BitchBuzz: Is Shared Parental Leave Bad for Business?

After a three week break (and a column about sales bargains I didn’t post here as it was really only timely at that moment), my bi-weekly column is back. Here’s a snippet from 19th of January. The next subject I plan to write about is weaning… that should be fun in the comments thread.

Mention maternity leave and small business owners will be the first to wring their hands over costs and inconvenience. With UK law changing  in April to allow extended paternity leave, the litany of complaints is getting louder. It’s reached fever pitch with the beginning of a consultation to grant even more extensive rights. Do businesses have a point, or is this exactly what 21st century parenthood should be like?

From the 3rd of April 2011, UK fathers will be able to take 26 weeks leave at the same rate of pay as Statutory Maternity Pay (currently £124.88 a week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings, if that is less) between 20 weeks and one year after the birth or adoption. This is in addition to the two weeks Ordinary Paternity Leave already given. But on top of this, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced a soon-to-be launched consultation on much more flexible leave between parents– perhaps shared and split into smaller chunks, taken simultaneously or even taking in other family members – and that’s really got some businesses worried.
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BitchBuzz: Baby Maths and Milestone Envy

My parenting, pregnancy and baby column appears every other Wednesday. Here’s a taster from the 1st of December:

When four weeks are no longer a month and every movement had better be the sign of a genius in the making.

The minute you get pregnant, conventional maths goes out of the window. The day you conceive, you’re two weeks pregnant. Even though there was nothing there for two weeks before. In fact, you’re pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period even though by definition you couldn’t have been pregnant then.


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BitchBuzz: KidStart, Parenting Clubs and Other Ways to Save

My parenting, pregnancy and baby column appears every other Wednesday. Here’s a taster from the 17th of November:

Everyone knows that babies can help you burn through cash, so here are some ideas to help you store up pennies for a rainy day.

During any pregnancy you’ll be plied with lots of packs of this and that and memberships to baby clubs like Bounty, which offers mounds of free samples, or those at major retailers like Boots or Tesco. You might also hear about KidStart, an affiliate shopping programme that lets you get a little cash back when you shop through links in emails and on the website.

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What’s going on: CAF presentation, BitchBuzz parenting column and more

A few quick bits of info.

1. My first BitchBuzz column about motherhood, kids and parenting is up. It’s called Are You Thinking About Having a Home Birth? The next few are likely to focus on money, cats, baby milestones and stuff like that.

2. Next Weds (27th) I’ll be heading to West Malling, Kent, to present to a CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) Market Insight session about technology. I’ll be covering Dogs Trust online in a nutshell. I don’t know yet if the presentations will be hosted somewhere online, but they might well be.

3. My daughter slept for nine hours last night. Okay, that’s not so helpful to you, but it is to me. And this is my blog, after all.

4. Ash (my husband) is still casting an eye out for any way that he can swap some design skills for events experience. He’s spent a week at Dogs Trust HQ and a day at a centre making himself useful and is chatting to a couple of other charities and individuals; please do step forward if you need him!

This week on BitchBuzz: simple recipes and women’s resources

And no, sexists among you, they’re not the same thing.

I’ve got a bit of a list of things to write about for BitchBuzz and haven’t had the time to do much of it.  I have made a start on a new post I hope to make quite a regular one, which is Simple Recipes for Anyone; basically, if you can’t make these then you should probably step away from the kitchen, never to return.

First up is shortcrust pastry, and in the schedule (but not live yet) is chocolate ganache icing. If you read this blog, you’ll actually already have seen the recipes for both of them… Given that the vast majority of people who come looking for this site are actually seeking buttercream icing, that’ll be next.

The women’s resources, on the other hand, are quite different and much more serious. The post is all about the Women’s Resource Centre and the wonderful things it does to support women’s organisations and lobby the Government.

Oh, and top of those I got in a quick piece about the Islington Contemporary Art & Design Fair, which fellow design fans ought to enjoy as it happens over the next few weekends.

