‘It’s affluent neglect!’
I overheard this hideous parent-bashing phrase in a cafe a while ago and it stuck in my craw like an axe. Parents who could otherwise ‘afford’ to stay at home were, according to this woman, choosing not to out of sheer malice, thus wielding further damage on their already anxiety-ridden protegés.
As far as I can see, the anxiety usually drives itself up and parks squarely and heavily on the shoulders of those parents working 4 and 5 day weeks from the minute they return to work after maternity leave. These are not people choosing to send their chauffeur to the Saturday football match while they lay in bed eating quail eggs.
If only these ostensibly callous parents had thought to ask for 4 day week! Or flexible working! ‘Of course!’ Their employers would cry. ‘Fill your boots! After an unimpeachable 15 years service and nary so much as a sniffle, we will invoke our excellent-on-paper flexi-working scheme and fully appreciate that, as a grown adult, you will not spend your time WFH surfing social media but will in fact do your Actual Job that we have trusted you to do without question until you got up the duff.’
Or: ‘No, no you can’t, are you mad?, everyone will want it, let’s talk redundancy, can you do 5 days in 4?, we know we can’t ask but….(cue conspiratorial-non-Sandberg-esque-lean-in) ….are you planning on having another one?’
The number of working mothers in the UK has surged by 1.2 million over the past two decades, official figures revealed in 2017. With parents living far from familial networks, the pressure on wrap-around care is horrendous and the parody of nannies being poached at the school gates is becoming all too real. And even then, reasonably, most nannies are not up for the financial limitations of 15 hour working week.
Step in Koru Kids, the after-school childcare specialists and brain-child of Founder & CEO, Rachel Carrell. Its major focus is after school care and summer holiday care and they recruit, vet, and train university students (mostly) to become after school carers.
After having her first child in London, Rachel soon realised that is was nigh-on impossible to find after-school childcare and saw the huge mismatch that exists between working hours and after-school options. ‘I saw how profound a need it was and decided someone needs to tackle this. There should be a really great childcare company out there and I couldn’t find one. Where’s the company solving the problem?’
As former CEO of the world’s largest online doctor service, DrThom, Rachel was more than equal to the task of the start-up. ‘We raised money fairly early on and only had a small number of customers when I started raising my pre-seed round. I had grown a business to £20 mlln so I was using all that experience. I had the idea, a proven track record and people willing to take a chance on me.’
Koru Kids have trained over 2,500 nannies to date and take less than 10% of applicants. As well as interviews, reference checks, criminal background checks they are given first aid training and complete modules on arts and crafts, safeguarding, cooking, growth mindset and resilience training. In addition, they will set you up with HMRC, the pension regulator, a contract, payments etc…you just fill in a document and they tie it all in.
Alongside Koru Kids, Rachel often speaks to outside agencies about how they can improve childcare options for parents. She runs a Facebook Group called ‘Bringing Up Great Kids’ and is building a new Koru Kids service for younger children. Watch this space. And if you’re too busy peeling grapes and avoiding your children, you can always get your butler to watch it for you.