Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Work--To go back, or not?

So, this post has been a long time coming...and even though it's baby post week around here, I am going to talk about it anyway. Work. Some things about maternity leave, and how things would operate if I returned have changed, or were different than what I expected based on the employee manual (which used lots of tricky language like "could" and "may" would have thought the lawyer in me would have caught that!). Basically, here's the situation:

-I can only roll over 90 hours of vacation into the new year
-I will get 6 weeks maternity leave rather than 3 months. While on leave, I will have to pay my health insurance premiums, which is about $350/month.
-When I return, I will have to bump up to full-time, rather than the 30-35 hours per week that I currently work, and there really isn't any capability to have a flex-schedule, or work from home.

So essentially, the baby would be in daycare from 8-6 every day of the work week. I priced out daycares in this area, and most are $3.95/hour for a newborn. For Justin this all means something simple: don't go back to work. Working for a non-profit isn't profitable enough to put a child in daycare all day, and even if it were, he doesn't want someone else raising our child on a full-time basis.

I understand, and tend to agree with him. And in this situation, I really DO need to let someone at work know whether I plan to come back before I leave for maternity leave (if I am coming back, others will carry my caseload while I'm gone; if I'm not coming back, they'll need to hire a new person, who I'd need to train before I left), so I know we need to make a decision. However, there are several issues that are still at play:

1- Can we actually survive on one income?
2-What will we do about health insurance for me?

I'm nervous about question 1. Right now, we couldn't put away my check in its entirety and survive. Then again, we don't HAVE to, so we definitely end up spending more on eating out and entertainment. Then again, so much of Justin's work depends on the economy, which is obviously variable. I don't know what it will be like in December. I know that Justin will do whatever needs to be done to make things work, but I don't WANT him to have to work so much that he's never home! I'd be willing to get a part-time job somewhere like Starbucks (they have great insurance too), but I have no experience, and who knows if I'll even be able to find a job like that.

As I've previously mentioned, it seems I'm unable to qualify for private insurance due to my allergies, and because of the economy, through J's work, we would have to pay for insurance for both of us....and it's a really terrible plan (we pay monthly, AND pay 50% of everything). I don't think I could afford a COBRA payment, and I'm not sure I'm even eligible if I just leave my job rather than be laid off.

Plus, there's the whole mental side of staying home....why did I spend all that money on college only to stay at home? Plus, I really love my job most days, and feel like I'm doing something meaningful. What if I don't like staying home?

In the meantime, I'm torn about what to I use our excess money to pay down debt so that when the baby comes we'll have fewer bills, or do I use it to build up our savings for the baby expenses that I'm sure we don't even realize we will have yet and give us more of a cushion? Oye Vey.

So, lately I've been doing a LOT of thinking and praying over Matthew 6:25-34:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."


  1. From what you are saying, it really doesn't seem profitable for you to go back to work after maternity leave. Daycare is so expensive. Why work to just pay for someone else to raise your child 9 hours of the day, you know what I mean? I think my only real big concern with leaving a job would be the insurance aspect. Insurance rates are so expensive.

    Even if you do decide to become a SAHM, your college education will always be an invaluable asset. Have you thought about doing some photography work on the side to make a little extra cash?

    I can only imagine how difficult a decision this is going to be for you guys. Our Lord works in mysterious ways. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers!

  2. Ok, I'm going to be real because this is a topic I care a lot about. Money's a big deal, and you need it to raise a child. There are a lot of added expenses to having a kid, and if you don't think you could survive on one income right now, do you think you can survive on one income with the added expenses of diapers, clothing, food/formula (some women aren't able to breast feed even though it's their full intention to do so) and medical needs? If so, great, but if not, I think your answer is to go back to work.

    To me, insurance is the winner here. You and the baby need insurance, and it sounds like by working, that's the best way to provide that for your family. Sure, you could go without meals out, but you can't go without medical needs.

    Maybe try living on only J's income until the baby comes. It should give you a really good idea of if you can handle it or not - so that if you go back to work and are miserable, you know whether or not staying home is actually an option.

  3. Such a tough decision, Meredith. I don't know what advice to give you other than to tell you what Chad and I are planning on doing, and hopefully you can pull some ideas from that...

    First of all, let me say that this is not something I'm going to talk about on my blog until the very very end of my pregnancy, because I have coworkers that read it.

    I will be quitting my job and staying home for at least 6 months. Luckily, Chad has decent insurance through his job and both baby and I can be added for a decent rate. Right now, Chad and I are really cutting back on spending and trying to beef up our savings. Basically, we are saving up enough so that we know we can live without my salary for 6 months. Also, as of October, my car will be paid off. Which will mean we are completely debt free outside of our home.

