Mums, are you 50+ and ‘economically inactive’?

Wow, did you know that in the UK 3.6 million 50+ es are economically inactive (not in work or on benefits, or paying taxes, much more to the point) and the Treasury is telling us to get off the golf course. GET OFF THE GOLF COURSE??!! How dare they assume we are leading a life of leisure? I was caring for my mother for 2.5 years, and like many other women carrying that burden, I was without any remuneration. Oh, unless you include a paltry carer’s allowance of 2.5k. Where’s that going to get you?  Then after she died, the money all dried up instantly as I was coping with probate.

Madeleine blogger

50-somethings have to get creative, you may have to think ‘portfolio’, ‘lonewolf’, ‘consultant’, ‘entrepreneur’. I became a ‘mumpreneur‘, setting up my own home-museum which flourished but it wasn’t sufficient of an income.

As I was looking for additional part-time day-time work, and finding it surprisingly hard to get hired, I realised business wasn’t keen on Old Spice. We’ve all survived something by the time we’re 50 – The 3Ds I call it – Death, Disease & Divorce. We’re damaged goods and employers can smell it. I was rejected as a Prison Librarian, a TA in two Primary Schools, a health food shop assistant ‘It’s very strenuous decanting the bulk containers’, a cafe ‘No offence, but it’s up and down stairs all day’, Sainsbury’s ‘You need to do Saturday shifts’ (and I had a younger child), and 2 tutor roles.

I went on, feeling out of options. I was hoping for something to pop up, and pop up it did. ‘Guardians wanted for driving children’. I thought: hate driving, but I like children, I can do that… and it would make the car justify its existence. A charismatic mumpreneur at Kids Services, Lyndsey welcomed me with open arms and after DBS checks, DVLA checks etc had come back clear, I was launched.  It started with 2, then increased over 3 years to 5 children aged 4-7, driving locally to 3 different schools, and keeping on top of all the interlocking holidays, illnesses, trips, shows and half days. The bubbly conversations kept me motivated as I slugged my way through the excruciating Putney traffic, crossing Putney Bridge at peak hours, 4 times a day…

For some additional income, I was finally recruited as an ‘Activities Assistant’ in a care home on £8.90 p/h. The dregs, right? The Lead was on £9, and carers had to do 12 hour shifts to make it pay, while Management swanned around in shiny suits and sleek Mercedes. Until Covid struck. Said Management told us they preferred we didn’t wear masks because it would alarm the inmates while we could all see the Italian authorities in hazmat suits on the news dealing with the carnage. The care home’s policy was clearly greed-driven; anything but spend money. November 2018 – January 2019, nobody had died. But 9 residents died in February – March, they suffocated gradually over about 2 weeks. There was no coughing, no correct cause of death noted. I had to resign. COVID also reduced my driving and breadboard museum to toast, because of  indoor group restrictions, so I started stripping the house of antiques and selling the museum collection.

Effing golf courses…

Once we pulled through the COVID, having sworn never again to drive across Putney Bridge between the hours of 7am and 9pm, I determined to join the phalanxes of the Walking Elites. But Life doesn’t seem to work like that, not for me anyway, and threw me another amazing opportunity – yes – driving again. I am now proud to announce I am for the first time in 7 years, a fully PAYE-D up member of society.

If there are some dossers out there, the ones with decent pensions, like the train drivers and doctors and foreign office people, well, they deserve it after 30 years of hard graft.

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