It’s the age old argument: should mums go to work or stay at home with their children. I wrote this 10 years ago for Business AM. My thoughts haven’t changed – and neither has the environment for working women. What are your thoughts? Will any government actually get this right? Or should it be up to individual employers to manage the situation?

I’M a working single mum. My day starts at 6.30am when I get up, feed the dogs, cats and fish then get showered and dressed before wakening my soon-to-be four year old daughter to get her ready for nursery. I drop her around 7.40am then exercise the dogs in the park before returning home to get ready to start work at 9am. At lunchtime I make the dinner for that evening, exercise the dogs again, return to work and finish around 5.15pm when I go to collect my daughter from nursery. I play with her, feed her, bath her, read her a story and cuddle her in bed till she falls asleep, usually around 7.30pm. Then I feed myself and sit back down at my desk to get through some more work before crashing into bed around 11pm. That’s after exercising the dogs in the garden before turning in for the night.  The alarm sounds too soon and it’s back on the treadmill all over again.

I work hard: I took just nine days maternity leave. But I devote quality time to my daughter. I feel guilty enough about working as it is without picking up my paper to read that a couple of male researchers believe I’m jeopardising my daughter’s future academic potential in the process. How dare they?

“Entitling parents to more time with young children can be justified as potential investment in the labour force of tomorrow”, said Professor John Ermisch, co-author of the report for the Rowntree Foundation. I don’t class myself as a female chauvinist, but that is a typical male comment.

Doesn’t he understand that without a labour force of today there won’t be a need for a labour force of tomorrow? The economy needs working mums.

Leaving your child in the care of somebody else when you return to work is probably one of the hardest things a mum can do. I get a pang every day I leave Jazz at nursery, I truly hate it. I don’t know a working mother who finds it easy. But for many mothers working full time is a necessity, not a choice. They need the money to care for their family and they shouldn’t be castigated for making that sacrifice.

Trundling out 30-year-old statistics is not helpful. And it certainly doesn’t give an accurate picture of the situation today.

What annoys me most is that studies like this produce lots of statistics and findings that can be manipulated virtually any way they want. Authors make sweeping generalisms – “the children of mothers who working during the all important pre-school years are less likely to pass A-levels and are more likely to be unemployed and to suffer psychological stress” – but all they do is raise a problem and then sit back to wait for the next research project to come along.

I want to know why they don’t take it one step further and offer solutions. Surely the whole point of doing research is to find a better way of doing something? Or am I just being naïve?

Suggesting that mums stay at home is hardly the solution the country needs. It doesn’t address the fact that business needs women in the workforce.

Whining about the effects on children doesn’t solve the problem either; it purely aggravates an already delicate situation. If it’s truly that important, then why not pay mums a good salary to stay at home with their children, not a miserable few pounds a week child benefit or family credit?

There are too many mixed messages out there. On the one hand we are told of the need to encourage women to return to the work force to meet the skills gap we are facing. On the other, we are told that would be detrimental to our children’s future.

Working mums have a crucial input to our economy, now and in the future. The government should be funding research into creating more innovative ways of making it possible – not just possible, easy – for women to work in a flexible environment, and for their children to receive quality childcare at a cost that doesn’t swallow up their take home pay.