If you’re pregnant or you’re looking into adoption, one of your main worries may be money. It’s no secret that raising children doesn’t come cheap, and you may be thinking about how you’re going to afford to look after your children, and what the best option would be for your family. Many people choose to go back to work after having children, but it doesn’t always make financial sense. If you’re umming and ahhing about what to do, hopefully, this guide will help.
If you don’t yet have children, but you know you want your family to expand in the coming years, it’s always beneficial to plan ahead. Start putting money away into a savings account every month. Even if it’s just a small amount, it’ll come in handy if you do fall pregnant or you get good news from the adoption agency.
If you have a job, find out everything you need to know taking leave before and after you’ve welcomed a new addition. Everybody is entitled to statutory leave, but the firm you work for may offer additional incentives. It’s worth doing some research to find out exactly what you’re entitled to. You can work out how long you’ll be able to take off, and what you’ll be earning during that period. Once you’ve got figures and time frames, you can make a decision about how much time you want to take off, and when you want to take it.
Arranging your leave
If you’re pregnant and you’re counting down the days until your baby arrives, it’s always a good idea to notify your employer well in advance and give them plenty of notice as to when you plan to take maternity leave. Some women prefer to finish well in advance of their due date while others leave it until as late as possible so that they can have more time off after the baby is born. If you’re adopting, you should notify your employer within 7 days of being matched with a child, informing them when you want to start your leave. You then have 28 days to give them the date you expect to finish your leave. If you change your mind about your return to work date, don’t panic. As long as you give 8 weeks’ notice, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Parental leave is not restricted to mothers. It is also possible for fathers to take paternity leave. If your partner is employed, they can take either one or two weeks of paid leave. It is also possible to share parental leave. In this case, you can divide up your leave. If you need advice, or you’re not sure what would work best for you, you can find out more in this post by Ellis Whittam. It’s also worth discussing your options with your partner, and getting advice from friends or family members who have children.
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When you’re planning your maternity leave or you’re hoping to hear that you’ve been matched with a child, it’s a good idea to do some number crunching. Many women find that it makes sense to take 9 or 12 months of maternity leave, but after this period of time, a situation may arise when you’re paying out more in childcare than you’re earning. If you only work part-time or you don’t have a high paid job, you may find that you gain very little by going back to work. If there is a small difference, you may find that you’d rather stay at home and raise your children rather than working every day to earn very little. If you have a good salary, you may find that there’s a significant difference between childcare costs and your income. It may also be an option for you to go back to work and your partner to stay at home, or you could consider sharing both responsibilities and work part-time.
To get an accurate picture of your projected finances, work out how much you earn, how much you could claim in credits and benefits, and how much you would be paying in childcare fees. Free nursery places are available for children of certain ages, so don’t forget to factor in funded hours.
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Aside from caring for your children full-time and sending them to nursery, there are other childcare options you could explore. If you have family, there may be the option of your child or children spending one day a week with their auntie or grandparents, for example. If you have siblings with children, it may be possible to work out a system that suits all of you. Perhaps you could work out a schedule that means that you have your nephews or nieces on one day in exchange for your brother or sister having them another day. If you share childcare, you could save a lot of money. There’s also the option of employing a childminder. In some cases, this is better because the hours may be more flexible. If your child goes to nursery, you’ll usually have to pay for either a half-day session or a full day even if you only need a couple of hours. With a childminder, you can work out a weekly routine that suits both parties, and it may work out cheaper for you.
What’s best for your child?
When it comes to offsetting working against staying at home, many parents feel guilty about choosing to go back to work. They spend a lot less time with their kids, and they may worry about missing out on major milestones. If you’re weighing up the options, try and use both your head and your heart. It may be possible to find a solution that makes everybody happy, such as working part-time. But don’t feel guilty if you want to go back to work or you have to take that path to put food on the table. Equally, you should never feel like you’re not contributing because you’re staying at home. By raising your child, you’re doing perhaps the most important job there is out there. Don’t panic about making a decision during the early stages. You can always consider other options if things aren’t working out as planned.
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It’s a modern-day conundrum. As a parent, should you go back to work or stay at home and look after your kids? Hopefully, this guide has given you some clarity and helped you prepare for the future.