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The cost of child care

(27 Posts)
Gmajen Wed 08-Feb-12 09:12:09

I have been listening to radio 4 this morning and the cost of childcare was being discussed. My grandchildren are all grown up and so I am out of the loop in these matters. Several mothers interviewed explained that the greater part of their salary went on childcare. When asked whether it was worth them working they all replied that it was necessary for them - whether for career prospects or for their own self esteem. It did seem as though most felt that actually bringing up the children was not their primary concern. The care and wellbeing of the children was a job for other people for which the parents will gladly pay. There was of course no doubt about the love they felt for their family. Have things really changed so much? I am very aware that Grandparents have become a very important part of the child care community and would love to hear your comments please

Carol Wed 08-Feb-12 09:25:24

My daughter has to work to survive. She is a teacher at a college, working 4 days a week. She takes her twin boys to a childminder on her way to work, and picks them up at five on her way home. Sometimes I pick them up, and every other week her ex-partner picks them up a couple of times. She pays nearly £60 a day for them both and the childminder is motherly and provides lots of educational and fun activities for them. They socialise with other children most days. On Fridays, they have a special day when mummy is home to do lots of things together. I really admire her for the way she has organised her life, giving priority to her boys. If she lived on benefits, they would have a difficult time. In September, they will start school and things will get easier, she will work five days a week, and be able to commit herself to a managerial post, which she has turned down while the boys have been so young.

Her view is that she is a role model for her children and should instill a strong work ethic in them.

Childcare is ridiculously expensive in this country. There are few ways to reduce the cost - she did have childcare vouchers for a while, and gets reduced tax credits, now the boys are entitled to 15 hours of educational input from the qualified childminder, who has done her degree to further her own need to support her children. Yesterday, she provided school bags for the boys, as they are spending time each week preparing for school days. They get a good quality of care from her, and my daughter knows they are happy and safe.

glassortwo Wed 08-Feb-12 09:41:04

My Daughter and I were having this conversation just last week and as I live with her and SIL, I childmind my GC while they are both out at work.

We calculated the cost (if she did not have me to fall back on) during school and nursery terms it would work out at around £1,200.00 per month and around £1,700.00 during holidays. How can young families afford to work full time if they dont have Grandparents to fall back onto as they need to be earning huge salaries to cover this cost.

Gmajen Wed 08-Feb-12 10:05:20

Thank you Carol - It is humbling to hear of the effort young people have to make to survive. I count myself very lucky that things were not like this when I was bringing up my three. I do understand some of the pressures because my own children have themselves brought up families and are no strangers to various forms of child care but they were never having to cope with as many problems as single parents do. I can understand the need to work to survive but not so much the need to work when the economics don't dictate it. The question that interests me is whether parents' attitude to the whole question of looking after their own children is changing back towards former days when it was considered normal to delegate childcare to others, leaving them free to continue with their full lives.

Gmajen Wed 08-Feb-12 10:29:04

PS There is no implied criticism in this - the one thing I have learned is that children grow, develop and blossom perfectly well as long as their care is consistent.

Carol Wed 08-Feb-12 10:35:40

I haven't seen this within my own circle, and my daughter (both of whom now have twins) see themselves as the primary carer who collaborates with anyone else they introduce into their children's lives. The childminder knows my daughter's wishes about how her boys are cared for and she delegates them to the childminder, but not the role of mum

My other twin daughter, with new babies, is staying at home for just over a year, having saved for her family over the years when she has been childless and awaiting IVF. She can afford to stay at home after next year if she wishes, and at the moment she thinks she will return part-time, whilst MIL takes care of her babies for two days a week, and I will do the other day (MIL lives a few doors away and has no other grandchildren).

Again, although there is a difference in finances, this daughter sees delegated childcare as part of the whole package, but also wants to be a good role model as someone who works hard, but has plenty of time for her children, along with dad. The wider family will look after these children with her.

And....mums of lively twins, or a couple of more young children, need some space for themselves, too. Work keeps them socially engaged, otherwise it's one long round of clinic, toddler group, and indoor play with mum on most days, and mums need stimulation as well as their children.

crimson Wed 08-Feb-12 11:22:45

Do other grans not feel rather a weight of responsibility on them, though, at a time when retirement beckons but things like last minute holiday deals are out of the question due to child minding duties?

