A little over a week ago H handed in his notice at work.
This time last year when I started my Maternity Leave to have Pip, we were realising that when it would be time for me to go back to work Kitty would be at school, and while Elma might be eligible for preschool, Pip most certainly wouldn’t. And our lovely nursery that have cherished and nurtured our girls, while located terribly conveniently for the train station, is a decent distance from any of the schools we considered for Kitty. H’s job means he needs to be there (an hour away from where we live) for 8.50, and he needs to be there at the end of the day, and for me to do three days a week dropping Kitty at school, the littlest two at nursery, going to work, coming back and doing it all over again, within the time limit of even the most generous after hour provision at school, would mean I’d barely be at work long enough to justify the train fare.
But more than that, we realised that we both felt more and more strongly that when the children started school, if it was at all possible, they should have a stay at home parent. We see how utterly wiped out Kitty can be after a full on nursery day, and how ratty and topsy turvy it can make the next day; at the moment we deliberately plan Thursdays to be a really calm quiet day with lots of time outside to help her get back in balance; and I’ve heard the tales from friends of how their children were asleep in their supper at the end of the first week at real school. And while after hours club and breakfast club exists, and the ones at our school are generally considered excellent, it isn’t the same as home.
We did the numbers, did them again, triple checked them and knew we could do it. We aren’t going to be very flash, the dreamed of extension might have to wait a few years, and we’ll need to live simply, but we can do it. Which raised the question of who was going to stay home and who was going to work. We both have great jobs, we both like our jobs and we’re both good at them, and we both love the children and love being parents. I’ve had the lion’s share of the hands on parenting in the last five years but H has squeezed in every minute he could and it left us in a less than clear cut position.
We weighed up one against the other, looked at salaries and benefits and job security and career paths and every last little thing you could think of and spoke to both our employers and in the end we made a decision. In September I will go back to work full time and H will be staying home to look after our children and run the house (he’s reading over my shoulder and just added “& playing golf” – you’ll be lucky!).
It’s not the traditional decision and it certainly wasn’t an easy decision; I could so clearly see two futures, the path where I stayed home and soaked up all I could of my three little ones’ company before they grow up and away, and the path where I went back to work, continued to build the really strong team I have there, supported and encouraged them and together mad e a name for ourselves. They’re both good options, which is both a wonderful and terrible position to be in.
I know that come September leaving the children will be heartbreaking and horrible, because I’ve done it twice before and it was heartbreaking and horrible then. But I also know that when I am at work I only need to focus on work. I mean I can (and will – sorry boss) daydream about the children, but I won’t be worrying about whether they’re sad at nursery, or whether that sniffle is going to turn into a chest infection that means I need to take the rest of the week off, and when I am at home I don’t need to plonk them down so I can go and run a load of laundry, or drag them around the supermarket when they’d rather cuddle in and read a story. They will be with their Daddy, showing him the wonderful world of playgroups, gym class, the layout of the supermarket, their friends at the butchers, and how to do the school run, and at the end of the day it’s my key in the door they will look forward to.
But first we have the summer. Which brings us back to that resignation. H was, as expected, put straight onto gardening leave, which gives us two and a half months together as a five and it’s going to be wonderful. Kitty will finish preschool soon and then we’re planning a few little adventures, taking advantage of not having to ask anyone for any time off, and we’ve already lined up a few exciting days out. But mostly it’s going to be a time for just being together, to knit together our family before we all go in different directions in the autumn. And I suspect there might just be a few little housekeeping lessons along the way, or as H puts it, “I’ve got two months to work out what it is that you do”. Good luck with that sweetheart.