Monday, 15 February 2010

Juggling Baby, Money, Time and Happiness

photo credit: The Kit and the Cub
I've just worked out that my total maternity leave 'income' after I have my baby in June will be around £600/month! Hmm, that'll just about cover our Tescos trips and running my car then ;-)

Of course, hubby will be contributing on top of the government's handouts (my £600 of self-employed person's statutory maternity pay, child tax credit and child benefit) but we only just seem to manage on our joint finances as it is. Aargh!

Someone I know is taking a whole year off for maternity leave and has the first 6 months on full pay and the remaining 6 months on half pay...

Jealous? Moi?!

I'm fretting a little as I really want to spend some quality time with my new baby, but I'm aware as an equal breadwinner I will need to contribute to the family finances much, much sooner than a year after giving birth.

And that first year with Ella was one of the most special, blissful times of my life. I don't want to muddy my last ever experience of My Baby's First Year with stress about money, childcare, deadlines etc

I hope it all works out for us, I know these things usually do. I'm considering working two hours a day while the baby has her afternoon nap when she's somewhere between three to six months old (depending on my bank balance, her sleeping through the night and my sanity levels at the time). Then, putting her in daycare or at a childminder's for 1.5-2.5 days a week when she's one year old and I'm more emotionally equipped to 'give her away'. See, I've sorted it out already but I'm still not sure if that's the right plan to achieve maximum happiness and fulfilment. Which is the only goal worth having in my book.

Sometimes I fantasise about being a 1950s housewife and being able to 'just' be a mum. I tried that with my first baby though, and ended up going back to work after 18 months (instead of the four or five years I originally intended!) as I realised I need more of a balance (and more stimulation) in my life.

Having to juggle conflicting priorities is what we mums do best, whether we stay at home, go to work or do a bit of both. No path is entirely without its stresses, strains and missed opportunities. Oh and guilt, of course.

I just wish I could chill out about this whole work/baby/money/time balance thing and trust in my future. I mean, she isn't even here yet and I'm getting my knickers in a twist about it all.

J reminded me recently that not so many years ago I was a single mum with a toddler, working four days a week, paying for half of Ella's childcare and all of my rent and household expenses, with no maintenance payments.

I managed fine all by myself then and, although I was more stressed and tired than I am nowadays and almost constantly pining for more time with Els, I was pretty content with my lot.

Overall, things are bound to be easier this time around. And I am infinitely resourceful. And all the best things in life are free. Apart from organic food and chiropractors and Eve Lom cleanser and visiting friends when they don't live on your doorstep and broadband and pretty clothes and family-friendly festivals and miracle vitamin supplements and random purchases from Amazon and...


platespinner said...

I'm trying to reduce my hours at work further, and we're also trying for a second and I'm already panicking about money too! On the other hand, we added up the amount of cash we were spending on food, takeaways and wine and it was truly shocking, so we're cutting right back. I my experience, you can manage on less than you think as long as you can keep mortgage and bills covered.

When I was on mat leave with monkey I fretted so much about returning to work it really marred the time I had with her. I am determined not to do that with the next one. Hope it all works out for you.

Anna Colette said...

Hi platespinner, thanks for your encouraging comments. I'll definitely be mindful to enjoy each moment on mayternity leave and only focus on work when I'm back at work.

With the extra time on my hands I'll be able to shop at local markets rather than just Tesco, which should save money. And you're so right - as long as the basics are covered we should be fine.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

I recently wrote a similar post:

Is the grass greener over there...

Personally, I say make the most of your maternity leave and well done for managing to have one. I think you'll find 3 months a good time to start doing a bit, thoug if you can hold off a bit longer then do so. I'm finding it's starting to feel OK again, now, and I'm enjoying my 'time off' working a lot more now.

nixdminx said...

You'll be fine. I suggest we hold a blogger baby shower for you and send you all wonderful gifts (not just for the baby either) so you can put your feet up and relax... how are things otherwise? xx

Anna Colette said...

Oh, you are just too sweet!

I'm pretty good apart from the niggling SPD which is improving now that I have found a wonderful (and very gentle) chiropractor. Will blog about that one soon.

Home Office Mum said...

it's a nightmare isn't this whole juggling lark. I was going to say that if you lived in London, I have a client who is opening up the UK's first flexible office space with onsite childcare - so you just book a desk and a slot for your child whenever you need it. Sadly it's a bit too much of a commute for you.

I set up my business when my 2nd was 5 months old. I started thinking about work when he was 3 months old. I have to say I have no recollection of his first year at all, but at the time I felt I just wanted to work.

Life has a funny way of just working out though so go with it and enjoy our baby and try not to worry too much

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Oh lovely I know where you're at (I'm blogging about it heaps at the moment ... which I guess is becomming a little tedious) but its so hard to find what is right

I hope you can find a way to spend as much time as you want with your next one

Anonymous said...

You are going to be absolutely fine honey. You won't just survive, you will thrive and enjoy every second of it. I have every faith in you x

manicmum said...

It's gonna be fine. I worked at home a couple of hours a day when my first was a baby. My mistake was to have the second one 18 months later. A very long maternity leave which lasted nearly 4 years. The fifties housewife I almost became drove me to the brink of insanity. If I was going to do it again, I'd say part-time work when you've got kids is better than being a full-time mum. Unless you're the earth mother type. Which I'm not. And which you don't sound like, either (thank God!). XX

Hari said...

OMG Anna, do you really buy Eve Lom? I'm jealous. Spread it thinly on your face and see if you can make it last till you get back to work hon. xxxxxxx

Anna Colette said...

Thank you all for your very encouraging comments :-)

HOM - what an amazing idea. Let me know when comes to the Reading area :-)

rock n roll mummy said...

I am on maternity leave at the moment i've just had my second and she is 12 weeks old now and my eldest is 2 1/2. I'm starting to think about work now and how i want to go back. It is a dilemma and I really dont know what to do to get the right balance and earn a decent salary! I think i am going to have 9 months off as hopefully by then i will have some sort of routine and more sleep!