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How much is work worth?

(36 Posts)
PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 11:31:08

I have been lurking in a thread on the media requests page on how hard it is to go back to work and look after a family. It has got quite heated, with discussions on tax credits etc. But I am dying to ask a question. I am going to try to go back to work in the next 6 months, having been out of the workforce for 3 yrs. In that time, I have had DS & am completing a PhD in an unrelated topic. Q is:

- What do you all think it is worth in £ to go back to work?
- If childcare and other expenses of working eg travel come to £1700 per month (need to employ nanny due to flexible working hours), how much should I aim for?
- Do you look to breakeven just so that career keeps going and pension contribs etc are met?
- Or do you want a "profit" so that family can benefit in more tangible ways (eg nice hols & nice house?)

bundle Thu 10-Feb-05 11:38:22

I made just £100 after nursery fees, actually that probably got used up in travelling, lunches etc. it keeps me sane, and that's worth more than money.

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 12:15:22

Yes, I totally understand the sanity bit. It's just that I think I can keep sane by being a SAHM with less well-paid work that doesn't bring me any pension contribs or extra ££ for hols.

I honestly think that 2 days away from DS and being able to walk out of the house with nothing more than my lipgloss in my handbag would be great. But that job doesn't exist in my old industry and so I have to convince myself that if I make £££ but work up to 5 days pw it might be worth it if I could find that magic number.

Last night DH and I thought that it would have to be £1000 and if it was more than that he'd resign to be a SAHD!

Bozza Thu 10-Feb-05 12:16:11

Have to be honest I wouldn't work if we didn't benefit financially. As it is with two under fives nursery takes something between half and two thirds of my take-home - dependent on nursery grant so half in term time, two thirds in hols. So the way I see it the money gets split 3 ways - 1/3 looking after DS, 1/3 looking after DD, and 1/3 left over.

Work 3 days but costs/income are pro-rata so same split if I worked 1 or 5 days. Except 1 day would pay less tax I suppose because greater ratio of income would be under the tax threshold.

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 12:19:31

This is my point - I sometimes feel like work is just money so there has to be a number that makes it worth it (this number changes for each person, I know).

I feel that I can get enough satisfaction from life doing voluntary or low paid / self employed stuff and being a SAHM. But to be honest, I am also scared about the possibility that in 20 yrs' time I will have an empty nest, maybe no DH if unlucky, and no career / pension etc to show for it.

DissLocated Thu 10-Feb-05 12:20:08

Me too, I bring home about £100 per week after expenses. We don't need the cash as dp earns a good wage and we've recently come into a bit of money.

At the moment I do it to keep sane, keep my hand in as far as the career goes etc but have recently been questioning whether I'm doing the right thing (but I think that's probably common to all working Mums)

Gobbledigook Thu 10-Feb-05 12:24:37

I think it's totally going to depend on your priorities and also what you want your net income to cover!

For me personally, I would only go back out to work (ie needing childcare, I work freelance so don't need it atm) if I had to, if we could not survive any other way.

While my children are small (ie babies up to when they go to secondary school I think) my number one, absolute priority, is to be at home with them and to be there to take and pick up from school. I don't go insane because I'm lucky enough to 'keep my hand in' via freelance work and I've got a fabulous network of friends I see all the time.

That's just what works for me and my family and it may not work for someone else - so I don't think anyone can make this choice for you!

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 12:26:09

I also think that it is important to remain connected to the "real" world, and this maybe comes thru work. That way you are a more rounded person / parent / partner.

TBH well paid work with all the hours can only be worth it if your employer is sympathetic to your issues, and that doesn't have a £ sign attached.

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 12:27:53

GG I also cannot bear the thought of not picking my child up from school. It turns me inside out to think of someone else waiting there at the gates every day. Used to hate it if my Mum worked late and we had to be "latch key" kids ...

Gobbledigook Thu 10-Feb-05 12:32:51

You're right - it's hard for me to really know what it would be like not to work because although I class myself as SAHM, because I am! I'm lucky enough (though it's knackering!) to work from home so I do still get contact with people on that front and get satisfaction, and of course, income from work. I'm not sure how I'd feel if I didn't have that but right now I'd be bloody grateful as I've been stupidly busy for months now and am exhausted!

