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7 April 2010

Giving to yourself

I've had another email asking for help with ideas so, with the permission of the writer, I'm opening this up so we all have a chance to offer ideas, support and encouragement.  Today's email is from Jo in the UK.  To summarise Jo's email,  her husband is working nights, her work hours have just been doubled and although she loves her job, she feels she has no time left for herself.  Jo lives in semi-rural England with her husband and two chidlren whom she loves very much.  Jo writes: 

"while others try to out do each other with credit cards, latest fashions, flashy cars, we don't, we have an allotment ( you probably knew what they are) large piece of land that we pay rent for each year, its ours for as long is we want it, we have had it five years now, we grow all our own veg and fruit there, we keep chickens in our back yard, I cook from scratch even the dogs and cats food. We mend things, reuse things, recycle a lot. But recently I feel we have lost out way, got stuck in a rut that I don't like and don't know how to get out of. 

I do like to be organized and I cant seem to relax, slow down or stop. At the moment .. I feel I cant take a look at what I am doing and change it, life seems to be going at 200mph and I cant keep up which makes me stressed, silly little things are getting me down, like not being able to refill the bird table every day, surely I should have time for this??, I cant find the passport forms, seems simple right, go to the post office and get new ones , but no for me I have to find the ones I have."

Jo, I think the mother in any family is like a wagon that loads the family aboard and keeps everything on track.  Mothers do much of the housework and if you have an outside job as well, you'll have a lot, and maybe too much to do.  Don't let the wheels fall off your wagon, ask for help, start saying "no", establish boundaries - for yourself and others, and give yourself time to relax and recover.  You are not a machine, you need time when you can do whatever you feel like doing - be that reading, sewing, gardening, thinking or walking - or spending time with the family.  But it has to be your choice and what YOU want to do.  If you always do for others, you get lost and eventually feel resentment.

Going ...

I think you might need to go back to your old work hours so you have more time at home.  You said you've just paid off a lot of debt so I doubt that is a problem for you.  You'll be able to do more, and organise yourself and your home in the way that suits you.  You mentioned that you recently took on more guinea pigs and that your work hours were doubled.  Those two actions sound like you're just going along with what others want from you.  Be proactive with your life.  You make the decisions and it's entirely your own choice what you say yes to.  You have consciously decided to grow vegetables and keep chooks, you need to also consciously decide to balance the time you spend working with time you give to yourself.  Not only do you need to invest time in your home and family, you need to invest it in yourself too. These two old posts may hold a message for you: When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy and Learning how to say NO.

going ...

When you get yourself back on track, you might also think about changing various things you do in the normal course of your day.  I often change things here so it stays fresh for me and I keep enjoying repetitive tasks.   Those changes might just be rearranging my work spaces and changing how I do certain tasks, but those tiny changes keep it interesting and keep me going back for more. Learn new skills, that brings interest too. And take breaks, make yourself a cuppa and sit reading for a while.  When you go back to work, you'll feel refreshed and that you are being looked after too.


Jo, you have got the basics right. There is no doubt about that.  You love your husband and children, you're all working together towards being debt-free, you've simplified your lives and are living in a way that will enrich you and keep your family strong.  But this is not suppose to be difficult.  You make your own rules, you decide what it is you do each day.  I think that if you ease off the accelerator and give yourself some time to regroup and organise your daily chores, you'll rediscover that joy you used to find in day to day life.  Remember to take small steps and to find joy in small achievements.  Look for the beauty in your lives and disregard what your friends and neighbours are doing.  You've make some significant steps towards a happy future, all this is just fine tuning.

I hope you have some words of encouragement for Jo.  If you do, please add to the comments.  Thank you friends.


  1. Rhonda, I think your advice is excellent and will certainly be good for all of us to follow , I think the biggest thing is taking time for you , so many of us just don't do that often enough and get bogged down with life . As the saying goes "Take time to smell the Roses" I love that saying and feel we all need to do it more often .Excellent post.

  2. Thank you Rhonda Jean. Your comments is exactly why I do not work extra hours at work because of the time I lose with my husband and our home. You gave her perfect advise.Also, because I work full time, I prepare some meals in bulk. For example, I will make a pork shoulder this weekend and split it up into several meals so on those days when my life is hectic we do not get tempted to eat out. I do the same with breads and rolls.

