We have just made huge change in our life style: my kids started daycare and I have just gone back to work after being home for 3 years and a bit with our kids.
Here a few reflections on the theme of money and fun:
- Me working = two incomes in our family = easier two save up to future travels (and other fun you need money for) = harder to find the time for the fun that takes more time.
Shifts in costs:
- Day care costs (but only a fraction of what it costs in most other countries). We pay about 400e/ month for two kids/ 4 days/weeks.
- As our kids eat breakfast, lunch and snack at day care, and I get a cheap lunch at my work place, we spend about 300 e/ month less on groceries (not to mentioned the time I do NOT have to cook. The best part of this deal!!!).
- My husband is using his legal right to work 30 hrs/ week (therefore kids only 4 days a week at daycare). Since my husband takes time of, the state pays him a bit more than 90 e/ month until our younger child turns 3.
- At the moment we don’t get any costs of work trips as we are lucky to work close-by, so we use bikes. At least until the snow falls. I enjoy getting the bit of fresh air and exercise as well, as I do not feel like going away from our kids to do sports in the evenings.
The way I see this, we don’t really end up paying anything for the daycare, do we? Kids seem to have fun too, even though the start was tough especially on our younger one. So there is a bigger shift in the time we have on our hands.
Shifts in fun:
- Less time for fun little outings, crafts and other activities as I spend days at work and kids are too tired to focus on anything special after their day at daycare. The older one often needs to be in bed by 7pm, which leaves very little time to go anywhere after the daycare. The current “fun” seems to be to have a sauna, enjoy a bath, play something simple together or just read, sing, dance and cuddle together before bedtime. Simple but pretty enjoyable really. But I will not mind if there will be a bit more flexibility in the evening when kids get more used to the new routine.
- I get to enjoy professional challenges and colleagues, but there is less time and energy for my own crafts projects. I am happy with this balance though.
- Our kids get their share of stimuli at daycare, and they learn other things than I could offer them.
- Husband and kids get one day a week for themselves, so they all get more “dad fun”. I think it is his turn to have more time with the kids, and he just said he finds his 3 day weekends pretty enjoyable. This arrangement makes it also easier when it comes to laundry, shopping and other home chores (when he is home on Mondays, he cooks for a couple of days and I do a big shopping on the way home to avoid doing it with tired kids).
- We still stick to our deal of one night each per parent (we both get one night “off” to do what ever we want every week). At the moment I mostly want to rush home from work to see my kids though, I did not expect myself to miss them so much. However, pilates does make me feel good, so does an occasional cuppa with a friend, and I believe a relaxed mum may be good for the whole family too, so I stick to the deal too.
- Weekends have been pretty dedicated to the family so far. Swimming, little outings, playgrounds, crafts, garden work, nursery rhyme groups – and laundry.
How has the transition been for others? Has the decision when to go back to work been difficult/ easy?
You may also want to check out a post by The Blackberry Boys who recently published an interesting post reflecting her thoughts on being a stay at home mum in Hungary
[…] Care fees may have dropped but now with older kids (aged 6 nd 7) we have more hobbies that cost (dance, swim jump, and a parkour course) than before. On top of that many things that used to be free starts to cost at the magical age of 7, things such as public transport and swimming pools. Lucky there are still many low cost activities that we all like, our skateboards and scooters are well used, bikes, walks in the nature, rock climbing in the forest, swimming in the lakes or the sea, crafts, board games… soon it will be time for ice skating and cross country skiing as well! […]
[…] much more self-sufficient when it comes to eg getting dressed than they were 3 years ago when I went from a stay at home mum to a working one? Or maybe it is just that I am pretty relaxed about not having time now for everything […]
[…] is also great he can do it because he actually spends more time with our kids than I do: he is using his legal right to work a 30 hour week due to small children and stays home with them one day a week and I work full-time. He starts work early, so I drop our […]
We are not quite there yet but starting to put the things in place. Being in SE Asia we can afford a full time helper/maid to live in with us and so that is step one rather than the full time daycare but the older one does 1 full day and 3 half days at playgroup/pre-school.
Having the helper is extremely useful as it means that your family time isn’t cut into with cleaning, laundry and cooking (except when you want to) but something that we couldn’t afford in the western world.
What a pleasant life style Expat Dad!
Sounds great (and it is in many ways) but there are down sides, losing privacy for example. Also these girls come from very different cultures and that can be big issue for some folks managing that. Only have to look very quickly on SG forums to see people complaining.
Isn’t it amazing how many ways there are to combine work and family and still make it work?! Thanks for the experiences so far, happy to read more! B, for us one of the reasons to return to the north was the support for families, another the proximity to at least one set of grandparents. Apart from that I did surprise myself with how much I enjoyed being a SAHM, as I have always enjoyed work. Ps there are no daycares here that would take a child younger than 10months but then the money during those maternity or paternity months is pretty good and you have tge right to return to your workplace. It seems to me there is quite a difference to the U.S.? And still aensible people are raised everywhere 🙂
Sounds like a wonderful new beginning for the whole family! My husband was a phd student when our oldest was born so we went from two great incomes down to one student stipend and a move to the US (a whole new blog for that story!) I started working part time at nights so we could scrape by but somehow we were happy and ate a lot of potatoes and cabbage! We had baby #2 then flew to live in Italy for 9 months (still phd student) so was happy to stay home with kids. New beginnings on the home front are challenging but always seem to work? Enjoy!
Honestly I went back to work full time at 4 months after each. In the US you only get 3 months (and I’m lucky enough to get that paid) but I took an additional month for each unpaid. I would have loved 6 months, but honestly not much more than that. I love working and the intellectual stimulation. I actually went back to visit work with the babies quite often.
My first I didn’t trust day care so my mom came and took care of him until he was 15 months and I was more comfortable. But my daughter went in as soon as I went back.
My kids learned to share, not to push, how to play nicely with others, and how to put away their toys all at a very young age. And my son knew the alphabet and his numbers a little after 2. I’m sure all of this can be taught at home by a dedicated mother who loves doing that. But I’m not that type of woman.
You will be amazed at all they learn in day care the next few months. I trully believe kids benefit from socialization early.
Yes, you have great benefits there! Good plan to be on that side of the world when the kids are young! (We really did it backwards in many ways.)
I’ve only gone back part time after each of our kids (had a year of working between the two) so it wasn’t too bad. Even now, some of my work is from home. It’s hard to be disciplined about that with kids around, but that’s a whole different challenge.
I love the fact you get to ride your bikes to work! I tend not to get around to fitness unless it’s folded in to my day like that, and yet it’s definitely good for you AND makes you feel better.
Wow – you have way better benefits than in USA. Good for you!
I suppose every country has their upsides and downsides 🙂