Elma Family Kitty Motherhood Pip Working Mum

Big Decisions

07/07/2015

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.Space for the Butterflies - Living Arrows

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.

Space for the Butterflies - Living Arrows

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.

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  • mary 07/07/2015 at 7:49 am

    Best of luck to you both! And frankly a two and a half month gardening leave/handover period in the middle of summer, you could scarcely have *planned* it better!

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:46 am

      I know, it’s as if we organised it that way or something!!!

  • Lotta 07/07/2015 at 8:01 am

    Wow, big decisions. I don’t underestimate the challenges for all of you, but so lovely you’ve all got the summer together before easing into a new routine. I do picture Pip insisting on coming to work with you though, if only to eat the paper! 🙂

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:47 am

      I think he’d rather like that! And I’m sure my colleagues wouldn’t mind if he sat around my feet all day – actually I’m certain they’d love it, we just wouldn’t get any work done!

  • mandycharlie 07/07/2015 at 8:45 am

    What a wonderful adventure, a whole summer together, what more could any child want. I wish you both the best of luck, H in his trials and tribulations of parenting – will he be starting his own blog? 🙂 And you on your carefully constructed career path, which I know you love so.

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:48 am

      Well I asked him if he wanted his own blog and he just said “why?” in utter confusion so I think the blog might still be my baby!

  • Preeta Samarasan 07/07/2015 at 9:11 am

    Wow, first of all, congratulations to you and your husband on having made this decision! It may not be the “traditional” decision, as you put it, but for that very reason, it will set such an important example for your children, won’t it? My husband is not a full stay-at-home dad, but we both work part time and we both work from home, so that I think my daughters don’t even realise that there are dads who don’t rush downstairs from their “office” at lunchtime to pop in another load of laundry 🙂 . I totally second the suggestion that your husband start his own blog! It would be so great to see more of this truly equal decision-making and parenting, because, for all the distance we’ve come since the days when women didn’t really have a choice, I do think that in many cases, when it’s possible for one parent to stay home, the default decision still is for the mother to give up her outside job.

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:50 am

      Thank you 🙂 I hope it will show the children that you can make whatever decision is right for you and it doesn’t have to look like everyone else, just very subtly!!

  • Nasreen 07/07/2015 at 11:23 am

    I totally agree that having someone at home during the school years is important. I worked part-time then full-time when my two eldest were babies and toddlers and I am grateful that I can be home more now that they are in school, especially with a 1.30pm finish. And let’s face it, working fulltime is easier than part-time, so much less juggling and overtime. How lovely to have the summer together, I’m sure you’ll make the most of it! And good luck to H, it might be a steep learning curve to begin with…

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:51 am

      That’s what I’m hoping, that full time will be easier than part time because I won’t end up stretched too thin, trying to squeeze extra bits of work into non working days and dragging the children around to get all the chores done in my two days at home. Fingers crossed!

  • Yanic 07/07/2015 at 11:30 am

    All I want to say is LUCKY KIDS!!! To have 2 parents, so willing to put themselves aside for their well being. And your husband is a wonderful man and daddy. I doubt he’ll be able to “do what you do” only because he’ll have to find his own way. Dads can’t be moms and vice-versa. I always find that the mix of the two makes the perfect parent! And yes… I’ll applaud the day he finds one hour to play some golf. LOL! He’ll have to give me his secrets cause I can’t find 30 minutes to knit!

    Congrats to both of you on choosing this path. We know we’ve never looked back!

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:52 am

      Oh if he manages to find golf time in there somewhere I’ll need the secret too because my knitting is all in the evening – or occasionally when the children are finishing lunch!!

  • Brandi 07/07/2015 at 1:28 pm

    What a wonderful summer–how nice to have that time together! Good luck with your transition!

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:53 am

      thank you – so far we’ve got off to an excellent start!