  3. Being mum to children is one thing being mum to children and husband and partner quite another. You seem to have lost the joy in what you do and because you have to do it its lost its gleam. Please be kinder to yourself you don't have to do things at set times, change the rota around and allow time for spontaneity. Also the family will have to learn to help - it will do them good to learn things and allow you me time every so often. Remember if you go down the family goes down. Therefore use this as a bargaining point and insist that you have me time (even if it is only an hour in a scented bath with candles on your own to RELAX and you have a DO NOT DISTURB sign up on the outside door. That time is not negotiatable that is your time. Or if this won't work go see an aromatherapist - or book a girlie night at the pictures with a best friend. If you swap and mix things up a bit it will bring more varety into your life and also stop the family treating you as a doormat. You will find what works for you and your family but give yourself permission to enjoy what you do and if you don't enjoy it fill that space with something you do enjoy. Its there for the taking, but most of all be happy.

  4. Rhonda, you have such a gift and I really think just reading your posts makes me feel more centered and peaceful. By the way, do you have the pattern for that tea cosy? - I just love it! I also love that saying "take time to smell the roses". You have given all the same advice I would have given. I have recently taken up knitting again, and I find that I will make the time to sit and do some knitting every evening which is very calming. The main thing is to schedule time to do the things that you love and miss.

  5. Jo, you are working two full time jobs! No wonder you are worn ragged! Raising children, homemaking, being a wife is a full time job. You are doing double duty! The best thing to do would be to quit your job and take care of your family and yourself. If money is an issue, perhaps your husband can pick up some extra hours or you can work part-time. Of course it will be a huge adjustment financially. But some things are worth more than money (sanity for one). Best wishes. Katie

  6. Hopefully this is just a short season of extra work for Jo. In the meantime I would definitely not take on any extra chores .. including animals. It's true we mums are often the 'beast of burden' in our families ... but often there is a tipping point after much duress/stress. Since Jo likes organization .. maybe keeping good tabs on a calendar page and plugging in some fun relaxing activities at the beginning of the month so when family and work activities start forming .. a quick review of the calendar will make it easier to say no if some 'me' time is already scheduled. It will also give her something to look forward to each month.

  7. Great advice Rhonda! I feel for you Jo and can relate. Last year had me feeling like I was on a tredmill going way too fast ... and to be honest i cannot see any benefits only regrets. It took away from my family, my home and myself - I cant get that time back now. I used to get up two hours earlier than necessary to just have some time to myself.
    My life has changed now - i am living with my partner on his farm, I am planning my garden and working toward living my life sustainably and being true to myself.
    We really have to prioritise what is "truly" important to us and the people we love the most.
    I hope things turn around for you Jo

  8. I can really understand the problem she's facing - I'm a working mum of three and I'm doing all our baking, animal care and housework too as we run our own business. It is easy to get so stressed out by the dozens and dozens of tiny chores that they mass up and become overwhelming. I've found that a timetable helps me. If I know I have one hour in which to do house/chook work then I prioritize the little tasks and do them. And when that hour is up whatever isn't done stays not done. So my chickens will probably be fed but the floors ain't getting mopped today! And you have to be kinder to yourself, you can't crowbar more hours into the day than there already are so if you DON'T HAVE TIME to do something then DON'T TRY TO DO IT! Took me a while to work that one out! I sometimes have to buy the biscuits or we go without them. I don't make soap though I'd like to because I'd have to give up sleep to fit it in. You have to say NO to other people who want you to take on more - but you also have to say NO to yourself when you start to think that you can squeeze 'just one more thing' into your day!

  9. Maybe it's perfection that's the problem too! With recent storms our home has been inundated with water. Had to throw out carpets etc. Family stuff is everywhere! But I'm just pretending we're camping. I'll dust and clean when the roofs fixed and then we can be sure of being water tight! Sometimes we feel we have to live upto what everyone else is doing or coping with. But we are all different.

    I know some days I feel like I've achieved nothing and been busy all day. My daughter says'but Mum you've been doing a 100 little things'
    Bless her!

  10. In my own life I found it helpful to take "a day off." Now even as a full time homemaker I could never really take a whole day off but just the idea that one day a week was for what I wanted to do helped with everything else. You might only be able to take a few hours but it will give you time to think and do things that aren't required. These words always help--DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF! It can just be tricky to separate the big stuff from the small stuff.

