Monday, 13 February 2012

Lord Coe, you were a baby once too!

Right, well I can’t believe I’ve overlooked this but it’s time I mixed my messages I’m afraid. So a couple of weeks ago, there was a huge outcry over whether babies who had been conceived once their parents had successfully applied last year for Olympics tickets, should be able to attend events with their parents. I am due to give birth this summer, so you might think I’m naturally biased about this. However, I don’t have tickets, so it isn’t an issue for me.

But I have found that many people – albeit often our parents’ generation, – do not realise how difficult it is for working parents with small children financially and logistically. And can I add, mentally? Because the former definitely have an effect on the latter. It’s just not spoken about. You might see it manifest itself in the divorce rate of course. But many families have no option but to make ends meet. After all, their children come first. However, I do know someone (my parents’ age) who was at the Priory after a mental breakdown and she was shocked to see how many working mothers were there. They’d literally had their BlackBerries prised from their hands upon entry in the wake of a ‘but I can juggle everything!’ meltdown.

Just last week I attended a two year old’s birthday party and his grandmother was shocked when I explained that, even as a self-employed person, if I don’t work, I still have to pay for childcare. She was even more taken aback when I explained that if your child is sick and needs a week off, you still have to pay. Or if you go on holiday, yes, you guessed it.

My monthly childcare is more than my mortgage. This is not for a full-time week either. I do not live in a suburb of London. Many people turn to grandparents to help with this issue. Not everyone can. And few grandparents would be happy looking after a breastfeeding baby. Not to mention how the mother might feel about having to leave their child so they can attend an Olympic event. It just wouldn’t be an option (probably – obviously I can't speak for everyone!).

Actually, I bridled when I saw ‘expert’ Katie ‘I was on the Apprentice once’ Hopkins, talking about how parents should have to leave their babies behind on BBC Breakfast. How lovely to be so cold about this issue. Or sad. Many parents would put their child ahead of an afternoon of sporting entertainment – even if it is the greatest sporting event in the world coming to our country for a once-in-a-generation opportunity. But isn’t that very sad too? In fact, that’s exactly what it is; a sad indictment of our times. The thought that ‘if you have children, it’s your fault’, seems to be prevalent in society these days. Nevermind the fact that we’re bringing the next tax-paying generation into the world. The next generation of sportsmen and women.

All I know is, in an ideal world, I’d have tickets and I’d take my baby with me. And if they cried or became a nuisance (as Katie H suggested), I’d leave until I’d settled them again. Unless of course, it was rowing or canoeing, because when I attended that in Sydney, it was a big cheering mass of happy people bonding from all over the world – young and old. No Katie Hopkins there.


  1. Katie H is an absolute tool. I heard her let off a broadside at Clive Anderson on the radio and cannot take her seriously anymore.

    Babies aren't allowed at the olympics because a TV camera might catch them being fed milk. All fluids that are not Coca Cola are banned ... is my guess.

  2. Thanks for your comment AP Admin.

    I should add that I was invited to meet Oscar Pistorius just last week by BT Storytellers. Unfortunately, with very little notice and no child care support that day, I had no choice but to turn the amazing opportunity down. I was gutted, but (and probably unlike Katie H), I have got used to saying no to things. However, I do feel strongly that women with new babies shouldn't have to look back at the Olympics as the opportunity that never was.