I've been trying for some time to make a decision about work/life balance and whether to go back to work now or only when my son starts school full time Sept 2012. I'm currently not officially working, and haven't been for a year now - I have worked as a single mother before and found it SO stressful - but I was doing work that I didn't enjoy and which spilled into my evenings and time with my son because it was ad hoc/freelance. I'm very fortunate to live in a country where as a single mother I do not have to work until my youngest child is 7 (My only is now 3), although there is talk of this law changing to when they are five in the future. I want to know from single mothers who have worked for a while in this situation (of being on their own): Would you do it if you had a choice? As in, if money wasn't a factor? The benefits I receive are enough, but not enough in the sense that if anything goes wrong with my car, it's a problem, moving house if I want to (and i do want to) is a problem because of coming up with deposits and so on, and buying the quality of food I would like to is an issue. I would like to be able to go on holidays sometimes and to not have to penny-count about everything. I definitely associate money with success and while I'm not a materialistic person, I do like the freedom of being able to have experiences like go on workshops or courses about things that I'm passionate about, being able to pay for my son to go swimming, etc. I also find it really hard being judged by society as a scrounger who is not contributing economically (even though I count childcare as work, and I work a 60 hour week doing that, even taking into account his preschool hours and the time he's at his dad. Society doesn't unfortunately value this work), and I know I would feel better about myself if I worked officially.
My son goes to preschool 15 hours a week but that translates into 11 hours a week with the travel and parking time taken off (his preschool is across town, through lots of traffic). DS goes to his dad one overnight and one day a week, and 24 hours of a weekend every 2nd weekend (which is my 'social time''). If I worked 16 hours a week, (the minimum in order to qualify for in-work benefits and for my financial situation to be actually better than it is now), it would leave me with virtually no time for my writing(my passion), or any 'me'' down time. . I am also worried about the impact on my son and my parenting as it means that housework and chores etc would need to be done in the times I'm with my son (rather than often while he's at preschool, as it is now), and my stress levels would not doubt increase apace, affecting my ability to be patient with him. I'm not a naturally organised person and all the juggling would be tough. But I would be about 150 dollars better off per week before tax, and it would enable me to start paying off my debt properly which I'm currently only paying token amounts on.
I am a qualified yoga teacher and finish my breastfeeding counselling diploma in Oct, so would do a combination of those two for work. Yoga teaching very erratic and unreliable though well paid when it does come along, the breastfeeding counselling not well paid but still better than your average office/retail/service industry job, is more reliable and is doing something rewarding. Im concerned also about the impact of working with people all the time - ie childcare, plus 'helping professions', as I am an introvert who recharges by time alone, and this is essential to me in order to not burn out. Currently while DS is at preschool I do household stuff, sleep, sometimes see friends, write a little and occasionally teach a bit of yoga. Oh, and volunteer at a breastfeeding drop in. But all these things are flexible and I can take or leave them. Once I'm tied in to working, that's it...I will have the pressure, week after week, to keep doing the hours and also finding enough customers etc. My energy levels have been low since pregnancy and childbirth and having a poor sleeper for years, and I still find I am tired and need to nap most days. So... although I would love the job satisfaction and feeling of fulfilment and 'getting somewhere'that working officially would give me, and the money of course would be great, I just dont' know if its worth it. ALso my writing has been so neglected for years due to work and childcare, and this is finally my chance to do something with it now that DS is at preschool. Anyone have any input? If you made it to the end of this post, thanks!