...to be really struggling with this work/life/children decision?(36 Posts)
So, basically, I am really unsure about when to go back to work and what is going to be best for my family.
I have 2 dcs - a 2 year old and a 5 month old and I've been a SAHM since my oldest child was born, although I think of myself as being on a career break! It's definitely my intention to go back to work at some point in the nearish future, part time at first. I don't think it will be too hard for me to get a job, but may be hard to find part time.
My DH works pretty long hours (out of the house 7am-7pm minimum, and often longer), so he couldn't help with nursery drop off and pick up.
I've been thinking about looking for a part time job for September, when my youngest dc will be turning 1. In order to do this, youngest dc will go to nursery for 2 or 3 days a week (depending on whether i'm doing 2 or 3 days), as will oldest dc, although they will have 15 hours free by then). I've done a rough calculation and I reckon, with childcare costs, I will be making roughly £200-£300 per month by working.
Money is pretty tight for us at the moment. We're not at a point where we can't pay the bills or buy food, but things are just generally a bit tight, as in we couldn't go on a holiday and we're building up a bit of debt (but still paying it off gradually each month). We also talk about money A LOT at the moment, and it's a bit miserable. Longer term we will be fine, once we both working full time again.
I don't really want to put dc2 in childcare at 1, but we would if it made sense for all of us. I don't mean that as a criticism towards anyone else's choices or decisions; it;s just how I feel, and DH agrees with me.
So would you go back to work this year, or next? I do quite enjoy being a SAHM because I see it as something I'm doing while the children are very little, before I get back to work a bit later.
I should just clarify that when I said I don't think it'll be too difficult for me to get a job, I meant because there are quite a lot of jobs in my particular field (teaching).
For 200-300 a month I personally wouldn't, unless the job had good promotion prospects, or training that would help get a better paid job later, or other benefits. I think the extra stress would outweigh the extra money for me.
Although... when you say we're building up a bit of debt (but still paying it off gradually each month)., do you mean your debt is going up or down? If going up due to basic living expenses, I would take the job, I wouldn't want to be getting into debt with a young family.
In your particular situation I'd say do it the year after. I usually always say get back in there while you can so you don't get out of the loop or miss work opportunties and I think it's important for women to earn their own money and ideally have a career they love. But if you're confident you can get a job you want, do it and take the hit for another year.
Only you can say how much financial and relationship stress it could cause however...
That sounds like a great idea. I went back to work when my dc1 was 1. It's not a bad age to do it. She had started really enjoying the company of other kids, and was in a setting with two kids the same age who have become great friends (still, 2 years on and despite moving away!). I think she got a lot out of some independent time away from me, and I actually enjoyed going back to work. Doing pickups and drop offs every day can be a bit tricky, (I also do that) but if you find hours and location to suit, it sounds like a great plan!
I would, but that's because I need to. I suck at being stuck at home with a child every single day, I find I'm a better mum when I've had a break. In fact I put my DS in nursery on one day I'm off so I get some time off...that's horrible of me isn't it
If that's not a concern and it's just for money, well it depends how much you need the extra £200. I still would because that's money you can use to do nice things with your DC, like a holiday
If you went back to work and say after 6 months decided that it wasn't working out and took a bit of a break, would that have a negative impact on your CV? If it doesn't then I would suggest going for it and see how it works out.
Also for your DH's working hours, does he have to work such long hours, or has he got into the habit of doing it because he can as you are at home? I would suggest that even if you were to go back p/t it makes a lot of sense for him to be involved in some of the logistics i.e. even one drop off a week, more if possible.
Couple of reasons for this - the drop offs and pick ups are hard work and it's not great if you are carrying the sole burden of this, also as DCs get older helps him to feel connected to them.
Also if you are planning to go back full time eventually, then will your DH still be working such long hours as if so, that's hard to work full time yourself and do all of the childcare logistics and make sure homework is done and uniforms prepped etc. etc.
Also if you do go back you need to think about what happens if one or other of the DC is sick. I don't know what your profession is, but if you are the one who always takes time off then that might not be viewed kindly, so again your DH needs to come into the equation.
It's not just about the £200-300 a month, it's about your pension, NI contributions and (in my case, ymmv ) the sanity of working.
If you're a teacher, could you keep your eye out for a temporary job - a term or two's work - so you could try it out? If it turns out wrong, you will be able to think of it as short term, if it's a good thing for all of you, you can look for a longer term post.
Make sure you have thought through all the costs. For example, will you need lots of new clothes for work, will you spend more on convenience food etc. also practicalities like what will happen when your DC are ill?
Personally I would choose to stay at home, as your youngest will not be old enough to get any benefit from childcare. Plus I found it stressful getting to childcare and work in the morning and having to take time off for illness etc. But it depends how much you need the money and whether you would enjoy working at this stage or find it a big stress. If the money really is just for extras it may not be worth it.
Have you considered childcare vouchers? My employer (NHS) does them & it reduces tax paid, therefore I earn more than I would without. Makes it more worthwhile economically.
If you're teaching, a term-time CM might be a better option than a 51-week nursery? Some CM accept childcare vouchers & do the 15 hours funding too.
I work 18.75hrs & probably earn about £200-£300 per month after childcare expenses. DP works long hours/away too. Sometimes I do wonder why I do it!
However, I'm also paying into a pension. I went back when DS was 4 & DD age 1. I was glad to escape the drudgery!
