Working Mother Guilt

I returned to work when my daughter was 9 months old. I had 10 months Maternity Leave, needing to finish work early because of Pelvic Girdle Pain (sometimes referred to as SPD). I was later diagnosed with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome which explained some of the difficulties I was having physically, but more about that in a later post.

When I went back, I was desperately sad that I would be spending far less time with my daughter but I knew I needed to return to work and having agreed to go back part time on three days a week, I felt I was doing the minimum. I was reassured knowing that I still had 4 days with her – I was fixated on the fact that she was with me over 50% of the time so it was fine.

At first, it went really well. Adrenaline saw me through the first couple of months and I felt like I was Super-Woman! I was being really efficient at work and then I was being fun-mommy on my days off and (sort of) keeping on top of the house. I felt brilliant! Then my spark went out. Good lord, I was tired.

I was working long hours Tuesday-Thursday to try to fit in 5 days worth of work into the 3 days I was in the office. I realised I had to do that as it is very difficult to work from home with a toddler who wants to press all the keys on the laptop and draw over all of your files! My husband works in retail so often works weekends so I was finding that I was doing 3 or 4 days of solo parenting after 3 exhausting days at work. Something had to change.

After a great deal of time deliberating, I decided I had to go up to 4 days. My work was suffering and I was so tired and stretched that I was getting super grumpy with Hubby and I didn’t have the energy to have exciting adventures with my daughter. It seemed daft to be doing all that extra work and not being paid for it too.

The first Monday was so tough. I sobbed in the shower. I sobbed when getting dressed. I sobbed into my cheerios. I felt so guilty. I felt like I chose Mondays for ME. I wasn’t strong enough to make 3 days work. I wasn’t strong enough to manage 3 days at work, 4 days with my daughter. I was choosing work over her.

The rational side of my brain said don’t be ridiculous. A happy mother is a happy child. However, the emotional side of my brain kept arguing back and making me doubt myself. I’ll keep fighting it. This is best for all of us. It’s best for all of us. It’s best for all of us. If I keep saying it, the rational part will win over the emotional part, right?

I honestly have so much respect for single parents! In fact, I just have respect for ALL parents. We are all just doing the best we can and no doubt will continue to feel guilty about everything!

My aim is to ensure that I keep to normal office hours on the 4 days I am in work so that I can make the most of the couple of hours in the evening before my daughter’s bedtime and for our 3 days together to be fun. Fingers crossed I make this work.

How are you balancing things?

My beautiful baby & fur-baby

My beautiful baby & fur-baby

Clare Signature

Wedding Wednesday – Suzy’s Budget

After making the decision to start planning the wedding of the century, reality hit! How are we gonna pay for it all? I always knew my parents would help out, but how much they could contribute was unknown. We also kind of knew how much we could afford to contribute, based on what we’d already got saved, plus what we could save between now and roughly when we wanted to get married. So it was important for us to have a very frank discussion with our parents, to broach the subject of financing the wedding. Without this, we couldn’t start even looking at venues, deciding on guest lists, or thinking about anything else!

We were over the moon when both our parents very generously came through with some funds to help us towards our wedding, and the way things worked out, we ended up putting the same amount in each, so it felt really fair, and also, really inclusive for both sets of parents.

So how did we work out how to allocate our budget to make sure everything was covered? We obviously did a bit of research online to get some rough ideas of where the money goes etc, using sites like The Knot, to guide us in the right direction, but we also wanted to factor in elements of the wedding that were important to us to get right. I have to say, the online tools you can find are really helpful, but remember to use them as a guide, and try not to get too swamped down. At this point, you only want to split the costs down as percentages of your total budget, always considering what you would be happy to pay for each expense, and of course, your own circumstances

For us, the venue was the biggest expense, and I think it’s fair to say that is the case for most couples. You should expect to spend 50% – 60% of your budget for this.  When planning a wedding, I think it’s best to keep all the venue costs together, which includes room hire, food costs, drinks etc.  We felt it helped doing it that way, rather than splitting each element down because eventually it would all be paid to the same supplier, and you’re in the right mindset for that when you get their bill! Even if you have a separate venue for the wedding and reception, keep them together at this stage of planning. You should also include your marriage licence fees in this.

We wanted to include the honeymoon, and depending on your circumstances, you can decide to include it in your budget or not.  We included it, because we knew that we would want to spend more on our honeymoon than a normal holiday, and also considered the gifts given from our guests as a contribution towards this. We allocated around 15% of the budget for this.

The next expense to consider was the outfits, including the wedding dress. This we knew would be a changeable cost, and was very dependent on how much ‘the dress’ was! We hadn’t properly decided how the wedding party was going to be made up, so we considered what we would be happy to spend as a guide. In the end, we spent around 10% of the budget on this.

We allocated the cost of the photographer (and videographer, should you choose one) next, and after doing a little research on the internet, we put down a further 10% to this. A married friend once told me, whatever you do, do not scrimp on the photographer! The photos really are the lasting memory of the day, and can be enjoyed by so many people, so it really is worth the money.

One of the important elements we both always wanted at our wedding was a live band. Music is so important to the both of us, and having a band at our wedding was key. We budgeted around 5% for this, just as a guide.

We decided to lump the costs such as stationery, flowers, cake & venue decoration all together at this point, just to give us a rough idea. For example, at this stage, we didn’t know what kind of flowers we wanted, how many guests were coming for the size of the cake etc. In the end, we found a supplier that did a package including all of these services, and we spent around another 7% on this. On the initial budget, we allocated 5%, so we weren’t too far off the mark.

The other important cost to consider is the unknown cost! After you’ve compiled your budget, you should add an extra 5% – 10% to cover all the unexpected things and overspends you are inevitably going to incur. I honestly can’t stress this enough…no matter how much you think you are going to spend, you will spend more, and you’ll do it because it’s your special day and you want everything to be perfect.

Obviously, there are some costs you may want that aren’t included here, such as transport, rings, gifts etc. Add them in to your budget at a price you would be happy to pay and adjust one of your other expenses accordingly.

Also, prioritise your wedding expenses from most to least important. If you need to make cuts in your budget, always start with the details and expenses that are least important to you both.

Communication is key when planning a wedding, and you will no doubt get into some disagreements with your partner on how much to spend, and on what. Argue your points calmly and clearly, and listen to your partners thoughts and responses. There will be things you need to compromise on, and trust me, on the day you won’t even care about any details you had to exclude!

You should regularly revisit your budget, particularly when you are getting quotes from suppliers. Check back to make sure they aren’t way off the mark, and of course, adjust it should you decide to change your mind on things! As you start to make bookings with suppliers, it’s best to make a note of what you’ve committed to spend and note down deposits and payments you’ve made so you can always keep track of where you are with things. Making a note of due dates is also handy.

Here’s a little infographic I did showing the breakdown of the budget. I hope if you’re planning a wedding you find this useful, and if you’ve already planned one, how does this budget compare to yours?

Suzy xx

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