Two years ago I started my first maternity leave utterly convinced that I’d be back at my desk six months later. I couldn’t afford to take any longer than that off work, or so I thought. Here’s what really happened – I’m still laughing about how naive I was back then!
A month into my maternity leave, the day after my daughter was born, I realised I couldn’t go back to work in five months time. So Mr L and I agreed I’d take a total of nine months off, mostly because that’s when my maternity pay ran out.
Then I realised I couldn’t face working full time and went back to work two days per week. Somehow our budget still just about worked out.
Then I found out I was pregnant again. Big shock. Our finances got tighter, but we coped. After four and half months back at work, I was on maternity leave again.
A month ago I passed the nine-month mark on my second maternity leave, meaning my maternity pay has run out again. Now we’re in the gap between my maternity pay ending and my new business bringing in an income. This is when we start to spend our savings in a big way.
I can feel my stomach clenching at the thought of it.
I’ve always been fairly sensible with money. True, there were times I could have been better, but I’ve always had a bit of cash tucked away in an online savings account for a rainy day. So I’m uncomfortable about spending it all now.
I’m also uncomfortable about being (temporarily) without an income and not contributing into a pension for a few years. At a time in my life where I’ve just picked up a lot more responsibility, I’m not being very responsible with my finances.
But maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I keep reminding myself that we are in exceptional circumstances. Life will get easier and I will find the time and energy to earn an income again soon. And if I can plan a business while having two babies fifteen months apart, then I can do anything!
In a way, this is the rainy day we were saving for.
Having babies has booted me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. The gap in my income isn’t a failure; it’s me being out of my financial comfort zone. If you’d told me two years ago about the battering our finances were about to receive, I’d have told you there’s no way we could have coped, but we have.
I’m actually quite proud of us.
Photo by Alan Cleaver
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