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NB: I know it’s not entirely the ‘done’ thing to talk about money, because OMG we’re British and when it comes to our wallets we keep our mouths closed, but this is something I can’t stop thinking about. And therefore something I wanted to write about. So there.
Raising kids is an expensive business. We all know that.
But how expensive is it to be a working (single) mum? Or single women who want to have children? That’s what I’ve been wondering.
When I accepted my job I didn’t really work out how much it would cost me. I had a basic idea in my head – Hux would need to go to nursery 3 days a week and I was already paying pre-school fees for him and a few extra hours over my free 15 for Elfie – but surely because I’d be, you know, earning a salary, working out how much it would cost me seemed a bit pointless.
Last night I sat down and calculated the figures involved in re-joining the workforce. And honestly? I was totally shocked. No wonder so many women can’t afford to return to work! I’m lucky in that I currently rely on my mum for some of my childcare – as a personal choice I didn’t want my kids to be in a ‘formal’ childcare setting full-time – so they get to have fun at Gagi and Papa’s house as well as their pre-school and nursery. And I’m fortunate to not have to pay for two lots of full time fees… but if I had to (as so many women do!) this is what I’d be looking at:
£1850 Nursery fees for two children – luckily Elfie’s at pre-school now (15 hours free, with a couple of extra sessions on top) and Hux only needs half the week at nursery and at paid for pre-school sessions (THANKS MUM!)
£480 Monthly train travel in and out of London. Half the time the train’s delayed, the other half I have to sit on the floor. Therefore this is EXCELLENT value for money *eye roll*
£180 Parking and petrol
£200 Food – lunch and the occasional ready meal. OK, I know this is an unnecessary spend, but after 4.5 hours of commuting and a hard day’s work, once the kids get to bed at 8pm the last thing I want to do is cook a big dinner and make a packed lunch for the next day.
£120 Tube travel – always standing up, always sweaty.
That’s a grand total of £2,830. You’d have to be earning a pretty good salary to cover that, right?
But that’s not all.
I’ve worked out that to cover my rent, basic bills and council tax in addition to the fees I pay out to work I’d have to bring in £3,850. After tax. That’s a salary of over £65,000… but I haven’t even bought any food yet. Or visited ASOS. How crazy is that figure?
Ok, so I’m kind of overreacting here when it comes to my particular situation – I get 15 hours free childcare for Elfie now, my mum looks after Hux for part of the week and my ex-husband helps a little financially. But if I had two children under three and no support from grandparents nearby or the ex this would be my reality. And that’s before I consider the fact that I can’t actually get home in time for the nursery closing, or the feelings I have about putting my children in a childcare environment for that amount of time.
The fact of the matter is that our country really isn’t geared towards both parents in a family working, or single parents working full-time. It’s terrifying that we’re supposed to make ends meet with very little support, bar childcare vouchers (which I’m not eligible for as I work freelance) and tax credits (again, not eligible as I now earn ‘too much’).
I’d be really interested to know what your thoughts are on this subject: is it this tough for you? How could our country make it easier for single or both parents to work full-time?