Things I’m Loving Since Leaving the Day Job

This time last month was my last day at a company I had worked at for nearly 14 years. It’s been a bit surreal not going into work each week but a month on and I thought I would share some of the things I’ve been enjoying now that I don’t have a place of work to go to:

The holiday feeling – it still feels like I’m on annual leave or something. I feel generally relaxed, refreshed and with less worries too. Anyone who works will have that ‘Monday morning feeling’ and I love not having that any more. Although I’m still working with this blog it isn’t the same, it’s still very much a rewarding hobby and so it’s lovely to not have that eugh feeling at the start of a new working week.

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What Benefits do you get from Work?

*This is a collaborative post

I have worked for the same company for the past 13 years and although I have been offered other jobs in that time and although we could probably manage on one income and I could stay at home, we have done all we can for me to stay in my job role, at the same company.

One of the main reasons for this is the benefits package that I get at work – paid holiday, sick leave, private healthcare, a great maternity package, a share save scheme and so much more. As far as the full package goes I feel like I am compensated quite well by the company I work for.

But, how does it compare to other companies around the globe? Citrix Interactions Blog at GoToMeeting have put together this great infographic that explores how employee benefits vary around the world. It’s great to see how the UK compares to other major countries in the world against things like the length of the working day, paid sick time, minimum wage and annual leave.

Do you get a good benefits package with your job? If so, how does it compare to other countries in the world? Do you stay in your job for the benefits package or do you find yourself just comparing annual salary to other companies in the same industry, forgetting the other benefits that you get?

I know for quite a long time the only thing in my head was salary but, especially since having children, I have been aware of the great range of benefits my company gives. If you work and don’t know your full benefits package take time to look it up – you could be missing out!

To Work or to Stay at Home? The Freedom of Choice

Back when I was on maternity leave and we were looking at our options when I returned to work, there didn’t really seem to be much choice at all. I could go back to work – or I could stay at home. Staying at home would massively reduce our income but going back to work would have the added issue of childcare and trying to juggle that childcare around Hubby’s shifts so that we weren’t paying for childcare when we didn’t really need it.

Anyone that has tried to organise childcare around shiftwork will tell you that flexible childcare options are few and far between. Usually nurseries and even childminders need set days, a set pattern so they can have other children the rest of the time which isn’t great when you work different shifts every week.

In the end I managed to go back to work three days a week. Two days when we have family childcare and a third day a week where I work my husband’s day off, a day that changes each week depending on his shifts.

I won’t lie – juggling the children and our jobs is never easy. Trying to orchestrate time off together is a nightmare and keeping all the plates spinning is a constant task. But I have kept an income, we don’t have any formal childcare costs and the children get time with not just me but their Dad and their grandparents too.

I keep getting asked, though, whether I wouldn’t love to be at home. Whether I wouldn’t just like to give up the day job and stay at home, as, after all, children are only young once. Stay at home, spend that time with them and work later.

And would I? Well, yes. I would love to stay at home. I would love to take LP to school every day and have more time to have fun with the children, bake and go to soft play. But then I’d lose an income, and my place in a company that I have worked hard to maintain. I also feel so fortunate to be able to work around the children and my husband’s shifts. Many people in our situation are forced to stay at home as they just can’t find a work and childcare balance that works for their family.

Also, many people have to stay at home because they can’t afford to work. The childcare costs would be too much and there doesn’t seem much point to going to work just to spend your pay packet on nursery fees each month. Along with the travel costs of getting to work many people end up out of pocket each month – and don’t get to see their children either and so they are pushed into staying at home, not really having a choice at all.

People see parents that can stay at home after having a baby as being so lucky but in most cases it’s through necessity, not choice at all. On the other hand many working sets of parents are at work to pay the bills, not being able to make a sole income stretch quite far enough to cover all their outgoings.

And then there are people that have the choice to stay at home or go to work. People that could manage on one income but choose not to – wanting to carry on their career, have adult conversation or just have extra money for treats and holidays. People that can manage on one income and so choose to do just that, taking the kids to school each day, collecting them in the afternoon and doing their homework with them whilst getting dinner ready.

