Are you cutting your maternity leave short due to money worries?

(104 Posts)
RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Mar-13 10:22:26

According to research published today, a third of new mothers are planning to return to work after just six-eight months on maternity leave because of financial pressures - Telegraph article

The survey, which was carried out by, also shows that one in three expectant mothers will receive only statutory maternity pay.

Justine is quoted in the Metro article on this, she has said "There are all kinds of financial pressures on parents, whether it's the dip in salary whilst on maternity leave or the rising cost of childcare. It's great to budget if you can, but hold fire on buying a multitude of baby products in advance."

What do you think? Does this ring true for you? If you've cut your maternity leave short because you're worried about money, what effect has that had on your home life? And do you think the government's doing enough to support new parents?

I went back to work after 18 weeks' maternity leave because that's how long I had full-pay for. There is no way we could have managed on one wage alone, and I earn slightly more than my husband. I'm extremely lucky to have great family support so DD has spent time with her grandparents whilst we've both worked full-time.

I'm torn about the government support. Part of me believes very strongly that families should stand on their own two-feet and support themselves. But part of me also acknowledges that society needs families to be supported so that they produce children who grow into loving, motivated, disciplined and self-reliant adults.

Businesses should support families more, because long term, if the motivated, hard working parents have children, those children are the employees of tomorrow. If your best workers don't have children because of financial worries, where are the employees going to come from in 20 years' time? Because it's highly unlikely they will come from a background where parents don't work, aren't motivated and are reliant/expectant of state support to live.

Oodsigma Tue 26-Mar-13 10:54:53

I'm going back at about 7 months incl AL as I'm the main earner and we need my wages. I can only justify that long due to the AL/KIT days boosting my pay. I have also had bad SPD & complications from my C-section meaning I need a few months at least to recover post birth before fit enough to do my job. I am also high risk for PND and going back into a job which exasperates that so I need to be strong that way too.

I would have liked to transfer the rest of my leave to dh but he's on a zero hours contract and we are unable to.

Carolra Tue 26-Mar-13 10:59:33

I would have liked the full year off work but we couldn't manage it financially. Its not worth dwelling on, but I did feel sad and resentful at the time. We're hoping to have a second at some point in the next couple of years and we're already saving for my mat leave so that I can hopefully have a full year.

FreelanceMama Tue 26-Mar-13 10:59:39

I went back to work after 6 months leave, but then my partner took 6 months as Additional Paternity Leave. It was partly due to financial pressure (my self-employed work is very well paid and can be done from home so no commuting costs and I only got maternity allowance for those 6 months) but also because we wanted to share the leave between us. If I'd been an employee I would have taken the full year but running my own business makes it harder to take such a long break from clients.

In hindsight, I would have liked to have had longer on leave, or gone back to work fewer hours, but I think it worked out well for us as a family and we're shifting to both work part-time. In a strange way, learning to live off one combined salary is a good thing because we're realising that we were spending money without thinking before, and hopefully it will help our children learn good financial habits. We've borrowed lots of things rather than buying them and making good use of the free services, like the children's library and play sessions.

leniwhite Tue 26-Mar-13 11:00:41

I'll be going back after only 4- 5 months because I'll only get maternity allowance, no way we can survive on my OH's self-employed income for longer. Although I've worked for the same employer for 2 years plus, my contract was changed in December, meaning I didn't qualify for full pay after leave starts.

mamageekchic Tue 26-Mar-13 11:33:23

I'm the main earner and my company offers only stat mat pay. I had to return to work when DD was 8wks, she's almost 2 now and barely a day goes by when I don't regret/resent it.

sleepyhead Tue 26-Mar-13 11:39:42

I'm planning on returning after 6 months as opposed to the 12 months I took with my first child.

This is partly because I'm the higher earner this time around (dh made redundant a couple of years ago and when he found another job it was considerably lower paid) and so it makes sense financially for me to return sooner, but mainly because I can share the leave with dh so he's taking the second 6 months - 3 at SMP and, if we can afford it nearer the time, 3 unpaid.

If it all works out then dc2 will still have one parent at home for 12 months so I'm happy with that.

I have felt under pressure to work much closer to my due date because of returning sooner (will finish at 38 weeks + 3, take 1 week annual leave and start mat leave at 40 weeks if dc2 not here before then) and the last few days have been quite tough, but the end is in sight.

For my family I think the financial and practical support that my employer has given me has been good. I feel valued and empowered to be flexible in a way that best suits our circumstances.

Dh's employer is not so good and I still worry that he may lose his job in the 6 months I'm off and therefore we'd be under pressure for him to find something else, anything else, and not qualify for him to take the leave as planned - we'd be stuffed to find good childcare at short notice for a start. Fingers crossed that it all works out.

I'm really glad that we don't rely on SMP solely. We'd have struggled. We don't qualify for any other financial assistance other than CB although we might get some childcare help with two children (joint income is around £36k) - I'm dreading entering the maze of tax credits again though and possibly with UC coming in it'll all have changed and we won't be entitled anyway.

Sonnet Tue 26-Mar-13 11:48:58

I cut both my maternity leaves short in 1997 and 2001 due to financial pressure. I took 18 weeks split pre and post in 1997 and 22 weeks split pre and post in 2001.
Both times I had SMP - no enhancements from Employer who incedently I am still with.

I regret it and still resent it.

BeCool Tue 26-Mar-13 11:50:44

I returned after only 6 months with DD2. I would have loved longer and it was not ideal being separated from an EBF baby just as she was weaning.

I had 8 months maternity leave with DD1 - better but still not as long as I would have liked.

In both cases my return to work 'early' was 100% for financial reasons.

BeCool Tue 26-Mar-13 11:51:33

To add I received SMP only, and had the same employer for both lots of maternity leave.

Welovegrapes Tue 26-Mar-13 11:58:03

No, because I think taking the full year is really important to the baby. We are lucky enough to be able to afford this, though we will not be flush.

Happiestinwellybobs Tue 26-Mar-13 12:04:10

I took 7.5 months off after adopting DD. I added on two weeks AL beforehand and 2 months AL at the end of my adoption leave. I would have liked to take off more but was already concerned about my drop in salary due to going back part time. I was lucky however to receive 3 months of leave at half pay + SMP.

