This week marks the beginning of a new adventure for me; for us. On Friday I handed in my notice at work. I'm officially a full-time Mama, and I can't tell you how happy that makes me; makes us.

Before Ben and I decided to make a baby, we had discussed waiting for a time that would financially allow me to stay at home with our child indefinitely. People make all kinds of decisions when it comes to childcare and heading back to work, based on money and ambition and a whole bunch of other factors, but for us it was important for me to be able to stay at home for as long as I wanted to. And we knew that would be as long as possible. For us, becoming parents meant being the people who decided what our children would be doing each day, how to care for them and how they were taught those early life lessons. For us, handing our baby over to a nursery or childminder to make those decisions wasn't an option.

But in reality, it wasn't as simple as that. Ben's doing really well in his job but despite some serious budgeting and planning, we quickly realised that without me working, money would be tight. Really tight. As the months of my maternity leave ticked by (here in the UK you're able to take 12 months of maternity leave, where you receive a small percentage of your salary for the first nine months) we weighed up all the options. Working part-time? Find an evening job? Going back full-time? The true expense of childcare and more. But no matter what, we still came back to the same answer. There are more important things than money and nothing more important than our little family and our baby.

So here we are, living off one salary. Budgeting to within an inch of our lives, compiling some pretty strict meal plans to keep within our allocated food spend a week, saying goodbye to most treats. But it doesn't matter. We can do it. We can pay our bills and our rent. Keep our car and still eat good, home cooked meals using fresh ingredients from our local butchers and greengrocers (in fact Ben's enjoying and embracing the challenge of these financial restrictions as he plans our meals for the week). We've even got a teeny bit spare to enrol Phiney on the next level of swimming lessons.

But don't get me wrong, a bit extra would make a whole lot of difference and over the coming months you'll see me taking the next step to make Happy Circus my new career. To bring in more than a bit of spending money. But that's for another post.

You'll also see us getting seriously thrifty, making second-hand a priority, saving the pennies where we can and attempting a completely DIY Christmas. Bit that's for another post too.

Money-making, money-saving, upcycling, recycling - it's all something you'll be seeing a lot of round here. We're more than up for the challenge of creating a loving home full of fun, laughter and adventure that isn't impacted by the restrictions of our financial situation and, as I know we're by no means the only ones trying to live on a budget, your advice, tips and support will always be welcome.

This is a new period in our lives, and it's one we're so happy to be embracing. At times I'm sure it'll be difficult but being able to spend my days with our beautiful girl and for Ben to know that she's with me while he's at work, it's more than worth it, and worth sacrificing all those material things for.

It's the little moments like these that I wouldn't miss for the world. Josephine learning how to use her beaker on her own but finding the lid far more entertaining. And then there's seeing that smile all day, everyday. Yes, I count myself so very lucky.


  1. this post rings so true to me, I have just given up work to be a full time mumma, i also run a little business to help bring in the pennies. I am currently sat in the warm front room by the fire deciding what to buy tomorrow for our weekly food shop. Two hungry boys and a husband who has a physical job makes for a tough job in budgeting! You have made the right decision. xx

  2. I'm sitting here contemplating how I am really not enjoying being back at work... It's full time and full on and I just really don't think I want to do it anymore...
    Your post has got me thinking and pondering even more. It's exactly what I needed right now.
    Congratulations on your brilliant decision!

  3. Nell I know that you and Ben will make this work for you because you have made such a positive decision. When my older children were babies we lived off of one wage and times were tough. New clothes were minimal and holidays were all about the babies and what they enjoyed. BUT BUT BUT I am a firm believer that children do not need lots of toys or hundreds of outfits; what makes a child happy is attention, parents who are willing to listen and knowing that they are loved, safe and warm. Those things are priceless. Well done to you both for taking such a positive decision x

  4. Good for you Nell, and Ben of course. My husband and I have been living on pretty much one salary for the past 10 months (I only work 1 day a week, while my mother in law cares for Matilda)..It really is amazing how many pennies you can find by just cutting a few corners - we've still managed to save a house deposit over the past 18 months!! Yes, you have to cut out a lot - no more eating out or buying new clothes - but after a short time you really don't miss it.. Like you say, the best times are spent at home together as a family...The best things in life really ARE free! xxx

  5. Congratulations Nell - that's wonderful! I know you'll make it work x

  6. It's such a special time, and it's wonderful that you can be there for that gorgeous little babe of yours. (I'm always jealous of those people who can work from home a little, too.) Kellie xx

  7. A lovely post, cetainly if I had my time over again I would stay at home. Not that I regretted going back to work at all.

    All the best.

  8. Congratulations Nell, sounds like you're going to have a great balance. Being able to stay at home with your little one and being able to do something you enjoy so much as a career!
    Looking forward to some thrifty posts!

    Hip Hip Hooray!


  9. I'm so excited for you guys and I have a feeling Happy Circus is about to soar - enjoy the ride, struggles and all, its all worth it. xx

  10. Good luck! I made the same decision five years ago and have never regretted it. I totally get how hard it is to live off one salary. My interest in crafting and making started when it dawned on me how little money I had for friends and family birthday and xmas presents. Love your DIY xmas idea.

  11. A happy decision! I feel so lucky to be an at-home-Mummy...

  12. There is an enormous satisfaction that comes from such a lifestyle....so inspiring. I have every belief that Happy Circus will be a success for you...hand knits made with love - perfection (let me know if I can help out in any way) xxx

  13. Oh, I can relate to so much of what you have said! I wrote a post about our journey to a simpler life and my being a stay at home Mum recently on my blog too. It's been almost four years now and I love it.

    Do you know of Rhonda's blog, Down to Earth? She has some wonderful advice about simple living, saving and preserving that has benefited us greatly.

    All the best on your new adventure. Enjoy! :)

  14. I agree in theory, I took the same path myself. Just sometimes tho I wish I was bringing in some actual money (I have a business designing stationery and graphic goods but after stop start for two (.5) children its only just starting to take shape again) to afford to take our children on adventures beyond the local park or a few hours away in the car.

    I long for the culture shock of foreign country holidays and the warmth of foreign sun (any sun to be honest, what a bad year hey). I miss colleague interaction as home work hours drift from the childrens bed time and into the early hours of the next day and the budget is a nightmare with costs spiraling all the time. BUT, I know that in a couple of years, when terrible two's are a fading memory and there are no more nappies to change, when the school run is a kickstart to a 9 to 3 design session and my kiddos are bringing home all sorts of stories to me, that I'll be so glad to have been there for the first three years of stories. To have jealously guarded first words and steps from childminders and kept them for myself and to really know my small people that I have grown up with. They have taught me so much already and I think they have more. I know I have more for them and whilst times are beyond tough at the minute its a temporary trouble for a lifetime of knowing that whatever they grow up to be, in the beginning there was us.