Budget 2021: 'I feel invisible as a self-employed mother'

"I’ve looked at creches, and it’s coming in at €1,800 a month. That is totally unfeasible. We’ve become so accustomed to the Government not helping in this area."
Budget 2021: 'I feel invisible as a self-employed mother'

Liz and Sebastien Costigan Fleury with their 18-month-old twins Zac and Jules. 

Liz Costigan Fleury is a self-employed yoga teacher, personal trainer, and spin instructor. 

Her husband works for Indeed. They have 18-month-old twins who were born at 28 weeks. Covid-19 changed everything.

"Pre-pandemic, I taught 10 to 15 classes a week, which amounted to about a 20- to 30-hour work week with preparation and travel," she says. 

"Currently, I’m teaching three classes a week. Part of that suits me with my young children — Covid was a sort of a second chance for me for maternity leave.

"By the time the pandemic hit I’d just got a handle on things with work and parenting then Covid hit and my childcare went. 

"I went from having time to work to juggling childcare, work and having my husband working from home in a small house. It’s been challenging emotionally, and financially I've seen a massive shift.

"I currently live in a country where I often feel invisible to the Government as a self-employed mother of twins, apart from the children’s allowance. If there was, say, a 1% tax rate change, we're not even going to see that. It's more concrete stuff that is needed to help young families."

She says families like hers need more support.

"The ECCE years (Early Childhood Care and Education programme of 15 hours free childcare a week) start when they're 3. They're brilliant but at that point you have yourself together as a parent but your career could be down the Swannee if you’ve been out of the paid workforce. 

"It is totally ironic that the ECCE years kick in when you’re more used to parenting, but come exactly at the end of those fundamental first 1,000 days in a child’s life.

"In yoga, people come to your class and they like you — but then you're gone, and they naturally find someone else. Then if you stay working you have that guilty feeling you're leaving your children. 

"You’re constantly battling all these levels. Then later on, say, if the child is sick, it's always the woman who has to leave the office, the woman’s career just takes second place.

"At three to six months there should be far more support for the parent. Three hours a day three times a week — that would help significantly. It would help us so much at the start, it would take the pressure off the grandparents, they shouldn’t be childcare."

And childcare is not an option.

"I'd be way more in favour of a concrete support like that or public childcare, than a 1% tax cut or an extra €1 in the children’s allowance. There also needs to be consideration for people who have their own business and have children, and parents of multiples.

"I’ve looked at creches, and it’s coming in at €1,800 a month. That is totally unfeasible. We’ve become so accustomed to the Government not helping in this area.

"If we aren’t looking after and supporting the mums and dads, we are not looking after the children. The parents need support as they mind and raise children during those crucial first 1,000 days.

"Our babies were born at 28 weeks but if they were full term, I would have just been sent home two to five days later and that would have been it.

"I really feel we could be more supported in terms of hours and time”.

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