I can’t quite believe I’ve been on maternity leave for 11 months, I left work mid January and it’s almost December. I chose to take a year’s leave with Taya (for a very specific reason which I’ll get to in a min) so although I still have a couple of months left my work need 8 weeks notice of my plans so we’ve had to make some decisions.
I made the choice to take a year’s maternity leave because I fell pregnant with Taya a little quicker than we had expected and I needed Amelia’s funded hours to kick in at nursery before I could think about going back to work. Amelia will receive her funded hours in January 2020 and my maternity leave is due to end on Jan 31st.
It had always been my intention to make use of the 30 hours funded childcare for Amelia and then we would pay for Taya and any difference needed for Amelia, the reality however is not as pink as my rose tinted glasses had thought.
The reality is that a full day at nursery is 10 hours, Amelia’s hours would cover her for 3 days however there are extra charges such as food and supplies. Taya is £49.50 per day…can you see how this is stacking up?
After working out all of the calculations with the manager of the nursery she confirmed that for both girls to attend 8-6pm Monday to Friday it would cost us £413 per week. Per Week!
Those of you good at maths will already notice that doesn’t add up to a good outcome; over £1600 a month, up to £2000 for those horrible long months with 5 weeks.
Now I enjoy my job, I love the people I work with, I liked having a side of me that wasn’t only focused on babies and I very much need the adult conversation and stimulation. What I don’t like, is being over £500 short on the childcare bill because my salary can’t cover it, not even close. And let’s not even talk about paying an annual train fare for the commute or buying a lunch every now and then, or even buying anything.
Essentially, I would be paying them to come to work. I can’t cover the cost of the childcare on my own, I can’t pay to travel to work and would end up relying heavily on my husbands salary to pick up the slack in the nursery and travel expenses. He’d also end up being responsible for the mortgage, bills, food, everything.
We would have more going out than coming in. All because I want to return to work and play an active role in society, as it were.
So, on Friday last week, I handed in my notice and officially became a part of the Stay At Home Mum club!
I could go on and on about how backwards it is that we are financially better off with only one of us working than we are with two, about how the government system of ‘funded’ childcare doesn’t really help parents all that much and how even if I did love my job, I’ve been forced out of employment due to unmanageable childcare costs.
I will touch on the fact that I was offered a 4 day working week from my boss which I appreciated however; I know deep down that my job is better suited to a full time worker and I can see a thousand reasons why part time hours just don’t work and the business suffers. It also wouldn’t have been enough to positively affect the childcare to salary ratio but I did appreciate her efforts to help me.
So, I’m still on maternity leave officially but I’m also a SAHM for the foreseeable future and that’s actually hit me quite hard over the weekend. After my maternity leave with Amelia I would have given anything to stay home with her and now I’m getting to do that. I’m going to be able to be with them for their young years and soak them up and I’m so grateful for that but I’m also completely shitting it.
Will we adjust and cope to having only one income?
Will having no other outlet drive me crazy?
Will I be able to give them (especially Taya) the stimulation and development they need on my own?
Is Taya going to be disadvantaged by not having the same nursery experiences Amelia had?
Am I ever going to find myself again, be more than just a mum?
Have I made a huge mistake?
Although it feels like a choice I’ve made, to stay home, I suppose it isn’t really by choice, it’s by financial necessity.
Of course there are thousands of positives, being with them when they’re so young before school is a blessing, they bring me joy daily and I can’t wait to spend time with them whilst I can. I love that we don’t have to rush my maternity leave, that we’re not trying to cram in all the fun stuff we want to do before it ends. I’m excited to spend more time with my parents who are both now retired and to be able to continue and grow the friendships we have made since we’ve been home together.
I know quite a few people have asked me to share what I was planning to do after mat leave, and for the longest time we tried to juggle the numbers, testing out different work and childcare patterns to see if we could make it work. When it became clear it wasn’t going to add up I had to wait until I had spoken with my company before I could come here and share it all with you so I appreciate your patience and hope this gives some insight into what is going to be a really big life decision for us.
Here’s to the next chapter… I think this last photo pretty much sums up parenting; the girls in focus and me, blurry in the background trying to hold it all together and keep everyone smiling.