Leyton’s Mumma Says…
A complex topic of conversation within the Mumma Says ladies is work. Returning to Work, finding part time work, being a stay at home mum (SAHM) which in itself is a full time job….hmmm… Even before breaking up on maternity leave from my full time office job, I was pondering about what I would do about my return. I had planned that with my SMP and holidays I would return to work when Leyton was around 10 months. Throughout the first few months of having Leyton, a thousand questions crossed my mind as I slowly approached that date. So I’ve compiled my scatty notes into a bit of a nicer format below for other Mummas to hopefully benefit from. All of this is written from my experience as a Part Time Working Mumma, so you may have slightly different rights if you are/were self employed or were not employed at the point of conceiving your baby.
What to consider:
– Financials – What can you afford to do? Are there any benefits you can apply for?
* For our family, I knew I would have to work at least part time when my maternity leave came to an end just in terms of the financial income vs outgoings. Because I knew that, I haven’t got much personal research into being a Stay at Home Mum vs working, but Nathan’s Mumma is a SAHM and will have her experiences on the blog soon. I worked out I would be better off working full time than part time (I say this because some people are surprised that if you pay £40 per day in childcare and pay N.I, travelling costs to work and nursery etc it can be a close call on some salaries) however for me, I knew I wasn’t comfortable being full time. The difference in money I come out with considering I would need full time childcare (no family are able to look after Leyton, but this would obviously be financially preferable) just isn’t worth it in my eyes, but this is obviously a very personal choice dependent on your circumstances and personal feelings on the topic. For me, working 2 or 3 days per week and being off with Leyton 5 or 4 days respective would be the perfect balance.
As of April 2014, you can earn up to £10,000 without paying Tax (you will still pay some minimal N.I.) so when working out Take Home Salary it is good to bear this in mind. Obviously things like Childcare may need to worked out in your calculations too.
I am particularly keen on spreadsheets and lists, so have a spreadsheet with our house hold earnings and outgoings etc on, and found leading up to going on Maternity I had to alter this for my new SMP wages and outgoings of allowances for nappies, breastpads and all these new things we were buying for me and Leyton! We then had to re-write it again when I started back at work to factor in childcare and different income, and obviously in a child’s lifetime there are changes of outgoings too…. like we had an increase in the food bill at around 9 months when Leyton was eating loads of fruit, veg etc, and again at 13 months when we swapped from breastfeeding to cows milk.
There also may be benefits you are eligible for or will become eligible for. Visit https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits to use the benefits and tax credits calculators. One for example is Child Benefit, which is £20.50 per week for your first child and £13.55 for subsequent children (almost everyone is eligible for this one but if you or your partner individually earn £50,000 you may have a change in tax. Speak to HMRC about this.)
Visit http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/?tab=sect38 to use a money planner and see any costs you can cut, as well as great tips and deals to be done.
– How you feel being away from your baby, full time, part time or not at all? This can be changeable during pregnancy and the early months.
*If I could, I always thought being a full time mum was what I wanted to do. That’s what I personally believe is best for the child. However I knew during my pregnancy I would have to return part time to help with the bills. In the first few weeks I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby at all, let alone for a whole day for work. I think most people feel like this at some point but realistically there is no point stressing and worrying about it way before you return as your feelings might change a lot, and hopefully when you go to work your baby will be older, won’t be feeding every 2-3 hours and will be slightly less dependent on you so it’s a whole different kettle of fish!
The first few months were really difficult for me, and as I’ve mentioned in other articles I think I was on the edge of PND. The doctors weren’t sure why Leyton would cry so much, but he really would scream almost all the time. He was either asleep on me, feeding, or crying….. and I struggled to work out what I was supposed to do to fix everything! (I look back now and think it may have been colic, and wish I had kept pestering the doctors for help.) At 4 months I talked to my employers about Keeping In Touch days as I just needed a break doing something different! I am the first to admit I never expected to be thinking about work this early but it did help my emotional needs massively and it’s what I needed at that moment in time. I’m saying this to express how different what the Perceived and the Actual journey of motherhood is, in my opinion. There’ s no right or wrong. You should just do what works for you and your family.
