It’s hard enough to find a good work/life balance when you’re a working mum; but add doing it on a budget to the equation and things get a whole lot trickier. With more and more women going to back to work sooner after giving birth and the pressures of commitment to career, it’s understandable how being a working mother can lead to feelings of guilt and stress that children are being neglected. Assuming you have an understanding employer who doesn’t force you to work all the hours in the day, here are a few tips to help strike a good balance that’ll keep your boss and your kids happy. And even your wallet.
Whether you’re a single mother or not, the chances of staying at home to look after the kids are getting slimmer these days as both parents end up working due either to financial pressures or a fear of falling down the career ladder. Leaving your kids at home means finding decent childcare, which can be tricky on a budget. Ask for nursery recommendations from other parents in similar financial situations and depending on your relative’s working situation, ask them for help.
Go over your finances
If you’re constantly worrying about your finances, it’s likely to spill over into your family and work life. You and your partner (if you have one) should go over your finances and work out an acceptable budget based on combined incomes and all expenses. Factor in some ‘couple’ time like eating out and any saving goals such as going on holiday. If you’re considering getting credit, make sure to take a look at your credit rating before applying – you can find out more here.
Plan for the mornings
Make sure you have time to spend with your kids in the morning and you and they aren’t just wolfing down a slice of toast on the way out of the door. If your children don’t see you for the whole day, the morning and evening meals can be an important time for bonding. So, the evening before, lay out clothes for the kids, decide on what breakfast will be, pack school bags and make packed lunches (if your kids need them) to give yourself some breathing space in the morning.
Making sure meals are planned and even prepared in advance is the ultimate combination of budgeting and time-saving, leaving you with more money and more time with the children. While it’s never going to be enthralling, try to devote a little time at the weekend to cooking batches of a few one-pot meals and freezing them, so you have a quick meal to hand. Devote an hour or two once a week to creating a meal plan and do the food shopping in advance so you’ll have more time for yourself and the kids.
Work out some great free and inexpensive activities to do with the kids: go to the library at the weekend, head to the local park, draw together, do the gardening if you have one, even think about getting the kids to do exercise with you like yoga or cycling. You’ll be amazed at how much fun the whole family will have without needing to spend money.
Written by Cass Brookes, Manchester blogger who writes about personal finance, fashion, and living a frugal lifestyle. When she’s not writing for her blog, Clever Little Buttons, you can find her knitting and checking out the racks of vintage clothing.