Before I became a parent myself it was hard to understand some of the reasons why women don’t return to work after having children. On a few occasions I was told by some of the large corporates that they struggle to retain women in the workplace after they have had their second child. (These are tech companies btw) They were flummox about why this would be the case.
Many of these companies have been offering flexible working, working from home, childcare vouchers, on site childcare and return to work support but still can’t manage to get their female staff to return.
Now that I am on the other side as a female with two children currently on maternity leave caring for them both I can see why this happens. With one child you can put the child into nursery which is on average around £40 – 50 per day per child and this is just about affordable. Childcare vouchers help with the cost and reduce it a bit but only if you qualify for them. The types of company we are talking about pay their staff well and as such these vouchers really don’t do much good at helping with this cost.
When you add a second child to the mix the cost of childcare doubles and therefore the take home pay decreases dramatically so despite many women’s desire to return it just isn’t a financially viable option unless family are able to help with caring for the children at least some of the time. With families more spread out due to people moving to where they can find work this tends to only happen in the minority of cases, the majority of parents therefore rely on nurseries, nannies or childminders in order to work.
Once you get to more than one child the cost vs the reward of looking after your children weighed up against going back to work and what your take home pay would be really doesn’t stack up. Instead women like me who were working in the tech industry choose to find ways to make money without putting their children into childcare full time. We start our own businesses, fit work around our family and enjoy seeing our children grown and take part in shaping them into the young people they will become.
If companies paid more to women returners to counter the additional childcare costs then they might just find that they manage to get a few more women back in their companies rather than losing valuable talent. Instead women looking to return to work find that there are more barriers than they expect. Often companies automatically assume you aren’t going to return so they work with the expectation that they will have to re-fill that position. Some companies struggle to keep in touch with their staff whilst on maternity leave which makes the person on leave feel isolated and no longer valued. This also adds stress into the mix and anxiety when the returner is looking to come back.
I hope that this article helps give a little insight into the mind of a mum that will return to work but on her own terms. Working around my children and enjoying them whilst they are young. Nurturing them and enjoying them discover and explore the big wide world. As a mum and a girl geek I look forward to teaching them all about technology but for now, walking, talking and exploring are the top of my agenda.