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Salary vs. Flexibility

38 replies

Hermione101 · 27/11/2019 21:24

Hi, I would love to know whether salary or flexibility is more important/valuable to moms with school aged children. I’ve been struggling with this and would love to hear what has worked for others.

I am 41 years old, have one DC (3), live in central London, with partner (unmarried). I have a graduate degree, work for a global organisation and make £43k a year. I have amazing flexibility, I can work from home whenever I want, boss is very understanding around child sick days/appointments etc...and my day finishes at 2pm (35hrs/week) so going forward I could pick up DD after school, not have to pay for wrap around care, and still have a professional office job with a very well known company.

The problem is, is that I feel I am underpaid and that I could be doing more with my career. The job doesn’t really offer opportunity for advancement, but I do learn new skills. After speaking with recruiters, I understand that if move into a similar role, but different sector could make about £15-£20k more, but I know I would lose the flexibility and hours.

How important was flexibility to you with young school aged children? Would you work longer hours for more money or take less for the flexibility that enables you to work around school hours and not commute into central London?

I am thinking that when DD is around 7/8, I would then transition to more pay/longer hours job, but think I may have a tougher time shifting career direction due to age (not saying that it can’t be done!).

Any thoughts and experience would be helpful, thank you!

OP posts:

Whyhaveidonethis · 27/11/2019 21:28

I am lucky to have both, but I wouldn’t have been able to take a higher paid job if I didn’t have flexibility. I think the more senior you get in a lot of fields the more flexibility you have.


W0rriedMum · 27/11/2019 21:31

I would stay where you are for now. It's the holy grail of jobs for younger school aged kids. When you have a good network of school friends, you can always change jobs then.

But I note you're not married. Do take steps to protect your future finances just in case as you won't have the same rights as a married person if things go wrong.


Iggly · 27/11/2019 21:32

Flexibility every time. Absolutely. This became more important once the dcs hit school age.
I moved to a less flexible job and it has been a nightmare with dcs at school. It’s still pretty flexible but definitely less so. I find it stressful.


DeathStare · 27/11/2019 21:38

Given that you are already in an incredibly well-paid job, I'd definitely stick with the flexibility


Grafittiqueen · 27/11/2019 21:38

Flexibility without a doubt.


SallyLovesCheese · 27/11/2019 21:42

I have gone part-time, even though it means we have little money to spare each month, so I can have more flexibility. That time is so important, your children are only small once, so keep the flexibility if you can.


Hermione101 · 27/11/2019 21:43

Being unmarried is part of the reason I am anxious about it. Partner owns house, is mortgage free. We split childcare costs, but he will pay for DD private school from age 4. I max out work pension and invest around 45% of after tax salary. No debt. Am doing as much as I can with what I have, but feel like I should make more secure financial future.

OP posts:

AmIAWeed · 27/11/2019 21:44

Flexibility every time, but it also depends on age.

when the kids were preschool it was really easy with care 8-6. Primary was easy as after-school clubs and childminders filled the gap.
Secondary school however, no after-school/holiday clubs, too old for child minders and which I personally found surprising both son and daughter have needed me far more since starting secondary school than any other stage.

I work from home and took a pay cut, it's taken me almost 5 years to get back to my office based salary but the benefits of being there means everything to me


autumnnightsaredrawingin · 27/11/2019 21:45

Flexibility all the way for me! More money would be nice and I too am not using my full potential but the benefits of being able to pick my kids up and work round them has been life changing for me.


emsyj37 · 27/11/2019 21:48

How much responsibility do you have? Is your knowledge and experience valuable and sought after? I work up north, part time (fewer hours than you) and have total flexibility and I get paid more than you in a public sector job. If you genuinely have a professional role at a global company in central London then it sounds like you are woefully underpaid, notwithstanding your flexible working arrangements.


user1493413286 · 27/11/2019 21:51

Flexibility without a doubt; found out the hard way how difficult it is when moving to a new job that doesn’t have that flexibility. The unfortunate side effect is that your career doesn’t plateau for a few years but I knew that before I had DC and did accept that it would be the case even tho I feel resentful that DHs hasn’t had to


BlackSwanGreen · 27/11/2019 21:53

It doesn’t seem fair to me that you split childcare costs evenly but YOU are the only one taking the hit on your salary by finishing at 2pm. Does your partner realise that if you take the higher paid job, you’ll benefit financially while he’ll lose out (as presumably your childcare costs will go up)? And therefore, if you decide not to take the higher paid job, he should pay a higher proportion of childcare costs to make up for your lost potential earnings.


AlrightMo · 27/11/2019 21:55


I work in a similar environment, they are very much about work/life balance and as long as you do the job they don’t really care about the hours you work. Also, like you, if I moved jobs I could easily make £10k more. But time is worth much more to me.