  • lucy at dear beautiful 07/07/2015 at 5:11 pm

    Wow, that is certainly a big decision to make, and one which I’m sure you’ve spent such a long time thinking over.
    I, like you, can’t help feeling that a stay-at-home-parent becomes more valuable once they start school. Just looking at my diary from September makes me think it’s a good job I’ll be on maternity leave from my dance teaching as I never could have fitted a job in between all the runs to school, preschool, and various clubs.
    A lady I know who is far further down the road of juggling three little ones (her youngest starts school in September) said that they found it far easier to juggle childcare and careers before school came into the equation, but that they now needed someone at home more than ever. So if her experience is anything to go by, you’re making the right choice by having someone at home for the children all the time. Plus he can practise his golf in between all the taxi-ing and housework, right?!?!?! x

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:56 am

      Oh it was definitely easier when childcare meant nursery! Although with three, even in nursery, work would just be a very expensive hobby! H and I both had our mums at home when we were in school and I think it can only make it easier for our little ones.

  • Ivona 07/07/2015 at 6:59 pm

    Wow, that is a big decision. I think that its great that your husband is taking this all on and your kids are lucky. So many families have no choice. When I had my kids I said to my husband that I would prefer to make less money, live simple life and be with my kids than work and pay a stranger to take care of them. Enjoy the summer.

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:57 am

      I think it’s really sad that some people have no choice, and I’m hugely thankful that we are in a position to make it work. It will mean a simpler life for us too, but hopefully a very happy one!

  • barnraised (Jen) 07/07/2015 at 7:16 pm

    Congratulations! That is very exciting. I remember back when I was making the big decision to leave my career and stay home with my daughter. Looking back now I realize that that big scary decision was the best decision I ever made.

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:58 am

      Fingers crossed it is for us too!

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 07/07/2015 at 7:45 pm

    Wow Carie what a wonderful and exciting time for your family. I am sure H will thrive and do amazingly in his new full time ‘role’ as will you. It must have been a hard decision to make but I am sure that you will have made the right one. And how wonderful and what great timing to have that lovely Summer all together before Kitty starts school. Here’s to a Summer of adventures for you all. xx

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:59 am

      Thank you – we’re busy planning right now so hopefully it will all come together for some very special adventures!

  • LauraCYMFT 07/07/2015 at 7:49 pm

    Such a scary decision to make but it sounds like it’s a good one for your family. I find that working and childcare can be a nightmare, especially if you don’t have any family nearby to lend a hand, which we don’t. Right now I’m a student so I’m off whenever the kids are off school and I’m only in college til 4 at the latest so a friend picks the kids up from school for me at 3. I don’t know what I’ll do once I have to join the working world again…a lotto win is hopeful before that time!

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 6:59 am

      Ah yes a lotto win would make it all easier wouldn’t it!

  • Kim 07/07/2015 at 8:44 pm

    Wow, that was a big decision, but it sounds like you are feeling very comfortable with it. How wonderful for your kiddos to have their dad home with them for a while. My hubby is home with us too, working away in his workshop, but he joins us for meals and has much flexibility in his days. It is wonderful, and I know how much my little man loves having him around during the day.

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 7:01 am

      Oh that’s so lovely – one of my terms of going back is that I work from home one day a week so I do Kitty’s school runs and have lunch with the rest of the family – H did something similar for the last six months or so and it was wonderful for him to have that extra time with the children and I know it will help me not to miss them too much

  • Amber 07/07/2015 at 8:54 pm

    Oh what a fabulous decision and what a great opportunity for your husband to be more hands-on, and for you to get back to the office (if that is where you would like to be). I know that I couldn’t work nearly so efficiently if K wasn’t home with the twins, and I do cherish knowing how much they are loving having each other during the day.

    I hope that this works out brilliantly for you!

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 7:03 am

      It’s a funny one, I’ve adored this year at home and I think if the decision had fallen the other way I’d have been thrilled to be getting to stay with the children and really excited about the plans for the year. As it is, it fell the other way and I know I enjoy my job – definitely a win win!

