Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Belly, Blues and Benefits

I'm going to blame the frightening nature of this picture as the reason that it took me so long to get it posted online! Note to self: remember to take belly shot in the morning when freshly dressed and looking put together, not before bed! That's my cat Rico I'm holding. I think he leaped out of my arms about a second after this shot was taken! As you can see, I don't really have a baby bump yet but my waist is inflating.... If you see me every day or know me well, you might notice but I don't think you would if you walked past me on the street. I went to pregnant B's flat on Saturday night and feasted a fantastic dinner, however in the midst of stuffing my face I started to feel really bloated. This sometimes happens now if I eat a lot in one sitting. I suspect this is only going to happen more as my insides get squished together.

When I was walking to the train station after work, I started feeling down. I'm not really sure why. I'll blame it on the hormones. My post-work walk is usually a time for me to peacefully unwind, but today I began reviewing the "administrative logistics" of our post baby life.....the financials, returning to work, child care, etc. All things Chris and I have thought about and planned for, but today it all seemed a overwhelming. Then I remembered that I left our car on the other side of town by a different train station since I went to the dentist this morning. So did I go on longer train ride and get the car, or just head home and hope I could convince Chris to take his evening run to the car to bring it home? Then my phone went dead. Then my work XDA went dead. So I couldn’t call Chris to discuss. Why all this got to me, I don't know, but in the moment, it did. So what did I do? I made a spur of the moment beeline into a candy shop and bought some candy. Ah the power of a cherry truffle. Then I bought a vanilla shake from Burger King. Then I stopped thinking and felt a little better. Then I remembered what I'd just eaten and felt like a pig. I'm not sure why I'm sharing this - I guess it's honest insight into my wacked out thought patterns.....again, I'll blame this all on my raging hormones.

On the issue of financials, I've been doing some research on the financial support options I may qualify for while on maternity leave. Chris and I both work, and even though I should receive statutory maternity pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks, we'll have a bit of a financial hole where my salary used to be. Here is my quick overview of the financial support available to new moms/dads in the UK. (Looking beyond SMP, paternity pay and maternity allowance). Some or all may apply to you, though note this is my quick digest and full official details can be found by surfing the links below.

* £190 Health in Pregnancy Grant: available to all pregnant moms. Get a claim form from your midwife at your 25 week appointment, ensure the midwife fills out her part of the form and then make your claim as instructed on the form within 31 days.

* Child Benefit: available to all parents with children up to 16, or 18 if still in full-time education. You'll receive £20/week for your first child and a bit less for subsequent kids. You should receive a claim form in the hospital once your baby is born or you can download it online. Make this claim as soon as your baby is born!

* Child Trust Fund (CTF): £250 voucher from the Government that you can invest on behalf of your child. It is for your child only, but can't be touched until they are 18. Once you register for Child Benefit, you will receive the CTF voucher.

* Salary Sacrifice/Childcare Vouchers: You can elect that the first £55/week of your salary can be converted to childcare vouchers free of National Insurance and tax. (You will then pay NI and tax on your reduced salary)

* Child Tax Credit: Paid out if your household income falls below £66,350 for a child under one or £58,175 for children over one. It is based on your household income from the previous tax year, but will be adjusted to account for your reduced salary while on maternity leave (ie, if your income is usually over the bracket but falls under while you are on mat leave, you can make this claim)

* Working Tax Credit: Additional tax credit for families on with low household incomes. More details site listed above for Child Tax Credit.

* Sure Start Maternity Grant: One off payment for families on low incomes. A number of conditions apply that you can read about on this link.
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