When you become a parent, building a successful, fulfilling career becomes immeasurably harder.
Working parents have to deal with emotional and personal choices – how much to work and where, what childcare to use, and how often. Then there are practical issues – how much leave are we entitled to, and what will we be paid? How does SMP work? Where can we get advice when things go wrong?
Our new Working Life editor Chelle McCann will be bringing Tots100 readers the very best advice from our community, and Tot100 partners, to help you make the most of your working life. Whether you’re on maternity leave, going back to work, or setting out on your own, Chelle is on a mission to make it just a little bit easier. As a working Mum herself, she’s experienced just how tough it can be:
Me and my husband planned for our baby at Christmas 2008, a month before our wedding.
We honestly thought it would take around a year to conceive, giving us plenty of time to save, so we had a decent amount to fall back on when my maternity leave started.
I found out I was pregnant two months after our wedding and two days before my 30th birthday in 2009!
We frantically tried to save enough to sort out a nursery as well as cover the household expenses. We were lucky enough to have a lodger to help us with ever-rising bills.
After my first Statutory Maternity Pay cheque, it quickly became apparent that we would not be able to do much while I was on maternity leave, in fact nothing at all.
We had to cut out birthday presents, Christmas presents…in fact any kind of present or treat. We hardly left the house during the summer of 2010.
We got savvy with food shopping and starting using cloth nappies as another way to save pennies. We have a generous family who have kitted our baby well into toddlerhood with new clothes and toys. We realised that as much as you plan for a baby the financial pressures affect everyone just the same.
I could not afford to take the full year off that we had originally planned. I returned to work when my daughter, Fizz was seven and half months old. She will be three this winter and in the last two years things have really changed for us.
I was lucky to receive 18 weeks SMP at the equivalent to 90% pay. All mums or dads now get SMP for approximately 39 weeks. Although I had to say that in my experience, £123 is not enough to feed, clothe and pay the bills. I never understood why SMP was taxed, either…
I would have been able to take the entire year off if SMP had been more evenly spread. I could even have thoroughly enjoyed my six months if the amount of SMP was reduced from 9 months to 6 months and paid at a higher amount.
As it is, from our baby being three months of age to six months we were worrying about money and forgoing even the littlest of luxuries. Returning to work early is an option for all parents but not all of us want to do this!
I was always worried about missing my baby first, but then in the same breath I worried about giving her a good quality of life.
Did you have to return to work early due to financial pressures? How do you feel about the amount of SMP? And how did you feel when you found out you were being taxed on your SMP?