Thursday, 25 September 2014

Does the idea of a 5 year life plan work for women who want kids?

Forget the 5 year life plan if you want to have kids, start thinking about the years you have left until you want to be having children. 

As a 26 year old woman who wants to 'have it all'; a creative job that I enjoy, a house, a comfortable income and children, I am worried by the increasing amount of women having children who are beginning to accept that they're never going to 'have it all'. Basically a 'normal' job that gives you maternity leave does not leave a woman who wants to spend at least the first six months of their child's life with them, at home, in a financially stable position.

The worries of going on maternity leave are huge, especially for 'career women'. There is the fear of giving birth, then you have to re-adjust your whole life to putting someone else before yourself, and on top of that worry about whether or not you will be able to pay and contribute to the family income, plus get back on the career ladder, it is a LOT to think about. Obviously I would not be thinking about having children if I didn't think there were major positives too! This article is focussed on the financial and career worries.

What I did not realise is that you are never legally entitled to get 100% of your earnings on maternity leave, not even in the first six weeks. In the first six weeks you are entitled to 90% of your average weekly earnings, then you get £138.18 a week for 33 weeks, this is all taxed. After those 33 weeks are up, you get nothing! This is all based on average earnings, and obviously you might have a generous employer, but I did not realise it was not legally full pay and I think lots of people don't realise this either. The only reason I found out was because one of my good friends at work is pregnant and she told me. Then there are child care costs, which I won't go into but basically there isn't much help from the government until your child is three.

I should point out that I am not looking to have children for at least the next four years, but four years still worries me and I am beginning to think now might be a good time to focus on having a plan B, a career I am in control of.

Should all women have a plan B? A backup career? A top up career? I think so, and why wait until you have children to start this off? You could start freelancing on the side of your full-time job to build up a reputation and a client list now, so that you can get the initial first year stresses out of the way and be confident that you have a viable freelance career before you have children. Freelance UK can give you an idea of some of the freelance skills that people are already making a living out of. Think of what you are already good at, for example if you teach, think about private tutoring, or if you bake, think about selling your bakes. I'm not saying give up on a career if you want kids, but I am saying that it might be a good idea to start thinking about having a side career that you have more control of. As I see my work colleagues having children I see how important flexible working hours become to them, and freelancing could give you that option. What I also need to say though is of course everyone is different and everyone has difficult goals, experiences, worries and ambitions.

It would be great to hear what you think and if you have any advice. I know this type of article isn't everyone's cup of tea, I just like to mix up my content and share my thoughts with you. Plus I could have got this all wrong as I am not even close to having children yet but thank you for reading!


  1. I'm from Finland and our system is little different, you can stay home 11 months and you can have 90% of your salary during that time. Right now I think I don't want to have kids ever, but maybe I'll change my mind. But if I had kids, I'd want to split that 11 months with my husband. I'd stay home like 6 months and my husband 5 :p it's his kid too!

    But about that plan B, I think everyone should do that, if it's possible :D

    1. Wow, that's amazing! That is such a good point about splitting the maternity leave. I'm not sure if that is an option here in the UK, but I think I have heard it being talked about as a future option. I can't believe I didn't mention the man in this post at all! Haha! Thanks for bringing that to my attention and thanks for reading!

  2. I think it's important to remember that it doesn't just come down to women, before April 2015 there is Additional Paternity Leave and after April 2015 there will be shared parental leave, so you could leave the baby at home with the father and go back to work (very useful if the mother is the higher earner).

    1. I should have read your comment before I replied to the above comment! Oh well, excellent point! Shared parental leave should definitely have been mentioned in this post! I guess this is what the comment section is for though, so thank you so much for taking the time to read and to comment. I would love to have more discussion around this subject.

  3. During my final year of uni, this was my biggest concern. When I should have been worrying about grades, deadlines and 'next steps', the thing constantly at the back of my mind was - kids.

    I always knew that one day I would want children. Not in the near future, but definitely one day. There were so many job opportunities open to me when I finished my degree, I couldn't help but think about how having children would fit around each of them.

    I was quite close to my uni tutor and she told me one day that she hadn't met 'Mr Right' and had children because her career took over. It's such a scary prospect. For a lot of women in advertising (and maybe a lot of the creative industry), leaving to have a baby is a scary thought. It's so fast moving that you will need to be replaced. And once you are, how easy is it for you to come back?

    After seeing my director have a son last year, I can now see how stepping out of work for 6-9months is doable. But at a cost - you have to come back full time. There is no place in the advertising world for part timers. It's all, or nothing.

    For now, I learn every day from others having children. See how they cope with maternity leave. I definitely think it's doable and one day when I do have children, we will find a way that suits us (I think my boyfriend would make an amazing stay at home dad!) but it's such a scary position to be in. And one that would need a lot of thought!

    1. Me too, my mum is a musician and she found it hard to fit her work around kids so this has always been in the back of my mind! Wow, so are you in advertising now? It is scary, but exciting too :) Thank you for reading and I love your blog too! xx


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