Best age (of children) to take career break and be a SAHM(26 Posts)
In a nutshell....I have two children, just 3 months old and 20 months old and I'm about to go back to work 4 days a week indefinitely but I'm contemplating going back 5 days a week to save quicker so I can stop work all together for a year or two. I have a fairly established career which I've worked hard to get, and I'm pretty confident I could take 1-2 years out and be able to find employment afterwards at the same level I am now.
My question to everyone is if you were able to stop work for a year or two what age would your children be ideally? What age do you think is most enjoyable, worthwhile to be at home?
I think it's most difficult to work when they are very young, below 3. I guess being a SAHM is rewarding at any age.
I would stay at home as much as possible now for the 20 month old. I found reading/ chatting/ interacting with them before school one-to-one meant that they were ahead in terms of concentration and reading before they started school. The ones that were 'ahead' in Class R pretty much stayed like that so far (now Year11) so I think doing the 4 days is best .
I'm of a different opinion. A few of my friends found it easy to go back to work when children were very small and wrap around childcare was available but when their oldest went to school they have ended up giving up work. The school day is quite short and getting your child to school, then you to work and then back again before 3:30pm can be very hard. School is tiring and it can be hard for a child to go to an after school club every day or to be one of the few not picked up by a parent. Also, they have homework even from reception and that often has to be done every night.
I think there are pros and cons with any age though but people tell you it gets easier when they go to school but judging by my friends its doesn't.
I'd say infants. The DC tend to be quite illness prone so you have to cover those. Depending on where you live breakfast/after school/holiday club might be hard to find and expensive. There tend to be lots of things on at school for parents to come in to and there are lots of opportunities to get more involved at school. DC start to do more after school clubs that are still afternoon/early evening i.e. they can't to them if in childcare. IME as a working parent this was the hardest time to manage (nursery/childminder is so much easier when they are younger).
I don't think "staying at home" has anything to do with concentration levels at school - if anything the DC that were used to have 1-1 attention at home struggled to adapt to being in a large class at pre-school/school. Assuming the PP means Y1 rather than Y11 (if she does mean Y11, this is just plain ridiculous), she will also be seeing this start to change pretty soon - IME those children "ahead" in Reception were not the same as those "ahead" at the end of Y1
I found it quite straightforward to work (full time and close to full time) with preschoolers, because it's comparatively easy to find day-long childcare (cost is a whole other story)
Once at school, you are tied to the length of the school day, which means either some sort of flexible working, or arranging care at either end of the school day (or both ends). I found that harder than sorting care for whole days. Also, I found that primary age children rapidly develop their own set of after school activities and clubs, want ferrying, want to go and play with their friends etc.
If you SAHM during the early primary years, and do lots of favours to other parents, you'll build a network that can ease your admin if you return for the later primary ones.
It all gets much easier again when they go to secondary.
Just me thinking then about 18 & 20, ideally children at university?
Golfbuggy - to clarify my eldest is in Yr 11 and I knew Class R well years ago - the ones doing well academically haven't changed. Socially they have. There's lots of research to suggest the early years are really important but it's only my opinion. OP I would stick to 4 days now - those early years are special wait til the teenage years!
The older mine get the harder it is work around them. I'd have loved to have been a sahm during the infant years. I've been three days a week since mine were babies and I hope to keep it that way until they leave sixth form college. I want to be there when they're teens and the truly dreadful problems kick in.
Logistically, I think it's easier to work when they are babies/toddlers. Nurseries are usually open for the whole year with early opening and late closing times.
Wrap around care for school age is more tricky I think. Plus you have inset days, strike days and 14 weeks of school holidays to deal with.
I worked 4 days a week from when DS was 1 year until he started primary school.
Nursery hours worked with my working hours and they were open 51 weeks a year. No brainier for me.
I became SAHM when he went to school as I couldn't get childcare. No ASC at his school and the closest one locally shut half an hour before the earliest I could get there. Work wouldn't let me change my hours to accommodate that (whole different story!). Was going to nanny share with a friend but that fell through.