Part time work is the right balance for me because my husband can look after Leyton 1.5 days per week (Leyton loves his Daddy Days) and he goes to nursery 1 day a week, and I get 2.5 days a week in civilization talking about other things than baby stuff and getting to do little things like wee in private and drink hot cups of tea – things I don’t often get to do when I’m having a Mumma Day with my baby. And because I am working, when I’m at home I am very aware how extra special the time is and make sure I plan trips, activities and meet ups with Mumma & Baby friends. I’ve contemplated again whether working full time is right, but to be perfectly honest the thought just breaks my heart so I know its not the right thing for me at this time. But I will keep reviewing things because I don’t know how I may feel when Leyton’s at school for example.
– Childcare – Who are you thinking of? Nursery, Childminder, Family, Friends? Have you thought of backups?
Pro’s and con’s listed below in a mixed order because what you think is a pro I might think is a con…
- Often has a few members of staff so when individuals are ill it shouldn’t affect opening hours.
- More staff = more children (1 adult to 3 children ratio at baby age). More children to interact with but less individual adult attention?
- Children tend to be split into age so your baby will be with other babies up to 1-2 years old etc.
- Ofsted registered and inspected.
- Potentially more like a school or pre-school environment.
- Generally more expensive than childminders as have more overheads. Can also have fixed pricing like set days, so if you work shortened days they may have to still stay at their fixed price. Normally prices include meals.
- The Nursery will probably have different carers for different ages so your child will get used to different people as he/she moves within the Nursery through the years.
- The Nursery will probably be open most of the year, but will also probably charge an averaged out figure across the whole year regardless of how many times you take your child out for holidays etc.
- Can be just 1 or 2 people so if someone is ill, they may have to turn your child away. A backup in this case is very important.
- Less staff = less children (1 adult to 3 children ratio at baby age). More 1 on 1 individual adult attention? But less children to interact with?
- They could have a mix of children including their own so your 9 month old baby may only have a 2 year old and a 6 year old to play with, for example.
- Ofsted registered and inspected (From September 2014 all childminders must be Ofsed registered, from January 2015 they will get inspected ).
- Potentially more like a home environment.
- Generally cheaper than a nursery and probably charge by the hour, this means more flexibility if you work shortened days occasionally. Normally prices include meals.
- A childminder could potentially care for your child from birth until secondary school age if required, the same person all the way through.
- You may have to take your holidays when the childminder does, or source additional childcare. But you probably won’t be charged for time your child is not at the childminders. Or they may not work bank holidays or Christmas for example.
*Family / Friends –
- Your child will be with people you know and hopefully trust and will potentially be in your life a long time.
- They know your history, traits, likes and dislikes straight away and can help accordingly.
- It can be quality time for them to bond, although this also may mean they get spoilt with treats or activities you don’t normally allow.
- It may be difficult to mention things you’re not happy with during your child’s care, as you don’t want to offend them.
- They will have 1 on 1 time, but may not have interaction with other children unless the carer has other children around or goes to a baby group.
- Your child will probably be in an environment they are used to, so is unlikely to get any anxiety over new surroundings.
- There will probably be no charge, or very little cost. But you will probably have to provide meals, food and money for outings.
- Technically any friends looking after children (even if you then look after theirs in return) can now be classed as Childminders or Home Childcarers so should go through the necessary channels and get Ofsted approval etc. Visit http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/early-years-and-childcare/our-early-years-childcare-work for more details.
– Days – How many, and which?
*You may want to work out how many hours or days you want to work. If it means you work Mon, Tues and Wed that’s 3 days away from your baby where you may only see them at breakfast and dinner/bed. But then you will get Thurs – Sun with them (4 days in a row.) This may help at work having concentrated time at work, or may be worse because after Wednesday you are away from the business until the next week. Or do you work every other day? Or just mornings?
It must be the right balance for you as well as your employer, as well as your child care provider. Some Nurseries and Childminders get booked up 4-6 months in advance on certain days. It shouldn’t matter which days you work from a holiday entitlement point of view, because whereas years ago only people who worked on Mondays could claim those bank holidays, it’s now normally averaged out as entitlement. If you’re full time counterparts are entitled to 28 days holiday including bank holidays (UK) then you should get the pro-rata equivalent regardless of the days you actually work.
– Your employer – How flexible are they? Will you need to look for alternative work? Is now a good time to retrain?