I'm currently on maternity leave and have saved to take a year off. However last maternity leave 4 years ago we saved up so that I could take a year off too and then DH, who was self employed at that time, found himself suddenly with no work. It just completely dried up. We were in a horrible situation financially and I have as a result been very mindful of that happening again this time.

Even after I had returned to work last time, DH remained unemployed at home but we were torn between whether to continue getting into more debt paying for childcare for DS in case DH suddenly picked up some work, or giving up his childcare and saving the cost at the risk of DH being unable to respond to work offers. There are long waiting lists for childcare where we live and we have no family support - ironically because our work took us 3 hours away from where our family is!

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Tue 26-Mar-13 12:14:05

I went back at 8 months, and increased my hours due to dhs going down.

SuffolkNWhat Tue 26-Mar-13 12:21:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cupcake78 Tue 26-Mar-13 12:28:30

I'm self employed so only entitled to sma. Will be going back to work within a few months of dc being born.

opalescent Tue 26-Mar-13 12:30:05

I am today writing to my employer, to notify her of my intention to return after my 26th week of mat leave. I'm extremely sad and anxious about it. Much more so Than I anticipated before my son was born.
The idea of being away from him so much, at such a young age is very unnatural. Unfortunately the sums simply don't add up if I drop to SMP only.

craigslittleangel Tue 26-Mar-13 12:33:09

I went back after 9 months, but was lucky that my OH looked after her till she was 18 months and then she started nursery.
This time round, we have kind of assumed that I would go back to work again at 9 months. But my OH is self employed and he hasn't really worked in the last 18 months. As I am employed, my salary will be the only reliable money coming in, so this may change.

DolomitesDonkey Tue 26-Mar-13 12:33:09

There is a massive difference between being ENTITLED to take 1 year off and actually being financially able to do that.

Nobody, but nobody "owes you" the right to a full wage for a year for being at home. Good if you get it - but back in the real world...

Each and every one of us has to live to our own budget.

Mandy21 Tue 26-Mar-13 12:44:00

I think its really sad that people have to go back to work so quickly. During both pregnancies, we cut back to the absolute max so we could save and I could have 14 months off 1st time, 12 months the 2nd time.

People often save for a holiday / car / house renovations etc but don't apply the same principles to covering maternity leave. Why is that?

Neeko Tue 26-Mar-13 12:49:33

I went back after six months with DD1 and nine months with DD2. I'd have liked longer with each, but I think most parents would, however long they have.
I consider myself be extremely fortunate as my employer has allowed me to work p/t (three days per week) until August when DD2 will be 3.5 and starting anti-pre. Financially this has all only been possible due to DH doing a very stressful job with ridiculously long hours. Given the choice I'd have gladly gone back f/t earlier if it would have meant DH working less and us having more family time. Given the current financial climate I think we've been much luckier than most overall though.

sleepyhead Tue 26-Mar-13 12:52:00

Because a lot of people don't have the money at the moment to save for a holiday / car / house renovations Mandy.

Because not all pregnancies come when you think they will and 9 months isn't enough time to save enough to cover a year's leave.

Because even when you do save money (as we have done) to try to cover some of your missing salary, something else pops up to bite you on the arse and you're glad the money was there, but it hits your plans.

It's a great idea to save in advance of maternity leave and people should definitely do it, if only to get used to having less disposable income, especially with a first child, but sometimes it's just not possible.

GetOeuf Tue 26-Mar-13 13:00:22

I went back to work purely for financial reasons when dd was 3 months - it was in 1996 when I only had 18 weeks ML, and had to take 6 weeks off prior to the birth.

That, and the fact I was skint from paying childcare costs for years is primarily the reason why I only have one child.

Ironically I now work somewhere which pays full salary for 6 months , half salary for a further 3 and people moan like hell when they drop to statutory for the last 3 months. The maternity provision now is so much better than it used to be. But it is still hard for many people, especially with the crippling cost of living nowadays.

That said, though, I don't regret or resent going back to work. Yes it was very hard at the time but dd and I are very close and my going back to work so early has had no detrimental effect.

BikeRunSki Tue 26-Mar-13 13:26:41

I went back to work after my second child in January. Unlike with the previous ML, i took the three months unpaid time because it was cheaper not to be paid than to have two in childcare. I went back to work to keep job available to me (I work in a specialised field of a profession with high unemployment), but until DS goes to school, I am only just breaking even.

BikeRunSki Tue 26-Mar-13 13:28:19 which I mean that the contribution of my salary to the household as a whole is no greater than household expense of childcare costs.

Scrazy Tue 26-Mar-13 13:40:49

I had my only child in 1994. Like the last post, you had to take 6 weeks prior to due date then had a further 3 months. All on SSP, I didn't even get the 6 weeks at 90% because I hadn't worked for the same employer for 2 years (I had actually 13 years service) but had a 2 year break travelling and working for someone else.

I was a mortgaged single mum and it sucked tbh. It was only when I started my current job that I realised how much maternity leave had changed. I think people who are able to take 6 months on full pay then a further 6 months are working for very fair employers.

GetOeuf Tue 26-Mar-13 13:44:32

Scrazy yes I only qualified for maternity allowance (or whatever it was called) and not 90% of full pay as I hadn't worked there for 2 years. And WHY was it required to spend 6 weeks at home before birth. I tried to argue to stay at work longer but it was inflexible - I had to stop 6 weeks before my due date.

I think it is rather unusual to have an employer pay 6 months full salary. I look at that and think it is brilliant in comparison with what was available when dd was a baby.

MorphsMum Tue 26-Mar-13 14:03:18

Am a single parent. Took 7 months' maternity leave including annual leave, I was lucky to get 4 months on full pay. Honestly debated whether I'd be better off quitting job and going on benefits, to care for two DC full-time. Decided to go back to work and my income is now pretty much half WTC/CTC and half earnings, and half of total income goes on childcare! Nonetheless I would prefer to be working part-time than SAHM, personal choice.

dinkystinky Tue 26-Mar-13 14:07:15

I took 6 months mat leave with DS1 and one month unpaid parental leave - and the same with DS2. Now pregnant with DC3 and planning on having 6 months maternity leave plus an additional 3 to 4 weeks of annual leave to mean I have 7 months off with this child too. I have saved up in advance and budgeted for this maternity leave - but cant make the sums work with taking any additional time off.

