The great returning to work dilemma for mums

I’ve spent the last three years making babies and keeping them alive.

There was a return to work for about eight months in the middle of that. But I am not one of those glowing pregnant women, unless you count the sweat brought on by nausea as a glow.

So as I returned to work pregnant again, and feeling pretty rubbish, it wasn’t really a period of meteoric climbing and grand achievements in my career. I survived it then went on leave to have my second baby.

Now we’re at the stage where I need to decide what to do about going back to work.

That awkward time where you weigh up the pros and cons of returning to work. Even the most ambitious career women may have to take a pause at this moment in their life, because it just doesn’t pay to work for some people.

When I return to work nearly all of my salary will go on the nursery bill for two kids. And yet I enjoy my job and we want to take out a mortgage for a bigger house next year. I need a few payslips behind me so we can think big.

If only nursery wasn’t so expensive. If only wages were higher. If only houses and grocery bills weren’t so eye-wateringly costly. If only more companies valued women the same as they value men.

Here’s the three options as I see it:

Full-time mum

Lots of quality time with the children.
Never miss a milestone. Saving money on nursery.

May actually go insane.
Main daily adult interaction is with other mums only and all you manage to talk about is primary school applications.

Part-time working mum

Best of both worlds.
Great for maintaining active CV.

You’re actually doing your full-time job with less time and less pay.
You’re working your tits off but the 25-year-old idiot who started five years after you did is more likely to get the promotion.

Full-time work

Interaction with other adults about adult stuff on a daily basis.
Enjoy the quality family time at weekends even more.
Having a career to nurture and feeling personal pride at succeeding.
Making the point that just because you’re the woman, why the hell shouldn’t you go back to work full-time.

Guilt at leaving kids in full-time childcare.
Constant feeling of missing out on something.
Never any time to eat, shower, speak to other half, draw breath.
What the f**k do you do about school holidays?

As you can see, it’s a tricky one.

It’s funny how quickly the way of life changes. For our grandmothers, going back to work would have been out of the question.

For our mums it was touch and go. Now for us, most of my friends do some form of work.

It’s a real mixed bag when I think about what they’re all up to, and I think that’s great.

Decide what makes you happy, then make it work.

If that means trying something completely new, I say go for it. What do you have to lose?

I think for many of us, having kids can cause a bit of a knock to our confidence. We feel like we’ve been out of the game for too long and the men have the advantage of complete consistency on their CV.

Putting ourselves out there, in whatever way makes us most comfortable, is the way forward. Be brave. Forge a new path. Pick a new passion. Put your career on pause but remember you can return in the future.

Depending on circumstances, financial and practical, we may have to accept that we can’t have it all. At least for now.

The important thing is to do what works for you and your family.


Weighing up the options for returning to work after having a baby.

My Random Musings