This is the most important thing, really. If your wage will cover the cost of childcare but not give the household any extra money, you need to decide whether it is really worth it. Some families find that the cost of childcare makes them lose out on money so staying at home may be the better option.
Why does the mum always have to stay at home? About 20% of dads opt for staying at home instead so the mum can work. You both need to sit down and work out your options. Who earns the most in the family? Who has better career opportunities? Would the dad like the time to spend with the child instead of working?
Many mums turn to their parents to help with childcare. This is a great option and means that your little one is looked after by someone you trust. However, don’t rely on your parents or in-laws. Talk to them about this option and arrange time to see them other than just dropping the kids off.
Another option is to start working from home. This will limit the amount of money you spend on childcare – none at all for the first year or so – and will mean that you get the best of both worlds. Many mums are starting to look into options for working from home, whether they start their own business or work for another company. As your child gets older, you may need to find some babysitters for a couple of hours during the day or work at night but it is a realistic and cheaper option.
You need to get your child’s name down on nursery lists early. You may not know if you want to opt for childcare at first but it is worth getting down on the waiting list anyway – you can always take the name off if you decide otherwise. If you don’t act early, you may find that it is harder to find childcare options because of the waiting lists and you lose your employment opportunity.
There may be the option to work part-time or flexi hours so that you can spend some time with your baby. Not all employers are able to do this—and there’s no legal right to this – but it could be a viable option. Talk to your employer early about this option and setup a plan if it is possible.
Life doesn’t go smoothly, especially with babies. You’ll need to allow for problems to occur in your schedule. Your baby may get sick or you may get no sleep when you need to give a presentation the next day. Learn to relax and go with the flow!