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work to earn pennies or be with my babies?

(12 Posts)
SMH77 Wed 15-May-13 20:53:44

This is my first post, so please forgive me if I babble a tad.

My partner and I are separating and we have a 3 and a half year old and an 11 month old, so I need to work out how I'm going to make things work and do what's best for the children.

Prior to having children, I had senior roles, once I had my first child I was able to work part-time but in a less senior role (my first experience of the "glass ceiling" of being a mother - I hadn't experienced this before) I carried this out with success, winning awards for the product I was responsible for relaunching. When I was 8 months pregnant with my second, there were a lot of redundancies and I opted for this as I was living 4 hours away from my work. So here I am now, my daughter is nearly 11 months and whilst I have been doing bits of work for my partners business whilst on "maternity leave" - this is no longer going to work since we are separating and so I am faced with the dilemma . Job to earn, or full-time mum? (or at least I think it's a choice I have the ability/ right to make?)

By default, I have been looking for paid work, but for some reason companies aren't interested in part-time at a senior level (which baffles me as I was cheaper than my counterparts and more productive!) and the thought of spending 5 days a week away from my babies, missing their early development and paying £1,500 in nursery fees for the priviledge makes me feel sick with sadness. I'm applying for income support, rent and council tax support, child tax credits (but they haven't come through yet so I have no idea how much assistance it will be) and without having to pay the nursery fees I may be as well off as working a full-time job. I've paid plenty to the government in my time so far, so don't feel too bad about taking some legitimate benefits.

I am basically after some advice - I don't want to spend the rest of my life (which I will probably spend working) regretting rushing back to work after having had my second and missing out on this fabulous time which will only last for a couple of years and I won't be able to get it back. With some serious spending cut backs, is it likely to be possible that I could survive on benefits as a full-time mum until my daughter gets her government funded education from 3 years of age? Can anyone give me some advice on whether what my heart tells me is the right thing to do, will actually be possible?

Any helpful advice will be very gratefully received smile

ZangelbertBingeldac Wed 15-May-13 21:02:08

I can't offer a perspective on single parenthood and the benefits side of thing.

But I can say that I was made redundant when my 2nd child was 9 months old and my oldest was 2.5. I decided not to go back to work in the short term because my old job was well paid and flexible and any new job I got would be less well paid and full time.

I have absolutely LOVED my time at home with my children, and still do. I'm going back to work next year when the youngest is in school and I look forward to that as well.

I can tell you now, though, that majority of MNers will advise that you really MUST go back to work ASAP.

I saw a thread on here once from a single mother with a well paid job who had been offered a REALLY well paid job that she didn't need in financial terms. Probably 90% of MNers who responded said she should go for it, even though she it meant that a child who already didn't have contact with her father would only see her mother sporadically at weekends.

So take the 'advice' on here with a pinch of salt!

Rockchick1984 Wed 15-May-13 21:28:20

Honestly? Wait and see if you can afford to live on the benefits you will be eligible for before making a decision. My DH works full time but in a low-paid job so we are eligible for tax credits and its still a struggle for me to be a SAHM, there's no way we could survive just on benefits.

Moknicker Wed 15-May-13 21:37:16

Have you started looking and applying for jobs? In my experience, this will probably take a lot longer than you think it will. Once you have a job offer in hand, or even an interview, you can look at the small print of the job and your situation then and take a decision. Until then, you really dont have a choice other than to be a SAHM. You will also be able to work out if you can live on benefits longer term. I dont have any info on that Im afraid.

SMH77 Thu 16-May-13 10:24:43

Thanks for your responses. Yes, I have been applying for jobs for about the past month and so far, I have made it through to final interview with one company and am waiting to hear from the second. The first is yet to come back to me with an offer, so I'm really left hanging. I have asked both if they would consider flexible working. However, whilst I can get excited about going back to work, as soon as a company shows real interest in me, a wave of sadness sweeps over me that I won't be with my babies, but I can work forever more. I just feel that if I leave it for a couple of years, keep my nose in, but take my bubs out of the 3 days a week at nursery and be full-time with them, then when I go back full-time to earn pennies I won't resent taking a pay cut, or going back full-time because I will have made the most of the early days with my kids. If a company offers me a 3 day a week role then I will probably take it, if it works financially with nursery fees, but if they will only offer full-time then I don't want to take something that will ultimately make me miserable. I suppose I won't be able to buy a house whilst on ben's, so will need to stay renting where I am, but if that's part of the choice of being full-time mum then I will take it. Hey ho, lifestyle decisions r us!