Patiencedeficit Tue 26-Mar-13 14:11:50

I have taken the full year but that is because once I return to work and pay for full time childcare for my 2 children, and I have also paid for the train season ticket there is actually very little left... Long term it is worth it but it's a fine line.

AmandinePoulain Tue 26-Mar-13 14:17:40

I'm going back in 7 weeks when dd2 is 9mo. I'm 'lucky' in that I got 8 weeks full pay, 18 weeks half pay + SMP and then 12 weeks SMP. I was also lucky that dd2 was born at 37 weeks and I had a lot of AL to use up before I finished so she'll be 9mo when she starts nursery, and I finished work at 34 weeks. I saved up very hard to manage the last 3 months (to the earlier poster who compared saving for ML to saving for a holiday - there is a massive difference in 3 months salary to a holiday hmm). I would love to have a year off but we just can't afford it. I've got a friend who only got 2 months full pay before dropping to SMP, had I been in that situation I would have had to go back far sooner.

With dd1 I could only afford 6 months, but then dh was able to work flexibly at the time so she didn't have to go to nursery until she was over 1. This time that isn't an option, so I'm glad I have been able to take longer off.

I have mixed feeling on this really. Whilst I love being off, and wish I could have longer, I don't really see why I should be entitled to take a fully paid year off. There's no physical reason why I can't work, yet I think that spending time with my tiny dd is very important. Plus she's breastfed, and she's reluctant to take bottles but she'll just have to! It's a tough one!

boardingschoolbaby Tue 26-Mar-13 14:19:56

Yes absolutely- I will be taking off 6 months only as we can't afford me to have longer off. I am the main earner in our household, and I only get 6 weeks maternity pay so any longer than that and we would start to need to get into debt which is hardly a good way for family life to begin; back to work it is, using onsite child care plus granny and grandad taking the baby for two days a week.

Thurlow Tue 26-Mar-13 14:26:46

I went back after 9 months mat leave, so DC was only 8 months old. We barely managed to get by on minimum statutory, we wouldn't have managed another month or two without my income.

However I'm not sure that there is much more than anyone can do about the situation. In the current climate, increasing statutory maternity pay will put a lot of smaller firms at risk, or disuade them from hiring women. And I would rather the money went to other public services, or turning the economy around. Or looked at the costs of childcare overall.

missorinoco Tue 26-Mar-13 14:50:20

I went back earlier after my third child. Despite cutting back everything we couldn't afford me to have time on SMP.

TantieTowie Tue 26-Mar-13 15:04:09

I went back after six months with DS, and six weeks with DD. I'm self-employed and didn't want to lose my main client the second time around. But working from home meant I could have her with me all the time, and I'd work around her sleeping in a sling (which meant she used to sleep for a few hours at a time) - and it was lovely. When she started to be more awake I had to draft in a nursery, so she started at 9 months and still goes for three days a week.

I do pay so much in childcare for those three days a week now that she's aged two that I worked out recently I could simply not do quite a lot of my work and not have childcare and the result would be the same. I'd be sacrificing quite a lot of progress I have made in that time in my work in order to achieve that though, and would also end up doing my work in evenings/naps - doing it less well and risking losing it.

girlsofsummer Tue 26-Mar-13 15:20:34

I am main earner and went back at 6 months both times (closer to 7 months with No 2)
I could only afford to take this long (as opposed to 3 months) because my employer has a general additional maternity pay policy. However half of the money is held back until I have been back at work for 6 months (like a bonus) so it is conditional. With the last mat leave I took a loan to cover the fixed costs and paid it off when I received my return to work “bonus”.
I didn’t want to go back to work at that stage of my baby’s life either time but nor do I waste time regretting it. It is easier for the child to settle with a childcarer at 6 months than it is at one year so I am not sure I entirely agree its “better for the baby” (although not denying it might be better for baby not to go back to work at all). Its easier to get back into the swing of work after 6 months than one year (I would guess, I found it a big readjustment both times, more so after No 1).
I don’t think employers should have to pay for a year’s mat leave. I do think working FT with a baby aged under a year is very hard work physically (breastfeeding, lack of sleep etc) but you just have to be prepared for that.

girlsofsummer Tue 26-Mar-13 15:24:40

PS for anyone reading this thread who is feeling guilty at not being able to take the full year off I don’t think my relationship with my children has suffered because I went back to work at 6 months or from working FT. I still used to carry them both around in a sling every evening up to about a year old while I did dinner etc, kept up the BFing with both (one of them until 9 months, the next 15 months). Had them in my bed every night so always felt very attached (and still do feel this way, 3 and 8 years old now).

Scrazy Tue 26-Mar-13 15:33:25

GerOeuf, when you look back it was quite bad really. I had to get her on bottles and sleeping through the night at 10 weeks or I don't know how we would have functioned.

I think the answer is affordable childcare for all depending the families needs, as well as a reasonable amount of maternity leave.

GetOeuf Tue 26-Mar-13 15:35:06

I did what you did girlsofsummer.

I wanted to spend every spare moment I had with dd when I wasn't working, so I carried her around and she slept with me for ages. She also didn't have a particularly early bedtime so I could spend the evening with her (went to bed gone 8 or so). I also didn't have any social life away from her - which I know sounds a bit mad but I had no desire to go out with others after work anyway when she was little, plus was also studying when she was asleep so was too knackered. So my social life and friendship circle did suffer, but that was no sacrifice really (or didn't feel so at the time).

GetOeuf Tue 26-Mar-13 15:40:40

Yes the thing I did feel bad about was giving up bf and transferring her to a bottle. I couldn't get the expressing to work (those bloody hand cranked machines from the 90s were no good, and manual expressing only managed to get out a few drops). Plus I wouldn't have been able to express at work - if I had requested that I think they would have looked at me in horror.