Some days I do a 10 hour day, other days I barely do 6. It’s been a godsend and I wouldn’t give it up until DC has gone through school.

I’m also lucky that DH is a high earner which allows us to have the luxury of not having to pick. (DH earns my wages twice over (and some) and regularly says he would swap in a heartbeat!)


Mascarponeandwine · 27/11/2019 21:58

I could have written this. My kids are older (primary and secondary), south east (not London), same salary and some flexibility. Glad I’ve got half a day a week so I get to pick my son up one day a week, but the job and salary makes me feel resentful and miserable. I’m trying to stick it out til they’re all at secondary when I can look for a better full time role.


BackforGood · 27/11/2019 21:58

Given that you are already in an incredibly well-paid job, I'd definitely stick with the flexibility

This ^

I mean, if you can't pay your bills, or were desperate to get on the housing ladder etc., then you'd have to take more money, but you don't have that situation.


Glitteryone · 27/11/2019 22:01

Flexibility everytime.

In the same position myself currently and I just turned down a job which would have give me a £10K pay rise as it would mean not working from home & all the flexibility that goes with it.

I’m a single parent and to be honest money is extremely tight, £10K per year could change our lives but when I weighed up what it would have looked like without the flexibility I just couldn’t do it.


EmpressJewel · 27/11/2019 22:05

Why not look for another job and negotiate a flexible working arrangement. You may not have the flexibility you have now, but could have one that is 'enough'.

For example, in my last role, although it was full time, I could work from home one day a week of my choosing. It meant that I could make school assemblies, drs appointments etc as needed to. This was 'enough' for me.

As you are in a job, you have time on your side, so can put the feelers out and take your time in finding your next move.


ploopsie · 27/11/2019 22:06

Flexibility & convenience for me. I earn approx 35k working 4 days a week TTO but could earn at least 10-15k more however I can wfh, my commute is a 10 min walk & I have flexi hours so do most drop offs & pick ups. There are so many things at primary school to get involved with. Yes my progression is a little stagnant but I try to do as much CPD as possible.


Butterfly02 · 27/11/2019 22:07

Flexibility everytime till at least start of secondary school (although they still need you just a different need).
I stayed put in my career and chose not to advance, money was just enough to live on but it was more important to me to attend as many events as I could at school, spend quality time together in the school holidays and be able to look after sick children etc. I don't regret it at all.


Ginseng1 · 27/11/2019 22:07

Like you have 3 day work from home flexible job. Well paid but going no where. Career suicide but I wouldnt change it for anything am extremely lucky to have it. Will stay while kid goes through school. My eldest starts secondary next year & honestly feel he needs me around more than the 3 yr old sometimes just on an emotional level or advice on school work friends etc.


AskforJanice · 27/11/2019 22:09

I recently took a £12k pay cut for a job based at home with very flexible hours... well actually the cut is more than that if you factor in pension and benefits.

I do occasionally wonder if I’ve done the right thing both financially and career wise, but I think it’s the right thing for me at the moment given the age of my two. I can always reassess in a few years.

I do also realise I’m extremely lucky to be able to earn £45k from home and basically pick my hours.


BeanBag7 · 27/11/2019 22:10

I would definitely go for flexibility, especially as you are in a well paid job and financially very comfortable. If you were struggling on the bread line, perhaps it would be different.

How much of that £15k would be in your pocket after tax deductions and childcare payments?


OoohTheStatsDontLie · 27/11/2019 22:11

I'd choose flexibility.

Id also have a chat with my work and point out your value and see if there is any scope for a pay rise and if they will fund any courses or qualifications if you want this for a future job.

As an aside...are you happy with the family finances? At first glance to an outsider it doesnt look as beneficial for you as your partner


MsVestibule · 27/11/2019 22:15

If you were married, I'd think 'definitely stick with the flexibility' but as you're not, I'm a bit more conflicted. If either of you decided to end the relationship, you wouldn't be entitled to any of his assets and would have to rent/buy a house by yourself. However, you are living rent free (presumably?) so are in a good position to save a decent amount every month for a deposit, should that happen.

On balance, I would stick with the flexibility; I think that currently, you have the best of both worlds - financial security (£43k isn't a bad salary, although maybe not brilliant for your sector and location) and a less stressful life because you don't have to worry about every inset day/sickness/missing school plays.

Do you think your DP appreciates the financial sacrifice you're making? On a practical level, it doesn't make much difference, but it would piss me off if it went entirely unnoticed!!


Fatted · 27/11/2019 22:15

I think one of you needs to have a flexible job when the DC are little. It's not just for school pick ups etc. It's also for when you have to dash out and pick up a sick child, two nativity plays and last minute leave requests.

Thankfully DH works condensed hours and has two weekdays off. I have flexi time and an understanding boss if I need something last minute. So between us we can juggle everything.

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