Help For Mothers Returning To Work

A recent report from the European Commission revealed that more mothers in the UK are failing to return to their jobs after maternity leave. Compared to other mothers around Europe they there are twice as many women who were unemployed or only working part-time due to family commitments. The EU average is 6.3%, whereas in the UK the figure stands at 12.5%.

The report referred to this as a “social challenge” and one the government was taking steps to overcome by improving childcare provisions and increasing the amount of free childcare available to working families.

But is this the only reason?

While improvements in childcare provision are important, to actively reduce the figure goes far
beyond childcare. Businesses realise that with more mothers failing to return to work it is leading to a reduction in the pool of talent from the workforce. To avoid this employers must understand that there are other issues that need addressing to support mothers back to work.

The decision to return to work is not always a financial one. What can hold one back is confidence and self belief. The voice in your head that says “Am I actually capable of going back?” can create fear and doubt.

A lengthy spell of maternity leave can often undermine confidence and the fear of having gaps on their CV’s can lead to mothers feeling disconnected from the world of employment and intimidated. Therefore it is imperative that organisations and employers get behind these women and concentrate on rebuilding confidence and sharpening skills, remembering that development is possible at any stage of a career.

Companies should make sure that they have programmes and procedures in place that offer support to those returning. Remember it can be tiring and daunting to re-enter a competitive environment whilst still having to care for young children. It is the employers responsibility to offer encouragement and the tools to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Skills training, access to networking and mentoring can play a crucial role in helping women feel prepared to return to the workplace, placing them in contact with their peers who are, or have been, in similar circumstances.

The demand for a skilled workforce increases year on year and mothers form a major part of that skills pool, so employers have to invest in programmes that address the barriers that may prevent mothers returning to work, ensuring that they and the country avoid a skills shortage.

For further advice on women returning to work take a look at Women Like Us.

Top 20 Countries to Raise a Family

The Uk? The US?


They both don’t even make it into the top 20, with the UK coming in at a miserable 22!

Well if you were to move to the best country you’d be on a short haul flight to…


Austria made it to the top spot closely followed by Finland and Sweden in 2nd and 3rd respectively in the survey published by InterNations.

To rank the top countries to raise a family, InterNations asked expat parents to rate the country they moved to in terms of the quality, cost and availability of childcare and education.

Austria topped the charts due to a social system that is very supportive to parents (take note Mr Cameron!). In Austria companies offer maternity and paternity leave once the children are born and all families receive monthly allowances of between 100 – 200 euros for childcare expenses.

If you were to move to second placed Finland you would be receiving the highest quality of education with 66% rating it as very good, compared to the global average of 21%.

If you want to see where else you could benefit from quality childcare, education and family wellbeing take a look at the list in full.

But before you do, why not try and guess the top 10, you may be surprised!

200,000 Families To Miss Out On Childcare Tax Break

Yes you read that right! Up to 200,000 families are likely to miss out on the Government’s new childcare tax break.

One of the coalition’s flagship policies will be introduced next year, but why will so many families potentially miss out?

Because they don’t have access to the internet.

Is this just a crazy estimation thought up by opponent’s of the coalition?


…it is an admission by the Exchequer Secretary, Priti Patel leaked to the Independent on Sunday. Here’s what she said…

“HMRC does not have exact figures but estimates that around 9 per cent of parents that will be eligible for the scheme do not have access to the internet. HMRC is committed to helping people use its services online and will make assisted digital options available for those currently not able to access the internet. These will help all parents register for the scheme, reconfirm their details and operate their account digitally.”

You would hope that such a major policy would have effectively been made available all those eligible, so to hear that 10% of those will potentially not be given access because they don’t own a mouse, is staggering!

So come on Coalition, sort this mess out and give alternative options to those that either don’t want or can’t afford an internet connection!

The Best Educational Toys For Christmas

Yikes! It’s that time of year again, just weeks away from Christmas and for a lot of us parents the present buying still hasn’t begun!

But hold on…

There’s still time to buy presents and toys that will not only entertain your kids but also educate them, a perfect combination no?

Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries have always viewed learning through play as a core value of our nurseries. We are constantly on the look out for new ideas and products that embraces our approach.

We recently came across a great storytelling app based on the classic story, Goldilocks and the Three bears, which we felt we had to let parents know about.

But with Christmas shopping still on the list of things to do for many parents, I went hunting on line for a comprehensive list of the best educational toys to buy this Christmas.

I viewed many websites, but I was not surprised to find that the excellent website The School Run, came up with not ten, not twenty but one hundred of the best educational toys out there this Christmas!

The list is broken down into key sections, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and some stocking fillers to go alongside. Take a look at the full list and get some great ideas.

So don’t panic if you have been tied up and haven’t finished, or even started your Christmas present shopping yet, this comprehensive list will help you not only get fun toys for your toddlers, but toys that will benefit their continuing development…

…ho, ho, ho!

Helpful Tips For Potty Training

You may have seen a news item this week focusing on an increase in the amount of children not being toilet trained before they start school. In fact almost two thirds  of primary school staff in a recent poll, said they had seen an increase in youngsters having “accidents” while attending school, over the past 5 years.

With this in mind I thought I would show a few basic steps to help with what can be a very frustrating time for parents.

The first thing to do is relax!

You will succeed but it is best to approach things in a calm manner. Follow these 5 tried and tested tips and you’ll have them trained in no time!

Ensure your child is comfortable with the idea of potty training. Introduce the potty chair early when you begin to detect your child is showing signs of readiness. Show them how it works, making it personable for them. When you first introduce it, have it wrapped as a present, buy some of their favourite stickers so they can decorate it.

Next introduce them to other tools of the trade! Training pants, wipes, washing hands at the bathroom sink before he they start using it.

Remain both positive and patient. Remember potty training can take time and inevitably there will be setbacks. But here’s the trick, children thrive on positive reinforcement. Praise and rewards will help them to feel more comfortable with the new skills they are developing and instil a sense of pride at their achievement.

Consistency. Remember once your child is out of nappies they stay out of nappies! If you weaken and occasionally switch back, it will break the cycle and you will be back to square one.

Take everything with you. If you are visiting friends, taking a weekend break or even going on holiday don’t forget your supplies. Also take an adaptor seat and a book so they can enjoy toilet time, remember Dad taking the paper to the hallowed throne!

The NHS has a more detailed list of potty training tips that will help you get it right. Be prepared and you will be surprised how easy it can be!

Now Taxman Hits Stay at Home Mums

Following on from my last post outlining how the new childcare support plan will penalise families where one parent opts to stay at home to bring up a child, it seems that the Coalition Government didn’t stop there! It has now been revealed that the taxman hits stay at home Mums hardest following new taxes imposed by the coalition.

This situation means families with a stay at home parent now pay more tax than the international norm, as outlined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The punishing tax inflicted on traditional families, as a result of the reduction in child benefit and changes to tax credits, contrasts with single people and two earner families who have benefitted  from cuts in personal allowances and other charges.

Once you add in the proposed changes for the new childcare support plan, expected to be introduced in 2015, the question has to be asked – has the Coalition Government got it in for the traditional family?

With a deflated economy it seems that the treasury has targeted stay at home mums, forcing them out to work to generate much needed tax resources.

But with many commentators blaming a seemingly fractured society on a breakdown in traditional family practices, what will be the potential effect on our future society, were parents forced to both work?

I personally feel parents should have the right to decide to stay home and raise the family, especially in its formative years. To punish them financially for that decision, in my eyes, is to pigeon hole them with those that simply do not want to work and benefit scroungers and, therefore, wholly wrong.

Former barrister, Laura Perrins, who quit her job to become a stay at home other confronted Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, saying, “It is wrong for the Government to be stacking the economic incentive against a mum who may want to stay at home and look after her children. They are incentivising mums to go out to work. Whether she decides to go to work full time or part time is a private decision. Stay-at-home mothers have a contribution to society that you are not able to measure on GDP figures”.

So it looks like the gloves are off and the taxman hits stay at home mums, favouring increasing tax revenue over supporting a traditional family environment.

Do you think the taxman hits stay at home mothers?