What is it with nurseries and their crazy opening hours? Perhaps it’s just the ones near where I live, but none of them seem to stay open past 6pm. That’s if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, it’s 5pm.

I’ve never ever had a job where I didn’t have the best part of an hour commute door-to-door. And I’ve never had a job where I finished working before 5.30pm, usually 6pm. Even when home time arrives, there is the obligatory few minutes where you round off the day’s tasks, shuffle papers and basically try not to look like a work-shy clockwatcher who’s waiting for the big hand to hit the six.

Shooting out of the door on the dot of half five is frowned upon in many offices – so really we’re talking about a working day that ends at 5.45pm or 6.15pm. OK, that gives me two minutes to get out of the building, 12 minutes to fly home and one minute’s grace before we go into bank-busting overtime. Now where did I leave my time machine?

Who exactly are those mothers who finish work at 5pm then make the leisurely ten minute stroll to their nursery? What do they all do? Where do they work (and can they give me a job)? Do they just spend their days shopping? This a mystery I have yet to solve.

Life is hard enough for working mothers. We go to the office, half-dead from lack of sleep, with porridge on our sleeves and snot in our hair. We have to apply mascara on the Tube, while other people stare at us. Commuting should be a break for us, a chance for us to catch up on reading trashy novels and London Lite. Not 45 minutes of blind panic and shallow breathing as we will the Central Line not to grind to a shuddering halt yet again. We need nurseries with long opening hours, so we don’t arrive at the gates panting and sweating, and then find we’re being charged another tenner for those extra five minutes after all.

Maybe longer hours would be tough on nursery staff. But aren’t they supposed to be providing a service for the rest of us? Couldn’t they work shifts? Or are we the only people out there with such difficult lives? Answers to these questions and more on a postcard…

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