The start of school term is a time for planning. Often this includes putting together a budget for the year. Sometimes it’s really detailed, and sometimes it’s a rough outline, but most families I know will plan out their big ticket items, and perhaps even put together a wish list. Family holidays. Or perhaps some renovations. Maybe someone needs a new computer or phone. And what sports or after-school activities the kids will do.

But all too often in the wash up, mums put themselves last when allocating family expenditure. As an industry colleague once commented, “Mums will scrape together the last cents for their daughter’s dance class, but will struggle to spend money on themselves.” For many of my clients, the reluctance is because they weren’t earning money to contribute to the household income. But this really undervalues how much they contribute in unpaid work – caring for the family and managing the household.

What kind of message does this send to your family? Investing in you role models healthy behaviour. You would hope that others in your family practised self-care, and pursued personal growth, so why not do this for yourself?

And investing in your career is a wise move. Not only can it add to your overall happiness, but sometimes life can take unexpected turns, and it pays to be able to step back into the paid workforce without too much difficulty. Whilst others in your family are learning through on-the-job experience, study, or after-school classes, you can be learning too. Short courses, formal study, career coaching services and other training can all help you to keep your skills current in the employment market-place. Plus, by taking the leap and investing in your career, there is the potential for greater income once you land that dream job.

Perhaps when you are setting out expenditure for the year, you could include an overall ‘training and personal development’ budget for the whole family, making sure you keep a slice of this for yourself. There are many innovative ways to fund your skill set – perhaps the family could sell off unwanted clothes and furniture; you could look into government training grants; or you could investigate deferred payment options for formal study. At CareerSmart Mums we try to help mums out by offering payment plans for our workshops.

The important thing to remember that growth and learning is an essential part of our evolution. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

So if you are stuck in a rut, perhaps you need to look openly at options that will help you get you where you are going. Even the ones with a price tag attached. Don’t think your unpaid work isn’t deserving of a share of the family budget. And a little investment can go a long way.

Donna Thistlethwaite is a professional career coach who provides career help for mums. Donna helps clients develop the practical skills and motivation they need to pursue a career they love. You can sign up to the CareerSmart Mums monthly newsletter for information, resources and inspiration at