I think I was.
In fact, for now, I know I was.
As for the future, only time will tell.
But if I look back, I know it was the right decision for me at this point in time.
I was paying a fortune on childcare
After having my 3rd baby, with my eldest in full-time school and my middle one off to nursery school 5 mornings a week, I decided that the best option for us all (logistically, at least) was to have a nanny. On paper, I thought I could afford her. Except that working 3 days a week meant that I was getting paid for 22.5 hours a week, while she was getting paid for 29.5 hours. The tax I had to pay on her were extortionate and literally ‘hurt’ me every 3 months when I used to get the bill. Don’t get me wrong, she is a fantastic person, and feel so so lucky to have met her and found someone we could trust and looked after the children so well, but, did it make sense to spend over three quarters of my salary on childcare?
I was not enjoying work
I worked for 11 years as a Business Analyst (well, take away 3 years spent on maternity leave, one with each of my children). Don’t get me wrong – the job suited me, and I owe a HUGE amount to this profession. I’ve learnt from it, not just on a professional level but also on a personal level. A HUGE amount. And I’ve met some incredible people over the years (including The Husband), who have literally become my family in the UK. Not to mention that it’s a good career to be in.
Except that working project after project in such large organisations means that a lot of the time priorities change, projects are dropped and teams are moved around, and very often I felt like I was writing documents for the sake of it, and it wasn’t fun anymore. This isn’t to say I’ll never get back to it – in a few years, when the demands of my family change, I might feel differently again.
I was always the part-timer
Coupled with the point above, being part-time didn’t help at all! In an environment where things move fast and priorities change daily, the fact that I was off for 2 days a week didn’t really go down well with anyone. Of course when you finally catch that stakeholder you’ve been trying to chase down all week, they go:
“Oh, right. Let’s have a meeting on Friday”
Me: “Ehm, I don’t work Fridays”
Stakeholder: “Well, then… Monday is manic, so let’s do Tuesday”
Me: “Ehm, I don’t work Tuesdays”
Stakeholder thinking ‘Who doesn’t work on Tuesday!?’ [Although I might have omitted some swear words there] “Well, I’m out of the office for the rest of next week, so try and find me the week after next”.
And there goes my last hope of meeting my deadline. What do I do to avoid getting ‘in trouble’? Ah, I’ll have to log on tonight after 10pm when the children are in bed, and I’ve sorted the kitchen out, and… zzzz… Tomorrow I have to do this all over again. Can’t do this. I’m going to bed.
So you can’t really blame your managers when they decide to put your colleagues on the most high-priority (read ‘more interesting and sought after’) projects! (Well, you do it anyway, but you have to see they’ve got a point there).
I was always on the back foot
On a work day, I’d rush around the house to get the children ready for school and myself ready for work, leave the house (late), spend a frustrating hour commuting and wondering whether I’d get there for the 9:30 meeting (no hope for the 9am’s), play catch up all day at work to pretend the days I missed didn’t matter, commute home for another hour (in sardine mode, as everyone in London decides to leave the office at 5pm, it seems), get in the house at or just after 6pm, and…
The nanny is trying to tell me what happened in the day.
The Little Guy wants to be picked up and goes to the fridge wanting who-knows-what. (Not to mention when I first went back to work, and he’d pinned me down on the sofa for a breastfeed).
The Middle Guy is jumping off the sofa and I have to go over there ‘right now’ to see the latest den he made (because how many different combinations can you make with 9 cushions and a blanket if you try every single day of the year?)
And if it was a day when The Big Guy was home, he’d of course be trying to destroy the den. Because that’s what you do. Annoy the middle brother. Not the youngest brother, mind you, just the middle one.
Dinner had to be made (often various different things if the boys don’t want the same thing and don’t eat what we eat), and come 7pm I often still didn’t have a clue as to what we were eating or had in the house anyway! All this, and I hadn’t even changed out of my work clothes.
And let’s not even talk about the days ‘off’ I had. “Are you off tomorrow?” they’d say at work! Guys, if I came to the office it’d be a day off, compared to the madness of my days ‘off’.
I was very very unsettled
It’s fair to say that I really did try to return to work part-time with 3 children. I know A LOT of people do it, and do it successfully. It’s hard for everyone, no doubt, but when I realised that I was spending more than I was earning (add commute costs and lunch and coffees to the cost of childcare and all the regular monthly spending), and I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing, it started making a lot less sense.
Plus, after the bus accident in April, and my session with a Life Coach in June, I really really started to realise that I was living on auto-pilot and trying to ‘survive’ every day. I was constantly running around, catching up (chores, errands, work etc.), feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and rushing the children along with me.
And once I realised that there was no financial gain either, it became a no-brainer, really.
So yes, I think it was the right decision for us, as a family.
Now, let’s see what it means for me going forward.
Ask me again in a few years, and I hope I can still stand by this decision and not live to regret it!