Half-term … full time … and going round in circles

So, it was half-term and we went to London for a few days and we went here, along with just about every other family in the metropolis. And it was absolutely fab, although the queues for tickets were so huge that we just did the little slide and resolved to come back on the next inset day. That was the extent of our exposure to art. Strangely, the kids showed no desire to visit the rest of the gallery apart from the cafe and the shop!

We got talking to one of the gallery staff and she told us that people had been waiting outside since 7.00! And the doors didn’t open until 10.00. That’s some amazing devotion, don’t you think? But of course, it was half-term and parents wanted to give their kids some fun and something a bit special to do. The fact that this particular art installation had been featured on several kids’ TV programmes may have contributed just a little to it being the hottest hot ticket for the half-term break. In terms of entertainment, it has it all: culture, danger and contemporary – who could resist. And there were the parents, giving up hours of their time to queue on a chilly concrete ramp on Bankside so their kids could have a few minutes of whizzing round and round at high speed.

So how do parents who have proper jobs (unlike me) manage during the school holidays? Frankly, it must be a logistical nightmare, served up with double anxiety and a side order of guilt. And yet the recent report from the Equal Opportunities Commission into women and work was treated like it was news. Hold the front page! Working and looking after children is tricky!

No shit, Sherlock!

Hello? Is it just me or has this been a problem for years and years and years? And we’re only hearing about it now. Hmmmm. Am I sensing an agenda?

So here are the facts:

  • more than 400,000 women could be tempted back into the workplace, provided employers were willing to offer them more flexible patterns of work.
  • coaxing more women into paid work will be critical to defusing the demographic time-bomb and boosting economic growth in ageing economies.
  • the pay-off could be £20bn per year in the UK alone.

Well, now that making working life easier for parents (specifically mothers) is of benefit to the economy, I preduct a rash of initiatives that will certainly appear to help. But you know, I reckon that we’ll still be still be going round in circles.

And not just at the Tate.


19 thoughts on “Half-term … full time … and going round in circles

  1. WOW! That looks like tons of fun and worth the wait! I completely hear you about the working moms dilemma. As a full time working mom, I can relate to the hectic, guilt ridden, manic weekend/holiday lifestyle. C’est la vie!

  2. That would be great to see a rash of initiatives to help working women. But for some reason, at least in the US, employers (obviously still run almost exclusively by men), just don’t get that fact. The accounting industry here has — but then those accountants do know how to figure out the bottom line, don’t they? Now if we could get the others to sit down for a few minutes and crunch the numbers.

    And, hey, that slide looks WILD!

  3. I didn’t go to Tate Modern for half term precisely because I knew it would be maaaaad. After queueing for everything at the Natural History Museum in the summer we decided it would be Sundays in winter for us – London is just too busy the rest of the time.

    As to wimmin in the workplace… I blogged about the very thing (or actually glass ceilings and lack of reaching them) the other week. I couldn’t go back to work now or our life would just implode. Luckily I can work at home, but now my youngest is at school I have the bizarre feeling I am playing and not being very serious.

    To make it to the top requires a degree of selfishness and energy which I simply don’t possess, but it would be nice if there were a middle ground.

    I’m sure if I was out at work sometimes everyone might just appreciate me that little bit more…


  4. If ONLY we could see a rash of initiatives in the US. Sorry, I’m a little bitter, but in the U.S. employers just scream bloody murder and the Republicans claim that all small business will immediately go tits up. It would be nice if we could have even some ineffectual but well meaning attempts to help working moms.

    I guess I have a “proper” job, but my kids are still young enough that I haven’t yet had the term break problem. I have absolutely no idea what we’ll do!

    And can I just say that exhibit at the Tate looks like so much fun!

  5. What a great blog you’ve got going here! I come by way of Bec at the Ladies Lounge.

    I have been a full time mum for the past 5 years specifically because of the juggling act that would be required if I returned to work, in any capacity really. My husband is a partner in a law firm and works, well, alot.

    Apart from employing a full time nanny, I won’t being going back to work in a full time capacity. So part-time/voluntary work will have to be considered. I do want an “extra” dimension to my life 🙂

    Anyway, blog on; I’m enjoying reading.

