When I had my first baby, 14 years ago, maternity leave was 14 weeks, It seem crazy now that mums were leaving their babies to return to work at such a young age, luckily I’d made the decision not to return to my job and instead, registered as a childminder. The thought of leaving my precious first born for a couple of hours was too unbearable, let alone 5 days. By the time number 2 arrived in 2004, maternity pay had increased to 6 months and in comparison, that seemed a luxury. I took the full 6 months off to dedicate my time to my baby and my older son’s transition to being a sibling. Even at 6 months though, I still doubted my capabilities as a working mum, I was dealing with sleep deprivation, a house move and keeping up with the Jones’, or in my case the other mums at toddler group.
So when I decided to play the baby game again 10 years later, the opportunity to have a whole 12 months off with my gorgeous baby was a temptation I couldn’t resist. 12 months of just being a mum, 12 months of not having to worry about finding the perfect work/life balance, 12 months of not having to worry about childcare. It’s such a personal subject and by no means a one size fits all, for me putting my children in childcare has never been an option I wanted to consider. I’d worked from home during my older children’s first years and wanted my new baby to have the same privileged start in life that they’d have.
I relished at the thought of being a SAHM, (stay at home mum.) My role would be the family PA. I’ll cook, clean, co-ordinate, account and restock. I saved enough while I was working to see me through the months of unpaid leave and went through our finances cutting out what we could, to help reduce outgoings. It was a carefully executed plan.
From April 2015 the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) will come into force meaning my husband and I could have potentially shared up to 50 weeks of this wonderful leave and 37 weeks of pay, but given the chance would I have opted for it.
In simple terms, no.
The £138 a week my husband would receive to stay at home would leave us in serious financial straits. He is the higher wage earner and as much as I’m sure he’d love the opportunity to spend his days caring for our last born and being a Manny, it’s just not an option we would have given a second thought to. I have sympathy for the men who never get to experience the career break us mums get with maternity leave, it’s something I am very thankful of. But the side effect of having this time off, resulted in me loosing my ambition.
The months out of the work place, left me wondering how I’ll return with the same dedication and drive that I once had, so much that I’ve handed in my notice and am venturing down pastures new and less demanding but it’s only with the security of my husband’s wage that I’m able to do this.
Should my husband taken a few months off and the same change in career feelings happened to him, we’d be in trouble.Big trouble. It’s that psychological change in status that occurs for some during any lengthy time away from your job, that often goes unaccounted for.
I’m sure that the Shared Parental Leave will suit some people and I guess we’re just an old-fashioned family but no thank you, it’s not for us.
Plus, I didn’t marry Mr Nutshell for his multitasking at home skills.
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