Sunday 16 December 2018

‘I would love if there was something for working parents’

The mum-of-three

Andrea Mara with her children Elissa (7), Nia (5) and Matthew, (2) from Carriglea Downs in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Peter Houlihan.
Andrea Mara with her children Elissa (7), Nia (5) and Matthew, (2) from Carriglea Downs in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Peter Houlihan.

Emma Jane Hade

Working mother Andrea Mara is hoping that the Budget will offer some relief for working parents, “because there is nothing really at the moment”.

The Dublin resident has three young children, seven-year-old Elissa, five-year-old Nia and Matthew (2). She works four days a week, and her husband also works full-time.

Despite the fact that they both have good jobs, the 40-year-old said that she finds her family has become part of the “squeezed middle class” group, whose income just about covers their outgoings.

“Apart from all the stuff that concerns everybody like the Universal Social Charge (USC), income taxes ... apart from that I would love if there was something done for working parents, because there is nothing really at the moment,” Ms Mara said.

She works in financial services and writes an online parenting blog ‘Office Mum’.

She has made the decision to use parental leave to take one day of work off every week, as she finds the family “shells out effectively a second mortgage on childcare”.

She said: “It’s hard. We pay childcare from our net income, there is no tax credit and there is no State-subsidised childcare generally available.

There are some community playgroups, but really for the most part for most working parents there is nothing at all out there.” 

While there have been reports of tax changes which would benefit low and middle income families, Ms Mara said that she wants to wait until she sees the concrete figures, but added that she “hopes it would benefit [her]”.

“I think we would be typical of many couples where what we take in only just about covers the mortgage, the bills and the childcare,” the mother said.

“And, there is an argument that you hear from time to time, well then why are you bothering to work?

“But the thing is, most people have five or 10 years when your kids are small, where you are paying full-time childcare. And you have to get through that.

“You come out the other side, you are no longer paying for childcare and you still have a career, and that’s kind of where a lot of people are.”

She said that many parents both choose to work as “they want to maintain a career” for the later years.  She added:  “People kind of say, ‘well you chose to have kids’, but that’s like saying we shouldn’t pay for the education system because people chose to have kids.”

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