Did I ask for this? No. Did I want to be a stay-at-home Mum? One day. Can we afford it? Possibly.
After losing my job a few weeks ago due to Covid-19’s lockdowns ending the tourist season before it even began, via a 4 week notice (technically I’m ending in January), I’ve been doing a lot of research, planning and thinking. While I know I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mum, homemaker, full-time Mum, whatever you want to call it one day, we were not anticipating this.
I actually never believed I’d be able to be a home Mum. Maybe on maternity leave, but that’s all.
My work was minimally impactful, a steady tourist season shop with 10am-5:30pm sort of opening hours and an easy ‘working by yourself in a tiny shop’ life. It would have fitted badly around children’s schooling when that age came, as I could drop them off but J and I both finish too late to pick them back up again. With no grandparents nearby (the closest several towns away and doesn’t drive nor is there a direct bus) this may have been an inevitable end to my ‘career’ in retail anyway.
I’ve checked, and according to Gov.uk’s guidelines I have to tell an employer no later than a certain date about my pregnancy. This means I can’t start any new jobs (if there had been any around to start) without explaining my situation during the 3 month trial period and getting dismissed because I’d be straight onto maternity leave. What employer wants that hassle?
I have discovered I still do qualify (so long as being furloughed counts) for Maternity Allowance since I’ve been working within 66 weeks of my predicted birth week. This, combined with any child benefit, child tax credits (now part of Universal Credit I believe) and working tax credits we may be entitled to, come July, will mean we may well be better off than I originally worried, and better off than me in a job!
Additionally, there’s Sure Start Maternity Grant that could be possible, a £500 bonus to get us going with the new addition to the family.
Unfortunately, because I am a part-time online student with Open University, were finding benefits calculators impossible to use and all predictions of income up in the air. I get payments for being a student, you see, and I’m hoping to continue, even minimally, next October with my studies of Biology. Even though my payments will be small, they effect every benefit I could receive and may well land me worse off than if I didn’t study. How’s that for motivation to do better?
It seems the universe has given me the chance to have my dream early, to be a stay-at-home Mother. If we can navigate this pregnancy, the uncertainty of Covid-19 and the complications of my health and education now, we can do so further down the line. I’m sure of it.
Here’s to bad news turning somewhat optimistic!