I was very lucky in that I didn't have another child to worry about giving attention to, and dd's father fucked off so I didn't have to worry about him as well. All meant for a very insular life for a few years (work, baby, study, sleep) but looking back I was very happy with my tiny family unit. The only alternative to working was going on the dole and I just really didn't want to choose that, I already felt rotten about being a young single mother without adding benefits to the mix.

I was also very lucky in that dd was a good sleeper from a tiny age. She still is a good sleeper at 17!

But looking back in reality I only think I got through it because I was young and had boundless energy. It was very hard, hence why I have never done it again. The thought of all that work in my 30s - makes me tired thinking of it. So hats off to people who do this for one, two, three children. It must be incredibly difficult.

Mandy21 Tue 26-Mar-13 16:40:40

Amandine sorry, I wasn't saying that a holiday is the same as a baby, I was just saying that people should be able to budget for the drop in salary in an ideal world. I know there are unforeseen circumstances, but surely its down to being a position to be able to afford a baby before you even start trying (or am I turning into my mother hmm? Its not as if maternity leave comes as a surprise!!

I was a postgrad student when I got pg with DS (born in Aug 2010). Because I was finishing my course and doing some university teaching I didn't get a 'real' job until July 2011, when DS was 11 months. I'm pg again now and due in Aug 2013. I will get 2 months on full pay and any additional maternity leave will be paid at statutory rate. I am currently doing a lot of extra freelance work to try and save up some money for when I will be off work and MIL has agreed to take on DS's childcare (she currently does 1 day a week but will now be doing 3) while I am off which will be a big help financially.

With all of the extra work and the reduction in childcare costs I think I can afford to take 6 months plus annual leave, giving me a total of 7 months off. I can't really complain because I know ladies who have had to go back after 3 months but the fact of the matter is that cost of living - groceries, petrol, hikes in electric / oil prices, means that I am worse off NOW than in 2010 when I was a student (albeit on a funded place) and can't afford to take as long off.

Saundy Tue 26-Mar-13 16:46:39

I earn more than DP so am planning to take 5 months off & then have DP take over for the second 5 months when it changes to the minimum payments.

His job has started to look uncertain & if he moves he won't qualify for APL & if he finds himself unemployed there is no MA equivalent for him. I'm worried that if either of these scenarios happen I'll be forced into taking longer leave & we will be financially worse off.

There is not enough flexibility.

leniwhite Tue 26-Mar-13 16:59:45

Mandy - we had to pay for IVF (I'm only 32) so that was a huge chunk of savings, we both do ok for wages but we're currently paying £1350 pcm for rent before any other bills in London, so we saved a deposit so we can buy and cut that monthly outgoing down and be more secure. The whole reason I needed the ivf was because we waited to be financially stable before trying for a family.

We don't have a car or any debt whatsoever but there's a limit to how many things we can save for really on limited income. It's not as if we have lots of children or live beyond our means, but if we had to choose between me going back to work earlier than is ideal and not ever having our baby at all I know what I'd choose.

I also worked up until Friday and I'm due today, so I've done every possible thing to make sure we're not struggling. I'm also waiting on some money I'm owed for work I did in 2010 which we'd factored in so there really is no way to make sure it's all totally fool proof.

BraveLilBear Tue 26-Mar-13 17:20:49

I'm planning on going back after 7-8 months (including AL and KIT top-ups). I say planning because I'm currently 23 weeks and could end up signed off ill up to 11 weeks before EDD, which would trigger ML.

All being well, I plan to work until 37+4.

I find it incredibly frustrating that I will not be able to spend longer with my first DC - until this month, I have been the higher earner, and now the difference is negligble.

With the boost in salary, I could afford to have a little longer off, but OH is insisting that I go back after 7-8 months so we can save up to move to a better area in time for DC to start school - the schools near us are pretty bad.

It is all about choice, agreed. And in making the choice to have children, we decided to not get married first (would take too long to save as we're both in our 30s) and I have spent the last year without spending money on myself eg clothes and hair etc in order to pay off debts. In about 18 months, I'll have clawed back several thousand pounds by just living with the basics. Before this DC is due, I'll be £250 a month better off as a result.

It still upsets me though when I see women with lots of children on council estates (not a sweeping statement, I live in a city with very high unemployment) - I suppose it's jealousy - but then I chose this life, they, presumably, chose that one. You really can't have it all.

DeafLeopard Tue 26-Mar-13 17:25:50

Back in 1999 I had to return to work when DS was 9 weeks old as we only got 6 weeks at 90%.

I bitterly resented it and feel that it was a major factor in my PND and still feel the same to this day.

But we had no choice it was purely a financial decision.

Autumn12 Tue 26-Mar-13 17:40:58

I am hoping to take the full year but it will depend entirely on how we manage financially.

I'd love to be able to save for it but unfortunately we just moved before I found out I was pregnant and all of our money right now is going into paying off move related debts and getting our home as finished as we possibly can before the baby comes. We have damp that needs to be sorted out and other jobs that we have to get sorted out.

DD is 20 weeks old. I'm going back to work next week.

I really don't want to, but we can't afford to exist on SMP and my partner's min wage. I earn more than him, so I"m going to work, and he's going to provide the childcare. We don't have any family who can help us out.

To the poster who said people should save...Well, we did save. £500 a month for the 6 months of pregnancy (i.e. once I knew I was pg!) However, when you're £600 a month off meeting your basic bills, that money doesn't go very far.

When I do go back, we'll still be £300 a month short of meeting our bills, so DH will have to take a weekend/evening job.

God knows what we will do when/if we have no.2 . Probably take a loan out or similar to cover us for the maternity leave period.

I don't expect the govt to provide but it would be nice if childcare was cheaper and it made it worthwhile for both parents to work. IF both of us go back to work and use childcare, his job will bring in £100. I'd rather not have the £100 and have my DD have the input of ONE of her parents in these formative years.

Childcare is a joke. And it's very obvious when you have no family you can use for free once or twice a week. Very jealous/envious of those that have that option.

With DC1 and DC2, i received 6 mths full pay from my employer and went back to work immediately after the 6 months was up. One of my biggest regrets really. In hindsight, i could've taken a bit more time off but at that time, i was worried that the financial implications of not doing so outweighed the benefits of staying home.

