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The Crazy Cost of Childcare and why I can’t return to work!

Finance and money always spark up some great discussions. I hate the way money has such control and influence on everyday life, whether that be the size of your house, the wardrobe you have, whether to private or public school educate you children? Despite this I am not naive to this fact and nor do I pretend that I don’t want that four bedroom house one day (because I really do!) What I take acceptation to, is the want to graft for my family and not being able to and my main financial bug bear to me is namely the cost of childcare.

I am a Science Teacher for pupils age 11- 18 by trade. I know a lot of people think high school teaching is a crazy profession but I absolutely love it and am so passionate about teaching and learning. I enjoy Science so much that I have even created Science Sparks alongside mummymummymum in which we show experiments you can do at home to enhance and encourage science.

Six months after having my beautiful boy BB I fell pregnant again, this time with twins. When it came to discussing maternity leave and pay and returning to work, we had to start doing some calculations. We were shocked to find that three in childcare would in fact be more than my salary. It forced me into the decision to take a break from work until the children are at school age.

I am lucky that I get to be a Stay at home parent and witness my children grow, and I am loving every minute of it, but this has come at huge financial loss. Going from a household and mortgage that are based on two incomes has made things very tight. I am not by any means pleading poverty, we can pay our bills and covers costs, but now I don’t work, I have to justify whether I can take the kids to a play session because with three is is £12 a time, and that is extra money we don’t have.

So I am going to show you some calculations….

I rang six local nurseries in our area that would be feasible to get to. My day at work would need to be 8am – 6pm. Most nurseries work on a 8.30 – 5.30 day on a price of £35 a day – this being towards the cheaper end of the spectrum and this does not always include meals. So I would need to include meal costs and extended day hour costs.

But for arguments sake we will say £35 per day without extras.

That is £175 per week per child

For 52 weeks a year that equates to £9100 per year per child

So lets say I can find a nursery in my area that allows term time only (most nurseries do not offer this) so at 40 weeks!

That is £7000 per week per child.

So £21,000 a year without any extras and only term time! Plus this also means I cannot choose the nursery I feel comfortable and happy with, that is suitable for my children, but have to have the decision guided by budget and term time options.

You must remember however that this is £21,000 that I need to take home. So add on tax and N.I and I need to be on at least £27,000 and this is not taking into account pensions or student loan that would come out.

Because my husband is higher tax bracket (just over the threshold, isn’t that always the way?) we are not entitled to working tax credits. I went into teaching a little later, so I had not worked my way up to £27,000 and even then I would not even be break even…I am looking at having to earn about £30,000 to break even. So what is the point of missing out on my children. Plus as I mentioned earlier this is based on an 8.30 -5.30 day which is too late for me to get to work and often too early for pick up. Add in the extra and it would need to be considerably more.

I am not doubting that it is fantastic that I get to be a Stay at home Mum, but it is not through choice and certainly not because of financial comfort.

I find it shocking that when there is a shortage of science teachers, there are no provisions to assist return to work. I find it frustrating that when I played it by the rules of the government whilst I was growing up to work hard, get and education, pay back my education fees, go into a profession that gives something back to the community by educating children of the future that I am not in a position to consider a family knowing that I can help support us.

The flaw in our plan was the fact we had twins, something that was not planned and can’t be controlled (sometimes contraceptives do fail!). Surely that is life though? I could have not kept them (not a thought I really like to contemplate) and have waited until we could really afford more children comfortably. That however would have meant my husband would be nearing 50 for more children and me late mid/late 30’s with a 10 year age gap between siblings!  I am the also reducing the potential to have more children. Considering family history, my grandma, Mum and Auntie had all had hysterectomy’s by 32.

You see clearly my failing in all this was not marrying a rich man- problems would have been solved had this been the case. Love is my weakness hey!

To add serious insult to injury the government have decided to take away family allowance to any person over the higher tax threshold. What angers me about this is it is based on any person, not family income. So my husband may be a higher tax payer but his income supports a whole family of five. Now another family could both be earning £39,000 each, a joint income of £78,000 and still get the aid. I am not after benefits either. If they took the benefit away on a fair system, it would make things tricky but we would get on with it.

I am not afraid of working, I love my job and would happily support my family if I could. Don’t you think it is funny that when working out tax credits (when they have to give money out) it is bases on family income but when they take money away it is on one income!

So I can’t work! (Did I mention that!) gRRRR, you see the problem?

It makes me so cross! So very very cross! So have you had difficulties returning to work? Let me know your thoughts.


Added 2nd June 2012

Since this post was written the government have looked at the ‘unfairness’ of the dual income verses child benefit and have seen sense. They have since amended the thresholds and now account for joint income. This however does still not solve the crazy cost of childcare!

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20 comments to The Crazy Cost of Childcare and why I can’t return to work!

  • jessies_online

    I couldn't agree with you more kerry!

  • Working London Mummy

    oh I know what you mean. it is crazy. Would part time work be an option (though going back to work just to cover childcare costs is crazy!)

  • Soozi

    So true. I'm also cross about the whole tax threshold thing – I earn more than hubby so he stays home and looks after the twins (same deal as you – childcare costs would be more than he can earn), but I'm supporting a family of four and paying more tax and getting less benefit than two people each earning less than me, but together earning much more. Crazy system…

  • MultipleMummy

    Thank you. x

  • MultipleMummy

    I would not break even yet, I don't earn enough too, so would be crazy to pay to go to work. Thank you for support.x

  • louise.farrow

    I won't get on my band wagon – but it's the same for many single parents working full time with no Child Tax Credits, no maintenance etc etc etc, blah, blah …………………… However, I did not have children to become rich in money, but rich in love, pride, beauty …need I go on…… My children mean so much more to me than the materialistic things we all love to dream about, although of course a little bit of the gold stuff does help!!!

