Now, first of all, I should say that I am not yet a working mum. I have 8 weeks left of maternity leave and haven’t experienced the earth shattering tiredness of working F/T with a baby.
I also haven’t witnessed the heart break of leaving Noah at Nursery on those days where I’d rather just take him home to play.
What I have witnessed, for my self and my friends who have returned to work, is a tirade of unhelpful and, frankly, fake sympathy towards me returning to work at all.
I hear women exclaiming defensively that they have to return to work to pay the bills, but whispering to their friends that they secretly look forward to it.
Working mums should be proud of themselves, whether they’re doing it out of want or necessity. The working mum has it hard but is heading out there every day anyway.
A little back story. I have, what I would deem as, a good job and healthy salary. I worked my ass off to keep said job and earn said salary and when I got pregnant I knew that there would be little movement in my hours as a working mum when I eventually returned.
I also knew that, financially, we couldn’t afford for me not to return.
I need to bring in around £500 myself, just to keep us afloat, and that would be without paying for childcare or any luxuries. To make it a little more complex, my mortgage is tied into my employment contract, so leaving work would mean a huge hike our mortgage.
I have little choice but to be a working mum.
Now, technically, I could simply change jobs within the business, take a significant drop in pay and work part time – a couple of days a week perhaps. A part time working mum.
I have many friends who have done just that and it’s working out great. That would keep our family afloat (albeit never to go on holiday again, pay off debts, buy anything but food). Noah would only have to go to Nursery once a week if we juggled it well. I could even work in a branch, on a Saturday, and pay even less for day care.
Doesn’t that sound like the perfect working mum solution? Not for me.
Regardless, I am choosing to return to my job full time. I’ll work full time hours across four days and have all day Thursday with Noah. He’ll go to a stunning new nursery across the road for 3.5 days a week and spend half a day with his dad, or grandparents. We can go on holidays, make memories, buy lovely things, pay off debts, finish our house.
Financially, this will strike the best balance for our family. Noah can learn, and play, make new friends. I’ll blog in the evening when he’s in bed, clean whilst he’s napping.
I’ll be exhausted, but proud of myself.
I am so sick of the raised eyebrows I get when people here I’m going back to work. Even my friends who have gone part time get the same hapless reactions.
I don’t love my child any less than anyone else. I love him so much that my heart could burst. But, I fundamentally believe that he will benefit more from the memories that money can provide and the development that nursery can bring him than he ever would from boring old mum five days a week. (I am a very boring mum!)
He will learn about work ethic and see us an equal household.
And, Thursdays will be magical. Our special time to wrap up and go walking, sing songs, watch films. Now, by Thursday, we’re both burnt out and I’m wondering what to do with ourselves.
If you’re worried about sending your child to Nursery then stop. They will be fine. You might shed buckets of tears the first day (or every day) but they will thrive.
It’s not just the money either. Somewhere along the way, I come into it. I worked really hard for my career, I’ve sacrificed a lot. I want to go back and see it through. To experience my brain whirring around again and life beyond nap times and Peppa Pig. I love being a mum, but I am more than just mum. I need to be more for those 35 hours a week.
I am proud to call myself a working mum and I will not be shamed into feeling that I’m neglecting my child.
If you a returning to work, whether you want to have to: STOP FEELING GUILTY.
Research shows that daughters of working mums have more successful careers and sons are more sympathetic and helpful to their own wives. It also shows they are more social and advance quicker.
There’s a reason the Government provide free childcare even when mums don’t work – and it’s not just to encourage the mums back to into employment.
And if you desperately want to work, but you can’t due to child care costs, I really feel for you. It’s vitally important that the Government reviews its subsidies towards care fees and I can only hope this week’s debate is fruitful.
Of course, many things regarding mums returning to work need to change. Flexible working, bonus payments, general attitudes. But if a mum wants to return to work, that should be celebrated and supported. Not met with distaste and criticism.
Most of all, whether you are going back to work full or part time, or you’re just getting by until you can afford child care – stop feeling like your decision is harming your child. Your choice has nothing to do with love, it is to do with circumstance and values. You are not disadvantaging your child. Quite the opposite.
Things are just the way they are, and you are doing just fine.