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My name is Carlota and I am the mother of two wonderful girls, 9 and almost 6 years old, and a third who will be born in the next few days. When in 2005 the pregnancy test confirmed that we would be parents, nothing suggested that, 10 years later, we would experience fatherhood for the third time, and in a third country.
When Jimena was born, in 2006, we were in full swing of packing to move to Dublin, where we lived for 4 years and where Aldara was born. The motherhood experience is very different between Spain and Ireland, so are social benefits, and work-life balance.
Now, In England, the options are broader if possible. Health is public, and delivery is, at the mother's choice, in the hospital, the midwifery unit, or at home, always within the public system. Midwives can monitor the pregnancy in your own home, they even draw blood from you lying on your sofa!
Maternity leave is 39 weeks, the government pays a part, and the other part is usually covered by companies, although not the entire 39 weeks. There is also an option of leave of absence. In my case, being autonomous, I only have the state pay. The right to reduced working hours is not protected by law, but the general rule is that companies are flexible, and moms usually return to work only 2 or 3 days a week or do it from home. Many moms do not return to work until the children start school, since, unfortunately, daycare is very expensive.
Later, in all neighborhoods there are 'mum and toddler groups', where babies play and interact with other babies while mothers have tea and a slice of cake talking with other mothers. These groups are usually for children between 6 months and 4 years.
Education is also public. Children start school at the age of 4, although from the age of three they can go to daycare for 15 hours a week paid by the state. School usually begins in September, and ends around July 20, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., varying from one school to another. Unlike in Spain, in the United Kingdom there is a week of holidays (two if it is Christmas or Easter), every 6-7 weeks of school, so it is very good to take a break and recharge the batteries. Another big difference is that you don't have to carry books, notebooks or school supplies, everything is provided by the school. Even the dining room, up to 7-8 years, is free. The only expense of college entrance is buying the uniform, which is ridiculously cheap and tremendously useful.
As for social assistance, the government pays a certain amount weekly for each child, higher for the first child, from birth to 18 years of age, and also benefits families with 4 or more descendants in the payment of taxes.
I feel very fortunate about the quality of life that I can enjoy in this country, how focused on the family in general and the naturalness with which it is lived, even in the work environment, that a mother dedicates herself to parenting of their children. And, of course, the tranquility of living in a neighborhood of single-family homes surrounded by forests to walk around, but with everything at hand. Although, obviously, there are things that I do not like, I do not change my adoptive country ... at least for now.
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