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'It's not worth the sacrifice... even for €100k'

Naomi lives in Dunboyne, Co Meath, with her five children – Isabelle (14), Benjamin (13), Samuel (10), Annie (8) and Kirsten (6).

She has been a stay-at-home mother since her marriage broke down five years ago and, although she worked when her children were younger and is now in a position to go out to work as they are all in school, she feels that she is better able to fulfil her maternal duties by being a stay-at-home mother.

"When I had Isabelle. I returned to work part-time for 20 hours a week, but my first two are just 18 months apart so I was only working for a year or so before becoming pregnant again. Then, after Benjamin was born, I went back again for a couple of years, but luckily the 20 hours were over a two-day period where my mum helped out one day so we never needed to use a creche.

"However, I was motivated purely by finances as I never really wanted to work once I had children. Maybe it would have been different if I had had a chosen career path that I had really, really enjoyed, but I was actually working in the wages department for my father's company and it wasn't a job I particularly liked as it wasn't something that fulfilled me.

"I had always wanted to be a full-time mum and looking back at the very early years, I excelled at it and I always say that if I had struggled with the first two I'd never have had five.

"Interestingly, when my circumstances changed – when my marriage broke down and when the youngest went to school and no one actually needed me 'full-time', I felt that maybe I would like to return to work in some capacity, but it just wasn't feasible.

"As my children grow, in some respects they need me more. With two teenagers, there are constant issues and I am needed in lots of other ways. As the younger ones head towards the teenage years, the job at home becomes even more crucial.

"I am lucky that my mum is close by and is a huge emotional support and for the past year and a half I have a partner, who is also hugely supportive.

"A lot of people say they have to work for the money and although I feel that I make a big financial sacrifice by staying at home, I have often said if I could earn €100,000 a year I still don't think it would pay for me to work as the loss to my kids would be so much worse than the financial sacrifice.

"No matter what I could potentially earn, I would feel like I would pay dearly with troubled children just because I didn't have the time to look after their every need."

arlene harris