As a working parent (and the parent that is around more), I continually face the challenge of contributing to support our family financially whilst being there for our daughter ‘G’. My hubby works away a lot and we don’t have family nearby so it’s just me and G most of the time. The hubby works various hours and there isn’t a set pattern but his job usually involves working late and being away at the weekends.
I need to earn money to contribute towards our regular household bills and the debts of course. Things are a lot better for us debtwise than they were a year ago so if I didn’t earn one month, we would survive – just. Not for long though. Without me earning regularly, we’d soon be up sh*t creek without a paddle, so I do ‘need’ to earn an income.
Working parents usually have to contend with childcare costs
There’s the challenge right there. Childcare costs an arm and a leg when you add it all up. I run a small self employed business from home but I often scout the local jobs section looking for a regular job where I can earn a reliable income every month. Sometimes I see a job that matches my skills and the wages looks pretty good too. Then I start working out the nitty gritty of how much I’ll pay in childcare and taxes of course and I’m just no better off. In fact I’d be worse off because I wouldn’t be seeing G as much.
We can get by with what I’m doing now, but I don’t make much money. Yet when you work in the cost of not having to commute to and from work, plus the benefit of being physically there for G, then this option looks reasonable. Yet I’m struggling with the situation right now, because I want to make sure that we can build the secure financial future that we need long term and in order to do that I need to earn much more money.
You know the crazy thing? If I quit my self employed business and didn’t work at all, we’d probably be entitled to government benefits because our total family income would be below the threshold. I could receive a similar amount of money each month for not working at all!
Am I tempted to do that? No, because I actually like working and keeping my brain active. I want to be able to support my family!!
There is a light on the horizon which came out in the recent Budget, in that working parents who earn less than £150K jointly are expected to receive up to £2000 annually towards childcare costs from Autumn 2015 (by way of tax free childcare up to a certain amount). It’s something at least, but I don’t know how this will affect me if I’m still self-employed at that time.
My options as a working parent
So to summarise, here’s my situation. The hubby works long irregular hours. I’m the sole carer for our child a lot of the time so childcare costs are a major factor. This means I can’t just go out and get a second job in the evening or weekends doing bar work or similar.
Option 1: I could put G in childcare and get a full time job and when she starts school, I could pay a little less in childcare. I could then build a career for the future. But I wouldn’t be there for her and I really want to make sure that I’m around especially because the hubby is away so much as it is.
Option 2: I could get a part time job fitting in with G’s nursery which is now funded for 15 hours per week. The only thing is that I would probably be earning the same amount of money or less than what I’m doing right now.
Option 3: I carry on with my variable self employed business whilst trying to carve out a freelancing career and exploring other money making ideas from home. I work even harder at what I’m already doing. I get to be there for ‘G’, taking her to and from nursery and when she’s poorly or on school holidays, she just stays at home with me. I don’t have to take time off work because of the fact that I’m self employed and can ‘rejig’ things. Now I have it written down, this is the only option that makes logical sense to me!!
This is a battle I have with myself constantly. I frequently wonder whether I’m doing the best for us long term whilst trying to be a good parent at the same time!
If you have kids, do you find it a challenge to juggle work and parenting?
*Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos
You may also be interested in a post I wrote earlier this week over at Debt Advice Blog on the topic of Managing Debt with Kids. I’d really appreciate you heading on over and taking a look!