support a family, perhaps they shouldn't have started the family in the first place. A child needs a parent present during the start of its life. Couples should decide between a career and a family as I don't think both parents can have both.
Working mothers tend to work smarter as they get used to juggling work and family, and this is reflected in their job. Many women return to work part time, but feel they should do the same workload as if they were working full time. Yes, there will be times when a sick child inconveniences work commitments, but working mothers also try to get a good support network which minimises the impact on the workplace. And as for the child - I believe my child has increased social skills and independent thought from being in childcare from an early age.
Given the number of working mothers there are now in the workplace, it is not practical to tell us to all stay at home.
Many of us are highly educated and have skills that could not be replaced if we stopped working. The teacher shortage and the recruitment problems in IT would both become worse for a start.
The economy could not work without working mothers.
My wife and I have a young son, and without a doubt he is very demanding. My wife and I both work, but we share the workload to ensure that one of us gets a good night's sleep most nights. We are not permanently tired, and we enjoy life, and our son to the full. If we didn't share the workload in this way, one of us would be exhausted. Having children is not compulsory, it is a free choice, and we each choose to have them with the partner of our choice. If you are thinking of having children, look carefully at your partner. If he/she doesn't share the domestic workload before having children, then you're in for a very rough ride.
The government's urge to get mothers of young children back to work is short sighted and will result in worse behavioural problems in the nation's children and WHY are people SURPRISED to find that working full-time and bringing up young children is too much for anyone? It should be obvious. We only have our children for a short time and that time is precious - if we miss the first few years of their development our lives are the poorer for it and theirs! I am now a grandmother and am encouraging my daughter to stay at home while they are young. If you want children - then care for them - don't pass them on.
Don't worry parents. When you join the Euro and hand all your employment laws over to Brussels, then you will have child care, health care and all the help and encouragement you need including employment protection etc. Stick with it and join us enlightened Europeans.
When my wife and I decided to have children, I carried on working. I was fortunate enough to be able to take 1 month off on the birth of our daughter, and during that time we shared equally the daily chores of changing, feeding, washing, meal preparation etc., etc. When I returned to work, the roles had to change, but when I return at the end of the day, I take time to relieve the work load on my wife, and to help out wherever I can.
I understand some of the comments above about how it can be considered unfair for "non" parents to "suffer" for those who have children, but I believe that employers need to be mindful of the stresses and strains involved in raising children.
As I said, I have carried on working, but if my daughter is sick then I get anxious and am worried for her. If my manager sends me home an hour early so I can be there to take her to hospital then I appreciate that gesture, and will go out of my way to make up the time by some other means. I feel better about my employer, and will work harder as a result. If my employer was not understanding, then that would breed resentment, and I would only work the minimum required. Who benefits from that little bit of understanding now?
Mothers still bear the major responsibility for childcare, housework and added to this they may also be working out with the home. Very few fathers accept an evenly balanced share of the work involved in bring up children. Women are balancing being a mother to her children, being a wonder woman in the house, being a wife to her husband and in many cases being out in the workplace part time or fulltime. Something has to give... a build up of all these pressures take their toll on the quality of life of mothers/house keepers/wives/workers.
Seems to me that there are two groups of family who can really 'afford' to have children. Those who live off the state, and the super rich who can live on a single income. Everyone in the middle needs two incomes for even a basic lifestyle, whilst at the same time being taxed and taxed again.
Of course having children is a choice but it is our children that will be the future workers, including the care workers and providers of pensions for those who have chosen not to have children. Parents need support both emotionally and physically. I think that it is now time to give tax concessions to parents in order to encourage more people to have children to reverse the demographic trend towards an older population. Work is certainly not parent friendly and more needs to be done to make life easier for them. You probably find that parents are more committed to work than non-parents.
Parenthood is a choice. It's obviously something that's difficult financially and emotionally, however I do agree that more support needs to be given to parents. These days most parents seem to have no financial option but both work full-time. Why should a woman (or man) give up on a full-time career just because some people in society expect one parent to be a full-time carer? Even if both parents work full-time out of choice rather than necessity, they should still be given all the support they need. I'm female and in my mid-20s and am at the beginning of what I hope is a continuous full-time career, and I do not have the urge or intention to have children. Yes I am selfish, but in a good way.. why should I have children just because I'm able to? The world isn't exactly suffering from a shortage of people.
Couples can have both a family and a career. Plenty of children have and are being brought up successfully in such a situation. However parents need more support, not criticism. If you want to work and have children.. do it. If you don't¿.don't!
Alan Green, Germany
Look, working mums. You need to learn the simple art of prioritising. People who don't, end up trying to do too much and doing none of it very well. So the bottom line is this: have children and shelve your job, or keep the job and don't have children. If you are determined to do both then you need to learn how to apply the principle of delegation. You have a partner? Then firmly delegate part of the child's night-time care to him. It's called rock-it science. Problem solved. Sleep well!
Now I know why I left the UK eight years ago, to work here in Germany. Children are respected, so is parenting, so are working mums, especially single ones. Childcare is cheaper, full-day kindergarten places are available, most colleagues are understanding. I keep thinking about coming back to live in England to bring mine up in their own country, but now I know why I haven't actually done it.
A population without children is a dying one, the Germans understand that. Seems like the UK could do with a little less of the Victorian attitude and get up-to-date.
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