Can you afford a baby?
They say a baby can cost up to £10,000 in the first year alone. So who on earth can afford to have one?! Recently, there has been a wave of debate, stirred on by the government's new policies, about the cost of having children. From what I can gather, the government's point of view is that you should not have a child if you can not afford to look after it yourself. And I agree! But what exactly does this mean?
With the cost of living going up and the cost of childcare insanely high, surely you would have to be a millionaire to even consider pro-creating. Mothers are told to return to work as soon as is physically possible and to leave their child in day care, even if this means they earn 0. Because by returning to work, you are keeping your career on track and when your children are in school, you will be back on a double wage. Stay at home mums (like myself) are the enemy. To have a child and then stay at home with them is just ridiculous. I should be out working a 40 hour week, not staying at home all day.
This attitude is beginning to bother me a little (can you tell?). It has started to make me question what it means to be able to "afford" a child. I don't work, Dave does. We rent a two bedroom cottage in London, we pay for our own food and bills, we only receive the standard child benefit which I think comes out at about £80 a month. So how on Earth are we surviving? And, believe it or not, saving!
We just prioritise. Everybody has heard of the idea of having to give up certain lifestyle habits when you have a child, and that is exactly what we did! We don't order takeaways that often, and when we do it is a massive treat! We are smart with our food and plan ahead with what we need. We are careful with electric and gas, especially the heating! We find fun things to do at the weekend which don't cost a lot of money. We don't go on three holidays a year like we used to. We don't buy new clothes every week. We just prioritise.
Having children means so much to us both and Alice is worth more than any Topshop dress ever could to me! I think the idea of just having a child and sticking them into childcare for 50 hours a week is plain wrong. Unless you absolutely have to, I really wouldn't recommend it. As someone who has worked in over 7 nurseries for over 6 years, they are not the sort of place I would want to send my child (under 2 years of age) to every day of the week. Part time, fine. But 50 hours a week in insane.
I am worried about this idea. It gets to me a lot. What happens if you are never in the perfect financial position to have children. Do you just not have them? If you answered yes, I really feel for you. It's time people started to see the bigger picture. Life is about so much more than earning money. Yes, it is important, but surely having a family (assuming you want one) is more important? You will be surprised how far money can take you when you don't have any! And if we can do it, then anyone can.
You just have to decide what is more important to you. Those 3 holidays a year, or having a child?
So here is a message from me, to the government. Stop putting us stay at home mums down because we chose to stay at home with our children and raise them ourselves. We are not second class citizens and we are not wasting our lives.
(Just for the record, I know some wonderful full time working mums, who do a fantastic job with their children. This is not a rant against them at all. I have nothing but respect for them, and I know it must break their hearts to be away from their children every day. I do stand by my opinion on childcare and would never even consider sending Alice to a nursery for 50 hours a week.)