Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New baby? Return to work or stay at home?

So the Grattan Institute reports that once a second child arrives, the take home part of a second salary drops to just 20 cents in the dollar. Presumably that’s thanks to the childcare costs, along with all the other expenses associated with having a baby today.

I’m always dismayed that analysts are able reduce the cost of having a child and the cost of a mother working or staying at home to simple dollars and cents. It is so much more complicated and the benefits of having a full-time mum (or dad) in those first 3 formative years can never be extrapolated back to purely financial terms. 

I think those other factors must include a belief in the importance of being a mum or a dad. When you take the momentous step of becoming a parent, you can be sure that it will outweigh any other role in terms of satisfaction, especially when you know you gave it your very best shot. That shot is the most labour intensive you’ll ever undertake, will outstrip any other in terms of on-the-job training, will be hands-on 24/7 without respite, but definitely doesn’t mean your meaningful contribution and rise and rise in the “real” workplace must be foregone or forgotten. And the reports are in - the single most common regret of parents is that they didn't spend more time with their kids!

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