Sponge Thu 10-Feb-05 12:52:38

Sounds like you're more interested in doing something to make yourself feel useful/valuable than especially in getting on the career ladder etc.
So why not do some lower paid voluntary work if you can get satisfaction from that and still be there for your children. It might anyway make you feel better about yourself than a less worthy but better paid career type job might.
If you have childcare and travel expenses of £1700 per month from your net income then you're going to need to earn about £26,000 just to break even. I can't personally see much point in going back to work and paying for all that child care if you can't earn at least that, and probably a bit more to be able to treat yourself or your family with. But that's me. I work partly because I enjoy the challenge and independence it gives me but also for the money.

Donbean Thu 10-Feb-05 12:55:10

For me the work thing was a huge deal. My opinions towards it have changed immessurably from bieng pregnant for the first time to the actual deed of returning to work.
To explain, i am an Intensive care nurse and ive been in my job for 12 years. Within that time i have worked very hard to Educate myself and to keep abreast of all the innovations in technology etc (medical knowledge is said to double every 9 years or some thing like that)that i have to deal with day in day out.
My job was my main focus.
We tried for 18 months to concieve and when i did (finally) i had a miscarriage which started on a night shift after lifting several 5litre bags for a dialisis machine.
Then trying again i became pregnant only to m/c again when on a double shift "taking it easy" with a 20 stone man with continuous runs, requiring cleaning up every hour or so!
I thought to myself that this job just isnt giving me any thing back here at all.
However, I was also thinking that i had worked for a very long time and very hard to get to the position i was in and didnt want to give that up, no way.
Then i had DS, i was off for the 6 months and couldnt bear to go back to that place to look after strangers when i should be at home looking after my baby.
We couldnt afford for me to stop working as i was the main wage earner.
We jiggled and negociated and i spoke to my line manager who informed me that as a valued senior member of staff, they would accomodate in the best way that they could. So, i now work 20 hours over 2 days which are according to my needs and we have granny looking after ds for 1 afternoon a week (who we pay to do this).
We have 5 days a week together and although my wage has dropped by maybe 25% we manage.
I need to make profit to cover bills etc.
My need to maintain my pride and joy "my job" has simply vanished over the course of 3 years with all of my ups and downs. My priorities and my focus have shifted in a way i just would never have predicted.
I am forced to continue to update my skills for my job, but i do this in work time and when convenient to me.
(I always did these courses on my days off and more often than not payed for them myself.)
I would give it up tomorow if i could.
So to answer your question, my job is not worth what it once was, i have been professionaly derailed by a little scrap of gorgeousness and im so so glad.

Donbean Thu 10-Feb-05 12:57:37

Sorry, i cant half ramble on, sorry

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 13:19:37

"my job is not worth what it once was, i have been professionaly derailed by a little scrap of gorgeousness and im so so glad. " I love that. It sums up how I thought I would feel but am not so sure now. Yes, I have enjoyed being a SAHM with outside interests (study), but I find myself being pulled in 2 diff directions - fear of being left out in 20 yr's time - financially and socially - and fear of not having given myself the chance to try to continue my "downshifted" life.

Egad no right answers are there? I feel that if someone offered me £40k for a decent job, I would
have to take it because 1) that is what I am worth as a returnee to old job 2) surely I owe it to my family to earn decent money??

bundle Thu 10-Feb-05 13:25:02

I think something has to "give" when children come along. in our case it was my job. i've been doing it for more than 10 years and i love it (can now do 3 days a week and have v understanding and flexible female boss) but i never go for promotions which would mean extra responsibilities and stress and associated hours at work. and i earn a lot less than dh. that's what we decided and i love it, i'm just v lucky.

Chandra Thu 10-Feb-05 13:32:26

I really don't know, it depends in what you consider important. But as the rest, I believe that the money is not that important as long as you like the job. If the job is not nice and you have a salary that only allows you to get a "low" quantity of extra money (though such quantity is highly subjective), I would consider the question how much does the time I would not be able to spend with DD costs. If you find that getting a little sum doesn't compensate for the time lost don't do it. However if you love the job, and it helps you to keep your sanity.... then I would even consider paying to be able to work!

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 13:38:06

Bundle - I totally agree and took voluntary redundancy from old job when TTC because had health probs. Luckily got pg v quickly - and feel that I lost out on mat benefits, promotion, bonus etc. So somehow feel I need to get it back ... but trying to rationalise it with a number of £££.

Not the only way of looking at it I know but feel jealous of my old colleagues for purely financial and social reasons, eg I miss them all and wish I was still earning money!!