  11. I thing this is the eternal lesson for women. We need to take time for ourselfs so that we can be better mothers and wifes.
    It is hard to slow down but try it in little bits.
    Have a 1/2 hour bubble bath at the end of the day,
    close the door, light some candles and tell the world that you are out.
    It started like this for me.
    And my family appreciates the calmer, nicer me too.

  12. Fantastic post and excellent advice.

    I think as mothers we all tend to take on too much and most of us put everyone else before ourselves. A little bit of 'me time' is all it takes to relax and recoup.

  13. Rhonda I agree with what you say. I spent the day today doing some organizing that I have been wanting to do for sometime and even thought DH did nothing but grumble I just kept going. I am so glad I did it. My home feel more like mine now. Thanks for all your wonderful advice and posts you are such an inspiration to me.

  14. Rhonda is right Jo. The way most of us live is grazy. Why do we feel the need to cram so much in our days??? Whay do we feel guilty about slowing down & having some idle time to enjoy just 'Being' as opposed to always 'doing' & 'achieving'. We sure 'achieve' a lot of stress & anxiety!
    Being 'organised' & being 'scheduled' are two very different things.
    Planning for leisure & simplification is time well spent & good role modelling for husbands & kids.

  15. Also, it is important to reward oneself once in awhile. Get a small plant you love to add to the garden; make a special meal you love just for you; and perhaps spend an hour or two curled up with a nice cup of tea and a good book! Make an hour for YOU! Rhonda's advice is great; I heartily agree with it. Give yourself a bit of credit and set some limits. It is okay to say no from time to time, and to ask for help as well.

  16. Hi Jo, I think you've made the first step by acknowledging that things are getting a bit hectic. I'm a mother of two and I put so much pressure on myself to get everything done and that I'm the do-er in the house. I found that the list in my head made me feel stressed, so I got a whiteboard and wrote it all down there. I found the kids stressed me, so I took time to sit and play with them - with all the mess and chores list around us - and just enjoyed their company. I realised that chores can wait and it was much more important to be stress free and that everyone was happy. Try to achieve small things each day and the rest will fall into place. Make sure the very thing at the top of your list each and every day is to invest in yourself by choosing not to be stressed in your day. Good luck and rest assured you are not alone!

  17. Hi Jo,

    I went to the comments and almost left, thinking "I dont have time now". But, then I thought, if I dont comment now I may not get back today, and you will think no-one cares. We do! I hope what Rhonda has said helps you - it certainly makes sense. Maybe you could add half an hour to either the beginning or end of your day - just for you. Sometimes I get up half an hour earlier, before others are stirring, and have some "me" time, even if it is to catch up on a bit of ironing - with no interruptions LOL. I hope you get some ideas and strength from Rhonda's post and our comments. Cheers,
    Faye in Pinjarra W.Aust.

  18. Sounds like Jo has allot of her plate.
    Maybe it's time to ask for help, don't feel weak asking for help, it take a very strong person to admit they can't do everything on there own.

  19. I agree with Sheila, Rhonda. Your advice is very good. The woman who wrote the letter should dedicate a block of time every day, sacred time in its way, to recharge her own soul.

    I was lucky enough to always be a stay at home mom, but even so, I felt I moved through those years of young children at breathtaking speed. I remember times of not getting enough sleep because I woke up an hour earlier than everyone else so I could have an hour where no one wanted me to do anything. (I don't necessarily suggest following that example! But I know many women who had done something similar.) Two jobs may just be too many. And it's very good for ones children to learn about helping and being organized. Soon one arrives at another time of life where there are far fewer demands on ones time. But the busy times are a very special time of life....I do think your writer has the basic ideas and practices down pretty well and may just be trying to do more than is really possible.

  20. I didn't know if I should respond to this...because I see myself in Jo's email! or at least, I know I could write something similar some of the time.
    Rhonda - great advice!
    Jo - sometimes I think the world expects too much from, let me change that...I know it does! And we expect too much perfection from ourselves. You do need to let some things slide so that you can give yourself some time to 'build yourself up' that you can keep on going!
    It sounds like you have a very good handle on what's important in life...don't forget YOU!
    The MAMA holds the family together. You are important. Treat yourself like you know that.
    (Gee, I feel better myself just writing that ;)
    All the best.

  21. I do believe your advice is correct. You must say NO to people at times or you will never get a moments rest. It isn't easy but try it out and you'll be surprised that someone else will step up and do it. If not maybe it didn't need to get done in the first place.... We are only on this earth a short time and you should make it as enjoyable as you possibly can... I will keep you in my thoughts and wish for you peace in your life...