With DC3, i took the full year off and it was one of the best things i ever did. I was lucky to receive 6 months full pay. In addition, from months 7-9, my employer paid me 15 percent of my usual salary. That, plus money saved up from not spending on commuting costs, childcare etc throughout the year, especially during the months i received full pay, enabled me to stay home for the full year. We had to dip into my savings towards the end but it was minimal.

Have just started mat leave with DC4 this month and plan to follow exactly the same plan as with DC3. Again, i am very lucky that i get good maternity pay but the difference is that DH is facing redundancy over the summer. Given that his redundancy pay is likely to be rubbish, and that we depend on his salary to pay the mortgage, i am worried. However, this may be my last mat leave and i am determined to make the most of it with my children. So if it means dipping into our savings considerably more than we would like to, then so be it.

Aam more worried about how to cope with childcare costs when i return to work full time TBH.

It really does feel harsh that if you weren't working and you got pg you would qualify for a council flat and benefits but if you are working you get 6 weeks at 90% of your salary and then you're down to stat pay, esp when you possibly have a mortgage / rent / council tax / utility bills to pay, a car to run etc etc.

I work in the community sector and some of the ladies I work with (and i am also v friendly with) do live in council houses and lived off benefits when their kids were younger and they still manage to have money for holidays in the USA, new clothes, getting their hair done etc. when people struggling with mortgages etc. can't afford any 'luxury' items and are under a lot of financial pressure to return to work when they have very young babies.

scarlettsmummy2 Tue 26-Mar-13 18:01:43

We could have just about managed for me to take the extra four months, but I didn't want the stress of worrying about money, so went back.

aufaniae Tue 26-Mar-13 18:15:08

LittleMissSniwShine do you have to use this thread to spread that kind of rubbish, really?

Implicit in your post is the idea that working peoe should be jealous of people on benefits, which is, quite frankly, bollocks. Most people's experience of benefits if out of work, is of a very demoralising, difficult time which they are desperately trying to get out of. It certainly was mine! I had much more disposable income when working than I ever had or is possible on benefits. Being on the dole is really, really tough. I'm sick to the back teeth of hearing this nonsense about people living the life of Riley while on the dole. I don't know how the people you know managed holidays to the US but it's so far out of the reach of the reality of families with no income from work as to be laughable.

Please, take your fantastical digs at people on benefits elsewhere, that's not what this thread is about.

aufaniae Tue 26-Mar-13 18:35:22

Anyhow, back to the thread topic!

DC2 is due in 2 weeks. I have no idea how long i'll be able to take off. I'm not entitled to any mat leave, SMP or benefits (besides CB and CTC) as I'm an intermitting student. I'd love to take a year off (like last time) but we'll just have to see how it goes. DP is also a student, just about to finish so it depends on what job he gets and how soon! No pressure there then! ;) we're lucky though that our outgoings are pretty low, and also we rent a room to a friend, so I'm hoping we can manage.

When I had DS 4 years ago, I discovered by accident that my bank (Halifax) did mortgage holidays of up to 6 months as standard for maternity, all you had to do was ask and present proof. I'm so glad we found that out or we would have really struggled. Instead we simply didn't pay the mortgage for 6 months, and I was able to take the whole year off, which was really valuable to us as a family. That time really is so precious,

FierceBadIggi Tue 26-Mar-13 19:37:06

I've taken the full year. Credit cards are a wondeful thing. With dc1 we took first two years off between us, dc2 not going to be so lucky.
As well as cost of living being higher, we've had a pay freeze for several years and aren't eligible for tax credits under new system, which we had with dc1. Also had savings before we had first child, years of part-time working means we had none this time round.
Also paying off the doctor who helped us have dc2!

Signet2012 Tue 26-Mar-13 19:41:48

I am returning to work in May, I have taken the 39 weeks. My maternity package was 6 weeks at 90 percent and then the rest at statutory.

However, I am taking a wage cut of around 700 pounds per month so in effect I will be returning to work to earn what I get now on SMP.

My previous role was FT (approx 60 hours per week) permanent on call situation and taking work home with me. Not prepared to do that with a lo.

I am going back to do two night shifts as a basic level support worker (3 levels lower than my previous role) on minimum wage. Its going to be hard, Im not totally sure how we will manage it. I don't have any childcare options and I would be working to put a child in nursery. It doesn't work with the hours I would need to work. Its upsetting that my hard work to progress has been for nothing but its not realistic for me to carry on that role whilst having such a small child. The night shifts mean I can stay awake at work all night, then come home and have baby all day, going to bed on the evening when she does - not sure how realistic this will be!

Next time round I will save more, if possible! I really don't want to go back to work at all, whether its 3 months or 12! Never thought I would say this but I would love to be able to stay at home with her but in this climate its not an option for us.

Svrider Tue 26-Mar-13 20:04:08

I had to go back when dd was less than 4mo due to finances
She was EBF and I couldn't express milk
Had to wean her early, so i could work

GirlOutNumbered Tue 26-Mar-13 20:06:13

Yes, am going back wo work in a months time. DS2 will be 7.5 months, I feel he's too young to leave, but have little choice.

Whatwhatwhat Tue 26-Mar-13 20:14:34

Self employed. Took 3 weeks first time around and will do the same this time.
No regrets. My business/clients would be gone if I took any longer, too competitive.
Breast fed morning and evening til first was 15 months old.

Iggly Tue 26-Mar-13 20:35:47

Yes with my second I went back when she was 9 months. My first I went back at 15 months. It was harder second time around as dd felt too young. I think children generally do better with their parents so it kills me to go to work. This society is incredibly selfish and narrow minded - we don't value the part that our children will play. They are our future. Instead we see them and anyone who has them as a burden, our working world revolves around making us and them adapt to what is essentially a mans world.

Rant over.

MadamGazelleIsMyMum Tue 26-Mar-13 20:52:22

I am going back after 6 months plus AL. This is the second time I will have done this. It is for financial reasons. I am the main earner and I am paid an enhancement on statutory maternity pay. However, if I didn't have generous parents and grandparents, I would have had no choice but to go back after 6 weeks. I will be working FT. I will find it hard to start off with but am happy with my childcare arrangements and do enjoy my job, plus it is a necessity, so I will get on with it. Am grateful for 6 months with each of my babies. More time would have been lovely, but financially impossible.

