So we have all been there after having children, we get the 9 months or whatever maternity leave and then we begin to think about going back to work. There are so many things to think about when you considering whether to go back to work or not so I have created a handy little guide to hopefully guide you through your decision.
Can you afford to not go back to work? If you are going back to work full time for example you will presumably earn a decent income and you will need to source childcare for this time you are at work. Check out the Government website to see what you can claim in childcare costs through working tax credits as this can help pay for childcare, they also have a helpful calculator so you can see as a family unit whether you would be better off or not financially working.
Having a chat with your employer is a good idea to find out what they can offer you with regards to working hours, then you know what they have available and you can research local childcare providers either a nursery or childminder may be an option for you.
Will you go back to the same hours or is there potential to change your hours? If your partner works alternative hours to you, could you do a different shift pattern so you could share the childcare and save costs there. If you have to pay for nursery full days but you work 5 hours a day are you really utilising the working hours you could work. Sometimes if your child is in a nursery it can be better to do 3 full days of 8 hours rather than doing 5 hours over 4 days. For example nursery may cost £40 per day 8-6, but you would be paying this 5 days if you only worked 5 hours each day, so you could save £80 working 2 days less, however obviously your income would be less.
Some families are able to alter shifts so one works nights and one works days and then they eliminate the childcare costs, also there is weekend working and flexible working. Check out the working mums website for ideas on jobs with flexible working.
Have you got willing parents or grandparents that can lend a hand and look after your child for you, are they willing to do it as and when you need every single week. Great if you have so long as they understand the commitment. This will obviously save you some money and give your child time to spend with grandparents.
Also remember if the kids are in nursery and become unwell or they have inset days then childcare would need to be sorted on this day, usually you have to pay the provider when you are also on holiday so if you use grandparents it saves money in these times too.
There is no right or wrong with regards to children. When I had my first I went back to work and he went to nursery full time and yes you do feel like you are leaving them but my son loved nursery, he was learning and happy and we did exciting things on weekends and I was providing an income so I felt happy in that sense. When I had my daughter I stayed at home for a while and enjoyed the time with two kids under 2. I took the kids to play groups, play gyms, made mummy friends and took them to learning classes, each week filled with loads of activities and I enjoyed it, but I did miss work and something to keep my brain active and learning so then I felt guilty. Then with my youngest son I worked part time so he goes to nursery 3 days a week and I look after him the other 2 days and I have to say I love it, I feel like for us it is the best of both worlds, but I do miss the full time income. You just have to find what is right for your family, whether you work full time, part time, study or stay at home. All have their ups and downs.
Working from home
Some mums use their maternity leave to look at other options for working around their children. There are a few of these ideas where you can run your own business around the children and the effort you put in can create rewards financially and give you an income running a business around your child. None of the opportunities I looked at where right for me as the income wasn’t enough and some of the outlays for the franchises was just more than I could afford however some examples of opportunities could include Swimming Club Franchises, Football club franchise, Art craft clubs and many more. There are a few franchise exhibitions held in the UK if you are looking to start your own business so it might be an idea to attend one of those.
There are also self employed opportunities like starting your own business. You could become a book keeper, cleaning, gardener if you have the skills and qualifications and work those round family life. You could always use the time off work to study for a change of career or just to give yourself a challenge.