A few weeks ago, we made a big change in life plans. I wasn't expecting too, I was quite happy to trundle along as we were, and go back to work in March next year. But then I got a letter from Centrelink advising that I was no longer eligible for the child care rebate (which pays 50% of Charlotte's child care fees). This took me by surprise as I hadn't realised it was dependent on me working or studying (I was allowed 12 months for unpaid leave, which I've had). Sitting down to review the budget, we simply couldn't afford to keep her in daycare. Plus I worked out that if we kept her in care, and I returned to work in March next year, then I would have to work between 3-6 months just to earn what we would have spent in fees. That is just ludicrous. The catch with pulling her out is that we lose her place, and have to go back on the waiting list for next year.
To say that I got upset at this news was an understatement. I felt bad that we were going to deprive Charlotte of some experiences. That I wouldn't have those days with Angus for one on one attention. But then I realised that we would be saving so much money. And realistically, I don't think Charlotte likes daycare. She makes such a fuss about going even though she seems to enjoy it once she is there.
So she had her last day there yesterday. It was very sad for me, the staff there have been wonderful to her and helped us so much when I was sick with Angus. I've seen her skills improve dramatically, and she has had some great experiences.
But it really made me think about what I wanted to do. I think I was really keen to get back to work for a number of reasons. I can feel my skills slipping away every day. So much so that I've started to read OT journals, for fun. The extra money would have been nice (although once you factor in two kids at daycare there isn't much left over). I have felt this pressure to return to work from other people - it is something that you are always asked - "when are you going back to work?". And I also felt that my self worth was tied with being a worker and contributing to society.
Once I really started to think about this, the stupider it seemed. I have fought so hard to have my precious babies. Why do I want to wish that time away so I can go back to work? And why is that paid work appears more worthwhile than staying at home and raising children? I love my work, but there are some aspects of work that I really don't like. Such as staff meetings, administrative procedures. All those mundane things that you have to do.
So I have come to be ok with our decision. I may look at going back to work next year but right now I'm in no hurry. And to fight the boredom and frustration that typifies being a stay at home mum I'm making plans to keep Charlotte active (her first music concert, outdoor activities, craft etc). It does mean that plans like our new laundry won't happen, but that is a small price to pay.