Lifting the lid on the ‘Daddy Bonus’: My husband’s career

rocketed while I stayed at home with kids

Men with children consistently earn more than those without, while women with or without kids earn less, a study finds. Former stay-at-home mother Jean Marshall explains the reality of the ‘daddy bonus’ and how she took the plunge back into work

Once upon a time I was the go-to for advice in my field of food legislation in a UK-wide company. When I left my job to have children – and relocate with my husband’s job at the same time, thus definitively putting my career on hold for a while – one of my colleagues joked that I would be pushing a buggy around with a sign on my back ‘please talk to me about food legislation’.

Indeed, becoming the go-to for a nappy change wasn’t quite the same buzz. Being a mum, with all its fantastic highs and crippling lows, is just as much a full time job as any other, but fundamentally, no-one else is appraising you for doing it (husband aside!).

I was a stay-at-home mother for five years. My big gripe about being a SAHM is that you no longer get externally rewarded for doing a job; that your parental day duties can sometimes become drudge routine.










The role of a SAHM mother has changed a lot since the ’50s – but it can still feel like ‘drudge routine’

My husband, meanwhile, during his line of work, would get bonuses, pay rises and general ego-boosts for doing a great job at work, and I felt left out – and felt as though I was falling behind.

Indeed, I’m likely not the only one to have experienced this. A new study shows that men with children consistently earn more than those without, and more than women with or without children. The report, The Mummy Tax and the Daddy Bonus, based on US Census Bureau data between 1990 and 2010, suggests women with children don’t get the same treatment as men with kids, in the workplace.

Fast forward five years, when I started thinking about returning to work, and it’s not an understatement to say I felt daunted by the whole thing.

I’d always done a bit of freelance work to keep my knowledge current, and had plenty of ideas to further develop a career that would fit around the family, but had not particularly done anything about them as the day-job of motherhood took priority.

I remember cooking the kids’ dinner when an email appearred on my home computer, advertising ‘Workfest‘ – a one-day conference aimed at women returning to work post maternity or an extended career break. I was having a mundane day and this immediately appealed to me.

The idea of going to a convention style event, chatting to strangers in the same boat as me to exchange ideas, just like the ‘old days’ of working, seemed to be exactly what I needed.

I attended Workfest with zero expectations, but from the off, I knew that I was going to have a great day.

For me, the highlight was Geoff Ramm with his OMG (Observational Marketing Greats) presentation. A scientist by nature, marketing isn’t normally my scene, but his session was so inspiring, I came away thinking anything was possible. I discovered agencies that specialise in placing mums in part time jobs, and chatted to two women who ran a coaching and skills business. One partner had two small children and worked by having a ‘beg, borrow or steal’ approach to childcare. Another speaker ran her entire business from her spare room after the children had gone to bed.

I was left wondering why concerns about childcare and doubting my skill base were holding me back.

Workfest acted as some much needed personal development for me – the kind that seems to be on tap when you are working, but doesn’t exist when you’re not.

Alongside practical advice for small businesses, many of the sessions also gave me tips to help deal with the everyday demands of a family and small children who have that habit of changing every time you think you’ve cracked it. I left Workfest positively brimming with enthusiasm, it gave me the boost I needed to get back out there and believe in myself.

Just one year on, I’m contracting on a part time basis for my old company. We have the help of a great nanny, whom the children love, and I am loving it. I’m glad I didn’t rush back to work, this feels right for us right now – long may it continue.