Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 15:00 UK

Mothers' views on staying at home

By Sarah Bell
BBC News

Support for working mothers is falling, a study by Cambridge University suggests. Two mothers explain why they took different paths after having their children.

WORKING MOTHER
Sarah Coombes, 37, from Twickenham, south west London, is a manager at a market research company. She returned to work three months after having her son, Joshua, seven, and six months after having Cadence, four.

Sarah Coombes with Joshua and Cadence
Mrs Coombes' husband is in the army

When I had my son I was crazy after three months at home. I was bored and spending too much money. It just wasn't for me just being at home with babies.

I couldn't stand being in the house doing nothing. Doing housework and changing nappies was not fulfilling for me, I wanted to be around adults.

I didn't think I could have children, we'd been married for seven years when I had my son. I don't regret having them, but they weren't in the equation for us.

We got used to a certain lifestyle in which we both worked and I worked myself up the career ladder. I didn't go back because we had some fancy lifestyle.

When I got into market research I found I was good at managing people and projects, I worked my way up from the bottom and am now a field manager.

If I stepped out of that I would find it very hard to get back to that level. I have watched people who have ended up working in supermarkets as they couldn't get back into it, it was so competitive.

Both of my children are great, and perfectly well adjusted. They don't seem to mind me going to work.

I take time off when I need to pick them up from school, I go to every school event and they don't go without. They don't know any different.

Every now and then, when my son is naughty, I think "is it my fault, something I've done wrong?" but he's just being a child.

What is right and what is wrong? If you can provide your family with a fulfilling, loving environment and they're not missing out on anything, you're doing the right thing.

STAY AT HOME MUM

Deborah East, 37, from Norwich, has three children, Peter, 10, Wilbur, seven, and Amelia, five.

She is due to go to university next month to study radiology after spending ten years at home bringing up her children.


Deborah East with Peter, Amelia and Wilbur
Deborah left her job as a sales executive to have children

When I got pregnant with my first child I was all lined up to go back to work, my boss was very accommodating.

But when my son was born he was six weeks premature and very small. When it came to the time of looking for nurseries I just could not bear to hand him over to strangers, he was such a tiny little thing.

I told my husband I thought I might want to stay at home and we just went for it.

It was difficult at times. But having made that decision, I haven't regretted it.

I have almost felt guilty about staying at home, you are expected to go back to work, as most people I know have. I don't know any other stay-at-home mums, it's quite isolating.

But I got involved in running toddler groups, which was really rewarding. Lots of mums are very lonely and you feel like you are losing your marbles.

I remember ringing a friend and saying all I had done all day was change 13 nappies because they had upset tummies.

But there are rewards. I was there to see my children walking, talking, all the little things. I was there when they had accidents and there to care for them when they were ill.

We have had a lot of fun with them, they are quite entertaining. I was sad when my daughter went to school, she's great company.

It was hard financially but I cook a lot, we don't go out, and we go on camping holidays in England. I don't think my children have missed out on anything and we have enjoyed that time as a family unit.

My children are not perfect but are happy and confident. Now it's time for me to go back to university they have been involved and understand why I am doing it.




SEE ALSO
'Support for working mums falls'
06 Aug 08 |  Business


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