BettyandDon Tue 26-Mar-13 20:58:53

No I saved £20k before I had children and I'm not yet planning on going back. It's been nearly 3 years.

expatinscotland Tue 26-Mar-13 21:00:39

After 'just' 6-8 months? That's quite generous, IMO.

Bridgetbidet Tue 26-Mar-13 21:11:27

I took 9 months leave + 2 months leave. I was only on maternity allowance as I hadn't been at my work long enough. That was £500 a month. Got no further help with tax credits etc as my previous years earnings were too high.

Just about squeaked through but it was very tough.

Treats Tue 26-Mar-13 21:17:44

With DD, I went back at six months - mostly through choice.

Currently on mat leave with DS, and I'll be returning after nine months when my 39 weeks SMP runs out. As long as I'm getting SMP, then I'll earn more money than I will by returning to work and having to pay for a season ticket and two lots of childcare. Honestly, I'd probably prefer to return after six months again, but financially it doesn't stack up.

ThePskettiIncident Tue 26-Mar-13 21:25:24

I went back to work earlier than I wanted at 9 months because I couldn't afford not to. Only received SMP and scrimped the whole way through. I wasn't ready to leave my DS in childcare for 50 hours per week. It was more hours in nursery than with me, and as a single parent that felt so so wrong.

mrscog Wed 27-Mar-13 06:11:46

I took 58 weeks off - full year and holiday. I was helped by where I work offers an enhanced package - 18 weeks on full pay. We also saved a lot for 3 years before, and we only live on our lowest salary anyway (dh's) to prepare us for if we lose jobs/have emergencies etc in the future. I do appreciate that we're lucky to do this.

In actual fact even though I took over a year, I was desperate to get back to work around 9 months (boredom), so I could have taken less time.

PseudoBadger Wed 27-Mar-13 07:54:18

I was talking to a friend today who I haven't seen since she had her baby 10 weeks ago. She is a vet with her own practice and she was back at work 1 day after giving birth shock

aufaniae Wed 27-Mar-13 09:01:48

Can I ask, are people aware that you might be able to take a mortgage holiday while on mat leave?

For those of you who have mortgages and feel forced to return because of money worrys, it could make all the difference.

Not having to pay the mortgage for 6 months was great, it meant I could take the full year off.

FreelanceMama Wed 27-Mar-13 09:24:01

I've been thinking about this a lot since the discussion started - especially the impact it has on the decision to have another child or not.

One major effect on our life is that we are living in a one bed flat and may do this for several years (with our son having the bedroom), because the lower rent means we can afford to look after our child between us i.e. both work part time. But being in such small accommodation does have its consequences - cabin fever in the cold/wet weather, constantly needing to tidy up, no privacy.

I don't think it's realistic for me to expect anymore from the government under the current circumstances in terms of increased maternity allowance, but I do think attention should be paid to women (and their partners) who fall through the gaps. E.g. I nearly missed out on any maternity pay whatsoever because I wasn't earning enough to have to pay Class 2 National Insurance, and did seasonal employed work so didn't qualify for SMP. Luckily I figured it out in time to pay voluntary NI, but I know other women haven't been so fortunate. Or, as the poster above says, there may be mortgage holidays available that they don't know about.

I wish there was ante-natal support for financial planning to help women through this, help them see what their options are early on, and help them fill out the relevant forms, etc. I found it really stressful trying to work it out on my own while combating morning sickness and it's an emotional business!

aufaniae Wed 27-Mar-13 09:55:12

"I wish there was ante-natal support for financial planning to help women through this, help them see what their options are early on, and help them fill out the relevant forms, etc"

This is a brilliant idea.

Babybeesmama Wed 27-Mar-13 10:15:31

Yep sad I wanted the full year off but am having less. I have 3 months of statutory now & we are really struggling financially. X

GetOeuf Wed 27-Mar-13 10:59:19

I don't know what mothers in America do - I presume that they routinely go back to work when the baby is 3 months as that is the longest the employer has to keep the job open. And they don't have a penny maternity pay by law. And I think that some small companies are completely exempt from having to keep the job as well.

So in comparison to America we are very fortunate in this country. I remember being astounded when I worked for an American company the small leave entitlement, maternity provision and frightening hours culture. They used to think us Europeans were a lazy lot.

dinkystinky Wed 27-Mar-13 11:05:58

Sil lives in the US - she actually gave up work as soon as she could after having dd (had to go back at 4 months to avoid having to pay money back but finished up work 3 months later) and started freelancing when her dd was one. Its what a lot if her colleagues in that field ended up doing too.

dinkystinky Wed 27-Mar-13 11:08:17

PS sil worked for the UN who were v generous employers by US standards as far as mat leave went (both duration and pay).

duchesse Wed 27-Mar-13 11:23:17

I returned for money reasons (ie had to) after 3 weeks back in September 2009. I work freelance in a service industry that was badly hit by the recession and had had hardly any work through 2009 (until, bizarrely I was in the labour ward when I got three work phone calls in the space of 2 hours) I was tempted to say yes I turned them down.

duchesse Wed 27-Mar-13 11:24:12

And as for what effect that's had is difficult to say as her birth was a bit of a car wreck anyway but I do think I haven't bonded with her as well as I did with her older siblings.

MrsExcited Wed 27-Mar-13 11:40:47

We are saving up hard to afford the maximum maternity leave possible!

For me to take 6 months off we need at least £1500 in the bank to cover the slippage in my wages, for longer we will need more.

We both earn about the same (good money) but we also have large expenditures, as i don't want to move house, we can not afford for our income to drop too low

As i have just had a miscarriage we will continue saving and may be able to afford for me to take longer! its funny how these things can turn into a positive!!

