Many of you know that my sister had her third child in October. At work a colleague has found out his wife is pregnant with their first child. In both cases the mum / mum to be are considering their options of going back to work vs becoming a stay at home parent.
With her first two children my sister went back to work full time with the children either being looked after by grandparents or going to nursery. At that time even with childcare vouchers and the children only attending nursery three days a week the cost was over £1,000 a month. With the third child here and her eldest son starting primary school in September there is the decision of whether it would make financial and emotional sense to go back to work? Though my work colleague and his wife are only on their first child it is something they are also thinking about.
Just over 12 months ago the government said it ‘“good for the economy” that the Coalition was helping parents to pay high nursery fees so that they could overcome “obstacles” to work.’ Yet this year it is being reported that childcare costs are spiralling out of control with ‘many parents paying more for childcare than average mortgage’.
This BBC news article have shared some of its reader’s experiences of childcare costs. For some of the families mentioned in the article going to work is not just about money, it is also about having something in place for once the children are grown up and leading their own lives. It is also about setting an example for their own children. Regardless of the reasons why both parents choose to work they feel that childcare providers are taking advantage of working parents by charging extortionate fees and ‘the government should stop thinking about subsidising childcare costs and focus on reform.’
On the flip side there are many people, those with and without children who think the government shouldn’t need to intervene to make childcare more affordable if it will result in costing the tax payer. If a couple decide to have a child / children and decide to work then then they should also be able to pay for the childcare.
Sounds logical however it would appear that whilst childcare fees may increase many peoples salaries haven’t making childcare for many unaffordable.
Every person’s circumstances are different, I have seen how those around me have had to make the decision to become a stay at home or a working parent. It’s not as straightforward as some people would like to think.
It’s great if a family can cope with the cost of childcare, be able to work and maintain a certain lifestyle but then there are those who have no choice but for both parents to work. Others have opted to become stay at home parents which by no means is an easier option.
We can all go on about how one parent should stay at home to look after the children as it is better for them in most cases this will be the mum, financial aspect aside not everyone is cut out to be a stay at home parent. Maybe it’s the idea that as women we no longer want to be seen as just a ‘mum’ we also want to be seen as a breadwinner, a mult-tasker who can manage both their family and career. Saying this the number of stay at home dads is on the rise.
There appears to be an imbalance between childcare costs and what people earn. Why would both parents work, pay for childcare and have nothing to show for it at the end of the month? When they could stay at home and forgo the additional costs of childcare, they wouldn’t be gaining or losing anything financially as the majority of one salary was going on childcare to begin with.
Childcare providers are within their rights to charge whatever fees they want but does the care they provide justify those fees? Others can say then place your child in a cheaper nursery, if that nursery can provide everything the more expensive nursery does then it is only a matter of time before all the spaces are gone so the only option is the more expensive one.
Should the government intervene? If wages are not increasing then just how much of a subsidy are the government expected to offer to make it easier to afford childcare?
I don’t know what my sister or my work colleague and his wife will decide to do when the time comes. The government have yet to announce this year’s budget, maybe the issue of rising childcare costs will be addressed.
It would be interesting to hear from others who have had to decide whether it was better for both parents to work or for one to become a stay at home parent.