  22. You know,I think we often expect ourselves to be perfect and "keep our feet dancing" so we don't have to stop and face ourselves as we are afraid of what we will see.
    Maybe you need some quiet time to stop and think about what YOU really want! And if your life is going in the direction that you want it to. And don't be upset if the things you want have changed! Life is always changing and sometimes things we think are "so important" we later find are not so important.
    In my life,sometimes I have time to make my cleaners for the home from scratch,other times my life is so full that I have to purchase them.I could agonize over that,but I don't.I just accept that my life is never going to be "perfect" and I "go with the flow" to keep me sane!! LOL I do what I can,and don't feel bad when I need help. We all need help at times! Never be afraid to ask!!

  23. Dear Jo,
    I definately hear what you are saying. I think you are very busy but do you do anything for you? I think everyday you need to take some time out even if it is just 10 minutes. You could sit down, have a cup of tea, read something you love. Have a nice bath, go for a walk. Only some ideas. I find when you feel like this it helps to take some time out and do some deep breathing or positive affirmations. You sound like you have an amazing family and you achieve so much. Take some time out I even find a quick 10 minutes of journaling my thoughts over a cup of tea helps so much.

  24. You gave good advice, I think. I just had a long chat with a dear friend about a similar circumstance in my own life and the ways in which I'm learning to say no and cut back in order to actually have the time and energy to enjoy my life, rather than seeing it as drudgery. I hope this lady can do that as well. Best wishes to her!

  25. What a great post! I've been this woman and still am at times. I have 2 small children, a large garden to tend, work part time and like to do most from scratch. I used to work full time with a commute and quit that job for a part time job with way less pay and no benefits and love it! Sure money can be tight, but I have more time to be more careful with my money. I am so much more relaxed and so is my whole family. We all need to be reminded that our family and our own sanity are worth more than extra money and a spotless house and all meals from scratch.

  26. Dear Jo

    I send wonderful abundant thoughts to you.

  27. Let me share something that I do to make time for things that I like to keep up with. I've read in fly lady and another blog about taking 15 minutes at a time to accomplish tasks that are endless. Cleaning for a gathering at my house, working in my garden, perserving, writing thank you notes for my business...they all can get done in small bites of time. I set the timer for 15 minutes and go from task to task. Most days, don't get to everything I want to get to, but I love how much I get done. My to do list gets done one bite at a time.

  28. Jo

    I know exactly what you're feeling - we mothers / wives probably have all felt overwhelmed at some stage with what we do, and haven't had time to do, each and every single day. And sometimes that feeling can lead to a feeling of resentment too.

    When I feel that everything is becoming too much, I organise a day to myself during an upcoming weekend - firstly I get a piece of paper, and, over the period of a few evenings whilst I'm having my last cuppa of the day, I make a list of what chores are overwhelming me - be it sorting out rooms, cupboards, piles of eever increasing clutter, laundry, the garden, dusting behind all the furniture I don't move every week, etc - then when I think I have everything written down I prioritise in order of importance / most irritating.

    Then I get rid of the kids to their friends (an offer of reciprocating to the mother of the friends the following weekend works!) and get the husband out of the house for the day (in your case he could spend his waking hours on your allotment)and then I have the day to myself.

    I am constantly amazed at how much I accomplish in that day - the freedom to do what I have to without being asked for something to eat / drink, or 'do I know where the ball / book / mp3 player is'? - all those little side "chores" / searches add time to our day and cause immense distraction.

    After my "day off" I go to bed that night feeling well exhausted and simultaneously very contented - almost as good as going on a holiday :-)

    And every so often during one of my "days off" I sort out a little place for myself - where I can go and have a daily chill out session - even if it's only for 10 minutes. Now with Spring happening in your part of the woods perhaps you could make yourself a comfy spot near the bird feeder - and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Feed the birds and have some you quiet time - at the same moment.

    Hang in there, Jo - and get the family to help you - it's for their own good and for their futures. Doing everything for them won't help them in the long run - helping Mum round the house is part of their life lesson in responsibility - even if it's only tidying their toys away, putting their laundry in the basket or hanging up their towels / neatening the bathroom after their bath and before they go to bed.

