Pilot flies from Essex to Sweden for childcare to avoid giving up her dream job

Many parents will sympathise with the nightmare of juggling childcare around work. One single mum, who works as a pilot, has told how she has to fly her daughter to SWEDEN to get her to childcare. Maria Pettersson, from Chelmsford, Essex, has shared her story as a full-time working single mum in a bid to show how she juggles her high-flying career and parenthood.

The mum, 38, was determined not to give up her dream job when Alice, two, was born – and thanks to her job, she can easily make the long journeys. She is supported by her mum Kristina, 67, – who loves to have Alice stay – although she lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Maria said: “Alice has probably been on more planes than most people have in there entire lifetime and luckily for me the jet engine sends her to sleep.

“It can be a struggle balancing motherhood around my job but I am lucky in the fact I have lots of childcare options.

“My mum has just retired so I fly Alice over to her house which is in Gothenburg, Sweden which is where I’m from – the longest commute to child care EVER.

“Everytime I’ve flown Alice over I’ve always been a passenger, never the pilot and she spends the whole journey fast asleep on my lap.

“I normally head over to mum’s with Alice and stay over for a few days so Alice is settled and comfortable, we take our time, it’s never rushed.

“I didn’t plan on being a single mum but I’ve absolutely made this situation work with the people around me while co-parenting with Alice’s dad.

“Although my mum does the majority of childcare, I’d like to add Alice’s father Tomas looks after Alice too and so do his family.”

“I’m lucky as the airline I work for so don’t do layovers, however, most days I have to leave the house at 4.30am and won’t get in until 6pm.

“I will normally start at 6am and fly to somewhere like Dublin, then over to Alicante and back. Sometimes I do night shifts which means leaving at midnight while Alice is asleep.

“It’s long and tiring but I’m lucky enough to have a babysitter who’s willing to come over so early. We’re really close to her now, Alice knows her well and loves her.

“After pregnancy I really wasn’t sure how it would work around Alice. However, I think being a parent you’re always struggle trying to find a way to make things work.

“People like to complain that it’s difficult to organise around a shift pattern but I try my best to prepare in advance to make things easier.

“A couple of nights a week I will meal prep and freeze it for Alice so it’s just there for the babysitter to grab. When I cook I do big batches and it helps me organise.

“And because of this, it means I don’t have to cook every night!”

Maria’s hectic schedule can mean long hours away from her daughter but this mum makes it work and wants to encourage other mothers to pursue their careers even around having a family.

It comes as many parents are grappling with an escalating crisis in the UK childcare sector – as a survey earlier this year revealed childcare fees have risen to an unmanageable level

Two-thirds of respondents to a survey published by campaign groups Pregnant Then Screwed and Mumsnet said they were paying as much or more for their childcare than for their rent or mortgage.

Maria added “Alice may not quite understand my job yet but she is fascinated with airplanes and when one goes above her she points and says ‘it’s mummy!’

“On social media I have a very spread out audience all over the world so I get a mixed reaction.

“Some people say you should be home with your kids, but I’m a single mother so I need to pay the bills!

“Other than that, the reaction is absolutely great with people rejoicing that I’ve shown that you can go back to work and don’t have to give up your career.

“I can’t wait to explain it to Alice once she’s older, I want to make sure she knows she can manage a career, or a family, or whatever she desires – she can do it all!

“I’ve also spoken to younger women at work who were concerned about having a family around the job and it’s made them realise they can do both.

“Family does not stop you from being a pilot, or any other career. I have amazing friends and family who have supported my decision throughout.”