Monday, 26 February 2018

Full-Time Mum or Full-Time Job?

If you’re a regular reader or follow me over on Twitter, you’ll know that I’m nearing the end of my maternity period and I’m due to return back to work at the end of April *booooo!* I’ve known all along that I’ll be returning back to work, even before I left, the date was set and it was agreed that I would have the full year off to spend at home with Mylo but it seems to have come around so fast and I’m starting to plan the childcare arrangements for both Millie and Mylo, however, the stress of trying to sort this out is making the thought of going back to work sickening and leaving me with huge anxiety.

Why?! Because childcare is so expensive and an absolute pain in the arse to arrange!! 

full time mum or full time job

I work full-time, however just term time, at a local college and so my hours are fairly reasonable but due to the childcare situation we use, it means I still leave the house before 7:30am and I don’t return until gone 6pm most days. It’s knackering to say the least but, when I’m paying for it, it’s also expensive too. Luckily, to help take the weight off a little bit, my Mum will be having Mylo 2 days a week meaning he will only need to go to nursery for 3 days. This is fine and works for us however, Millie will also need some sort of childcare now too as she’s at school. Adam’s hours are a little awkward as he’s a personal trainer, his busiest hours are of course early morning and late afternoon (colliding with the school run!) and so we’re a little stuck as to what we can do which leads me onto the topic of this blog post...

Before and After school clubs are a great way to get your child to school and have someone look after them if you start work early or finish later than the school does - most schools have some form of club and Millie’s is no different, although it isn’t actually the best option for us. At just under £7.00 PER HOUR it means that if we were to use the schools club for the hours we require (approximately 16 hours a week) we’ll be looking at paying nearly £430.00 a month just for Millie - this doesn’t include snacks that she’ll need to take with her and breakfast in the morning! Mylo will be at nursery for 3 full days which works out at nearly the same price as what we’ll be paying for Millie - all in all shedding out a whopping £860.00 a month in childcare. 

So lets work it out, shall we?
 I only earn £1100 a month (after tax) so I’ll let you do the maths in regards to what I’ll be left with after childcare fees... Yeah. Not much. I also have bills to pay alongside this, things like Council tax (£110), Car/Insurance (£200), Phone bill (£40), TV (£45), Various insurances (£20) and food to buy (£100), not to mention nappies for Mylo and any bits Millie needs for school. 
£1100 - £860 = 240 - £110 - £200- £40 - £45 - £20 - £100 = 
MINUS £275.00
How ridiculous is that!? 

I understand there is a government scheme in place that gives most 2,3 or 4 year olds 30 hours of free childcare a week, that’s great! However, Mylo is only 1. I work full-time and Adam is self-employed meaning we don’t qualify for this. We don’t qualify for something that is meant to help WORKING PARENTS. Tell me how this makes sense?! How come those of us who bust our ass and go to work for 8+ hours a day yet still need to pay for childcare, don’t get any help or any hours free and those who DON’T work, get all the childcare free for no reason!? Why would you need to send your child to nursery when you’re at home all day? I just don’t get it and it makes me ANGRY. 

Then, there’s Tax Credits. GREAT! Tax credits entitles you to claim for up to 70% of your childcare allowances BUT bare in mind that this is an ESTIMATE and you may need to pay back what you have been given! I am currently paying back £35 a month for Millie’s childcare that apparently, I was over-paid!Again, for something that is meant to help working parents just puts more stress on whether it’s the right thing to do or will you be left even more in debt. 

So, do I return to work and have less money than I would if I were to stay at home!? I can earn around £500-£700 a month from my blog and freelance work (when I put my mind to it) and whilst I’m off I’ve had my maternity allowance too, which is a significant amount MORE than what I’ll actually be bringing home when I come to return to work but the dread is ever-looming and the thought of not having a regular income to support us as a family isn’t worth thinking about. Of course, I won’t be earning this when I do return to work as I simply won’t have the time to put in the hours required to take photos, write blog posts and cover social media but, I am planning to request flexible hours to start in September and hopefully this will tie-in with childcare arrangements taking the strain (emotionally and financially) off both of us but until then, we’re stuck and will have to fork out the costs of childcare if needed. 

It’s a touchy subject for those who aren’t in this position and get free childcare but for those who know exactly where I’m coming from and are experiencing the same thing, you’ll be nodding your head along with everything I’ve said. 

If you’re in a similar situation to me, make sure you check out all of the helplines the HMRC offer, there’s all kinds of support for anyone that is returning to work, looking to become self-employed or if you don’t know what you’re entitled to once you’re on maternity, there is the maternity allowance helpline too. All the numbers are on the HMRC contact us page of their website.

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