Being a stay at home mum was never part of my plan. I spent a lot of time, energy and money becoming a qualified solicitor. I had grand plans. I’d be a city girl, a high flyer wearing designer threads as I slayed my opponents in court before marching out in my Jimmy Choos. (Look, I am a socialist but I like nice stuff too, ok?)
Anyway, the plan started to go a bit wrong when I moved from a city to my small home town and cut my legal teeth at a high street firm here. What followed was marriage and a baby. And then another.
And now I’m a stay at home mum. Not a Jimmy Choo in sight. (What’s the point? They’d only get covered in crayon and milk spit up.)
Going back to work (as in paid work – we all know raising kids is still actual work) is something I think about a lot. I suppose I’ve never really gotten comfortable with being defined as only a mother. Yes, that’s my most important job, raising humans is a big deal and a lot of responsibility. Not just to them but to the world (I don’t want to rear psychopaths then let them loose to wreak havoc on civilisation one day, obviously). But to let it be my only job doesn’t sit well with me. I suppose I feel the need to have something just for myself, if that makes any kind of sense.
Please don’t mistake this for me having no respect for stay at home mums (and dads for that matter) and their decision to stay at home out of choice. I get how important it is for some people and judge them in no way. Some stay at home mum’s thrive but I’m not one of them; I’m crap at baking and I don’t have a crafty bone in my body.
So I’ve explored going back to work. I’ve looked into the childcare options. I’ve worked out pick up and drop off times. And here’s the thing; no one would benefit from it except for me.
If I worked locally I would have to drop the kids off at childcare at 8am and collect them at 6pm (maybe 5.30pm at a push). So that’s ten hours a day they would be in someone else’s charge. That’s the vast majority of their waking hours. After childcare it would be home, dinner, bed, bath – I’d barely see them. And that’s if I actually finished work when I was supposed to. Most lawyers take work home with them to finish as well, it’s the nature of the job. Yes, I’d have weekends, but that’s about it.
The cost of 50 hours per week for childcare for two children would be around £460 per week. Despite popular opinion the average high street lawyer doesn’t make a huge amount of money, which means it would actually cost me financially to go back to work. If I worked part time, it would still cost me.
The other option is if I worked out of town. The nearest two cities are just over an hour’s commute away. Totally doable. My salary would be a fair bit higher but I’d spend even less time with the kids. I’d may as well get a live in nanny. Which just makes me think, why did I have them in the first place if I’m going to let other people raise them? And as well as the live in nanny I’d doubtless need a cleaner, otherwise I’d be spending those precious weekends cleaning and ironing and what not.
So to go back to work it seems I would have to either make my family generally poorer or outsource most other parts of my life (and possibly still make us poorer). And as the only person who would benefit from me working is me, I really can’t justify it. It would just be selfish.
I chose to have my children, a decision I’ve never for a second regretted, so if that means I’m a stay at home mum for a while then so be it. The Jimmy Choos will just have to wait.