Metalgoddess Thu 16-May-13 10:31:18

I think any parent should always spend as much time as is possible with their children.
I appreciate that children need money to keep a roof above their heads, food, toys etc however so it is important that enough money is earned or obtained from benefits ( which I feel are justified for single parents with young children). However in my opinion many more parents could work part time or become SAHPs they just choose not to in favour of better, bigger houses, cars, expensive holidays , personal career reasons etc.

I am currently on mat leave but will be returning 2 days per week (7.5hr shifts) which will still allow me to spend lots of time with my children. If this doesnt work out then i will give up work and become a SAHM.There is no way I would miss all that time watching my children grow up and being there for them as a mum for most of the time just for a higher salary. I think you should give up work for a while as paying all that money for childcare in order for a stranger to bring up your child for such a large percentage of time makes no sense to me. Will your ex partner help financially with maintenance etc?

However most MNers will probably disagree with me and tell you to go to work! Good luck with whatever you choose.

noisytoys Thu 16-May-13 10:34:28

I left a well paid career in banking 4 years ago to be a SAHM. I regret it now though because a load of redundancies mean people with more recent experience are fighting for the same few jobs. I'm a cleaner now with little hope of getting anything better sad

FrogInABog Thu 16-May-13 10:50:42

Personally I would regret missing a majority of my DCs early years more than having a lower paid job to go back to and spending carefully for a few years. I appreciate some people would rather use childcare and have a better career, but you have to make the decision that is right for you and your children, not others.

Is your ex paying the CSA recommended amount of maintenance? there is a calculator on Google.

As a single mum, you can get by. It is tight money wise for me, and everything goes on the DC, so you may have to do without for yourself 'luxury' wise though.

Also bear in mind you may end up with the children being at their dad's every other weekend and an evening or 2 through access arrangements, making it a very different situation to a lot of mums who work but are together still and with the children full time when not at work. They may be giving advice without taking this into account.

SMH77 Thu 16-May-13 12:55:47

Thank you Metalgoddess and FrogInABog, I absolutely do have to make the right decision for me and you only get one go at this life, there is no point missing out on something that will be over in a flash and I'm going to wish I could turn back time for. No-one else is going to live my life and so I will have to wait until my benefits come through, but hopefully I will be able to survive on them, I'm more than happy to go without myself, it's just fuel for travelling 2 and a half hours each way to my parents that may be a consideration, but I'm sure they will help out and it won't be a problem. My ex is happy to pay some maintenance but we haven't officially agreed it. I mentioned £1,000 per month but that was based on them going to nursery, he may change his mind if he thinks I'm going to be full-time mum. I'm happy for the kids to spend time with their dad, but if I was working full-time and also giving them over to him every other weekend I'd be utterly miserable. The decision to go full-time mum is looking like the winner at the moment. The only thing that will sway me is if I'm offered one of these jobs and the company flex's to 3 days a week.

Moknicker Thu 16-May-13 15:29:38

Congrats on being offered the job - no mean feat in this environment. Agree that if they offer you 3 days a week then take it but if not, then dont. That is exactly what i did - I was working part time in the UK but moved to the US and was only offered full time. I turned it down as I felt my kids were too small (DD 3.5 and DS 2). Hope to go back to work next year.

Tessielu Thu 16-May-13 23:41:33

Honestly the best time of my life so far was taking care of my babies. Don't go back to work yet, age 0-5 is such a crucial stage of development, enjoy just being a mum for a little while longer. See my post on this topic for what can happen when you do go back!!

Goingdownthegarden Fri 17-May-13 09:18:20

I gave up work and am now a SAHM. I think people of our generations have been so brainwashed that you´re not a proper person if you don´t work in paid work that it´s a very difficult path to choose. Of course the financial situation is the bottom line and I am very worried about my financial future, even though I have a small pension from my previous career.
Still, I think it is important to keep reminding yourself that this is a really positive choice. You choose the life you want for your kids.
I always forget that the worries that I have of "what is going to become of me", "I´m not as good as friends who work full-time and have happy kids" are the worries that come with my choice. If I had stayed at work, I´d have spent much more time worrying (as I did when I was at work with both kids) because that lifestyle just didn´t fit with my image/expectations of my life and my children´s lives. There is no perfect solution with no down-sides and you just have to follow your instincts.

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