Crushing cost of childcare - how can I return to work?

(39 Posts)
EldonAve Sun 23-Sep-12 18:34:58

I have 3 kids - 2 in school, 1 in preschool
To cover paying a nanny £10 net I need to earn twice my former salary!

Is everyone else earning £80K plus or am I missing something?

Tiggles Sun 23-Sep-12 18:51:25

I went back to work with 2 in school, and one in pre-school (2 years before started school). I had to put DS3 in nursery £750 a month, and the elder 2 in afterschool club about £250 a month. Breakfast club at school was free.
So £1000 a month on childcare.

However, my work have a childcare voucher scheme. Both DH and I could sacrifice £243 a month to childcare vouchers tax free. After a few months DS3 became eligible for early entitlement (term after his 3rd birthday) which knocked another £180 off the bill every half term. This year he can go to school in the afternoons, so he has nursery in the morning they walk him to school, school, after school club, which saves another couple of hundred pounds a month.

So although technically I started working for little more than about £100 a month, by the time the various schemes kicked in it made quite a difference. We earn quite a lot less than £80K. Next year when DS3 starts at school it will make a massive difference to our income, and the 2 years 'work experience' will hopefully be worthwhile.

I think if you earn less than about £40K (as a family, not each) you can claim tax credit help towards child care (I am fairly certain the threshold limit is higher than for getting family tax credits).

poorbuthappy Sun 23-Sep-12 18:55:36

£1800 a month...I didn't go back.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 23-Sep-12 18:59:59

Very few people can afford a nanny. It's a mix of nursery/childminder and after school clubs. In your situation you need a childminder to pick up from preschool and school and youre sorted. Not that finding one that suits is straightforward.

EldonAve Sun 23-Sep-12 19:12:53

Childminders here charge about £7 per hour, not sure what sibling discount they'd give but I'm probably looking at 6 hrs a day for the preschooler & 3 hrs a day for the 2 school kids - so £12 hrs total = £126

A nanny would be £150 a day

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 23-Sep-12 19:33:14

Hmm would you be looking at three hours for the school kids though? I would think you wouldn't need anything for them as they would be at the after school club which you would be using childcare vouchers for. And of course you won't have a preschooler for that much longer.

BettyandDon Sun 23-Sep-12 19:44:28

I'm soon to have 2 under 3 and we don't qualify for a bean. I think the childcare vouchers are a drop in the ocean with regards total costs. My local nursery has quoted £70 per day for under 1s and 60ish for my 2 yr old. So about the same as you.

Needless to say I'm having a few more years off. I had a fairly intensive job before DC and there's no way I'm doing that to clear a few hundred quid a month and never see the kids. We'd rather struggle on with 1 income.

Think it's the squeezed middle effect. Only answer is family childcare or a whopping salary from your DH which would cover childcare. Or to earn a lot less as a family and claim for childcare costs sad.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 23-Sep-12 19:58:08

The answer for us was having a big gap between dc. I know a lot of people say they didn't have a choice but we did so that's what we did.

And I wfh 2 days a week and so don't need the childcare on those days, I can pick up from school at 4/5 depending on clubs and not pay for after school care. We don't have any family here and so we had to plan very carefully.

I only earn a small amount and have always paid for my own childcare. Its an investment in the future.

EldonAve Sun 23-Sep-12 20:26:43

The after school club is only term time of course
Having a nanny avoids the school holiday issue

Family doing childcare for free, paying cash in hand or using a live in aupair seem to be the only way for work to pay

blueshoes Sun 23-Sep-12 20:33:32

Your pre-schooler could attend ft nursery (£60/day) together with a live-in aupair (£80/wk or £12 per day), so in total about £70+ per day. Aupair can also do the schoolrun and provide the before/after school care for the older siblings and simple homework.

Half the cost of the nanny. A godsend for a working parent.

EldonAve Sun 23-Sep-12 20:42:58

I thought FT nursery was more like £90 a day here (London)

Unfortunately we have no space for an aupair

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 23-Sep-12 20:45:14

We don't find holidays that bad, I use supercamps for in office days, there are 3 parents so we share some days between us and swap childcare with other working parents as well. Then the dc go to their respective gps for a few days each.

Supercamps are 35 a day and there are a lot that are cheaper. I do have a flexible job though that allows me to knock off earlier when I need to.

janey68 Mon 24-Sep-12 07:24:34

No, it's not that other people earn £80k . It's a mixture of things. It sounds as though you haven't worked since having your first child, because this seems to have completely taken you by surprise. I would say the key things that spring to mind are:

- returning to work after first child. At this point you may have some money left over after paying childcare. Even if not, you are staying on the career ladder, thus making it more likely that your earnings will go up over time

- spacing children out - eg first in school or on free hours before having dc2

- limiting family to fewer children

- building up some savings before having kids

- mixing and matching childcare eg using a mix of childminder and nursery rather than assuming you need a nanny

I'm not saying its easy, (we spent several years when childcare cost the equivalent of my income) but whenever I got really fed up I would have a chat with my older colleagues and realise how much better things are these days. It wasn't that long ago there was 12 week maternity leave, no childcare free hours at age 3, no nursery vouchers and no right to the parental leave you can now take with under 5s. I count my blessings when I look at how it used to be!

I would start with childminders.
Go to council and ask for FIS family information service. They will give you a list of registered childminders.

Ask at school as well.

