A mother is weighing her options about cutting her hours or giving up work altogether to spend more time with her children. She asked FamilyPoint for advice.
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As a full time working mother of two I’m starting to feel guilty missing their childhood. I’m seriously considering cutting my hours or becoming a stay at home mum. I have a daughter who’s five and a son who’s three and it seems I hardly have any quality time with them. In the morning it’s the rush of getting ready and arriving school, crèche and work in time. Then at night it’s cooking, eating, washing up and a bedtime story. It’s all such a rush.
The weekend is about cleaning the house and doing the weekly shop. If we’re lucky we get to spend a bit of quality time together, in between all the children’s parties, swimming lessons etc.
Life is frantic; I want to slow it down. Their childhood seems to be flying past and before I know it they’ll be ready to move out, and I’ll have missed it all because of work. I’m just worried about how we’ll afford it if I go part-time. My partner works full time and gets a decent wage, but not enough to support us all and pay the mortgage. I think I could afford to cut some hours, but it would mean having to make cuts. What if I regret it and finances become difficult? Maybe we’d be better off if I quit work altogether as it would mean getting more benefits. Do you have any advice?
Our FamilyPoint Advice
First of all, I’d like to thank you for contacting FamilyPoint with your situation. It sounds like you really care and want the best for your children. They are very lucky to have you as a mother, who is considering reducing or giving up work altogether so that their needs are met.
Deciding on whether to continue working, or reducing your hours, is a very common dilemma that faces a number of parents. What may work for one family won’t necessarily work for another. Every family situation is different, but there are some things you can do to see what might work best for you and your family.
These days, women have a lot more opportunities and choices when it comes to career options. Being able to consider this decision would not have even happened in the past. It might be a good idea to look at the facts, rather than wondering ‘what if’. A good starting point would be to look at it practically, and see what might work for you. Could you afford to reduce your hours or stop work all together? Is there somewhere else you could work where fewer hours would be affordable?
We have published several articles looking at the different ways that families can save money. Perhaps you could cut your hours if you made other savings.
Deciding to end your career altogether sounds like a very big step to take, but only you can make this decision. Think about how you might feel in 10 or 12 years, when your children are older. They probably won’t need as much of your time and attention by then, and you might want to return to work. Therefore continuing to work on a part-time basis might be the best decision for you, continuing to get work experience in a competitive employment world. A sensible option may be to go part-time to begin with, and if you find it doesn’t work for you then make the decision to take a career break after.
Think about how this decision might affect the family dynamics. If you have a partner, how will they feel if you decide to become a full-time carer for your children? Will they embrace this change? What affect will working part-time or ending your career altogether have on your children? If your children have regular contact with grandparents or close relatives, could this make a difference to your decision?
Perhaps you’re worried about choosing suitable childcare? Maybe you don’t know where to start, you’re feeling guilty, or you’re worried about making the wrong choices. Try considering the following things when approaching a childcare provider; they may put your mind at ease.
- Trained and experienced staff, ready to learn and respond to your child’s individual needs
- Busy, but relaxed, children who seem happy and purposeful
- Safe and clean premises – welcoming and friendly with outside play space
- Cultural sensitivity and responsiveness to children’s home life
- A staff team and group of children who reflect local ethnic and cultural groups
- Fun activities planned each day – childminders, nurseries and out-of-school clubs all need to plan their days with children’s interests and enthusiasms in mind
- Planned exercise and quiet times to relax are important
- A big welcome for you and your child
Your local Family Information Service can help you with a list of registered childcare providers in your area.
Financial assistance and support
It is really important that you find out what makes financial sense to you and your family. To do this you need to understand what financial help is available to you. The best place to start is with your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Whatever your decision, you may be entitled to tax credits. These are extra benefits for people responsible for children, disabled workers and other workers on lower incomes. Tax credits are tax-free and you don’t have to be paying National Insurance or tax to qualify, but they are means-tested. Whether you qualify, and how much you get, depends on your household income and circumstances. Find out how to make an application here.
If you work and you’re on a low income, you might be eligible for Working Tax Credit to top up your earnings. Also, the childcare element of Working Tax Credit can help with the cost of childcare. When you apply for Child Tax Credit you’ll be told if you qualify for Working Tax Credit. There’s no need to claim them separately.
We hope that this information helps you to make an informed decision. Hopefully whatever you decide to do will be the best decision for everyone.
All the best.
The Family Point team
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
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