'It's impossible to find childcare that fits with the work demands of being a teacher'
I need to be able to be in two places at the same time. That’s the only solution I can come up with to my current problem: after eight wonderful months of maternity leave, the time has come for me to go back to work, but finding childcare that fits into a teaching working day is proving impossible.
I should say from the off that we don’t have any family nearby, so the crèche of grandma and granddad is out. I have had to look at other options.
This, it transpires, leads you to a quagmire of confusion and expensive awkwardness.
The absolute latest I would want to get to school is 8am. Nurseries start at 8am.
Hmmm. Ok, so for an extra fee I could drop off my child at 7.30am but I still wouldn’t get to work on time as it is a thirty minute drive from the nearest nursery with actual availability to my school.
Furthermore, I will be required to pay for 48 weeks of nursery care a year even though I will only be using 39 (this is before the inevitable sick days that will also need to be paid for).
The time trap
Then there are the inevitable evenings and weekends. It is at these times that the majority of a teaching workload is completed. But when do I do all this with a child? Pay extra money, I guess, to have someone take her for me?
And yet, in the past eight months I have built up this thing called a 'life': my evenings and weekends are now dominated by swimming lessons, baby massage, playtime on the playmat and the absolute joys of baby “weaning” aka the food throwing Olympic Games. Why should I be denied that?
I can only assume that my sleep deprivation training from the early months is about to come in handy once again.
I thought about child minders. They are flexible, will start early, don’t require holiday payment and seem to be amazing human beings of endless patience, kindness and creativity. The perfect solution.
Everyone else thinks so, too. There are no available spaces where I live. One lady told me she was full until September 2018.
Non-teaching friends don’t see the trouble – just ask for flexi time, they say. They’re shocked when I tell them that doesn’t really exist in education.
They then say I could get my husband to drop our child off and pick them up – he could get flexi-time, surely? Ah, well he’s a teacher too. A more senior one than me. He works even longer hours.
It seems I just keep hitting dead ends. I love teaching, I want to return, but I honestly don’t know how I am going to do it.
Katie White is a teacher at Kingsbridge Community College, Devon, she tweets @MrsWhiteWrites