As a mum, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make after having your children is whether to return to work, and if so in what capacity.
As well as the various financial considerations, you’ll have the dreaded “mummy guilt” to contend with. Work too much and you risk spending too much time away from the children, work too few hours and are you really contributing to society and your own household (and wouldn’t you just be better off staying at home?) Alternatively, you could not work at all. But then you’ve got the guilt of relying on your partner to pay your way. It seems that despite what we’re told by society, having it all might be possible but it’s not really that easy.
But when it really boils down to it, what are the realities of working versus staying at home?
Most of us work for financial reasons. If we didn’t work, we couldn’t afford the basics, the niceties, luxuries like holidays and fancy shoes and we wouldn’t be able to provide for our families.
Of course, just because you have to work, doesn’t mean you have to like it.
As well as the obvious dislike of your job, you’re likely to feel embittered about the time you spend away from home, the things you miss, the fact that you didn’t give birth to your baby just to cart them off to nursery or a childminder, and the fact that they insist on coming home from said nursery or childminder with new skills and/or habits which you should have been the first to see!
Then there’s the amount of money you pay said nursery or childminder for looking after your child. Haven’t they met your child? They should be paying you for the sheer privilege of getting to spend time with the adorable genius you made.
Now, of course as a working mother you’ll have your financial independence and the sense of accomplishment of achieving something in your own right, rather than in your new honorary title as “XXX’s Mummy” but you never had a giant commute from a baby group.
Then there are the slow cooker meals which are literally the only thing you can make from now on because leaving the house at 7am to drop the baby off at the childminder before going to work and arriving home at 6pm having fought your way through the traffic leaves you with absolutely no time to prepare anything else but a sausage casserole.
Staying at home
As a stay at home mum, you’ll learn to quickly miss the parts of your job you really hated.
That long commute? That was time alone with your thoughts listening to a song that isn’t “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Let it Go.”
Office gossip? That was time not spent discussing the politics of Thomas the Tank Engine or where babies come from.
Lengthy meetings (where you invariably discuss what you’re going to discuss in the next meeting)? At least you got a warm cup of coffee.
As a stay at home mum, you’re shaping the mind of your baby or toddler, finding interesting places to take them and learning about yourself as you navigate a world of coffee shops, baby groups and sensory classes. All of these are hugely useful skills but you’ll never be able to put any of them on a CV when you do come to rejoin the working world.
You’ll also learn how to throw a shower curtain on your living room floor, throw paint over it and allow your child to express themselves without any limits – just like they do in that baby group you go to. What you’ll also learn is that the small child who tap danced happily on the paper spread out on the ground making a delightful collage of footprints, would like to do the same to your sofa, rug, dining room, hall and stair carpets, bedding and the cat.
And a minimum wage? Forget it!