18 months would probably be my minimum age limit, if paid work outside the home were truly optional. There are obviously arguments for staying in work etc, but in your case that ship has sailed. So as I'd already incurred the disadvantages, I'd want to maximise the advantages too. And I don't think a few months more would make any difference. I went back to work earlier than that with mine, I've a child younger than that now and do 3 days a week, but without using external childcare. This isn't nursery bashing either, I think they're brilliant and used one for a toddler through choice.
However, if you're a teacher, you might not be able to get something mid-year? So if it was September or nothing, and I liked being a SAHP, I'd probably do some weekend tutoring, exam marking etc instead, maybe sooner rather than later, and aim for a part time teaching position in September 2017. You might find it's more cost efficient to do weekend work anyway, as you wouldn't have to pay for childcare.
I wouldn't, to me £50 a week to have the kids in daycare for 3 days isn't worth it. Plus worth teaching you'll be bringing plenty of work home too. You'd be better off doing a Saturday morning tutoring at £30 an hour.
Thanks for the replies. I genuinely am in two minds about it, because it is stressful to feel like we have no spare money, but it's also quite a big upheaval for only a couple of hundred pounds a month.
hopelessly - our debt is pretty static at the moment, because we're putting a bit on credit cards and then paying it off, but I think it would creep up over time if our situation stayed as it is for too long.
I completely agree about women earning their own money and having a career. My career was important to me and I fully intend to get back to it, but I also feel fine about not being at work at the moment, because that's saving money on child care. I think we've been trying to take the long view that having children is quite expensive and things will be tight for a bit, but that it's worth it for the dcs (which, of course, it is!)
I agree you would be better off tutoring for £200-300 a month. Usually advise people to carry on, to secure their place in the workforce as it were, but here if you can get back in after a few years, there's nothing to secure and it would be better to go back when more optimal money-wise (i.e. they go to school and only pay afterschool care).
Plus with teaching.
Think long and hard before going back to the chalkface, and have a read in the Staffroom forum. I speak as a former teacher who went back after a few years off having had children. I'm now very happy working as a home tutor for children without school places, with teacher t&cs. Excellent hourly rate plus pension. Happy to talk to you about this if got want to pm me.
You say in your OP that you'd like to work part time, and that a part time job may be hard to find. So for that reason I'd start looking this year and hold out for what you want, ie not taking a full time position if a part time one doesn't come up. That way, you give yourself an extra year to find the perfect job.
Does your DH have any flexibility on his working hours?
That to me would be the deciding factor. It's all very well talking about women earning their own money, but not if you're also expected, or indeed expecting yourself, to do absolutely everything else as well.
I was a SAHM for 16 years and loved it! But there are downsides. My DC are aged 7 and 4 are teenagers. I am full time at the moment and retraining. Even with older kids I am finding full time hard work because my husband works awful shifts. I found that 2 to 3 days a week is the perfect balance or both parents doing 3/4 each.
If I were you I would wait. Maybe till school age. Maybe do some tutorING to keep your hand it but don't worry even after a long time out I managed to get back into it although the confidence does take a hit.
I could afford to SAH still just about but now the kids are older find I need that purpose outside of the home and I worry about divorce etc and being able to support myself. Good luck deciding
If it's really stressful to feel like you have no spare money, perhaps you could start tutoring a couple of hours a week before baby turns 1?
Yes, rookiemere - that is partly the reason why I became a SAHM in the first place. DH has to work core hours of 8am-6pm and his travel time is almost an hour. He is looking for a job closer to home though. I do everything else and that would have to remain that way if I were working, at least at the moment.
Thank you for all the helpful suggestions. I have done a little bit of tuition since I've been a SAHM and was thinking that I could earn more doing that for the next year. And I've applied to be an examiner too, which I can do from home.
Thanks supermoon - that sounds really interesting.
How about doing supply for a couple of days a week?
What do you really want? It doesn't sound from your post that you are crazy happy about going to work, and it sounds like financially it is just manageable to stay at home with the dcs. Going back can be great when the time is right for you - but if you are not 100% happy putting your child in childcare, it's going to be difficult.
Going back to work can add many other layers of practical difficulties and frustrations - especially if your heart is not in it. Finding reliable childcare, doing the drop off and pick up without being late, doing a good job at work, what do do when dcs are ill, dealing the guilt. And, rightly or wrongly, that generally falls on mum. Is it worth it for £300?
I have a friend who is a teacher and she once said that it felt odd to be looking after other children just so that she could pay someone to look after hers!
thegreek - yes, those are all the things I'm worried about with going back to work now. Looking at it like that, it's probably not worth it for £300.
I think my ideal scenario would be to work a little bit, but not have to put my youngest dc in childcare until she's 2. But in many ways I almost can't imagine going back to teaching right now. Even going to an interview would be tricky for childcare, plus i'm bf dc2, so I can imagine leaking milk while trying to teach an interview lesson!
But I would also like a bit more money, mainly so DH and I don't have to talk about finances all. the.time.
I don't think what you're considering is a bad idea at all, however...
...you then mention that because of your DH's current hours you'd be doing all the grunt work at home whilst working p/t and facilitating all the childcare arrangements.
If you can manage for a bit longer doing some tutoring/examining until your DH can find something closer to home it will probably make the transition back to work a lot easier all round.
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