Whatever your situation I am sure you’ll agree that it’s such a privilege to have the freedom to choose. I feel fortunate that I have managed to continue to work around childcare and shift work, fortunate that I can still bring in an income and still have a good balance of time with the kids and my share of school runs. But I also have the freedom of being able to choose. I could stay at home if I wanted to and having that option puts me in such a fortunate position – one I won’t take for granted.

So don’t think people are lucky for being able to stay at home and don’t think bad of parents who work. It’s a privilege having the freedom to choose but many parents just don’t have that choice and just do whatever they have to do to get through.

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Going Back to Work and Making Ends Meet

*This is a collaborative guest post

There is a certain stigma attached to being a parent to young children. While many may credit you for all the hard work you do taking care of the kids, not as many will remember how good you may have been at your job or be willing to take a chance on hiring you back once you decide to return to work.

Now there is a nice subset of parents who go on to form their own businesses or make money from home by running a small business or even trade in currencies, which is great, but for many parents looking to go back into employment, they may have to fight the preconception that they are just a glorified temp who can only work school hours or another maternity case waiting to happen. But that isn’t saying that it is their only option.

We have already covered tips and tricks on how to make some extra money before, but for those of you who are looking to really make ends meet without having to face the job market again, making your money back on purchases or pawning your best jewellery may not be enough. So here are a few tips for working from home and earning enough to pay the bills.

  • While most mothers are thought of as ‘baby-brained’ and distracted, many have degrees and professional experience that would make them an asset at almost any job. For those who have a competent and relatively proficient grasp at English or a foreign language, there is always demand for paid reviews and writers on the web. Sites like Freelancer are a great place to start or check out this BBC article for some success stories and more tips.
  • If writing isn’t your thing but numbers are your strong point, the enigmatic ‘trading’ comes to mind. While many have prematurely overlooked this, there is an enormous amount of money to be made if you have the patience to review the trends and wait until the right time to hedge your bets. There are literally hundreds of sites to choose from and many offer you a demo account to test your skills before you dive in the deep end. Just be sure to set stop losses so you never lose what you can’t afford to.
  • Writing a blog can be easy, but running a successful website is not. If you are dedicated and hard-working however, some of the leading entrepreneur writers make thousands a month just by selecting a well-sought after niche and writing about it. Fashion bloggers and ‘mummy bloggers’ can also enjoy a great selection of opportunities once they get going with review products and paid campaigns. Companies like Google’s AdSense can also help load advertising on the site to generate revenue from visitors.

Remember however that this can take time to achieve and should be done as early as possible before your return date to give you a chance to reach the level you need it to before your time is up.

There are many more ways to boost your household income without having to go back to work but we thought we’d invite you to comment on others that you might have had some success with or are thinking of exploring. Please let us know and we’d be delighted to add it to the article so others’ can better equip themselves for their return to work too.

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Work/Life Balance?

*This post is in collaboration with Simply Health

So here I am. 9:30pm on a day when we have been out from early until late. The children are in bed and I am at work tomorrow. I’m sitting on the sofa writing blog posts, scheduling tweets and reading other blogs whilst Hubby watches TV in the background.

This is my typical evening. I blog every night until around 11pm, sometimes later depending on my plans the next day. I would say I spend 3 hours a night blogging plus an hour or so of admin each day – 28 hrs a week. I also have my day job where I only work 19 hours. Around this I juggle family time, housework, food planning and all that other stuff that needs doing. I also have constant plans – our bathroom update, new shelves that have just arrived for under the stairs, a garden in progress….

It sounds exhausting doesn’t it? When Simply Health got in contact and asked me to take their quiz to see how I balance my life around my work I knew that the results would be interesting – and it couldn’t have been more spot on.

I took this quiz and the results showed that I am an Integrator. This means that my home life and work life are blurred – often doing work at home and doing things for home whilst at work also feeling the stress of work when I’m not there.

For me, with a day job and a blog – that is like a job too – my work and home lives are very blurred. They overlap and they take up a lot of time but I love what I do – and if I didn’t I would stop doing it. No-one could spend 47 hrs a week working if they didn’t enjoy it in one way or another AND blogging is something I do easily around the children with no impact really on our family life.

So, my work/life balance isn’t perfect – I work too much. But for now it works. I have work time, I have family time and I have some time for me in there too – I could definitely be worse. Take the quiz and see how you balance your work and home life.

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