Mary Poppins and the Childcare Trap

Feb 10 • Featured • 670 Views • 5 Comments on Mary Poppins and the Childcare Trap

I know several mums who are in the Childcare Trap right now. They desperately need to go back to work for financial reasons, but the cost of childcare – nursery and childminders, don't even mention nannies – is so prohibitive they can't afford it. Nursery places can now cost up to £20,000 a year in some parts of the country. Meanwhile childminders' fees have risen dramatically as well. In fact, childcare costs are rising faster than the rate of inflation in the UK .

Of course childminders and nursery workers deserve to be paid fairly. But it's pretty obvious parents need more help with childcare costs.

You don't necessarily get what you pay for, either. I live close to an area populated with nannies – the next best thing to a parent, you would think. Except that every day I see them taking their charges out for walks… but not interacting with the kids on any level, because their mouths are jammed to their mobile phones the whole time. Mary Poppins would, I'm sure, be horrified.

I'm not sure what the solution to the childcare problem is, but I think it's pretty obvious that the political parties will ignore it at their peril in the run-up to the election.

*What do you think about childcare costs?

written by Liz Jarvis

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5 Responses to Mary Poppins and the Childcare Trap

  1. Linda says:

    Hi Liz, as a mum of twins I know what a problem this is, for a long time mums ot twins or triplets have been stuck in a limbo, mothers with jobs from receptionist, to teacher, to supermarket worker to nurse or social worker have put their lives on hold when their children were born, for many the constant stream of articles discussing "whether" a mum should go back to work has seemed totally irrelevant tot hem – many couldn’t afford to even if they wanted. Personally I was happy that this this "dliemma" was taken away from me and I spent a long time at home with my babies, out of financial necessity as well as for any other reason. But of course there are many more with employers who want or need them back at work, with mortgages to pay and partners or husbands who don’t earn enough to maintain their standard of living. One in 35 children born in this country is a twin so it would be good to see extra help. Right, will get off my soapbox now! Thanks for highlighting this problem. I hope your readers can also think of all those for whom the costs would be double or even triple so cannot even be attempted.

  2. Linda says:

    Sorry just wanted to add that our situation was that my partner wasn’t earning anywhere near a high wage and that while parents of one baby may feel comfortable calling on a supportive nan or grandma for childcare, this can also be a less likely scenario for families of multiple birth children. More than one at once have more of a tendency to tire you out!

  3. Karin @ Cafe Bebe says:

    When I was nearing the end of my maternity leave, I started looking at the cost of nursery. We didn’t REALLY have enough to live comfortably but if I went back to work full time with full time nursery we would have lost money every month. We really had no choice but I also didn’t WANT to go back to work. I wanted to be the one to be there for my child for everything, not some random person. My husband was able to get a modest pay rise which helped but our life is quite different as we’re only on one income. I would like to take advantage of nursery now, for my daughter’s development and socialisation for even just a morning but our closest nursery would cost about £20-30 just for one morning. We can’t afford that right now so Little Miss stays with Mummy!

  4. sam says:

    Our circumstances are similar to Karin. Our lives have changed so much as we’ve been put in a position where unless I am earning a fair fortune we can’t afford childcare and at £10-£20 per hour for a local nursery it’s also out of the question. It’s a ridiculous situation because we can barely afford to live on one salary, but we’d be even worse off on two! I have even been in a situation where I took on a six month contract, which at the time seemed to work great – the childcare element of working tax credits seemed to cover our childcare costs easily. But at the end of the contract? We had apparently been overpaid by more than £1,400!!! (though how it’s all worked out we’ll never know). It’s a catch 22…

  5. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    There is help with childcare costs but it will most likely be means tested, through Child Tax Credits and the like. When Amy was in nursery I was lucky because my mum paid, but it was £22 a day (I know that will sound cheap compared to inner City fees, but it was actually expensive for this remote area) and that was a tiny little nursery in a tiny little village where I live, and it was 7 ish years ago. I dread to think what it costs now. I sent to Amy to a childminder for a few hours a day, not every day, I think it was three days a week. It was for respite. I know that sounds terrible because I didn’t go out to work, but back then her autism was particularly difficult to cope with and I was learning the ropes, going on every course and workshop that I could. I remember the fees being expensive but worth it. There should definitely be help towards childcare. But it’s like everything else, the rich will always be able to afford nannies who spend too long on their mobile phones and not enough with their charge, whilst those in the working and middle class brackets have to either give up their career, or simply scrimp and scrape. Like Sam says, it’s a catch 22 situation for many. CJ xx

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