One parent’s story of parenting alone in 2012

Niamh rang our askonefamily 1890 662212 helpline, here’s her personal story of parenting alone in Ireland in 2012. It will make you think….

I work in the Kildare area and am a single mother with two girls.  One eight year old and a three year old.

My youngest child goes to a local private creche four mornings and one afternoon and my eldest child has to go to the creche’s afterschool club at 2.45.  I depend on the help of my friend to collect her from school those days and drop her over to the after school club.

The cost is €120 a week and I dread the holidays and school breaks as it is a nightmare.  I have to pay for extra childcare for my eldest child. This can bring my childcare costs to €250 per week.  My wages are €320 a week and I receive at the moment €157 One Parent Family Payment, to be dropped to €148, with the earnings disregard dropping to €130 per week.  My work is of a caring and administrative nature. The children’s dad cannot help financially but does collect the children for me and takes care of the 3 year old when she isn’t at creche and I have to work. I have to be flexible on a week to week basis and never know until Friday what my next week’s work schedule will be.  The pressure and stress of this is sometimes unbearable.  I cannot hassle the children’s dad for money as a. I know he has none as he is unemployed at the moment and b. if he wasn’t unemployed I would have to pay a lot more childcare c.  I have to keep quiet with him as he is doing me a favour by collecting the children and looking after them when I need him to.  d. If he didn’t do this for me I wouldn’t be able to afford the extra childcare on my wages.  He enables me to keep my job.

My mortgage is €450 per month and I have a loan for house renovations as I had to get a new roof due to a major leak, payback of €100 per week.  I have furniture on H.P as we needed beds and a cooker and fridge and this is taken from my account every month.  I have union fees of €20 every month also and house insurance of €460, approx €8 a week. TV licence €3 per week, Bins €6 pw. ESB €20 pw, not inclusive of food and clothes and heat and the basics of living.  Now I have the €100 house charge and most likely water rates coming.

My children never had a holiday.  I work all summer to keep my head above water.  I feel guilty when my child tells me of her friend’s holidays.  I couldn’t get extra work with my employer as if I did, I would have to pay the creche extra.  The time is not available at work anyway and there is talk that we may be losing hours to keep the costs down.

I refuse to let this hurt or stop my children having a good life.  I sit and help with homework every evening and am making sure my children have a very good start in like with a good work ethic.  They realise you have to work to get money to live.  I do not want them thinking you don’t have to work for a living.

Unfortunately, while my children are so young I cannot contemplate taking on more work as they need me and will for many years.  These are their vulnerable years.  I started paying creche fees in 2003 and have paid approximately  €7500 a year, this is covering school summer holidays and Easter and Christmas breaks.  I have also had to pay for minders to come in when the children are sick and the creche won’t take them.  Double payment, as the creche still has to be paid.

Where it will all end, I do not know.  Why isn’t the government encouraging us single parents by giving us creche credits or a voucher for the creche that our children attend.  In that way,  we would be spending the money only on childcare, it would keep the creche in full employment creating jobs, reduce the number of people on the dole and leaving people with money to spend, thus creating more jobs.

I do not know why the government thinks that cutting our money will encourage people to want to work.  Sometimes I feel when I’m running around at six in the morning to get myself and two children ready for work and school and creche, what is the point? Why don’t I stay at home and be there all the time for the children. Forget creche, forget work, forget the stress of it all. Sell the house, pay the bank and go on the housing list and get help with my rent.  I’m trying to do everything right and I feel I am cut down at every turn.

Sorry for the ranting, it’s good to get it off my chest. But, I must be doing something right though as both my kids are very happy and the eldest was the top of her class in her Christmas exams.

Niamh, 2012