This week, I have been preparing to go back to work. I have struggled to be able to get back into employment over the past few years due to Nursery costs, as well as before and after school costs, being equal to or more than the wage that I would get. I am the only person responsible for sorting out child care in our household so staying at home was, in reality, the only option for me.
I have absolutely loved being at home with my children and I feel very lucky that I have had the opportunity to do this. We have played everyday, had long walks, met up with friends and baked some lovely foods, as well as many, many other activities. I have been there for all school drop-off and pick-ups for my son, which has made us both very happy. I know not every parent gets to do these things as often as I have had chance to. I do feel extremely fortunate that I have been able to do all of these things with both children so far.
There have been downsides though, including the fact that I have had to take a break from my career. Teaching seems to be ever changing, with new expectations, policies and ideas being brought in regularly. I have spent many hours trying to keep up with these new ideas, as well as trying to learn more about them in the evenings. I have seen some friends drown in the pressure that they are faced with in their teaching jobs. The idea of going back to teaching after a three year break seems quite daunting at the moment.
Although it really shouldn’t matter what people think about me, I have faced more than a few people that, as soon as I tell them that I am a Stay at Home Mum, they immediately disregard all the work that I had put in to my career. I am now ‘just’ a Mum. Several people regard me as ‘lazy’ due to my ‘playing all day,’ ‘only doing a bit of cleaning now and again’ and having very little money. I must point out that not everyone I have met thinks this but a fair few have mentioned or insinuated that this is their belief. I have been absolutely amazed at the lack of disrespect for parents that stay at home to care for their children for a few months or years. To care for other people’s children and to be paid for it is much more acceptable to these people than caring for your own children.
I think that all parents should be able to decide what is best for their own family, with regards to work and child care, without being judged so harshly. Even when I used to work when my son was little, I had equally hurtful comments made about me and my ability to parent. I was told that, when I worked full time, that I was not being a ‘proper’ Mum and that there was no point me having a child as I didn’t get time to be his Mum. I also stayed up most nights with him due to him crying as he had missed me all day. When I worked part-time, my teaching was viewed as a ‘hobby.’ All the money I earned pretty much went on Nursery fees and if my son or I had a rare day ill, then I had to pay extra to the Nursery from my savings. I was told that I was not allowed to claim child care vouchers as I did not work exactly the same amount of hours per week.
As a parent, I have found that the decision to work or not, seems to have quite a lot of people voicing their, quite negative opinions on how badly you are doing as a parent or a worker or both. Disregarding what these people say is not always easy as it seems that these ideas are ingrained into society. I truly believe that I have done what is best for my family and that it is nobody else’s business what decisions I make. I accept that others make different decisions to me and I don’t really think much more about it. I find it hard to understand why what I choose has such a big impact on others or why they need to tell me that I have, yet again, chosen the ‘wrong’ thing.
So, I am determined that from now on, I will ignore these people’s ideas about me. I know that I am doing my best as a Mum and as a worker. The steps that I am going to take to get back into work are:
- Update my CV
- Volunteer to work for a few hours per week in schools to get a better grasp of the new ideas, policies and to gain some confidence before finding paid work
- Ring round Nurseries for my daughter and for Before/After School care for my son
- Set up and implement a new daily routine for our whole family
- Look into how to manage my time effectively with regards to work, maintaining our house, caring for my children and being able to sleep sometimes!
Overall, I really hope that going back to work will mean that I can actually earn some money. It is disheartening to spend every penny you earn on Nursery fees. It is also disheartening to have to rely on my partner or parents to help out, financially, rather than to pay my own way. Either way, I am going to try to get back into work to see if I can earn any money. My daughter has her free 15 hours of Nursery starting soon so I am hoping that this will help. I am still totally responsible for getting both children cared for and to get to work on time. I think getting my son to a Before School Club at 8am (the earliest they open round here) whilst also being at work before then seems like an impossible puzzle at the moment. I am sure that I will work it out though.
Do you have any tips for starting work again after a bit of a break? How do you manage child care? I would love to hear your thoughts.