It really is short term pain for long term gain.
I earn £1300 a month. I pay between £800 and £1000 a month for 2 children also greater London.
Next September it reduces when DC2 gets preschool funding. And when he starts school it reduces to £450 ish, except August will always be £1000!
But I do 3 days a week so I can catch up being a mum (house chores, shopping etc).

When I went back, I would have been better off claiming tax credits. More money for not working. I'm glad I went back because the government has cut credits and now I seemingly owe them £5k???!!! But We still qualify for them with 2 in child care.

I would ring them and go through a how much would we get scenario. It may help.

Northernlurkerisbackatwork Mon 24-Sep-12 07:53:10

We didn't have our third child till our second child was at school partly because of the cost of paying childcare. We used childcare vouchers and we accepted that for some of the time at least there was very little left over once childcare was paid. Now dd3 is at school things are much better though.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Mon 24-Sep-12 08:00:01

£900-£1,000 a month, and no I haven't gone back yet.

DS3 will be 3yo before I go back. Even with TC's I can't currently afford the childcare. I have a 14yo with SN that can't be alone for 4 hrs (maybe 30 mins at a stretch), a 10yo and an 8yo, and a 20mo toddler.

When the toddler turns 3yo, I'll get the free 15 hrs a week, the 14yo will be 16, and should be OK to be left 4 hrs after College. The 10yo will be 12, so able to come home on his own.

Then I will only have to do Nursery - 15 hrs and after school club for one.

YANBU, childcare is crippling!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 24-Sep-12 09:19:49

Couthy tbf though I couldnt work with more than 2 without a nanny or family nearby - if I had been able to have had any more dc then we would have had to have had a very serious think about that because more than 2 really tips you over I think.

Eldon - I live in SW London, I used to live in a naice part and my nursery was £60 a day, now I live in a not-so-nice part it was £48 (7.30-6.30), so they can be found.

bigkidsdidit Mon 24-Sep-12 09:26:14

Totally agree with Janey's post

This is why we're limiting ourselves to two, and DS will be over 3 before I go back to work wih #2 so gets free hours

And we both work flexibly an stagger hours so I can pick up at 4. Means we never see each other, and we are skint, bit when DC2 goes to school it'll be like winning the lottery and I'll still be in a good position at work <dreams>

janey68 Mon 24-Sep-12 12:55:15

This isn't a criticism of the the op personally, but IME if you return to work after ML with your first child, you tend to be pretty clued up about these things. You see yourself paying out up to £1000 per month in childcare, and you know that when you have dc2 it will be £2000. You therefore look carefully at things like spacing your children for when you start to get free nursery hours, or limiting your family (we stopped at two) or you research things like au pair or childminder who may offer a sibling discount.

I think sometimes mums who stop working go on to have as many kids as they like maybe in quick succession, and then when they realise a few years later that they would quite like to work again , the reality of childcare hits like a ten tonne truck.

It's not a criticism because i can see how easy it is to get lulled into having children in quick succession if you don't have to consider the work and childcare implications, but I would always advise women to think carefully even if they are intending to be a SAHM- because at some point most people want or need to work, and it can be a real shock if you're not used to paying childcare

EldonAve Mon 24-Sep-12 13:10:11

YouBrokeMySmoulder - I had forgotten that nursery fees are lower for over 2's but here it is still £70 a day minimum

janey68 - I can see that spacing out children can work for some people or possibly having them closer together

I considered returning to work after DC1 but chose not too

Free nursery hours here works if you can get a state nursery place otherwise it's more like 30% off the fees

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 24-Sep-12 14:22:32

Even the Cooperative that used to be Buffer Bear? I always found them cheaper than the rest. And you get co-op points as a member which pile up steeply when you consider how much you are spending.

forevergreek Tue 25-Sep-12 19:40:00

I would
A) try alternative hours. Especially if dh as well. So one starts early and finishes in time for school finish/ after school club finish, and the other drops at school and finishes later

B) can either of you work 4 long days instead of 5. If you both do this with alternative free days, you will then only need 3 days childcare

C) Can either of you work from home one day? ( would prob still need nursery for you youngest but would save on after school/ childminder fees. Then catch up in the eve when asleep if still things to do

D) one of you works nights the other days

E) are you sure no space for au pair/ live in nanny ( live in nanny more live £350 a week), I would put all the children in one bedroom if nessesary. Will only be nessesary for a few years max

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 25-Sep-12 19:51:45

Not much to add to what others have said, except:

- OP, why are you thinking about the costs in terms of your salary, rather than household income? I know it doesn't magic up any more money, but try approaching it as "half my salary and half DH's salary pay the nursery bill", rather than "there's not much left after my salary pays for nursery"

-OP / Smoulder, I think I must live near you. Buffer Bear-as-was is much cheaper than other nurseries in the area, especially as they provide everything

- OP, nurseries elsewhere might be much cheaper. Eg Croydon is about £20 a day cheaper than other parts of London

What Janey68 said.
Also look at the longer term picture - you are still developing your career, paying into NI and pension even if your take home after childcare is small. And the cost reduces as they get older - it will be a smaller proportion of your salary as time goes on assuming you also get pay rises/ promotions.

EldonAve Tue 25-Sep-12 20:30:01

Alas we are not near the Buffer Bear/Coop nursery

Thank you for all the suggestions

FamiliesShareGerms - if my salary doesn't cover the childcare costs then our net income will drop as a result of me working

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