So today I came to a rather depressing realisation. I can’t afford to go back to work and, at the same time, I can’t afford to not go back to work…
Where does that leave us? Well, in good company for a start. A lot of women are faced with the tough decision of whether to return to work, for almost all of their salary to go directly on childcare.
When my older two were babies I was in different positions. With Cameron I returned to my final year of university a week after he was born, so when it came round to graduation, I saw no shame in putting off starting my career for a little while and enjoying my baby.
With Carly, I longed to work but couldn’t see how I could ever afford to put both children into nursery. Instead I started my own business, but it never really took off as I struggled to work around two young children, and I wasn’t earning enough from it to be able to put them into nursery to get work done…
Eventually I couldn’t cope at home all day any longer and I took the plunge, working full time to cover the childcare fees. My next job was another full time 40 hours but I often worked nearer to 60, meaning I was barely seeing the children.
For this reason I left and took on a part time role in another company so that I was able to do the school run and spend some quality time with the kids after work.
I’m currently on maternity leave and have just started looking into the logistics of returning to work in my part time role. Realistically we had decided I wouldn’t be able to take the whole year maternity leave, I am only getting maternity allowance which works out at £138 a week (£558 a month) and this stops mid July.
As my mum is a teacher she would be able to help over the summer and Carly starts school alongside Cameron in September, so it would ‘just’ be Benjamin who we would need childcare for. Naively I had thought it wouldn’t be too much for just the one child.
However, having now contacted a couple of nurseries it turns out I was mistaken. I work 9am until 2pm, without a lunch break. I would need to drop the older kids to school by 8.30am to get into work on time, which would mean needing to drop Benjamin by 8.15 or 8.45 depending where he went to nursery.
Nurseries work on the hours of 8am until 1pm for a morning session. The nursery I liked best said I would need to pay for the full day (£45) as I was going into the afternoon session by 1.5 hours.
Even the other one who would happily only charge for the additional time, worked out at £435 per month for the hours we need 3 days a week (so that’s including the day off I have in the week as I work Saturdays, and a day we hope a relative might be able to help us with him).
I earn £8.65 an hour and I work 20 hours a week. This means that once you deduct the tax, and you take off the childcare, I would be earning the equivalent of around £1.70 an hour (or 45p an hour if we went for the nursery where they charge for the full day). To spend time away from my baby and have someone else look after him.
If we went with a child minder, priced at around £5 per hour, this would mean, after tax, I would be earning around a slightly higher, but still ridiculously low, £2.70 an hour. It’s just not worth it.
I don’t really know what to do as, having rented out Ed’s property so that we could rent in the school catchment area, come July we will fall short on our rent by £100 a month and really need an additional income to supplement Ed’s.
I keep hearing about the funded hours for 3 and 4 year olds increasing to 30 from September, and this is brilliant, but too late to benefit us as Carly will be at school by then, and Benjamin won’t be eligible for another 2 years!
Where is the help for those desperately wanting to return to work following their maternity leave with babies often a year old or even younger?
The next 4 months of my maternity leave will be spent looking into our options and seeing if their is going to be any way of working out a plan where I’m not working for the sake of working.
If anyone has any guidance or tips in the meantime, feel free to let me know!