Deciding when, or if, you return to work is a decision best made when you are not sleep deprived. When I went on maternity leave I was certain that I didn’t want to return and certainly not to the full on full-time job that I had.
Working out what is best for you and your new family is essential for you.
Do you have a choice?
Of course, not everyone has a choice, but if you have a choice try to delay your decision until your baby is not quite so new and life settles down. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision, the law protects you.
You may well discover that you want more time off, or not. Being a first time is not easy with a huge change to your lifestyle. Not meant in a negative way of course, but it is a significant adjustment from 2 people to 3 or more…
You may find that when pregnant you were convinced you would want to be at home, but reality kicks in and could very well miss the sense of purpose and identity that work gives you. I know I did..
Stay at home parents
If you choose to stay at home or delay returning to work for those early years, you will be able to enjoy all the first milestones like their first words or first steps. But in addition to this you will need to prepare yourself to adjust to losing your financial independence and depending which career you work in you may find you could quickly lose the edge you had.
Dads at home
More and more families are sharing parental leave as dads are taking paternity leave to have an active part on their newborn, and sometimes the decision is financial, as the higher income earner may be the mum. With 1 in 7 fathers in the UK now staying at home it is a serious consideration for new parents and the trend has trebled in the last 15 years.
Full time working
Of course many couples need to continue to work, and that could be full-time. Ensuring you organise good quality childcare is essential, but also costly. Obviously if only one of your returns full-time decisions to work from home, ask for flexible working or to discuss and agree who would thrive at home. As the person returning to work will have to deal with the guilt factor, as you can be sure it will rear its ugly head.
Don’t hide your “guilt” away, discuss this together and remind yourself why you made the decisions you did and focus on the benefits.
Working fewer days, working from home some or part of the week, or as many new parents do consider starting your own business. All of these options can give you more time with your baby. Considering child-friendly options for both you and your partner is essential to make this work, as there are pros and cons to flexible working, just as there are to going back full-time.
What are your options for childcare?
Family and friends
Potentially low or no cost and flexibility
Child will be looked after family or friends and loved.
Could have contentious issues such as wages, costs, food, discipline and activities
Illness or holiday cover
Sharing with your partner
Big plus you will always know your baby will be care for by one of his parents.
No childcare fees at all
You’ll be doing “shifts” so your relationship will need to be flexible
You’ll need back up cover for sickness
Well regulated, good learning environment and care structure from staff
Reliable and open most of the year, sociable and fun for children
Your child will be one of many and may get less one-to-one attention
Nurseries are expensive, having waiting lists and can’t always be flexible
Can be a smaller group of children and a home environment.
Well regulated, offer more individual care, better value for money and can be more flexible.
If your child is ill or take holidays you will have to find alternative care
One-to-one care in your home. Highly qualified, providing a structured lifestyle and can be “live in” or “live out” and shares by two families.
Is the cost, nannies can be the most expensive option.
Hiring a nanny makes you an employer and the responsibilities that come with that role.
A low-cost option, who work for “pocket-money” and board only. Usually bonding well with your child, they can help with babysitting, light child-related jobs and could introduce a new language for your child.
They will not have any formal childcare qualifications, can only look after pre-school children when you’re in the home. You will also need to have a spare room and bathroom if they are “live in”.