    The first month that I am home, I won't be doing anything other than loving on my baby. But after that, I do plan on doing some work from home. My mom is a real estate agent and her business is getting to the point where she either needs to take less clients or hire someone so she can grow a bigger business. Just this past month, I've started helping her. Everything I do can be done from the computer, so no need to be in an office. However, we are not counting on that money at all. I know that I will be helping her, but it makes both Chad and I more comfortable if we only depend on the money he makes and the money we have saved.

    After 6 months, we are just going to reevaluate our situation. Is Chad making more money? Is the money I'm making enough to make up the difference so we no longer need to depend on savings? Do I need to work full time again? Or do I even enjoy staying home? We'll just see where we stand when we get there, but at least this way, we know that I can be home for the first 6 months of baby's life.

    I hope that helps some...

  4. Wowzers! This is tough. I almost understand some of what you are talking about- I am trying to decide why I went to so much school only to work as a daycare director for MOPS one day a week and be a private nanny. So much school for what? But in the end, I am thinking that the school was worth it just for the experience. It was what I wanted to do at that time. I completed it. You did did too- it is an accomplishment to be proud of. Period. Whether you "use" it or not.

    I don't know what to tell you about the money situation. I have looked into frugal living- and there are tons of blogs out there to help you transition to one income if that is what you decide. I have learned that there is a lot that you don't really actually need. But I don't know. I am sure that you guys will decide what is right for you.

    Good luck.

  5. Oh hun. What a conundrum.

    I feel your pain, where my situation is not quite the daycare expense, but rather the insurance aspect. That's why my butt is in this chair, oh yeah, and Tony being on commission lol.

    Unfortunately for us, there was no consideration. I have to work.

    I just can't stress enough how much everything changes after the baby is born. Nothing is the same. You are no longer you. You are you as a Mom. Your priorities completely change. I guess I'm trying to say that I never EVER thought I would want to stay home. Ever.

    As for the added expenses of raising a child, most are completely foreseen. The estimates are widely exaggerated.

  6. Well Meredith,
    I'm not mom yet but I just wanted to say good luck and yall will be in our prayers. We understand about the insurance and money issues as J changed jobs so right insurance for us. I'm a student and work part time plus the photography.
    Anyway, hopefully things will work out and God will give you a map for this path He has you on.
    We'll be praying and can't wait to see how things go!

  7. This is a toughie! From my experience I would say go back to work. It is different for everyone but I guess I can just tell you how we have been able to do it. My fiance and I were actually just discussing our daycare situation last night. We have been fine paying for our now 3 yr old but our baby is about to start soon and we are a little worried about what the daycare bill will be with 2! The only way we have been able to manage paying for it so far is that we only do it part time. We are fortunate enough that my mom is off a couple days a week to watch them so they only need to go 3 days a week. Do you have any family or friends nearby that could watch the baby some days or maybe pick him/her up early for you? The daycare we go to has a minimum of 3 days a week, 6 hours a day they have to attend. Shane and I try to do whatever we can to make it so they are only there the minumum to save us money, (plus the fact we'd rather have them be with family) but most days they are there 9 hours. Like u said, it is 3.95 for infants, but it goes down with age. It is now 3.30 for our 3 yr old and will go down another 20 cents when he turns 4. Shane is offered a lot of overtime at his work and usually we would always want him to work as much overtime as possible, but last night we discussed whether it was even worth him working more or if he should just leave right at his 8hours at 2:30 and just get the kids from daycare. He makes more an hour then we pay an hour but still, the more hours he works the more taxes that get taken out too so its really a never ending cycle! Sometimes it seems like you just work to pay for daycare, but at the same time, even with the daycare bill, I know we make more with me working than not. I agree with Emily that if you dont think you could live on one income now, you probably couldnt with baby. Diapers, formula, clothes and all are so expensive too! I guess my concern with quitting your job and staying home would be that if it didnt work out, what if you werent able to find another job? The market is so bad right now. I can only imagine all the thoughts that must be running through your head right now but I am sure you guys will figure out what is best! Good luck!!

  8. This is a tough one. I'd say go back to work to see how you like it. Then if you really hate it after a couple of months then leave your job. This way you can get insurance through your maternity leave and won't have to change insurance at such an important time.

  9. I'm really no help on what you shold do or shouldn't do. I like everyone's suggestions that you should try living on 1 income now just to see how you'd do. I can tell you that you do qualify for COBRA even if you quit your job. It's generally 18 months, plus whatever your state COBRA is.