BUT I do love what I have been able to do for the last nearly 3 yrs. But now PhD coming to an end (really ought to be editing it now!!) I feel like I need to DO something and prove myself again. But not without £££ otherwise I should pursue happiness thru voluntary work or self-employment.

Chandra I know you have had similar issues from the PhD threads. It is a pain to think that maybe these q's never go away.

bundle Thu 10-Feb-05 13:40:41

ikwym Phdmum, but if i had a list of what brought me back to work £ would be near the bottom somewhere, and flexibilty over taking time off when dds are ill, mental stimulation from type of job i do and ease of getting to/from work/nursery/school etc near the top.

Chandra Thu 10-Feb-05 13:45:59

Yes, but in a way I am resigned to the idea that if you decide to take the academic route money won't be flowing out of the windows of your house. However, the job and environment are worth the relative low salary. DH works in academia and though he would not earn as much as if working for the industry, we know that being able to organise his time as he wishes (which means being able to spend some quality time with DS EVERY day compensate for that) We like to think of it as a semi retirement, you won't earn as much but you won't work as hard(obviously, my DH who has never worked in the industry would never agree with that ). I think is more about quality of life you can get than the money.

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 13:47:47

Bundle you are so right. Being near where little ones are at school / looked after is no 1 priority too. Have nanny at the mo but I don't think she would want to live-in if I commute back to old job (1 hr away).

Better not to linger on the past and find a new way of making it work. I know that all my female ex colleagues are not happy in their jobs, but too scared (at the mo) to leave because don't want to pay back mat pay etc. And they love the social contact and mental stimulation.

Whenever they ask if I would like to come back, I always say if I could come in once a week for a gossip and be paid for it, then I would.

Sorry this makes my old job sound a little fluffy - was lots of sales & marketing stuff so lots of chat.

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 13:50:08

I think it is the semi retirement bit that scares me Chandra!! But then I have never tried working in academia so maybe I will love all the benefits it brings me!! Being a PhD student is vvv diff from actually being a part of the staf ...

horseshoe Thu 10-Feb-05 14:02:13

Hi there jsut thought I would give you my take on this for what it's worth.....

I couldn't afford to consider being a SAHM when I fell pg with DD1 and I ended up going back to my old job. However never really feeling like I regained the same respect (people automatically write you off) I changed jobs making it very clear that I wanted 9-5 only. they have been great with me and I get so much satisfaction when I look at my life and think I have what I have because I have worked so hard through PND brought on by returning to work. I think my daughter is a well-balanced child and we value the family time we have at weekends and evenings and we can also afford to take her out. I do want to be a teacher and am studying for my degree at the moment. I suppose I get this attitude from my own mother who also worked. She spent so much fun time with me at weekends as a way of compensating that she created memories for me of when we went here or there and I see her as my role model when i feel like I cant cope with it all...

My sister on the other hand is a SAHM and her DH doesn't have a great job either. I recently caught her DD saying to her that her birthday present would be from Daddy because it was Daddys money that would have brought it. They dont have days out or holidays and most of the six weeks is spent at the park or playing out in the garden. that kind of confirmed things for me that unless I can provide well for my children by being a SAHM then I should work.

Also i have to be a little selfish and say I enjoy getting out of the house and keep that independence. Being a SAHM is much harder than going to work each day.

By way of ££££ I think as long as it's not going to make you worse off. In my case I was able to pay off debts quicker and now have around £700 a month spare its most definately worth it.

COD Thu 10-Feb-05 14:03:10

Message withdrawn

horseshoe Thu 10-Feb-05 14:04:19

Also if worried about pension by being a SAHM you could try Abby nationals or another bank. Even £20 per month will make alot of difference in the long run

PhDMumof1 Thu 10-Feb-05 14:43:34

In terms of £££, £700 sounds about right in my book (altho I know it is not all about £££, it is just that is the q that is bothering me at the mo).

I totally identify with your role model horseshoe as I had the same, altho unfortunately my Mum always said that she hated being away from us so it reinforced it as a negative thing as well as sometimes a positive one (she had great friends from teaching and her job meant that we valued our education). Re your sister, that must be a difficult thing to deal with re birthday present. How do you explain these choices to a little one?

COD, yes, that was what I always thought when in work, but now I can see the benefits I am tempted to make that leap again ... or at least start looking for a job!!

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