Childcare is a hot issue as parents try to balance work with their own family life.
It’s an expensive business and, over the past 8 years for our two kids, we have spent in the region of £150,000. Eye watering I know but was a decision we made to both work when the kids got to 1. Luckily we both had jobs then to be able to afford this.
However I wanted to outline some of the pros and cons of childcare that we have experienced. This is a volatile subject so please read only as my view!! Please!
THE PROS OF CHILDCARE
When your child is in full day chid care it does give you the flexibility to work full time and not worry about fitting in work when you can. I combine work with elements of childcare now and it can be stressful when you have ‘finished’ work and have the kids with you – yet you know work still has to be done!
The trick is to find childcare options which allow flexibility. Many work on full time, full year contracts so you pay even if the kid is there or not. The hourly rate should be cheaper as it is a full time contract but you have to suck it up a bit when you go on holiday yet have paid for a week’s childcare that will go unused.
Your own worth
If you want to stay at home all the time with your kids then ‘good on you’. My wife especially, felt she had lost her worth as a woman. This is not the case for everyone so nobody is judging here.
She loved being a mum but had forgotten who SHE was after a year being at home with our son.
Going back to work made her feel like herself again. It also benefitted our kids as the time you spend with them is richer.
Being with other kids
When we had our first child we did not have a big support network around us. We had moved to a new area and both our families live hundreds of miles away. So my wife, who was staying home with our first born, felt really isolated.
I worried that our son was not as social as he should be and was awkward in some group situations.
The childcare we found was like a mini nursery with many kids and it did not take long before he became very confident.
Adults are also boring after a while. Kids love being with kids as they have the same humour and talk the same rubbish. Adults can only bear it for so long but kids can go on being annoying to each other for hours.
Other people with time and energy
With childcare you are paying for people who have trained to work with kids. It is what they want to do. They know what to do. They are professionals.
They also don’t have to deal with sleepless nights or the kid’s illnesses so their relationship is purely one of fun.
This makes it easier for you (trying to smile and play for 8 hours when exhausted is, well, exhausting) and your kids are fulfilled and happy.
THE CONS OF CHILDCARE
If you are thinking of using childcare then open that excel and budget wisely. Full time for our small one, with after school care for the oldest, was costing us £1500 per month.
Put that figure in an excel worksheet and you will soon see how little money you will have left. And really do put everything in to the worksheet. I did a couple of months using a spending tracking app where every penny we spent I put in to it; just to make sure we had budgeted well.
Reduced time with kids
You’re with them, you could do with a break. You’re not with them, you miss them.
Life has some cruel condundrums so you need to think if you will get enough time with your kids.
We would wake at 7. Drop kids at 8. Pick them up at 6. And then bed time was around 7.30. That means every moment you spend time with them during the week is basically shouting at them to get dressed or undressed.
Difficulty in taking part in hobbies
This is not one you would think of but it does happen. Clubs or lessons can take place during the after school time. With childcare it is hard for someone to take them from the childminder, to the lesson, and back.
Believe me they will charge you for that as well. So you have to find hobbies that take place at the weekend – when you want to spend time with them the most!!!
And finally, the costs!
I know I have said this already but it really is expensive and you will be using at least one wage up!
So stay at home or go back to work? You decide!