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Alison Figuerido: The party of the family has gone deaf to the pleas of stay-at-home mums

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My day is full from start to end with caring for my son. Parent-led playgroups every day, playdates, parks and museums – I am usually on my feet from morning til night with little time to think about anything too worrying.

My life revolves around ensuring this little boy has adequate social interaction (he has plenty), opportunities to learn and grow and plenty of play outdoors and in.

Undoubtedly, we benefit from living in a city which has plenty to offer and ticks all these boxes. Playgroups, great green spaces and magnificent play areas and museums.

Recently a few friends scoffed when I told them how wonderful London is for under-fives. They couldn’t get their heads around it. With most jobs London-centric it’s not like we have a choice, dear friends.

However I am relieved that London at least has not disappointed at all when it comes to raising small kids and am happy to gush about it. I do love this city and often feel like the city, if not its bureaucrats and politicians, embraces us and values who we are.

At night though it’s a different story altogether. I lie awake at night very regularly and my mind races. So much so that today I found myself at the doctor’s asking for sleeping pills. Our finances feature heavily in my worries as I suspect they do with many people.

Eventually though, I get truly angry and wonder aghast at the Tories’ claim to be for the “grafters”. We have one child. Around the corner there are families with several. Our kids all play together and the mums or dads seem very content with life.

If they both work full time and command good salaries and a high combined income, they are in receipt of benefits in kind. If they don’t work they are in receipt of vast amount of benefits and low rent accommodation.

Meanwhile families with one parent working and one caring at home share the tax burden to support these families and get zero benefits. I don’t want benefits. I want the option to look after my family and not feel marginalised by a tax and benefit system that leaves us out completely as somehow unworthy.

Graft? Try racing around after an active toddler and trying to raise a pleasant (and ultimately productive) child. Try managing a tight household budget and watching your husband come home burned out every night.

Then when all is quiet at night fight off the demons gnawing away at your soul – that trying to get established to start a family and the time it took to get to this point may have scuppered our chances of having a larger family: That by grafting, taking care to not be a burden on others, we made the wrong call.

Reading the most liked comments in the recent article in the Daily Mail about the decline of stay-at-home mums, I was struck by one mother who gets precious little opportunity to be with her one child because she has to work full time.

It was a heart-wrenching comment. The same song sings out from so many women’s hearts. The desire to BE mothers. Women everywhere are being failed by a society that no longer values motherhood at all.

Our children suffer, we suffer, family life suffers. The guilt this mother feels during the day equals the anxiety I feel at night. The politicians’ answer? Yet more childcare to relieve the “burden”.

They have been successful at it too, as the number of stay-at-home mums decline. In their eyes it is motherhood that is a burden. After all, two decades of voices have spoken out on behalf of women. Thanks Tories.

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Alison Figueiredo
Alison Figueiredo cares for her son at home

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