  10. It's tough, as I've learned first hand. A few thoughts:
    I pretty much SAH. I am still "employed", only working every 4-6 weeks or so, or on an as needed basis. I had the exact same mindset as you- I went to college, and got a degree. In a sense, i feel like I'm wasting it right now. I did not plan to SAH by any means. I thought that I would return at least part time (20 hours) but the economy really hit hard at our office. Thankfully, we are doing OK on Jon's salary. I will say that, it would be nice to have a steady income on my part- even if it was VERY small. Something just so I could make my car payment or health payment each month, you know? With that said, I'm realizing that I am very blessed to be caring for Cameron, witnessing his milestones everyday. Cameron is in bed by 7:15 every night. If you got home at 6, you'd only get an hour, maybe 2 with your baby every day. I NEVER wanted to be a SAHM, but to be honest, I really enjoy it! It was hard at first. I just wish I had a small PT gig.
    The insurance question wasn't even an issue- Jon is self-employed, and my work did not provide it, so we had to get it elsewhere. We ended up getting a plan through BCBS, the Healthy Blue plan, and I pay 230 per month for all 3 of us.
    I also know that God will take care of you. Pray about it. Ask him for guidance in making a decision.
    Lastly, I agree with what Emily said- try living on J's paycheck alone for 2-3 months. Pretend like you aren't even getting paid. See how you guys do! GL!

  11. Ooh, and one more thing. =) Leah and I think a lot alike- and I agree that you are forever changed once the baby is born. It's amazing- your outlook on life is completely, 100% different. Everything you do, every decision you make is centered around what's in your child's best interest. That is something that no one ever told me before Cameron was here. You don't learn that in baby books or classes. It's something you experience first hand when you become a mom. Just some food for thought. =)

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  13. There are several options not looked at yet.

    One would be to rent out your home for the next 3 or 4 years and live with a relative. The house payment is probably the deal breaker for making it on Justin's salary, and having someone else pay it for awhile might work. This might not be a preferred solution, but one that might work.

    Second would be having relatives watch little bambino. If you could have them cover say 3 days or so, the other days might pay for daycare.

    Personally, I think quitting a job in the winter when it is a possibility that Justin could get laid off, might be a mistake. I think I would plan on working until spring and this would give your work time to find a replacement, but your maternity leave would be covered.

    By spring, you will have more job options if you find you have to go that direction. But it will also tell you if you could swing staying home.

  14. Here's my point of view. It sounds like you feel pressured to make a decision prior to having the baby, but I would advise you to try and wait until as long as possible afterwards. This advice comes from mine and my sister's experiences.

    My two sisters always thought they would be stay-at-home mom's, but after trying it neither could wait until they could get back to work for that adult time. I on the other hand always thought I would want to work, at least part-time, but now am in a circumstance where I have to work for at least the next two years. So I have told Byron we're not having anymore kids until I can stay home with them; because I've learned all I want to do is take care of Carolina myself and be with her all the time.

    My point is that the decision is more than just money and insurance....God knows that's important as I am facing now and working for my family to provide those things. But motherhood is quality just as much as quantity, and you won't know what will make you a quality mom until the baby's born. Maybe you'll be energized by being with your baby and want to spend all your time with them, or maybe you'll be more energized to devote those precious evening hours to them after a fulfilling day of work; either makes for a great Mom.

    But most importantly I guarantee even if you think you know which way you'll prefer you could still be surprised when your baby's born. That's why I recommend waiting as long as possible to make your decision.

  15. Study after study shows children do not benefit from a stay-at-home parent. What are you accomplishing by staying at home? In my mind - nothing. It seems incredibly degrading in the twenty-first century, that so many women let their careers come second to their husbands and endorse traditional gender roles. Being a "Mommy" should require no additional work than being a "Daddy." Anyone who feels different is sexist. period. I had a stay-at-home mom and would have rather had a mom who was a positive role model with a career, making a positive difference in the world. My mother, because of staying at home, has accomplished relatively little with her life and is not someone I can relate to at all. In addition, with the divorce rate, risk of your husband losing his job, or other life circumstances, it is in your best interest to keep working. If you are lawyer, try finding a higher paying job to better afford childcare.

  16. Dear Mer,
    I'd love to venture and comment on this post ... from the vantage point of being your former coworker (as of yesterday!) and having a deep desire for blessings and joy for your family. :)

    You know that this issue stirs me, as a woman who (in the past) would have been described as an outspoken feminist in the past; who has taken pride in her education (an idol?); who could not fathom "wasting" her education and job experience on raising her children. I have walked that path and see now that I was walking lockstep with the ideology of our culture.

    But then I began to dig in God's word, and seek out His face and purpose for my life. Is it to advance in my career, to attain our society's standard of "success"? What is that success, really? And why do I try to suppress my God-given desire to be home; to cook wholesome meals and serve my husband and raise my children? I do not believe that women can "have it all" - it's a lie of our culture. Something will suffer, because we are fallible and cannot give more than we have. If I pour my passion and energy and focus in to my work, my daughter and husband and home will receive the leftovers. Period. And in the process, we (women) are exhausted, spent, and stressed.

    The great news is that, over it all, we are covered in God's grace .... truly. And although my unabashed hope for your family is that you are able to stay home with your precious baby, if that isn't the course you take, I am certain that God will continue to bless and guide your family as you seek Him and seek wisdom. Trust Him. The scripture you cited is one of my favorites ... He takes care of even the birds and the lilies! How much more us, His beloved children?

    I so look forward to staying in touch. =)


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