We’re a year on from an upheaval in our lives. At the end of July, Christine returned to work after seven months of maternity leave. Lizzie went into childcare on weekdays, although just for four days a week at first due to capacity issues. And on the 1st August, I started a new job.
Putting Lizzie into full-time childcare wasn’t an easy decision; she probably spends more time awake with her childminders than she does with Christine or I. And childcare is currently our single biggest monthly expense – more than our mortgage repayments.
But the cost was less than the pay cut that either of us would have needed to take to go part-time to look after her. I had considered trying to condense my hours into four days rather than five, but this would mean barely seeing Lizzie and Christine on those days, and being one of the first to arrive and last to leave at work. I doubt I would’ve been as productive, and the nature of my work means that it’s better for me to be in every day for a shorter period than fewer long periods.
I think Lizzie has benefited as well. After all, we’re essentially paying an expert to look after her during the day, and she’s getting to spend more time with other children, which she wouldn’t be able to at home. Unless we decide to have more children (we’re not 100% sure, and certainly not within the next 12 months), Lizzie won’t have any brothers or sisters at home to play with. Her development accelerated when she started going to the childminders; this may have been coincidental but I think it has helped.
The new job has worked out well for me. I’m part of a larger and more varied team and doing a more stimulating and enjoyable job. Furthermore, had I stayed in my previous role, I would’ve faced more uncertainty (which I anticipated) and a likely pay cut (which I didn’t). Hindsight reinforces the decision I made a year ago.