  • Donna 07/07/2015 at 9:35 pm

    Oh wow, what a huge change for you all. I’m sure H will do grand and you’ll all get into the new routine but it’s bound to be a learning curve for all of you. Good luck – I look forward to hearing about how you all get on. But firstly – have an amazing summer! x

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 7:04 am

      Thank you – so far so good!!

  • sally 08/07/2015 at 2:13 am

    You’re right, big decisions! You are obviously a proper partnership in all you do, and I’m sure you’ll make it work together. School definitely does add to the rushing around feeling and the drained children at times, and personally, it’s hard to imagine getting through it with our 4 without one of us at home. Having said that, many parents don’t have that luxury, or choose not to go down that route. And even more than the importance of having a parent at home during school time, I hate to think about having to farm children out to childcare of one sort or another in their precious school holidays. So I feel very lucky to be at home. And it does seem excellent timing for you all to enjoy a wonderful Summer.

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 7:07 am

      Oh the holidays thing was just a nightmare – we don’t live near any family and even if we never went on holiday with each other for the next 10 years we wouldn’t have had enough holiday days. I’m sure for many families having two working parents is the best option or the only option, we just felt really strongly that for our children it wasn’t, at least not at this stage and fingers crossed they’ll look back on their childhood with fond memories for their Mum and Dad being very present.

  • Kathy 08/07/2015 at 10:33 am

    You both researched your decision and handled it with logic and family values. A couple of months ago I committed to do 4 hrs work of letter box dropping leaflets to get paid for this little portion of time. The weather was soooo hot however I was committed ready to go and that morning got a call from school saying my 11 year old son had come off his bike (hit the front brakes down a hill and flew over the handlebars) and had to go and pick him up. He was in shock and we spent 5 hrs at the doctors and he had a broken collar bone and broken wrist and had to stay home that day and the next day and I couldn’t even do a measly 4 hours of work. I am a single parent (due to divorce many years ago) but that’s life – your kids need you, you can’t work even if it was just 4 hrs. Having the summer together will be amazing…. Enjoy. Thanks for always popping in and leaving such lovey comments on my blog by the way. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you Kathy, it’s so true, whatever else is going on the children always come first. I hope your son got better quickly, that sounds like a nasty fall

  • Anna 08/07/2015 at 2:05 pm

    Exciting times – congratulations and best wishes for your new lifestyle. Although it’s not the ‘traditional’ decision, it’s a great one – my husband’s father spent a couple of years at home while his wife worked and my husband in turn has taken advantage of shared parental leave to look after our children full time for some of both my maternity leaves and now works 4 days a week so we can both share work and childcare. I think it’s so valuable for both children and adults to have this time together and, although this wasn’t why we did it, I also like that by working I’m showing my girls that I’m more than just a housewife and mummy – and they can be too. Best wishes for an exciting summer before school starts xx

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you – I hope my girls will see it like that too 🙂

  • Hayley (@hayleyfromhome) 08/07/2015 at 10:13 pm

    Oh wow, that is such a big decision but it sounds like you are making the right choices for your family. I know it will be hard for you to go back to work but like you say knowing that they are home with their Dad will make it that little bit easier. I know everyone’s situation is different but I think having a parent at home really does make things easier and I think they children will love having that time with their Dad. I’m not sure what my husband would do but I know he could do it given the chance 🙂 You sound like a good team and I’m sure it will all go much smoother than you think xx

    • Carie 08/07/2015 at 10:42 pm

      Oh I think they’re going to have a wonderful time with H at home and I think it will be lovely for him too – and I know that much as I miss the children (and I’m still considering sneaking Pip in in my handbag) I’ll also enjoy the challenges of work – but first I need the sun to come back out again for our summer!

  • Notmyyearoff 09/07/2015 at 4:44 am

    Oh wow that is a big decision but you definitely sound like you’ve put a lot of thought and logic into it. The best of luck, I’m sure it’ll work out really well. The start of a new chapter 🙂

    • Carie 09/07/2015 at 11:07 pm

      Thank you – I really hope so!