  29. Everyone knows the ‘say no’ advice but doing it is difficult. I know I used to feel guilty. The first time I did it was 2 years ago. I had signed up for a community volunteer program, but then found out it was mostly fund raising. It gave me a little knot in my tummy. I read a post (zen habits I think) about saying ‘no’ and how to start with the things our gut says ‘no’ to already. I would never normally go back on my word, but I called up and apologised and said I had too many other commitments. And guess what? They were fine about it. You can do it too!

    Also, this year I did the 100 Thing Challenge. During that time I became aware of how much stress I put on myself to keep up with activities from decisions made years before hand; like swimming which I don’t even enjoy anymore. I think a lot of the ‘super women’ syndrome we put on ourselves. Re write your list of activities and commitments to suit your life now, even this moment. Everything is negotiable. You can drop something and pick it up again in 10 years when life is less crazy. Give yourself permission to edit! Good luck Jo, keep us updated.

  30. Strange as it might sound I find list making really relaxing! I sit down with a cup of tea and a big old pad of lined paper and just write lists of things - stuff I want to make, read, grow, cook, buy people for Christmas, menus, to-do lists, lists of all the clothes the kids have (to make me realise they need nothing!), whatever. It helps me get a handle on things, organise my head, prioritise and also see how far I have come! Plus I get to sit down! I have recently also started writing lists of things I want to achieve during the month (a la Frugal Trenches) and these can be a mix of things for you, things for the family, dull stuff and interesting stuff. If you achieve them all, great, if not, no worries!

    It may make things worse for you but I find it really helps. Stay cool and realise how far you have come. Look around and be grateful for what you have (ie love and health) they go a LONG way x

  31. Hi Jo,
    This lifestyle we have all chosen is very rewarding but can also be a taskmaster. Once we have taught ourselves about how harmful chemicals and preservatives are, and we want to care for our planet by not adding to the landfills, and sewing and mending, etc., suddenly doing the right thing is over whelming. I think especially when we have children we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to meet this standard because we want to give our kids the best life and be an example. I am a stay at home mom and my kids are 13 and 10. there is no way I could be living the life I do now when my kids were younger. As they have gotten older I have been able to move more in the direction of living the simple life. If you can see your life as a journey you can forgive yourself more for not having immediately "arrived" at the life you want to be living. Working full time and taking care of the house and family is an over whelming task. It seems to me that you will have to compromise and find the middle ground for now. Stay true to what you value most and forgive yourself the rest. I grew up with a frantic over worked, over stressed mother and it was no fun for anyone. Your kids need you sane and happy more than they need fresh baked bread every day. Good luck to you and I hope you can find a balance.

  32. Jo writes: "I do like to be organized and I cant seem to relax, slow down or stop. At the moment .. I feel I cant take a look at what I am doing and change it..."

    From experience, I can say that slowing down and taking a look is precisely what Jo needs to do. Make a date with yourself (and family, if that is appropriate), an hour on your calendar is all you need. Get a piece of paper and write down all your appointments, obligations and chores, making sure to allow an hour of 'me time' along with the obligations. Divide them amongst the family -- the children can fill the bird tray, perhaps. Then post the list of chores along with a family calendar where they can be seen, and don't fret over them. Trust your family to do as you've asked.

    If Jo's extra work hours are at all voluntary, maybe she should consider cutting back a bit. Perhaps the financial debts won't be paid back as quickly, but feeling stressed and worn out creates a 'happiness debt' that might not ever get repaid.


  33. Jo's letter reminded me of the time when I was going through something very similar, and inspired me to blog about the two great books that turned my life around. Hope it helps!

  34. Rhonda you have a gift,wonderful and true do able advise.
    Jo your longer hours seem to be the straw that broke the camels back!I'd go back to my normal hours and only do the most basic tasks every day till your hours are more managable.It may take longer to get where your going ,but every body will benifit from you being happier.Write a list of the 5 to 8 jobs that you must do each day and start with the hardest or most important first, If you find you can't get to some of the last ones, don't beat yourself up.There is always tomorrow.It always fresh with no mistakes!

  35. Everyone else has left such good advice -- I hope you find it useful. I just have one thing to suggest: make an appointment to check in with your doctor. It may be that you are anemic, or have a thyroid disorder, or are just plain depressed. Any of those things can make the world seem too hard. Sometimes appropriate medication can really help -- I know, I've benefited from it!

  36. Rhonda, this post was excellent. I enjoyed reading it, as well as the two posts you linked to. The more I read your blog, the more I see what a wise woman you are! It's so wonderful that you come here every day and share your knowledge and wisdom with all of us. Thank you!

