More than half of stay-at-home mothers wish they could go out to work but feel trapped by a lack of suitable childcare, a major Government study has found.
Yet – at the same time – a third of mothers who do have jobs would rather quit work to look after their children if they could afford it, the research carried out for the Department for Education found.
The contrasting dilemmas faced by working families are set out in an annual survey of almost 6,200 parents to help shape Government policy.
Overall, survey results suggest that 79% of families in England with children aged 0-14 use some form of childcare on a regular basis, equating to almost 6.3 million children. Of these, around 40% rely on informal childcare, such as close friends and relatives.
The findings come as the Government plans to encourage up to half a million more women into work by expanding access to childcare.
The survey found that if they could afford to, 54% of working mothers would work fewer hours so they could care for their children, while 36% would give up work altogether.
But at the same time, 53% of non-working mothers said they would prefer to go out to work if they could arrange good quality childcare that was convenient and affordable.
Among those who had recently returned to the workplace, the common reason given for doing so was that they had been able to find a job with enough flexibility to allow them to combine work and childcare, perhaps suggesting that flexible working is key to encouraging more women into the workforce.