  • Carlin 09/07/2015 at 8:09 pm

    wow, that sounds like a big decision – and also sounds like it will be great for your family. and i agree, having a parent at home after school is so great – i love seeing my kids being able to decompress and unwind in their own way. and so glad you won’t spend all of your time being a shuttle!!

    • Carie 09/07/2015 at 11:10 pm

      I think the kids are going to love it – and it’s so much fun being all together at the moment!

  • Vickie 09/07/2015 at 9:17 pm

    Wow what a momentous and exciting decision! I don’t envy you in the having to make it but it sounds like you’ve made the right one. Here’s to the next chapter in your story!

    Best of luck to your husband, although I don’t fancy his chances of getting much golfing in! 🙂

    • Carie 09/07/2015 at 11:15 pm

      Poor man – I’m sure we can find some time at the weekends for him!

  • Natalie 10/07/2015 at 9:05 pm

    Good luck with your decision! Sounds wonderful and enjoy the time before it all starts in the fall!

    • Carie 10/07/2015 at 9:08 pm

      thank you 🙂 I hope we will!

  • Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely 10/07/2015 at 10:49 pm

    Exciting times, Carie! I think it’s so much harder for both parents to work once the children are in school. The drops off, pick ups, school holidays … it’s a logistical nightmare. Occasionally, I think about going back to work but I really don’t know how we’d manage. We’d hardly get to see the boys. I’m just so grateful that one of us can always be on hand, and I’m sure you’ll head back to work confident that your little tribe are with the best person possible to make sure they’re happy and healthy and exactly where they’re meant to be at any given time. Does this mean that H will take over some of the parenting updates on the blog?

    • Carie 11/07/2015 at 9:52 pm

      I did ask him whether he was going to blog now, but he says no – he might have to take a few pictures for me though 🙂

  • Claire @ Clarina's Contemplations 11/07/2015 at 9:04 pm

    I don’t know how I missed this post, Carie… But I’m on catch up now! Wow! What a big week for you all… And the start of a new adventure. I totally agree that having one parent at home is so important, if at all possible. We too have had to cut back, live simply, give up the dream of the extension… But its all been worth it. Wishing both you and H all the best as you embark on this new and exciting journey!x

    • Carie 11/07/2015 at 9:58 pm

      I know the feeling, every time I have a really busy week and blog reading just has to wait I feel I’ve missed something huge! And yay for simple living to have an at home parent. I really hope it all works out, especially as we’re flipping convention on its head!

  • Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork 13/07/2015 at 8:34 pm

    The very best of luck to both of you, but something tells me you’ll be just fine. You decided with your hearts and your children are so very, very lucky to have two parents so committed to their well-being. I know that sounds like it should go without saying – who isn’t committed to that!? – but after a whole school year of shipping my son off to nursery I’m convinced one stay-at-home parent is the best thing, despite the very good job M’s teachers do. I’m so pleased for you you’ve been able to do this, and I’m certain you’ll both do it well.

    • Carie 13/07/2015 at 10:55 pm

      Thank you 🙂 It’s so hard to know what’s best isn’t it – my girls were both in nursery from 9-10 months and the fact that I was at work for that length of time meant that I got to a certain position where I can have a lot more autonomy in what I do so it was worth if from that perspective as well as the financial, but I feel so strongly that this is right for us now, I’m just pleased we can make it happen!

  • Melissa 14/07/2015 at 5:32 am

    Lovely and thoughtful post about these tough decisions many of us have to make. My son is 11 years old now and I am thankful everyday for the decisions we made along the way. Things tend to work out, as my partner likes to say. Best of luck and enjoy the summer!

    • Carie 14/07/2015 at 10:38 pm

      Thank you – I’m increasingly certain that we’ve made the right choice – I just hope I feel the same way in ten years time!