If you saw my last post (the one where I freak out a bit) you’ll know that I had the opportunity to return to work pretty much immediately and so had to decide quick sticks what I wanted to do.
It all came about because I’d been considering returning to work sometime this year, possibly after the school Summer holidays – emphasis on considering and possibly. While updating my CV for the first time in over ten years, and having a mooch around a few job sites I kind of applied for a job, not thinking I’d even get an interview never mind end up being offered the role. I’m still not entirely sure why I clicked ‘apply’, I obviously got carried away in a moment of madness.
I’m a SAHM of two, both of whom have been in full-time education for almost two years now.
I think once the youngest child starts school there can be an assumption by family/friends/society that Mummy will be returning to some form of employment now she has all that time on her hands. The reality of the situation is that jobs that fit nicely around school hours and holidays are rarer than steak tartare.
More likely the majority of roles on offer will require you to be available weekdays 9-5, oh and probably won’t be cool with you not working school holidays, inset days, kids-off-sick days, polling days or any days that don’t fall within the stipulated terms of your holiday entitlement. If you’re lucky you might be able to wangle the odd morning off for a nativity play, class assembly or sports day but probably not all of them and probably not for every kid, every time.
Yes of course there are breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and the option of holiday clubs. Planning and staggering annual leave a year in advance to cobble together a childcare solution that gets you through until the start of term. If you’re very lucky there may be family on hand to help on a regular basis. There are ways to make it work and families adapt and work within their own constraints to do so.
So the question is, how do you decide if you should go back to work? There are so many factors to consider, all of which vary a great deal from family to family. For some it’s a necessity financially, children are expensive little blighters and those school shoes / birthday parties / surprise eggs don’t come cheap. All your savings have probably long gone on baby wipes (along with your dreams of that holiday to St Lucia) so a few quid going into the bank would make a welcome change.
For others it might be a personal quest to be more than ‘just’ a Mummy and regain a sense of independence or return to a career that you genuinely love and miss.
Some just find the whole idea of being at home all day mind numbingly dull.
Me? I actually really enjoy it and can honestly say I never feel bored, unfulfilled, at a loose end, lonely – whatever, I just don’t. I have six hours between school drop off and pick up which absolutely fly by. Housework, laundry, supermarket, doctors appointments, clear-outs, boiler quotes, MOTs, recycling runs, – there’s always something and all these little things get seen to while the kids are at school. This week among other things I’ve had peace to build a new set of drawers for my son, source a key for my Mum’s antique clock and replace the upstairs loo seat (all the glamour). I’m also training to run 10k in May which means I’m out most mornings huffing and puffing for a bit too.
Being able to do these things during the week means evenings and weekends are free to spend with the family, by which I mean Himself and I will ferry them around to whatever classes, training, clubs, playdates or parties are in the diary. But seriously, it makes life for the family massively less stressful on the whole which is something I see as a main consideration for continuing to be a SAHM, for the time being anyway.
Financially, well I’d be lying if I said we had money to throw around. We do not. What comes in and what goes out is very carefully managed and we live within our means to allow us the setup we have. No to fancy holidays, expensive days out or ridiculously overpriced kids magazines. Yes to budgets, meal planning and trips to the park! I’m not complaining by any means, we’re extremely lucky to have the roof over our heads and the food in our bellies. Everyday I’m grateful for the fact that being a SAHM is even an option, not everyone gets that opportunity.
Although the obvious financial benefit of being employed is tempting, chances are what we would pay out on childcare (we don’t have the option of regular family help) would take a considerable chunk of earnings over the course of a year. Added to this the impact on family life and the fact that I’m in no way yearning to jump back onto the career ladder anytime soon means returning to work just isn’t a viable option for me/us.
If any of these variables were to change, e.g. a term time role became available or family were on hand to help with childcare then of course I would reevaluate and most likely jump at the chance to dust of my 40 deniers and get back in the workplace again.
I’d love to hear how/when you decided the time was right (or wrong) to return to work and what works best for you and your family? Maybe you have some advice or suggestions I haven’t considered. Maybe, like me you’re happy with your decision to stay at home for a little while longer while your children are in full time education? Let me know!