Returning to work after having a baby
Finding the right balance
Balancing work commitments with family responsibilities can be
stressful and exhausting.
But the reality for many families - both single parent and couple
households - is that the primary care giver, often the woman, will
work in either a full-time or part-time capacity.
Here are some steps that may help you strike the right work-life
Thinking of returning to
Returning to work after having a baby can at times feel
overwhelming. There are many competing demands on your time and you
may feel torn between work priorities and spending time with your
There are many things to consider when returning to work: What
type of care would I like my baby to have? Should I choose care
close to home or work? Which childcare has availability and for
which days? How will I negotiate with my employer to work the days
that my baby is in childcare? How much will the childcare cost?
What government assistance will I get to help with the cost of
Competing priorities don't just apply to balancing work and
family considerations. By going back to work, you may have money
left after all household costs are met, and should consider what to
do with it. Additional repayments on the mortgage? Additional super
contributions? Make a voluntary repayment on your uni debt?
Case study: Fiona returns to work
Fiona was happy to get a place at
childcare for her son. The carers are fantastic. Fiona works three
days a week and really enjoys the work she does. However, she
sometimes feels like she is trying to fit four days a week into
three. Fiona also feels a lot of pressure when she has to leave to
pick up her son from the childcare by closing time.
Fiona's son only started at childcare 6 months ago and he has
been quite sick. Sometimes just when he gets better, Fiona gets
sick and the cycle starts over again.
Fiona and her husband try to share the leave time they need to
take to look after their sick son but Fiona doesn't have a lot of
leave. Fiona's boss is very accommodating but Fiona knows it can be
frustrating for her.
Setting up clear expectations
If you are in a relationship, it's very important to discuss
expectations about pick up and drop off arrangements for childcare
and who will take leave when your child is ill. Sharing these
responsibilities can ease stress around having to leave work by a
particular time every day and having to take time off work every
time your child is ill. This might also be a good time to discuss
domestic responsibilities such as cooking and cleaning.
It is also a good idea to openly discuss with your employer how
you can balance caring responsibilities with your work
responsibilities and the possibilities for flexible work practices.
For example, if you need to leave the office at 5.00pm to collect
your child from childcare but really need to send a few emails, you
may be able to arrange to log onto your work's email system from
home to send those emails you didn't get around to sending in the
Adjusting to a new income
Use the parental leave calculator to manage your income during
your leave and when you return to work.
Parental leave calculator
Create a budget of your income and the extra expenses such as
childcare that you might have.
Know your legal rights
There are a number of laws you may need to be aware of,
Non-government organisations, for example working women's
centres and some women's legal centres, provide free and
confidential information, support, advice and advocacy services to
women on work-related issues. They can help women who are at work
or thinking about returning to work. For more information or to
locate your nearest Working Women's Centre.
It is a good idea to place your child on a number of waiting
lists, even if you have your heart set on a particular childcare
centre. Keep in touch with these centres on a regular basis to see
if any vacancies come up and to let them know you are still
interested. Unfortunately, the decision to place your child in care
close to your home or work is not always in your control and may
depend largely on where a vacancy is offered to you.
For more information on a variety of childcare including
vacancies and some fee information, visit the my child website.
Accessing government assistance
In Australia, there are two main types of government assistance
for families with children in childcare.
Child Care Benefit (CCB) - is a
payment that helps you with the cost of child care. .
Child Care Rebate (CCR) -
covers families for 50 per cent of their out-of-pocket approved
child care expenses after CCB has been received, up to an annual
maximum of $7,500 per child.
Saving for your children's
If you have any extra funds, you might consider making an
investment to support your children's future, be it for university,
for particular schooling choices or just to help them with a bit of
a head start. See saving for your
Make a will and keep it up to
Having a will is always a good idea but particularly if you have
a partner and/or children. It is equally important that if you have
a partner, he or she also has a will. Even if you don't think you
have many assets to distribute, wills are a handy way to let others
know things that are important to you, such as who you would like
your children to live with. For more information see wills
and powers of attorney.
You should also consider life insurance as a way to protect your
Superannuation for women
Women face unique challenges when it comes to retirement
savings. Time out of the workforce to care for children or elderly
parents is likely to affect your income and also your ability to
accumulate superannuation. The good news is that by returning to
work after having a baby, you will be contributing to your super
giving yourself increased opportunity for economic independence and
security in later life.
Our career break super calculator can help you work out how
working part-time or taking a break from paid work (to have a baby
or due to carer responsibilities) affects your super.
Whatever your age and no matter how much money you have, now is
the time to start building your super.
Returning to work after having a baby can
be stressful. Think through the different options and find what
works best for you.
Last updated: 02 May 2016