I’ve been thinking a lot about going back to work full time recently. It’s been a tough year, and perhaps that’s what we need – two incomes to just get us back on our feet.
The thought of going back to work full time and leaving my three year old and just one year old in someone else’s care is… heart-wrenching, and as difficult now as it was when I was faced with this same decision when Ameli was about 18 months old.
So, I sat down and did some maths, and what I found was interesting, and really helpful in reaching a final conclusion.
Now, I feel I need to justify a few things here first: I know a lot of people criticize mothers who choose to stay at home as having no ambition, or being lazy – clearly they’ve never spent a day looking after children! – or whatever other list of insults people throw at stay at home mothers. I’m not too bothered by anyone else’s views, and I certainly don’t think I have no ambitions, and I am definitely not being lazy.
Actually, I don’t qualify as a stay at home mother at all. I am a work at home mother. I work for two different websites, and from time to time I earn a little money on this blog too. I also qualify for child benefit, and child tax credit, which goes a long way to helping make ends meet.
So, lets say that from those five streams of income, I earn five beans a month. I do 90% of my work at night once the girls are sleeping, so I get to spend my day with them, pretty much a day time stay at home mama which most days, I love.
But what happens if I choose to go back to work, either full or part time?
Well, either I work locally in whatever job I can get, or I commute to London and pick up my career. Either way, once you’ve taken away some beans for the trainfare, I’d end up earning roughly 13 beans a month. But with both girls in full time childcare, I’d be paying around 8 beans a month for someone else to spend upwards of 40 hours a week with them!
Then I’d need to build up and maintain a professional wardrobe, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be cooking from scratch and packing lunches after a 12 hour day (if I commute to London, based on my old work hours, I’d need to leave home at 7am and wouldn’t get home before 7, or 8, depending on trains. Of course, if I wanted to stick to cheaper trains only, I wouldn’t get home before 9pm!)
My field is also not particularly set up for flexible or part time work. At best I could work a couple of days a week from home, but that would be very dependent on my employer.
I know my old boss wouldn’t have allowed it. So let’s take away another bean for wardrobe (I’d have to start from scratch with my post-baby body!) and another for lunches and on-the-go food for dinners and a lot of snack box supplements for the girls.
That leaves me with 3 beans a month, for which I’d be away from home for roughly 65 hours a week. I’d see my children on weekends.
In the other scenario, where I work locally, say three days a week, I’d also have about 3 beans a week left, but be doing something outside of my ‘field’ and just be working for the money.
It turns out I’m better off at home, working evenings and earning my measly under-the-tax-threshold-five beans a month!
While I appreciate that some mothers have no choice, or that others want to work or for their own personal reasons need to work, it is not for me. I want to raise my children. I want to take pictures of them dancing in the lounge. I want to be that mama who posts too many pictures of her children on Facebook. I want to be excited by baking and cooking from scratch. This is my life, and it’s the life I want.
I’m glad the math worked out this way. I’m glad the best choice for me was the one that ended up being what I wanted after all.