I am currently on maternity leave from my part-time job as a shop assistant for a well-know baby accessories retailer. Although the job was only ever going to be a ’fill-in’ role for me while I sorted out my career prospects, I did enjoy my brief time working there, for the most part. The staff are lovely and I enjoyed interacting with customers (at least the pleasant ones). But the time came when I had to make a final decision on whether to return to work or not after having my baby.
Since I finally published my debut novel and am now developing a series based on the supernatural creatures living in a fictional Cornish town, my husband and I agreed that I should not return to the day job. Our main reason for this decision was that it is simply not worth it for the money. I actually earned more money from statutory maternity pay than I did from my weekly wage. I find this quite a ridiculous notion, that it pays better for me to stay home with a baby than it does to actually go out to work.
Part of the financial factor was the estimated cost of childcare. We would be paying a minimum of £30 per day for our daughter to attend a nursery, and then there is the added travel cost and associated stress for me. Besides, I want to be there with my child for her first few years. I don’t want to miss anything in her development. We are fortunate enough that we can just about manage on one wage, although we literally are clawing our way through each month.
The bizarre thing is, that while I have known all along that I won’t return to work, it was hard to actually write the resignation letter and hand it over. I have had a job of some sort since I was 15 years old. Even while I was at university I always had guaranteed seasonal work during the spring, summer and winter holidays. Now, I have no set place of work to attend. And it feels strange, like I have given up a huge part of my personal independence.
I am still working. My job is now full-time writer, using our dining room as my office while I simultaneously care for our baby. In fact, life is far more hectic now than it was when I was at work. But it is also far more enjoyable and rewarding. My husband and I are on a long, hard slog to the top of our respective professions, but I recognize that we are at least both practicing those vocations, as opposed to just dreaming about them. And for me, that is worth giving up my financial independence for a short time.
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