  6. what i should have made clear, but didn’t is that, of course, being a parent is a full time job in the first place. so what we’re talking about is parents taking on ANOTHER job. i was going to say that i don’t know how full-time (or even part-time) working parents do it. but the truth is, i do. by knackering themselves out. i was speaking to a lovely journo yesterday who has two pre-schoolers. she works three days a week and here’s how she manages. she gets up at 5 every morning so she can fit everything in.
    tell you what, if the government are serious about tempting parents back into work, they’d better start by acknowledging what a tough and demanding job being a parent is.
    let’s hear it for us! yaaaaaaaay!!!

  7. Lovely photo!

    As a SAHM (I hate that monogram)I would love to go back to work at times. But I can’t imagine how we would get everything done. Shopping, cleaning, etc. How did we do it when we both worked?

    Granted, we had no offspring so the fridge could be empty and who cares. But sheesh. We need to get the Au Pair thing going over here in the states. Every family needs a wife I just don’t always want to be it.

    So kudos to working moms for pulling it together every day, not just on the holidays!

  8. Every family needs a wife. I just don’t want to be it, should be a motto for every SAHM!!

    I agree Mad Muthas, no one acknowledges what a hard and difficult job bringing up children is.

    I’d much rather be at work…

    And if this WERE a real job I would have handed my notice in, oh…. years ago!

    love Janex

  9. The current NZ government has a similar initiative to entice stay-at-home mothers to go back to work. It includes free, or heavily subsidised childcare for over-3s and they were looking at after-school care as well.

    I think subsidising the cost of hiring a cleaner, mother’s help or nanny would help even more though.

  10. More bloggerly synchronicity. I’ve just done a whole post on the balancing act and how I hate to even discuss it in writing because in writing I’ll have to examine how poorly we really manage!!

    Yes, I get up at 5am too and start work (I do an early media round-up for senior exec before I get to the office) and I run washing at that time and also at 1am… You just do what you must. But don’t we ALL? I hate, hate, hate this weird artificial division between ‘working’ and ‘stay at home’ mothers – as if we didn’t have enough to deal with as women and as parents without this odd glass wall across the playground!

    By the way: my mother always used say she needed a wife. I’d settle for a cleaner…

  11. I love the Tate.

    And I could use a good slide.

    Next week, I’m going to a “Mommy Wars” mindshare seminar (held at 9:45 a.m. on a Tuesday…not so mindful of the working mom on timing there) where this exact topic (and very many others I’m sure…) will be discussed.

  12. Flexible work is a true rarity…. I can’t imagine having to work strict hours AND try to get the kids to enriching activities like the Tate.

  13. tra la la! i’ve just been to the tate again with my sister – and we did the smallest slide! we could have done any of them, cos there weren’t any queues today but, frankly my dears, we were too chicken. it was surprisingly fast, once you push off from the top and i kind of saw my life flashing in front of my eyes. top fun, though!

  14. I’m getting flashes of motion sickness just thinking of the ride. Is it made of translucent plexiglass? Can the people below you see your bottom in transit all smushed and pancaked and wedgied?

    (never mind this gratuitous post – I’m just checking that I’ve correctly created my new blog and snazzy photo…which is most certainly an accurate representation of my body and face.)

  15. hello alpha – damn fine soubriquet, if i may make so bold. no – no-one can see your bum cos the lower half of each slide is metal – stainless steel, maybe? – while the upper half is plexi something or other … see through, anyway. even lindsay lohan could probably do it with perfect rectitude. it is quite bumpy though cos the tubes are made of short segments of material joined together to form the curves, i spose. so you get not only ‘wheeeeee’ but also ‘dududududu’ as you go. most invigorating and i recommend it to anyone not of a nervous disposition. my sister was all over the place afterwards – said she felt quite dizzy for a bit. i recovered fast enough to run back upstairs and MAKE her do it. then i ran down to see her emerge at the bottom. top fun!
    btw – on the subject of l-lo … they used to teach gals how to get out of sportscars WITHOUT showing their knicks. what kind of classes has she been going to, eh?

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