Working when you have had a baby can be daunting. Childcare costs a fortune, the days are long, and you are probably asking yourself, why bother returning to work?
Reasons why I returned to work when I had a baby
A break in my career was not an option.It would take years to get back to the same point.
My qualifications, skills and experience are important to me.Gaining a qualification is a huge financial and emotional investment. Not putting these to good use not an option.
It is good for my mental health.I get to spend the day being just me.
Working when have had a baby is challenging! Mum guilt is a huge thing and to be honest it was not something I was even aware of. That was until I joined my local Mums Facebook group. For the first four years of being a Mum I was guilt-free! To put it into context it was like drinking a bottle of calorie free prosecco, it was great!
Fast forward to 2016 when I joined my first Mum’s group on Facebook, whilst it is a brilliant source of information on local days out, what to do in every possible baby scenario you can think of, and what to cook for tea it was also very clear that my local community was full of Mums feeling guilty because they worked and other feeling guilty because they stayed home with their kids. That’s at least 5,000 Mums who have guilt within a 20 mile radius of me.
There is no right or wrong answer, what works for me, will not work for you.
Back to the topic of working when have had a baby.
There are advantages and disadvantages to working when you have had a baby. Each scenario should be considered in the context of your situation before you make a decision.
Advantages of Working when have had a baby
You are earning an income
I do not have to explain this one too much because I think it speaks for itself. Every situation is different, you might be a single parent, main income earner, secondary income earner, or earn the same. But we all have our reasons for going out to work and earning an income. Working when have had a baby may even encourage you to retrain and change careers.
In some careers a break of any length (including maternity leave) is hard to recover from. Each family’s financial situation is different, and for some this could be a deal breaker.
It is good for your mental health
Imagine being able to drink your tea or coffee hot, eat your lunch in peace, go to the toilet alone, and actually feel like you have achieved something at the end of the day. Enough said.
You get to be someone other than Mum
One of the things I love about going to the office is getting out. Wearing office clothes, doing my hair, and speaking to people who know me as a professional is a big deal. Nobody at the office knows me as Mum. Nobody at the office needs me to cook for them. Nobody at the office takes my pens or post it notes.
Expensive childcare is not forever
For the first two years expect to pay out the bulk of your income in childcare costs. For most, the only help with childcare costs in those first two years is the Tax Free Childcare Scheme (assuming you qualify).
Once your child turns two you should see a small reduction in costs as the child to adult ratio requirements reduce. You maybe entitled to some funding for your two year old.
If you survive the terrible (terrific) twos, there is joy to be had the term after your child turns three. The 15 hours of childcare funding arrives. You may also be entitled to an additional 15 hours. This means your child can go to pre-school 9am to 3pm, 5 days per week during term time for free.
Three year old funding only applies to term time so you would still have to pay for any additional hours however you can pay for these extras using your Tax Free Childcare.
If you have a child born before the end of August they are entitled to go to school once they are four. Again you would still have to pay for before and after school care but this should be covered by Tax Free Childcare and the bulk of your childcare costs should reduce.
You get to use your qualifications, skills and experience
It took me seven years and thousands of pounds (dollars actually) to qualify as an Accountant. I worked full-time throughout my studies to pay for my qualifications – it was a huge investment in me at the time and I never want to throw that away.
I have about 20 years of finance and IT experience under my belt now and it feels really good to put that to good use at work. I get to work on complex problems and help develop solutions for them – that puts me on the ‘proud cloud’ most days.
Disadvantages of Working when have had a baby
It might cost your more to ‘go’ to work than what you earn
If you have started to look at your childcare options you will know that it is not cheap. I have written an article on childcare options for children under two which should help you to make an informed decision.
Childcare costs are not the only costs which add up in your cost of ‘going’ to work – travel costs, expensive memberships, and uniforms can all lead to additional costs. Try and see what costs your employer may cover through their expenses policy or see if you can work remotely to reduce travel costs a few days a week.
If you feel like you have been treated unfairly because of having a child at work. I encourage you to contact Maternity Action. Don’t suffer in silence.
Childcare might not fit with your work pattern
If you work an unusual shift pattern, work irregular hours or simply have a long commute it might be a challenge to get a daily routine which is achievable.
Make sure you consult your employer’s family friendly policies to understand what flexible working options are available to you.
The fear of missing out
This is on page one of the Mum Guilt list. What happens if I miss…? First words, first steps, concerts, festivals, open days, and sports days. These are just some of the many things we worry about missing. Now my children are starting to get older they really understand that I cannot be there for everything. If I can move heaven and earth to be there, then I will.
I remember when our eldest had his first nursery Christmas Party and parents where invited to come along. I dutifully booked half a day of annual leave and arrived promptly at the start time. I expected the car park to be overflowing with other parents doing the same. The reality was I was the only parent there for his age group. He slept through the entire thing. The moral of the story is do not assume you are always missing out. Don’t assume the other parents are going to events when you are not.
Sometimes you feel like you need a collie dog…
When I arrived with my twins at preschool this morning, one of the Dads watched me struggle to get the girls out of the car with their bags all the while they are each talking a hundred miles an hour about what they planned to do for the day while I tried to wrangle rain coats on them. I laughed to myself and mentioned something about cat herding, he suggested a collie dog would be a good option for the school run. Luckily I made it back home in time to actually start my paid job and thankfully we are all working from home at the moment otherwise I would have an hour commute post dropping the girls off at pre school.
If you remember what it was like every time you tried to leave the house with a new baby, how much planning it took, how much stuff you needed, and everything you needed to remember it can make you realise how far you have come on your cat herding journey.
The key is to be planned and organised but with the new school year only three weeks in, maybe I need to try harder.
Keeping your house clean and tidy, and family fed becomes a fine art
In our house this goes hand in hand with the cat herding. Cleaning, tidying, meal planning, grocery shopping, activity planning, and the laundry mountain are just some of the plates which require juggling in the precious few hours you have before and after work.
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