At 38 weeks pregnant, I set my out-of-office until mid 2024.
I planned to take 15 glorious months "off".
I would enjoy the year with my third and final baby, help my eldest settle into school, travel with my family, and finally, enjoy the gap year I never took in my teens/twenties.
I’d be busy, but I’d earned the break from the routine of paid work.
In reality, I was back after 6 months.
I’d like to say it’s because I missed the intellectual stimulation of employment, but mostly, I missed being able to spend money. Mat leave isn’t much fun when your budget doesn’t include cafe visits, and you can’t justify more than one subscription service. All that time and nothing to watch? That’s just cruel.
Like many people in the last year, our mortgage repayments skyrocketed. The savings account I’d built up to cover my extended career break was sucked up covering the difference, and our weekly grocery bill still makes my eyes water. So, back to work I went.
I’m not alone. The cost-of-living crisis has changed a lot of people's plans, and I’m lucky I even have a job to return to, and one with a decent amount of flexibility too. But it’s still a juggle to keep life on track (and on budget) at home and work. We don’t have the spare funds to employ at-home “help” or even order canteen lunches on the regular, so I finished the school year feeling exhausted from the constant planning, prepping, and being present.