Next on the list:

  • Quick travel guide to Rome
  • A piece about a very talented UK baker who’s now launching her own business
  • A savoury recipe (I know!)
  • A post on a cute cupcake bakery (no, there can never be enough)

Just as soon as I have time to write them.

Travel guides, bluestockings and a baking hiatus

Remember a few posts ago, before it all went gallbladder-shaped, that I promised to link to a travel post on Bruges I was writing for BitchBuzz? Well here it is. I’m beginning to form a similar post on Rome in my head at the moment, and being Greek I have plenty to say about visiting Athens. In a funny way, I’ve only learned to appreciate Athens as a tourist in the last few years; as a child it was a procession of relatives’ houses, syrupy preserved fruit and the odd smell of lavender and mothballs… but that’s for the memoir I’m a little too young to write.

I’ve received a copy of Jane Robinson’s Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education to review for The F Word, too. Luckily I have an awful lot of reading time on my hands, being more of less pinned to the sofa. I’m alternating between the above and Robert Löhr’s excellent Secrets of the Chess Machine, sent to me by a thoughtful friend.

Although I’m getting up to walk around as much as possible and trying to get strong very quickly, public transport is still an issue when the slightest carrying weight or jostle to the side causes a wave of pain through my torso. Frankly, even lying still can do it sometimes, and though movement is not so difficult now, sitting up in a chair for long periods tends to make the upper two incision sites pull, throb and itch. I’m blogging lying down, having felt I ought to do something for Dogs Trust. I miss my job! At least the bloody awful pain in the shoulder has stopped; it’s caused, somewhat improbably, by left over CO2 in the system after the operation (you’re inflated with it during the procedure) and is totally excruciating. I’ve now weaned myself off the painkillers because I’m really precious about medication; I simply won’t take anything I don’t desperately need. I never touched the codeine I was given and took the paracetamol until Sunday – since Monday morning, I’m drug-free. And sore. And missing the swimming and jogging I’d recently finally convinced my wobbly bits that they could do.

So the above paragraph should explain the baking hiatus. I won’t be able to cope with standing and hefting baking trays for a few more days. I’ll be back in the saddle – work and baking – on the 1st of September, although I hold out some hope I’ll be able to go in on Friday if things improve faster…

Bruges, Bitchin’ and Bladder (Gall)

Stuff has been happening, as is the way of things.

Firstly, I went to Bruges for a long weekend and it was restful and full of food. Photos will flood Flickr as soon as I get around to extracting them from the camera. Lots of cobbles and faux-artistically angled shots of buildings, of course. That, however, lead to my next piece of news which is the beginning of a travel column on BitchBuzz. The working title is Bitchin’ Travel – it might or might not stay that way. I’m starting with Bruges but planning to cover Rome and Athens next, then possibly Barcelona. After that, wherever I think of next that I have anything to say about. Although I’m starting the column, I’m hoping to get talented readers and other members of the widely-travelled BitchBuzz team in on it; obviously between us we have a lot more scope for covering good destinations than one of us alone. Being a transatlantic team doesn’t hurt either.

Links to the column will appear here when it’s up; I’m just tidying up my first post now. I’m trying to catch up on my general writing commitments and widen the net a bit, which is why I’ve also signed myself up as one of a pool of potential reviewers for The F Word, which is pretty exciting too. BitchBuzz, incidentally, has just seen its first anniversary go by. I’m very pleased for the founding editor, Cate Sevilla; her hard work knows no bounds when it comes to her baby and it’s really paid off.

Which leads me to my final bit of news. Which actually has nothing to do with the other two, but which I feel like writing about. I am likely to need my gallbladder removed. I’m seeing a specialist on Monday; the gallstones were actually discovered accidentally while I was being diagnosed with Epstein-Barr (call it glandular fever, or mono, if you prefer) but since then there have been symptoms, etc. Anyway, the point is there are great balls of bile and cholesterol blocking up my gallbladder, and the big medical guns need to decide whether to hack out the little bagful or not. Frankly, I’m all for it – don’t need it, don’t want the symptoms to degenerate into a full-scale attack (which they’re pretty likely to). We shall see.

And that’s pretty much it. But feel free to fill me in on what you’ve been up to.