måndag 18 juli 2011

Work and kids - the first of many posts to come...

Stockholm is a beautiful place in the summer, a day spent on a little island opposite Old Town
Sigge was happy
and I had some peace to think at a cafe.
The day after I had a long skype session and Sigge played happily and fell asleep in the kitchen. This is how I imagined parental leave and it works with 1-2 but not with 3 kids at home.

Parental leave in Sweden is truly fantastic - 13 months with 80% of the income to be shared between the parents and another half a year at a minimal income. There is no reason to rush back to work. Back at work each child under 12 entitles 120 days a year off for care during short term sickness - if the kid is off more than a week a doctors certificate is needed. So 2 - 3 kids pretty much allows parents to be off full time.

Day-care is cheap and cheerful and often great places for the kids to learn and play. Unfortunately they are pretty useless for the few of us that enjoy work and wants to combine work and kids. Nannies are not an option at my level of income. Au pairs often leads to more grief than help and child-cares run wild at the moment, closing at 4 pm more often than not, the govermental promise of a 6.30-18.30 policy is never in place. The number of planning days, educational days, excursions and parties in the middle of the day is increasing exponentially - and no-one wants to be the parent missing out on the kids proudly presenting the last project. If I could have it my way I would pay dearly for a service where someone could come to our home the few days when a child is sick and I have to work. Or Sigge is too small for day-care and I have to work. Or I simply have to finish something and need a little space to think. I still consider myself extremely lucky to live in this society where women can work and reproduce but it is a little frustrating at times. At the moment I work 4 hrs a week of which 2 from home and 2 from work. Some days it works but with cara and viktor home on school holidays (until the end of August) I don't find time for all the work that scientists do outside office-hours - reading, planning, writing, preparing lectures. I decided to take time off until I go back to work in August and just enjoy the summer and the kiddies for now.

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