Now to get pregnant again!

bigkidsdidit Wed 27-Mar-13 11:52:01

I had 6 months full pay last time and will this time too (am 30 weeks pg); dfifferent employer but both universities. I am very lucky.

we couldn't afford the drop to SMP after that but frankly 6 months was enough for me at home, I found it very isolating and lonely and was glad to go back.

mrsbungle Wed 27-Mar-13 12:31:03

I would have loved to take a full year off with both of mine but was unable to because of financial reasons. I did not get one day of full pay from my employer (LA) but I did get 3 months half pay and then SMP for the remainder. I had to go back when SMP finished - we couldn't afford to have nothing at all coming in from me.

girlsofsummer Wed 27-Mar-13 13:37:52

Iggly – I hear what you are saying in your rant but I don’t think the value people place on their children can be measured by whether their parents go out to work or not. I certainly have never seen my children as a burden – quite the opposite - I do know what you mean all the "Mothering is so hard" crap you hear but I hear that equally from parents who are at home longer as those who have to go back to work. I agree children would prefer to be with their parents most of the time (and great if you can afford it) but studies have proven it is not whether a parent works outside the home or not that makes a childhood good. Its far more complicated than that. Working to support your children is an act of love just as much as anything else you do for them is. What I mean is there is no point beating yourself up and being miserable – better to spend the energy trying to make the most out of the arrangement, finding a good balance if you can and maximising the time you do have.

notcitrus Wed 27-Mar-13 13:50:41

As a civil servant I got 12 months leave, half on full pay, then 3 months SMP, then 3 unpaid. I went back at 11 months partly because of the money but also I knew my work was quieter over the summer so could ease my way back in. After dc2 I took the full 12 months, but getting the good mat pay was the only reason I stayed there until getting pregnant with dc2 - I've just worked the time required after returning so I don't have to repay and will be jobhunting shortly. Though actually I've changed roles and enjoying it now, so will only leave for something better, whereas when I got pregnant again I was desperate to leave.

CandlestickOlder Wed 27-Mar-13 18:41:00

Where in the civil service do you get 6 months full pay?!

Friends in the public sector elsewhere get 90 % for 6 weeks and then 3 months at half pay then SMP. Mine is very similar.

I am TTC and money while on maternity leave is a huge worry. I would like a year off but it will be dictated mainly by what we can afford.

It's easy to say 'you save for everything else why not maternity leave too'. Except you ARE saving for everything else plus maternity leave! Saving for a deposit for a home or saving for a car or to rent a bigger place and the baby stuff and your pension and (god forbid!) a holiday and the childcare for when baby arrives.... And some people simply do not earn enough to save.

And - I'm not sure if this is a concern of anyone else's - but I don't just worry about meeting every day expenses on maternity leave. I also assume you spend more on maternity leave - baby and toddler groups cost money as does seeing friends for coffee etc. I could be worrying about this unnecessarily and I haven't been on mat leave before.

CandlestickOlder Wed 27-Mar-13 18:46:14

Re ante natal financial support - I remember this info being given to me at my first mid wife appointment at about 8 weeks. Reminders to plan, details about where to go for info about benefits Etc... It's there - but I wouldn't expect to have someone walk me through it.

PseudoBadger Wed 27-Mar-13 19:11:00

That's what I get too Candlestick. But my friend who is a civilian in the Met Police got 6 months full pay afaik.

AmandinePoulain Wed 27-Mar-13 19:18:35

Candlestick yes you do tend to pay for baby groups and swimming and things, but that's counterbalanced by never going out in the evenings and spending less on your commute.

TheDetective Wed 27-Mar-13 21:07:16

I will be going back when my baby is 5 months ignores fact this is in 4 weeks.

I do not want to. But my partner earns £500 a month. I earn more than 4 times this.

My maternity pay is relatively generous in that it was 'full' pay for 8 weeks, 18 weeks half pay plus SMP. Then just SMP for 12 weeks. Then no pay for 12 weeks.

I saved up for my maternity leave.

I had to save for the 4 months with the £700 drop in them. If I wanted another month off, I'd of needed to save an extra £1500 per month off minimum.

I worked all my holidays when pregnant to save the extra money.

My mortgage do not allow you to take a payment holiday unless 80% LTV or less also ingores fact LTV is 120 fucking % grrr.

I had accepted I would have to go back with a baby that still doesn't sleep through the night.

What I didn't expect was to not yet have recovered from the birth itself. I have worried and worried and worried for months. Praying for a miraculous recovery. It hasn't happened.

So, my options are to go back, and be in poor physical health, and unable to perform safely the job required of me. And to be exhausted doing shift work full time with a baby who isn't sleeping yet and who has medical needs.

Or to be off sick. I feel terribly guilty that it looks like I will be doing that. I suspect I will be accused of all kinds. But the truth is, I am not able to safely do my job, and if I make a mistake, it is life or death. And my career at stake.

I am not sure how my own mum coped. She went back to work with me when I was 8 weeks. I take my hat off to her.

Most days I can't remember my name. My baby is 4 months. I hope this gets better. I can't fucking remember from my first child.

TheDetective Wed 27-Mar-13 21:08:26

I should mention that I get 'full' pay (it isn't full pay due to losing unsocial enhancements as I will have been on maternity pay - it will be about £300 less than usual) when off sick. This is my only choice. If I am not physically able to return to work due to a birth injury, then being off sick is the only option.

BlueFishWonder Thu 28-Mar-13 08:23:44

I have moved jobs inbetween since my first DC and now pregnant with dc2. With DC1 I had statutory and additional payments and took 9 mths off. I was hoping to do the same this time around, however shortly after falling pregnant my DHs work position significantly changed, I also now only get statutory payments, therefore I will be returning to work initially on a 'consultancy basis' at 3 - 4mths going back full time at 6mths. So yes in short financial situation has changed my plans quite significantly.

Mandy21 Thu 28-Mar-13 12:10:23

I think its much cheaper being on maternity leave – in my case anyway. No commuting costs, no lunch costs (well, not pricey sandwiches etc anymore), no after works drinks. Our social life came to an abrupt end too (we had twins!) so no meals out (I think we managed to eat at a cafe at a shopping centre when they were about 6 months but had spent 2 hours walking round to get them to fall asleep beforehand!), no drinks on a Friday night. No just popping out on a Saturday to browse round the shops etc. No alcohol (was breastfeeding).

higgle Thu 28-Mar-13 16:57:36

I went back to work when both of mine were 8 weeks old, and took 3 weeks off prior to birth both times. Being self employed I couldn't stay away much longer and tbh I was climbing the walls with boredom after a fortnight. They have both turned out very well, so no judgeyness please!

