Returning to STEM
Returning to STEM

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Returning to STEM

3.3 Childcare and other caring responsibilities

Figure 6 Childcare

The following section is particularly relevant to those of you who are parents or carers. However, it is helpful for anyone returning to work to be aware of the issues described.

Finding suitable childcare can be one of the most difficult and stressful aspects of returning to work. If you need to arrange childcare in order to return to work, you will need to do some research to find the best option for you.

Now listen to Carolein, Verena, Azu and Simone talking about the childcare arrangements they made for their return to work and the rationale for their decisions.

Download this video clip.Video player: return_to_stem_week5vid4_512x256.mp4
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The biggest barrier was, of course, the kids. What do you do with the kids? I have a seven-year-old, five-year-old, and twins of three. So it's a young group of kids, so who will look after your four kids? And once I got the nanny sorted that gave me a lot of peace. And then I said, no, she is really good with the kids. I feel happy with her. The kids feel happy with her. And once I noticed that, I was fine just to let it go. You close the door. You let it go, because you know the kids are well taken care of.
So initially I saw that as a big barrier. It's a very uncertain situation, because will it work out? You don't want to spend your kids’ time with a woman who doesn't like your kids or who is a bit not very friendly. So once I knew that was OK, then I was fine going back to work. And that was my only really big barrier, I guess.
[BABY FUSSING] So my plans for going back to work is that Katrina's going to a nursery for most of the day. So I'm planning to do flexible hours. So that's something which our university offers, where you can also choose to work in the evening or work on the weekend. So I hope to pick her up maybe a little bit earlier from the nursery and then do a little bit more work when she's in bed.
So always you end up with conflicting priorities. I'm very, very lucky in that my childcare is provided by my mother, who is very flexible. I am free so often I feel guilt that she's just getting on a bit. She's 75 now. But she keeps saying to me she loves it that we trust her enough with the children. And I say, well, of course we do. You're their grandma, their second mother.
So she does a lot for us. I'm very aware actually, we need a plan B. So while she's flexible, I'm also flexible with her. So if she wants to go to Japan over Easter, which is what she's doing this time around, then I arrange things around. And I just make sure that work will be able to cope, and I find ways around.
So the basic considerations like safety, reliability – I did that. I had a look around at The Open University nursery, which is what you called Mulberry Bear. And that was the nursery that both my children attended. So like I said, I had a look around. I met with all the staff. I met with the manager. I spent a few weaning days with my children, and I was confident in terms of the level of support.
But of course, the fact that it was so close to my office, being on the campus, the same campus that I work from, that was a major thing for me. Because I breastfed for quite a long time for both my children. And that offered me the flexibility of running from my office to the nursery every time they called to say, he's crying. He's crying. Nothing can stop. He's not taking the bottle. I run down.
And that was something I'd discussed with my team and my line manager, so they expected that that would be done. So yes, proximity was a big thing for me, because things do happen. And you just want to be close by if you needed to.
End transcript
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