JessM Wed 08-Feb-12 11:47:09

Reel back to the 70s. The feminist movement had a number of 'demands" such as equal pay etc. Free child care was one of them. There is a lot more child care these days - market led as they say. But not much of it is free. Apart from nursery places for 3+ which are of no help to parents who have to work.

goldengirl Wed 08-Feb-12 12:01:06

Child care is very expensive. If it takes all of a person's salary to pay for it, is it worth it? The ideal would be part time work for each parent thus allowing time to look after their children during their early years - which are not very long really although they seem so at the time!

Carol Wed 08-Feb-12 12:15:50

Regarding the weight of responsibility as grandmothers - as a feminist, I did not battle my way through my own child-rearing years to find myself forced into this strenuous work when I retired, so I always made it clear I would be happy to do my bit, but I would not be taking on another job. My children respect that. Having said that, I help most days with new twin babies, including clinic and hospital appointments, babysit my other twin grandsons, pick them up from the childminder every couple of weeks, take them off mum's hands for play, baking etc. and when I get chance, spend time with my eldest grandchild and was picking him up from school every Monday afternoon. I think that's doing my bit, and if there's an emergency, I'm first one there

numberplease Wed 08-Feb-12 17:41:10

I child mind my youngest grandson, now just turned 3 and a half, 5 days a week, hours dependant on which shift my son is on, his wife works straight days. I`ve done it before, for 3 other grandchildren, and I get paid, £1 an hour. It gives me a bit of personal spending money, and saves them a fortune in childminder fees, plus I love having him.

Gmajen Thu 09-Feb-12 08:34:48

Carol - What a fantastic family -twin daughters who each have twins. I wish all of you much joy. Thanks for being in touch - you have helped me see straight!

Carol Thu 09-Feb-12 08:51:18

Thanks Gmajen smile

ninathenana Thu 09-Feb-12 13:26:28


Yes I do some what at the moment. DH and I can't plan a holiday at all this year as DGS No2 is due next month and we know that he will need surgery for a genetic heart condition. We don't know when this will be. So we are on standby for the rest of the year to care for DGS No1
This may sound very selfish, and I do feel guilty saying it. As I know there is more than one grandparent on the forum who would give anything just to see their DGC.
We have already in the past 12mths had DGS to stay for weeks at a time (too far for daily basis) due to childcare difficulties.
I confess to heaving a sigh of relief when DD started her mat. leave last Friday as I knew I was off duty for a few weeks smile
Regarding costs DD was paying £800+ for nursery 5 days a week. She cannot afford to pay fees for 2 so is hoping that the working from home that her employer has talked about does happen next year.
DD has child care qualifications and worked in that area for 4yrs. Despite enjoying being around children, she says there is only so much baby talk she can take in a day.
She works for her own fulfillment and the need for the money !! grin

Pennysue Thu 09-Feb-12 19:34:45

I found when my children were small it was better for me to work part time in the evening and let DH look after the children. He was on call so occasionally we had to ask a friend/sister if they would mind covering whilst DH dealt with problem, but this was very rare, problem could usually wait until I got home.

My parents had moved (because of my Father's career) a flight away so could not help (they moved back just as my children were leaving secondary school!!)

We were young when we had our children and so I did not bother to much about building a career until they were in secondary school - when I went back to full time work and became a para legal.

I am now working part time in the evening again - following being made redundant and not wanting to work full time as I have an elderly mother who needs help. I am working with quite a few "mums" who cannot afford child care and are following the pattern we did many years ago.

Charlotta Thu 09-Feb-12 19:56:23

Reading these posts has made me feel rather sad that bringing children into the world should mean so much work and organisation for so many people. How the MIL for Carol's baby twin GS is going to get through those two days, I don't know. I take it she is a young Grandmother.

Of course I supported my daughters but both daughters stayed at home until the children were 3. One daughter ran her own creche, but not for full time children only those who came a couple of mornings.
The cost of child care is prohibitive, and I feel so sorry to see mothers having to part with such young babies on their way to work and think it would be better to do without a car, than give a baby up into someone else's care.

However I read that in a Swedish trial they found out that if the child care was excellent then the child developed better than with 'just' Mum who may have been frustrated at home. But the important word here is Excellent and too many child minders don't come into that category.
I'm glad as I always am that I am no longer young these days.

