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Go back to work or be SAHM - how to decide?

8 replies

IsItMeOr · 09/12/2009 21:18

I'm currently on maternity leave, but need to decide whether I want to go back to work when it ends late January, or whether to apply for a career break.

We are lucky in that we can afford to live off one salary, although may need to cut back our spending a little but nothing major.

DH and I have agreed that it seems odd (to us) to send DS (now 9mo) to childcare when we don't need to. We were considering the option of us both working part time so that we still have a full time wage, and one of us is always caring for DS.

We've been having a hard time with DS's poor sleeping, and DH has not been as keen on the prospect of spending extra time home alone with DS.

I'm generally happy to bumble along and apply for a career break (could be anything up to 5 years, I was thinking maybe 2). But I'm worried that will make it harder to go back to work when I will have been out of the workplace for 3 years. Plus if I don't go back at all, I'll need to repay the very generous maternity pay I've had from my employer (I think it would be over £10k).

I was wondering if anybody had any experience which might help me decide to go one way or the other?

OP posts:
pookabelle · 09/12/2009 21:21

I had a year's maternity leave with my dd and also had ds aged 3 part time at pre-school. Near the time I was due back to work, I decided to take a career break of another year, which was the best thing I ever did.

I know I was very lucky to be able to do it, and financially it was more difficult but not impossible.

I then returned to work part-time.

GhoulsAreLoud · 09/12/2009 21:22

Both of us working part time would be my absolute ideal situation.

If you could do this I so would - you don't have to come off the career ladder, but you spend loads of time with DS, DH spends loads of time with DS, everyone wins.

You must do what you feel is best though.

mulledfruitshootandcheese · 09/12/2009 21:22

With hindsight I would go back.
I've been a SAHM for 16 years and am finding it really difficult to get back into 'real life'.
If I don't get a job in my chosen path after my college course finishes I shall just get anything, it would have been much easier to stay in touch with developments and maybe do training on the job.
But thats just me being bitter and fed up of not having enough money.

babyOcho · 09/12/2009 21:26

What do you do?

Can you not extend the leave for another 3 months or so?

I thought I wasn't going to go back, but I did in the end as DP and I both work in financial services and both were at risk of losing our jobs.

I took 14 months off and DD was 13 months when she started nursery. I work part time and after DD settled she now really enjoys nursery - to the point that she pushes us of of the room when we drop her in the morning!

It's good for DP as we share the pick up/drop off so he has dedicated time with DD without me being around.

DD wasnt/isnt a great sleeper and didnt start to consistently sleep through until I just went back to work.

JustGettingByMum · 09/12/2009 21:30

Do what seems right to you. I was able to take a 5 year career break, and return to work for 2 weeks each year in different departments. I have never regretted that time at home, but did decide not to return to full time work. I still work part time as a contractor and so can set my own hours pretty much.

If DH less happy to be at home, why not consider (say) another 12 months, then return part time when DS is older?

IsItMeOr · 09/12/2009 21:39

Wow - thanks for the speedy responses.

I do appreciate that I'm in a very lucky position.

I hadn't thought of going for a year (or even 3 months) extra. Something like that might be a better option, as it gives us all more time to settle down.

babyOcho - I work as a civil servant, so they are usually very good on flexible working, but whichever party gets in at the next election, they're going to be cutting jobs and moving them out of London, so I'm not sure whether that makes any difference to what I should do now...

OP posts:
babyOcho · 10/12/2009 13:11

Some employers or jobs arent that sympathetic to flexible workers, but it sounds as if they may be quite accomodating.

Maybe you can got back for a bit and then leave if you don't feel that it's working out. I was going to give it 3 months and then take a view and it wasn't as bad as I thought. But I have a really good flex working pattern and I don't feel as if anyone is being compromised.

ThursdayNext · 10/12/2009 13:36

My DP works about 30 hours a week, and looks after the children for one or two days a week while I work. This works very well for us.
I know quite a few fathers who do something similar, working part-time, or full-time hours over four long days, or four normal length days and some work at home. Some families use childcare for two days a week and both parents share childcare for the rest of the week.

We have found it really good for DP to look after the children for a regular day or two each week. It gives him an understanding of what looking after the children really involves, which I think is difficult to appreciate if you are only around at the weekend. I enjoy going to work part-time, and it's useful to maintain a foot on the career ladder. Not that I'm exactly climbing, but at least I'm not falling off.
Your DH may find he enjoys looking after DS if he actually does it regularly on his own.

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