Weighing up options and choices

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks having a breather from things in order to get a bit of thinking done. I got a bit stressed out for a while back there. It’s easily done. I started thinking about how much money I earn (these days, not a lot) and how I was going to make that better in the future. I read other blogs where people are managing to plough what seems like a small fortune into savings or paying off debts and mortgages each month and know there is no way we could manage to do the same. Even stripping back to the bare minimum (which we are generally pretty close to) it is a struggle to save £100 or £200 a month. We’re hardly going to be able to buy a house outright on a ten year plan, are we?!

Plus it is becoming increasingly apparent that we aren’t going to get anything like we thought we would for our house which is pretty demoralising after keeping up to date with the mortgage and paying every bill on time for over a decade. If we even manage to sell it.

The thing is, with my work history and my degree there is a kind of obvious route I could take to earn a lot more money. It would mean some quite extreme financial hardship for a year or two and then over a period of years I could earn up to twice what I am earning now. It’s tempting. And yet, even taking into account all of the above, I’ve come to the conclusion that it just isn’t worth it. Nor is trying to get a few more hours work here and there. What is the point of starting a family (and being one of those Mums that actually likes being at home rather than wanting a nanny to do it all) to go and spend a huge amount of hours and stress and sacrificing family time just to have more cash? Don’t get me wrong – more cash would be amazing. We could live in a decent house and have the security of savings. The price, however, is just too high. I know too many people that wish they had stayed at home more when their children were tiny and then realised, too late, that they can’t get that time back. It’s not a mistake I intend to make.

The conclusion I’ve come to (and which I deviate from and come back to again and again) is that where I am at right now is as near perfect as it is going to get. Today is a Wednesday – right in the middle of the working week. This morning Baby and I went to the library for our Bounce and Rhyme session and then had a walk along the seafront. She is currently having a nap and I’m just planning what to make for lunch and then what we’ll do after. If I was working more hours (even for more money) all I’d be doing is sitting at work wishing I could be doing exactly what I am doing right now (If you get what I mean). Maybe when Baby is at school, or older still, I can think about all of this again. Until then, I’m just going to be grateful (which I am) for what I’ve got, which is a pretty amazing work/life balance. And I’m just going to have to do the best I can with what I earn until a time comes when I can think about earning more/working more hours  without compromising that balance.

Categories: Ramblings | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Weighing up options and choices

  1. Hi I know when my children were little I maybe worked 10 hrs a week but that was not consistently. We chose to have less money as when options were weighed up it didnt really work out to have to pay for childcare. I would have been earning minus!. I dont regret having less money as in my eyes you cant put a price on time spent with your children. I do appreciate that one parent familys it must be hard as they probably dont have the same options depending on circumstances.
    Its only now that my children are virtually 12 & 14 that I can start doing more. Before it was like school holiday at easter , summer ,christmas etc etc. Its not easy when you have to find a job flexible to allow these holidays off. I say enjoy your time with baby . I always used to think it sounded cliche about time flying by when they were little, but it really does go so fast. x

    • shoestringalley

      No, you can’t put a price on that time and, yes, I realised pretty quickly that the saying about time flying couldn’t be more true! I’m currently working 23 hours a week split over two days in the office and one day working from home. I really don’t think I could squeeze in an extra hour to earn more cash without really creating problems (particularly when there are tax implications to consider too). Thanks for your comment x

  2. Lisa

    I stayed at home when my children were little so that I could spend those first few years with them. We were always really tight for cash but being able to enjoy them was well worth it. When they started school I began working part-time and then as they grew I went on to full-time work. I, however, miss out on lots of school things -concerts, trips, awards etc so I sometimes wish I had stayed part-time for longer. As long as you have a roof over your head, food on the table and enought to enjoy yourself a little then I would try to enjoy this time of your and your child’s lives.

    • shoestringalley

      I think the part-time/full-time conundrum is a universal part of parenthood, isn’t it? I’m beginning to see this more and more. I need to work out how I’m going to get the balance right when she’s at school too. Just because I could work full time hours then doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be best for me or her. However, I’m also quite ambitious in many ways and would like to earn more per hour, even if I am still a part-timer! Thanks for your comment. It’s is always good to hear from other people who have been there and done that! 🙂

  3. It can be tough on a lower income, we’re well under the low-income cut off here in Canada for a family of 6, but I budget to the penny & we live simply so that I can be t home with my kids. No amount of money, or anything materialistic could ever convince me to go to work. I’d rather be grateful for what we have & live within our means.

  4. Alison B43

    My husband and I had both been married before and had children living with us when we got together. The children were young and with four of them it was almost impossible for me to work more than a few hours each week. We lived together in a relatively small three bedroom house, but although it was certainly not easy, time moved on much faster than anticipated and gradually I was able to change my hours until the day I was able to take on a full time job. At this point we felt like millionaires! After that, of course, we moved and joined the ‘rat race’ again. Now the ‘children’ have all left home, and we are on the downward slope again – we have realised that we do not need our house and moved to a smaller property to free up some money to travel. I think you are a real inspiration – over the last few years I have worked alongside so many women who have children then return to full time work – they miss so much. Whilst I would probably not have chosen the route we took I am very glad that I was able to be involved so much in my children’s early life. Because of part-time working I was able to switch days and attend school functions etc although holiday times were quite interesting, using lunch hours to move kids between play sessions!! You can always make economies with money, but should not make economies with your children’s time. x

  5. Jane

    I decided to stay at home when I had a baby – we were so poor! Lived in a flat up a steep set of stone steps, with no garden, and had to pinch every penny. But it was the right thing to do, and I have never regretted it. Plenty of time to go back to work later on. Enjoy this magical time with your baby, and don’t worry about what other people are doing – everyone is different and you are doing the best you can. Try to make friends with other parents who are in the same situation – it is always easier being broke if everyone is in the same boat! Good luck


  6. I am back now full time and paying the price I think :-(, I do flexible working so I can pick the kids up 3 days a week, but it is a real struggle. My children are 11, 7 and 5 and I really wish I was at home more…feels quite sad admitting that aloud.

  7. Maria

    In agree massively with commenters above – yes, it’s true that time flies, yes it’s very hard to strike the balance right between work and family, and I especially agree with Lisa when she says “so long as you have a roof over your head, food on the table and enought to enjoy yourself a little then I would try to enjoy this time of your and your child’s lives”.

    To all this I would add – don’t let yourself feel pressured by comparing yourself to others! Yes some are on the path to paying off their mortgage in 10 years, or downsizing, or whatever – but they are not you! They will have different circumstances, jobs, or be at different points in their life. All you can do is your best – and if you keep coming back to the same point decision-wise, then it is generally an indication you have it right for you, at this point in time. You may just need to remind yourself occasionally..

    all the best!

  8. I agree with pretty much every comment here! I am also a part-timer, my son is 21months old and I work 3 days a week. I think it is a great balance, I really enjoy my job, but that doesn’t mean I’m not exhausted all the time and sometimes wish I didn’t have to work! However, the balance of having 4 days with him is fantastic. I’m not sure what I’ll do if we have another child, but I’m trying not to worry about it now and will hopefully work it out, if it happens! Good luck with everyone, we are all doing the hardest job (but the most rewarding0 in the world!

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