Carol Thu 09-Feb-12 20:06:29

MIL for my twin grandaughters will be early 50s when she starts looking after them as toddlers next year. She has boundless energy, but she knows I am only 10 minutes down the motorway and can nip round and help, too. She will be responsible on those days, but knowing we can share the work will help. There's a certain novelty in having twins in the family and it buoys you up when the going gets tough. Also, they do play with each other some of the time, as they get into their second year.

lydia1 Thu 09-Feb-12 23:44:36

Interesting discussion. I look after my son's little ones, aged 2 and 4, just one day a week. It is really lovely - I get to spend some time with them, and feel that I'm developing a really close relationship with them. As well as that, they have a lovely relaxed day, and don't have to be rushed off to nursery. It saves money too. I don't, however, envy those wonderful GP's that do it every day. Even though I am fit and healthy, I don't have the energy - or inclination to do more. It's great to be needed, though.

glassortwo Fri 10-Feb-12 08:11:20

I live with my Daughter and her family at the moment and I have the full time childcare for 6 & 3yr old GC.
I sometimes wish I looked after them in my own home as they would go home at the end of the day, but I am on hand here 24 hrs a day and the little ones forget when Mum is home and still call Grandma.
I am 56 but some days I would love a day to do just as I like, not get up at 6.30 to get them up and sorted for school etc etc, but just turn over and snuggle for a while.
Thats my rant and now I will say that I also feel very fortunate to be in their lives as some Grans on GN are not so lucky.

redblue Fri 10-Feb-12 15:33:20

I am a working mum of two, girl 3 yrs, boy 20 months. I work 4 days per week (I would have liked it to be 3 days per week but boss totally hostile, feel lucky to have 4 days instead of 5 and get that one day with them per week although its mainly housework!)
I earn just under £2K per month, childcare is £957 for 3 yr old and £975 for 19 month old so total of £1932 leaving me about £70 per month. With petrol adn car insurance etc to get to nursery/work i make a small loss every month which my husband supports.

It works out around £8 or so per hour per child (on average). You get everything for that (all food which is freshly cooked in a kitchen in the nursery and the menu looks good although how much they eat i never actually know cause im not there),nappies, wipes, nappy cream, suncream in the summer.

Sad things about it are that i am doing it because in this recession there is no way i would get a job if i had a few years career break instead in the sector in which i work. The really sad and pathetic thing which i would never admit to anyone in real life is that some days i feel jealous of the key workers at the nursery to whom i hand over my children (but i would deny that if anyone comes out and asks me)

goldengirl Fri 10-Feb-12 16:55:46

I think your comment is so sad redblue. It seems that you are not making any money and you are missing your children. Do you actually enjoy your work when you're there?

harrigran Fri 10-Feb-12 17:20:03

No easy answer to the childcare problem. I stayed at home and looked after my children. We never had holidays or much in the way of new clothes, we couldn't afford a car but the upside was I was always there when they were poorly and needed my attention. My children didn't go to nursery.
My DIL has very little left after paying childcare but like you redblue feels she can not take a career break.

Ariadne Fri 10-Feb-12 17:30:06

Thank you for that, redblue - good to hear from the front line! It is not easy for you, I know, and all I can say is how much I admire you all (and that of course includes my DD and DDsiL (OMG, it's hard to be grammatically correct with these abbreviations but if I get it wrong they'll get me (Gransnet pedants, that is!) who work every which way to balance things in their lives.

Respect! smile

goldengirl Sat 11-Feb-12 17:23:55

I stayed at home too harrigran until they went to nursery at 4 and I made their clothes or bought second hand and we had one week's holiday a year usually in a flat or a caravan on a farm and made our own entertainment. I admit to tearing my hair out on occasion thinking my brain was stultifying but I did home study on topics of interest [no computers in those days!] and then did some occasional temping. DH was very supportive but was away a lot when the children were little so a group of mums got together and we took turns in looking after each other's children to allow one - or two - mums an afternoon break which helped enormously. Not working meant we went without a lot of things my working friends took for granted but I felt it was better for them for me to be around. The upside was that I learned a lot about other companies as a temp which lead me onto new ventures when the children went to school. My mantra has been 'no experience is ever wasted' smile

harrigran Sun 12-Feb-12 17:48:04

We had a babysitting circle too golden We used to earn points for each hour we babysat and paid out when you required one. Worked really well.