Finding out we were pregnant with our first child was an exciting and daunting time. It was the intended beginning of the end of my career as a primary school teacher - a decision I had made long ago (my second day of teaching, in fact).
There are many reasons I knew I wouldn’t be interested in attempting to balance family life with that career, but what I didn’t expect was the challenge of maintaining a comfortable financial position while I looked into other career options.
It was always my plan to take on the role of primary carer of our son, while my husband continued to work in a supportive and family-oriented workplace. Working as a primary school teacher had left me burnt-out, unmotivated and emotionally drained, and I worry about the unachievable expectations placed on our passionate and dedicated educators and support staff.
We were lucky to have my husband working for such a great company, which allowed him to balance his work and new role as a parent fairly successfully. He was given four weeks of paternity leave, which he took when our son was born and, following this time, was able to work from home due to COVID with lots of flexibility.
There were some cons: his leave included ten days of federal Dad and Partner Pay. He desperately wants to be involved in raising our son and to spend as much time as possible with him in these early years.
Ten days is simply not enough.
Additionally, it took far longer than ten days to recover from my emergency caesarean delivery to be able to confidently look after our son.
In addition to this, there is no flexibility as to how the Dad and Partner Pay can be used, which was frustrating for us. It would have been preferable to use it one day a week for ten weeks to allow me to dedicate regular time to new career opportunities. I know we are not the only family who would have preferred to use the Dad and Partner pay in a flexible way; some might have preferred to use one week at a time rather than two weeks at once. The bottom line is ten days is not enough for someone who wants and deserves the opportunity to be 100% a parent.
Thankfully, with my maternity leave and then the federal Parental Leave Pay, we shouldn’t experience too much of a financial hit until our son is almost one. I honestly would love nothing more than to spend the first five years of our son’s life at home with him. But eventually I’ll need and want my own career.
So now I am asking myself, how can I establish a new career while paying exorbitant childcare costs that we won’t be able to afford once my maternity leave ends?
After six years of feeling mostly unhappy and burnt out in my teaching role, I want to ensure I return to a job that I enjoy and am motivated to get up for each morning. Otherwise, it’s time I could be spending with my baby. Developing new skills, networking in new professional circles and trying new opportunities until I find the right job will take time. And I’m just not sure how much time I’ll have before we start to see the cracks financially.
If you would like to share your story please email Maddy at [email protected]