* If you were previously a full time employee and wish to return after Maternity Leave as part time, you employer don’t need to offer you this. And even if they tell you it’s almost certainly ok for weeks on end, they can still change their mind for ‘business reasons’ and say no… as long as they have made Reasonable Effort to look into providing your requested hours (like considering a job share of 2 part time employees) before they turn it down.
So if you plan to go back with a different set of hours, do be cautious and try iron everything out in advance so if necessary you can look for another job which is what I had to do. Part time hours weren’t going to work for my role, so I had to start a part time job search, which to forewarn you isn’t as easy as a full time job search. It is possible though, and you may find the perfect job that will accommodate your part time requirements…. when one door closes, another one may open, as they say…
And obviously if you had a job you didn’t enjoy when you left for maternity leave, now may be a good time to retrain or consider a different career. There is funding to get parents back into work, for open university courses and government funded courses, you just need to dig about a bit. This might be a fantastic opportunity to consider that career path you didn’t have time to stop and consider before. You may find a sudden passion for writing and blogging that you never knew you had, as an off-the-cuff example 😉
Websites about returning to work and re-training:
- Your antenatal appointments should be paid for, and you shouldn’t have to work extra to ‘make this time up’.
- You can start maternity leave anytime in or after the 11th week before your baby is due, obviously the sooner you take it the sooner your maternity leave pay runs out though. If you are off due to a pregnancy related reason 4 weeks or less weeks before the due date, your Maternity Leave could automatically start.
- You must tell your employer in or before the 15th week before your baby is due.
- The law says you must take at least 2 weeks off immediately after having a baby, or a minimum of 4 weeks if you work in a factory……I would suggest taking more than this though!
- You can take 52 weeks off. You will get 26 weeks ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) where you have exactly the same rights at work (accrue holiday etc), and you will still be entitled to return to the job you left, like for like. So if you left a Full Time role you should still have a Full Time role at the same pay grade available to you* (*For further details contact ACAS or Citizens Advice as it gets complex). You can then take Additional Maternity Leave (AML)of 26 weeks, making up the 52. In all reality there’s not much difference between these maternity leave work, accept that after the full 52 weeks your full time job doesn’t have to be available for you. Your employer are not obliged to give you a role with a different working pattern eg to part time hours.
- You should accrue holiday pay during your maternity leave at your standard rate, so you could find out if you can add this accruement to the end of your Mat Leave to have extra time off on full pay.
- Your employer will probably assume you will take the full 52 weeks maternity leave off, so before you leave to have your baby you should be given an expected return date. If you want to return earlier you must discuss it with your employer and if agreed, give 8 weeks’ notice in writing.
- You can do up-to 10 Keeping in Touch (KIT) days whilst on Maternity leave without it affecting your rights or pay. You should be paid for these days at least Minimum Wage, although most employer pay them at your standard rate of pay, if agreed with your employer. Your employer doesn’t have to agree to you doing KIT days, and you don’t have to agree to do them either.
- NEW: Taken straight off www.gov.uk Nov 2014
‘Shared Parental Leave is a new right that will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed. This could mean that the mother or adopter shares some of the leave with her partner, perhaps returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date.
The regulations are currently before parliament and are due to come into force 1 December 2014. The options to use the new Shared Parental Leave rights will apply for parents who meet the eligibility criteria, where a baby is due to be born on or after 5 April 2015, or for children who are placed for adoption on or after that date.
ALL OF THE ABOVE IS ‘MUMMA SAYS’ RESEARCH, AND LEGISLATION CHANGES A LOT. FOR THE MOST UPDATED CORRECT INFO PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH, DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT!
GOOD LUCK WITH WHATEVER YOU DO, AND REMEMBER NOTHING LASTS FOREVER. JUST DO WHATEVER IS RIGHT FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AT THAT TIME, AND BE FLEXIBLE TO CHANGE DIRECTION IF NEEDED… WHAT MAY WORK WELL FOR ONE PERSON WON’T FOR ANOTHER SO DON’T BE PRESSURED TO FIT ONE SORT OF MOULD.
Keep a look out over the following weeks for Nathan’s Mumma’s article about her own experiences on being a Stay At Home Mumma.