For me, childcare issues meant I had to give up work. Have a younger DD now and looking to return when both are at secondary school.
In child developement terms the classic answer would be before they turn 3.
In terms of fun, crafts, activities, museums and having real influence educationally, probably some time in key stage 2 (age 7-11).
I'm with Manumission and that's why I waited until they'd started school. Those first few years are critical and you don't want to miss out on the baby/toddler stage.
Once they go to school you have at least 6 hours free each day to work/possibly part time and there are before/after school clubs if you need to work early/late. Also there's the added bonus of free "childcare" - you know they are safe for 6 hours each day and it's not costing you a penny
When they are teenagers, as long as there's food in the fridge, clean clothes in the wardrobe and wifi available that's your job done 😐!
I'm a sahm (which my phone keeps trying to correct to sham.... make of that what you will!!!) and always assumed I'd go back to work when they were in school.... however the school day isn't the same as an office day and there's a huge waiting list for breakfast club and after school club at our school (plus I'm not sure how my two would cope with a much longer day - they're so tired already) so it's actually more difficult to get back into work now, not easier. And that's before you factor in the holidays, inset days, half term etc. With hindsight it would have been easier to work when they were very small as nursery would have accommodated our hours and year round needs.
As pp has said in terms of the children's development it's best for them when they're under 3 but that is obviously only one factor in the decision.
I gave up work when my eldest was born but mainly because I couldn't really do my job part time with childcare (teacher). I'm glad I did though it was really hard at times! I returned to cover a few lessons for a teacher off sick when my youngest started nursery at 2.5 and am only just now back full time (youngest is 5). I'd love to still be a SAHM but can't afford to ☹️
Mine is 3 and I work p/t but if I was going to take a year off I think it would be the first year of school.
BUT I wouldn't choose to work five days in order to have 1-2 years off. I love working p/t (I do three long or four short days making 28-30hrs) and I feel it's ideal for my family. We get time together and ds enjoys nursery but isn't there more than he's at home.
I should add - three long days is what my work often needs.
Four short days is what I think is best for ds.
Personally I would say between the ages of about 10 -13. It when they really need you around after school, they're getting too old for holiday clubs and too young to stay at home all day alone in the holidays. They need lots of support to settle in to secondary. Working FT when they're pre-school is a breeze, it's much harder when they're older and definitely when they're coming to the end of primary and starting secondary
Totally agree with previous post. I changed to two half days and DH does one half day and some home working as we found it impossible to get childcare for 11 year old once he started secondary. We have no family in this country. DS1 (have 3 - other two in primary) is quite independent so he has two days at home on his own until we get back from work. He's now 13 but the older they get they have so much after school activity it's hard to manage and I'm considering going more part-time. Plus DS2 is ten and hates going to ASC with younger ones. Looking back managing work was much, much easier when they were in full time childcare and I had substantial family help at that time too but fwiw, didn't feel like it then. Definitely more of a struggle as they hit too old for childcare but too young for being on own.
Thank you everyone, I really appreciate your advice. I've just renegotiated going back 3 days a week for the first 3 months and then 4 days a week. I really wish I could afford to stop work now but I really can't. Bloody hell I wish I'd saved more instead of years spent working and wasting my money.
Best for the child? 0-3
Easier for childcare 3-5 maybe as lots of bugs and teething problems settling into school etc.
Transition stages upper school would also be of real benefit. The ages 9-12 were particularly tough for dd and then 13-15 for DS.
It's never been the right time for me to not be around for the kids as they range from age 4-19 now so I'm A sahm.
Bloody hell I wish I'd saved more instead of years spent working and wasting my money
Gosh me too! Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
I wouldn't waste time regretting anything.
We all decide our own ideal, then aim for the best approximation of it that is realistic and even then we inevitably fall short in some or have our plans changed for us.
You can only pick what you think is best for you and your DC from the available possibilities.
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