Noideaatall Fri 29-Mar-13 22:23:31

I will be going back after 3 months. I don't want to, but I've go no choice. No mortgage holidays for me. No savings either as my outgoings use up every penny of my wages.
Going back to the prospect of running up more debt paying for childcare. I still haven't paid off the debt I ran up when I first started work with my first - he's 12 now...

notcitrus Sat 30-Mar-13 13:28:08

Candlestick - central Government department, also have been there more than 2 years. The mat pay was one reason I went there.

I found I saved a fortune - £25 instead of £120 a month on travel, smart clothes not needed, given washable nappies and piles of baby clothes, time to cook and shop around and buy reduced stuff, and going out hugely curtailed, so few restaurants or theatre - some increase in laundry, takeaways and ready meals, and coffee and cakes with other mothers, but that soon became biscuits to take to others' houses. More expensive after no.2 as new mums don't want an older child about and your previous mum friends have all gone back to work (mostly after no.2), so more play cafes and outings with coffee infusions.

But first year after ds was definitely less cost than I got in child benefit. The cost goes up every year though.

aufianae - These are not fantastical digs. I'm as left as they come but the reality is, for a woman, working conditions are not easy when it comes to working and balancing family life whether that is maternity life or working when you have young children who are not at school age.

If you are not in a great job with stability, permanence, flexi time, childcare vouchers and good maternity benefits but instead work in something a lot shakier (as many of us do) having young children and being off on maternity leave can be very tough, both with your emotions, your time and your finances.

I know from experience and from the frontline work that I do with mums on benefits that many of them are in an easier position since they are not worrying about their mortgage, what happens if their boiler breaks down, paying a childminder. I'm not saying that they have it easy, they certainly don't have a lot of spare cash. But the reality is that neither do I and neither do a hell of a lot of people on this thread. The supposed government policy is to support working families. I can't say that I am feeling a lot of support.

So maybe you want to look at your own fantastical notions that anyone who feels a bit hardchanged by that is automatically some kind of benefits fascist? This thread IS about people having to make tough decisions about returning to work sooner than they would like because the financial reality is that they have to do this and I do think it is worthwhile asking whether we are better off being in work rather than just being on benefits - financially and emotionally speaking - and if the difference is negligible, maybe we should be asking the government why that is the case.

DolomitesDonkey Sat 30-Mar-13 18:28:52

LittleMissSnowShine has articulated it so much better than I'd initially tried to - but I want want to reiterate - extended maternity leave (for those that want it- and not all of us do!) is usually the preserve of those who "married well" or those on benefits.

Some of us are just trying to get by month to month.

I have had 2 children and went back to work when they were both 13 months old. Have a 2.5 years age gap and We saved to allow me to have as long off as physically possible without losing my job. Was the one thing I wouldn't budge on.

Even when DP was made redundant when I was on maternity leave I refused to go back until I had my 13 months. Didn't get in debt to do it, just careful planning.

I couldn't imagine going back after a matter of weeks, I had health complications after DD1 and would have struggled with anything other than being in my pjs 6 weeks post birth!

Mandy21 Sun 31-Mar-13 12:45:19

Dolomites Sorry, thats just not right. I took extended maternity leave with both of my pregnancies - 1st time around, I was entitled to 6 months paid leave (6 weeks at 90% and then the remainder at half pay) but I had 14 months off (6 months paid, 7 months unpaid and 1 months leave). I lived off SMP however and put the extra in a bank account that we didn't touch because the "extra" was treated by my employer as a loan and if I didn't go back (and stay for 2 years) it was all repayable. We could only afford to do that because from the time we'd got married knowing that we wanted a family, we put every spare penny into a savings account specifically for maternity leave. I didn't marry well (well not financially anyway!) and I'm not on benefits, we just saved. Second time around, we saved again from the time I was pregnant, but couldn't save as much because we already had children in nursery and I was part time, but we really scrimped so I could have 12 months (9 months SMP and 3 months unpaid).

Waspie Sun 31-Mar-13 13:07:51

I went back to work when DS was 4.5 months old. I got 6 weeks full pay and 12 weeks at 90%. I also had savings that I'd planned on using to pay the bills in order to give me 6-8 months off.

However, I found that I was getting stir crazy. I tried doing the "mother and baby" stuff but it was mind numbingly boring. So I went back to work were I could engage with people whose entire lives didn't revolve around nappies or how much weight baby had put on in the past week and actually use my brain again.

I used accrued leave to return for 3 days a week for 3 months. I was/am a much better parent for having returned to work.

Mandy21 Sun 31-Mar-13 13:16:52

waspie it was obviously your choice to go back when you did but please don't imply that anyone who wants more time off is only concerned with nappies and baby weight. Thats simply rude.

Agree with what Mandy just said waspie

Waspie Sun 31-Mar-13 16:24:32

I don't care what either of you do Mandy21 and "sleepingbunnies*. I would hope that you both do what is best for your health and your children's welfare.

I was concerned for my own health, and my own babies welfare, and as I couldn't cope with life I was leading on maternity leave I went back to work. My choice.

Waspie Sun 31-Mar-13 16:25:12

argh.... baby's welfare. I only had one.

Mandy21 Sun 31-Mar-13 18:28:24

waspie I get that, its a personal choice, of course it is, but your post is disingenuous in setting out that people who enjoy their maternity, or who aren't itching to get back to work, are only concerned with nappies and baby weight and didn't use their brain. Thats what I objected to, not that you went back when you did - thats your decision. Just don't insult people who don't make the same choices as you.

FierceBadIggi Sun 31-Mar-13 18:53:25

Waspie saying that's what suited you is absolutely fine, but you didn't say that first time, was a clear statement that being at home with the baby does not require use of your brain.
I often think how long you need to be at home for depends on the baby you get - if you are still up multiple times a night at ten months you may not want to be back at work as soon as someone whose baby slept through at 6 weeks!

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