Parent-In or Out? Brexit Time Is Here...

20/06/2016 10:59

Will we? Won't We? The 'Brexit' campaign is all anyone's talking about at the moment, and with the deadline looming (23 June), it's time to start thinking about which way to vote.

As a working Mum, the things that important to me are the things that are also important to you. Free healthcare, good education, job prospects and opportunity for our children - the rich, and the poor.


I'm not sure how the above may change if we stay in Europe, but comments by France O'Grady (general secretary of the body representing British trade unions), made me think about the benefit of being in the EU.

Back in February O'Grady said: "If you are going to have a baby, knowing whether or not, or how much paid maternity leave you are going to get might make you think quite hard about how you are going to vote. If you are one of those six million workers whose holidays were improved by the working time directive, you might not want to put a cross in the wrong box."

The working time directive that she speaks of, was introduced in the early nineties - a time when 'The Fresh Prince of Bell Air' and Bermuda shorts were all the rage! Now, some X years on, I find myself grateful for the directive that entitles workers to 20 days paid holiday. It's one thing the Euros got right...

Then again, could a new world order make things better for us? We're lucky to live in a country that gives us maternity leave pay - but even so, £128.73 a week isn't easy to live on (this is statutory maternity pay after the first six weeks).

At the moment, the minimum time-off allowed for paternity leave is two weeks and the maximum is 52 weeks - although statutory maternity pay finishes after 39 weeks. Imagine how much more we could do with our days, or how much more time off working Mums could have to be with their babies if this was reviewed?
(c) Pexels

It's also not a surprise that many a 'Mumpreneur' and 'Dadpreneur' are created during parental leave, a market that is becoming increasingly significant to the economy, with businesses owned by women with children contributing £7.2bn to the UK economy in 2014 (research conducted by Development Economics and commissioned by eBay).

Just take a look at Annabel Karmel, Ella's Kitchen and Paddy's Bathroom as inspiring examples of 'parentrepeneurs'.

Perhaps then, there is something to be said for the combination of a low income and months off work to reflect, inspire and motivate you to do something new. In my year off I set up a parent blog (Milk Drunk Diary) and started to write my first book.

During my year off I didn't want to miss a moment of freedom and used every spare moment when Boo was sleeping to write it. Yes it was exhausting and taxing, but everywhere I went people kept saying 'someone needs to write a baby manual' and I thought - why not!

Without the combination of time off to reflect and a pretty low maternity pay, I probably wouldn't have found the inspiration to motivate myself quite as much as I did.

As voting day, June 23, creeps up, we are forced to think about all the global issues that affect us, and how staying in or exiting is the right decision. I can see compelling arguments for both, but I'm starting to sway in camp 'stay in'. Then again, there's still a few days left to go, so you never know!

Sophia Walker is a leading parent blogger and has just launched
'The First-Time Parent: Six Months on the Outside' available in paperback and hardback on Amazon and downloadable on iTunes from £3.99