My little boy is now 10 months old. In the last 6 weeks or so I made the final decision to resign from my much-loved job as a full-time primary school teacher to become a stay-at-home mum. Many of my readers might be in a similar position to me with similar tricky decisions to make. So why is being a stay-at-home mum now the best option for me and my family?
In the 5 years before becoming pregnant with Isaac, I was a very hardworking and enthusiastic teacher (a potentially lethal combination for one’s mental health but that’s a different story!) At first it never crossed my mind to stay at home with my baby. I loved my job and I wanted the best of both (quite rightly, we all deserve it!) I also hadn’t yet done the maths and couldn’t comprehend affording to resign from my job and the career I had worked so hard to pursue. Back in February 2020 it was a no-brainer. I would be returning to work and to teaching in 2021.
2020 turned out to be a bizarre and difficult year for us all. It threw so much into perspective and for me it massively changed my outlook on life and my views around returning to work.
I previously assumed that I couldn’t afford to give up work. However, on closer inspection could I afford not to give up work?!
On looking at local nurseries I soon learned I would be paying over half my income on Isaac’s childcare. Much of the remaining income would be spent on commuting. No doubt about it I LOVE working with children but did I want to spend more time with other people’s children than my own? Of course not! I realised I would be providing childcare while paying out for my own child’s separate childcare!
Don’t get me wrong, I realise how fortunate I am that I can afford to stay at home (for the time-being). I understand that while I wouldn’t have taken home much money, I would have taken home something. For many parents the option to completely give up work is simply not there. However, the financial advantages to staying at home (no childcare costs, no commuting costs, packed lunches…) just hadn’t previously occurred to me. This is also just with one child. Two or more children and you need a very well paid job to justify childcare costs!
I enjoy staying at home
Not everyone loves being at home with their children 24/7. That isn’t an issue, it doesn’t mean they love their kids any less! In fact having the balance of work and home-life could make many a happier and better parent! I thought I would need the adult interaction, the distractions and a different environment; I never expected to love being at home as much as I do. This was a big factor when deciding to resign.
I completely understand that having a job can mean more than money. It is the social side, the identity and the purpose that many of us crave. Perhaps due to lockdown and having my husband at home, or due to finding other passions (discussed below), I just don’t crave that or need it in my life anymore! When you’re working 60 hours a week (37 of which are actually paid), you’re not really getting the social side anyway. Besides, I still see many of my ex-colleagues (when covid allows) and enjoy finally chatting about things besides work.
I do also appreciate the positive sides to nursery. They provide a fantastic socialising and learning opportunity for small children. My hope is that in the next couple of years I will earn enough money to pay for Isaac to attend nursery for a day a week (before his free childcare hours kick in at least). It is good to know this is a choice and not something forced on us when we are not yet ready.
Working from home?
Lockdown and the request for people to work from home where possible has certainly got a lot of us thinking! I realised that, while not easy, it is very possible to work from home and be a full-time mum. In the last few weeks I have taken on two new income streams. These are both in the comfort of my own home and working around Isaac as my main full-time position!
I now work for The Body Shop at Home as a consultant which I am loving. To be honest it is more of a hobby than a job! It is so enjoyable sharing products with friends and family, getting freebies and of course using the commission to help pay for food shops and other family expenses. On top of this I freelance for a fantastic company, making resources and worksheets for teachers. This job is up to 10 hours a week and completely flexible. I get to be a stay-at-home mum and in total I nearly make as much money as I would as a teacher paying out for nursery!
My 2021 plans are very exciting. I will continue to be a Body Shop at Home consultant and a resource creator. I will also be pursuing my ambition to become a childminder and tutor. It is so exciting to be working from my own home and providing childcare to local little learners! Teachers have so many transferable skills and it has taken this year off and away from it all for me to realise it. It also doesn’t have to be the end of teaching for me. I have the qualification for life and I am keeping up to date with educational developments especially with my resource creating role. Perhaps I will return to teaching in a few years or perhaps not. I no longer fear changing my career if that works better for our circumstances.
I hope this has been insightful and helps you when weighing up your own options. Wishing you all a wonderful new year with your babies and great times ahead, whether you’re back at work, staying at home or attempting both like me!