  • MultipleMummy

    It is a crazy system! It should be based on family income.

  • MultipleMummy

    I could not agree more. I just wish the system were fairer. I am not afraid of working, or not wanting too, I just wish I could. Our lives are rich in so many ways, we are truly blessed, but it would be nice to not have to raid the 2p jar! It is a messed up system when childcare is more than a salary. x

    he he

  • Inside The Wendy House

    I agree with you 100%…there is no incentive for any of us to do things right! My husband is over the tax threshold so we get no financial help at all. Add to this our daughter in university who gets no grant and only enough loan to cover her tuition, meaning we have to support her to live. I was just a teaching assistant so my negligible wages would not help at all when weighed up against childcare. It is people like us who seem to be hit the hardest! Grrrrr indeed!!

  • Emma

    It makes me cross too! My nursery is £65 a day for under twos!!!!!!!!!!!!! and I would then have to pay another £55 for Syd and then £20 a day for before and after school club for Z. so thats £150 a day childcare plus £35 train ticket to london!

    We'll be stay at home mums together! :-))

    in some ways I am glad to be a SAHM, but to have a choice in the matter would have been nice.

  • workingmumof4

    Oh my these fees are incredible!! how can they expect people to work. Have you looked at child-minders costs or a daily nanny?

    I must check out your experiments my boys are science mad xx

  • Annette Langstone

    Oh my gosh!! That is unbelievable! Mind you actually, it isn't, this is rip-off Britain after all! I was appalled after we returned from NZ how hard it is to get help when you have as you say, gotten an education to try and give something back… We completely regretted leaving NZ once we got back. It just seems that the less you do, the more you get. I too think it's shocking when there is such a shortage of science teachers that there is no option for a great teacher to return to work after having started a family. I applaud you all though, you and Nick do an amazing job and your kids look awesome!
    Why is it that when you are a mum and you decide to return to work, people think that you want to get away from your kids or are some kind of awful person who doesn't want to bring up your kids, but when you are a stay-at-home mum (through choice or not), people think you're lazy and damaging to the economy!?! You just can't win sometimes!!!

  • mummydaddyme

    Hi Kerry,

    What a fantastic post. I am in a similar situation at the moment. We bought our house at the wrong time and therefore have a huge amount of outgoings. We don't qualify for many tax credits at all and my husband got made redundant so has had to take a pay cut for his new job.

    Because of childcare being so expensive, I can't afford to go back to work full time, I can't afford to not work as I need to clear £900 just to cover my half of the bills (thats not including food, petrol or luxuries). I am going back part time but I won't even clear that much so there is not really a huge amount of point but at least I am bringing a little in. Luckily my Mum can have Mads one day so I only have to put her in nursery one day a week. Mr E doesn't earn a huge amount since his pay cut so he puts £1,100 a month into his half of the bills (thats how big are bills are!) so then we literally are going to have about £200 to live on and buy all food, petrol, luxuries etc….aaaaah its so stressful.

  • themadhouse

    What a great post. I had my two boys very close together and there was no way I could afford the childcare to cover me going back to work. It would have been more than my income. What pisses me off (sorry for the strong words) is the fact that the government are happt to pay someonbe else to look after my own children, but not pay me to be at home with my family. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • The figures say it all really, don’t they? A shocking situation and one that, as a mum of twins, I find myself in too. Makes me so angry. And £35 per day? That’s a bargain! Our nursery day rate is nearly double that :(

  • […] of work that I have missed and of a salary would be beneficial. Unfortunately even now, due to the crazy cost of child care, I will not be able to consider teaching again until the twins are at school. Despite this as they […]

  • I’ve been right where you are. Until I was 37, I worked for minimum wage and had two children and had a feckless ex who didn’t ‘keep us’. I cringe now to think I clothed all three of us on child benefit. He was self employed and wouldn’t submit his books for us to claim anything. I had to ask for cash for groceries and rifled around charity shops and jumble sales for anything we needed. A woman’s need to work and provide for her children and not be funded by a man, as far as I’m concerned is a fundamental human right. In the end, when I weaned my daughter, I worked nights in a care home, just so I could afford basics such as knickers and tampons and of course, to provide for my children. The saddest part of all of this, was that the kids and I felt rich when I left him and claimed benefits for a while! I put myself through uni, I’m a teacher now and I see good teachers leave because childcare is unaffordable and what is affordable, again just in my opinion is institutionalised and impersonal. I really really felt for you when I read this post xxxxxxxxxxxx Frugal Queen

    • Oh what a difficult time you had. it sounds like you did an amazing job considering the financial strain. Teaching is my profession as well and I miss it, but I started later and never got far enough up the ladder to earn enough. Thank you for your empathy! xx

  • I’m another one at home – my (part-time) income covered (part-time) childcare for one child but couldn’t cover two and certainly couldn’t stretch to three… I also think that it isn’t a problem that goes away once they reach school age because once you add in school holiday care / before & after school club plus all the ‘extra’ days you are still stretched (plus the pressure of missing assembly / sports day etc when you really can’t take another day off)…

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