  37. Such good advice from everyone, and such different interesting perspectives. Perhaps we each see a glimpse of ourselves? I tuned into the Passport comment, and like others, encourage Jo, and all of us to give ourselves permission to let things go. Ask yourself why you need the Passport forms you already have. Is it a chink in your organization system? That's okay, you'll fine tune the system as is fit. Is it the waste? That's okay too, sometimes try as we may, we need a little extra. Say no to the people around you, but say no to yourself as well. Say no to always doing everything you think you ought to do, and pat yourself on the back for doing all the things you do accomplish.
    Excellent job Jo!
    Warm regards to all~

  38. Thank you so much Jo, for telling your story. Know that you are not the only one with this kind of troubles. I also have them, even I have not an outside job. I'm "just" a stay-at-home-mum...

    And thank you Rhonda for these powerful words.

    God bless all of you.

  39. I have had a hard time with just sitting and relaxing too....but I now make myself:)

    I really believe we are to hard on ourselves. I just turned 40 this year and I have given our family permission to Relax!!

    I try to make time to knit and read everyday...the dishes will get done:) I also try to stay in the present..not worrying about tomorrow...this has helped me alot.

    I have been suffering with panic attacks and I really believe it is due to trying to control the future. Stress will make you sick!


  40. To Rhonda and everyone thats left such wonderful comments & support, it is nice to know i am not alone in how i feel, becasue i did feel like i was alone, i have a wonderful and supportive husband, I read this earlier this morning, then spoke to my husband and he agreed,we have no debts, so with that i went into work spoke to my boss, i am now on a three hour day, four days a week Mon- Fri, so now i have my afternoons for chores and baking, and FRIDAYS are mummys days.

    i have an understanding boss thankfully, she also let me have today off. So with my day free, my husbands day oof and the children home, we all set about and got the house tip, tidied the garden, went to the tip and while they cooked dinner I went to the allotment on my own for an hour

    we have rehomed the extra ginny pigs to a dear friend.

    i know it wont happen over night, my i will learn to say NO and get my life back on track to how we live and how we are happy. i have printed all of this post and it will stay in my purse for the days when i feel a need that extra support. i have laso got my sons favourite t shirt out which will make me smile tomorrow, it reads "if mama aint happy , aint nobody happy"

    thanks again to all of you, you gave me the boost i needed, i cant thank you enough

  41. My boys are grown and looking back, my biggest regret is that I did not delegate more household and garden responsibilities to them.
    Children should be contributors to the well being of the family as soon as they are able. We practiced that philosophy early on, but let things slide when the boys became involved in school and sports activities. Big mistake.
    I care for my 15 month old grandson one day a week and he is learning to scrub the floors with me. Work is play sometimes. :)
    Enlist the help of your children. It's good for them to feel useful and needed.

  42. Hi all,
    I have just downsized my job - not in hours, but in responsibility - it was killing me. While the transition to a new job was stressful, I can see light at the end of the tunnel where my job will end up being easy and low stress, once I finish the learning period. I have not re-hired a cleaner when Marvellous Marge left to go travelling. I am finding that if I do the cleaning, I clean the clutter as i go and it's a far better result that stays longer. So I am paying most of the cleaning money to myself - I have my own pocket money bank account.
    We'll see how it goes.
    The other thing i did was offer my garden to the local organic growers as a working bee site, so I am setting up my front vegie garden (hooray less lawn to mow!) with the help of 10 friends.
    I actually managed to ask for help! Anna

  43. I think your advice about cutting back working hours is excellent. It is important to remember when working that doubling your hours at work does not double your pay packet at the end of the month. The money you earn at the end of a week is eaten into by taxes, national insurance etc so doubling your hours often gives you comparatively little extra money, extra child care costs, extra work clothing, extra fares to work can mean that you are actually worse off!

    Anyone living in Britain also does well to check whether increasing working hours cuts your Child Tax Credits. These are available to almost all families unless family income is above quite a high threshold. It can sometimes be in the children's interest to have one parent working fewer hours, or to not work at all. Child Tax Credit is intended to boost the incomes of families to allow one parent to choose to stay at home with the children. There are online calculators available so you can work out entitlement based on different working hours and different incomes.

    Many parents still do not claim these benefits, wrongly believing that they earn too much money or believing that it somehow might make them a scrounger, these are in fact intended as a tax benefit to help and support families to do the best for their children, which may include one parent working less or one parent not working at all.


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