In 2012 I went on Maternity Leave for the first time. I was given a choice between 6 months leave or a year. As I am a first time parent and I had no one else to rely on I decided to take my first year off from work to look after my baby and spend time with her in her first crucial year in life.
My choice was not one for just getting time off work but it was to be able to be there for my baby through this learning stage rather than leaving her in care of someone else.
After checking things financially my husband and I gathered that with the SMP and my work pay and his pay it should be okay for us to sail through this important first year.
How wrong were we. As we are just a cut below the average pay for any type of support from the government all we got extra to the above was the Child Tax Credits. Which to be honest in itself is actually not a lot in today’s society where 50 nappies on their own cost from £15 and up and a baby goes through at least one nappy every 2 hours in the day.
This automatically started to increase the costs in the house. Then we got another blow, after 13 weeks my work place stopped paying me so that dropped us to only having the SMP and my husbands salary (which goes towards the mortgage, bills, council tax). After 39 weeks (altogether) the SMP also stopped. This left us with 3 months of living on one persons salary with a new born and all the other expenses. Ultimately it put us in a bit of debt.
I know a lot of families that go through this… hard working people that struggle to support their family in a time when they need it most. Some mothers decide to go back early due to this, but why should we?
Doctors say that the first year of a babies life is the most important time so then why are we being forced to abandon our baby and earn money that we will earn for the rest of our lives but the one time we could do with the full support of the government and our work place we are pushed aside.
I want us to stand up together, so that we can make a difference for future mothers or even ourselves (if we are planning to have another baby). The government should work with our workplaces to give us longer maternity pay so that we are covered for the entire year of leave and that families do not end up worse off just because they want to be there for their baby.
I strongly believe that if we really want a change to something that is going to affect possibly every household in the country then why not stand up for it and question it. With so many cuts hitting families… don’t let another one get us in a worse of position. Fight to get our rights as new mothers and for our babies.
#LongerMatPay to get talking about this issue and get our voices heard!
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