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not to understand people with very young children who say they have no choice but to work?

(342 Posts)
nesomja Fri 05-Nov-10 19:57:18

Whenever there's anything that touches on being a SAHM / WOHM on here, several people pop up saying how lucky people are to have a choice, that they have no choice but to work and basically to stop whinging about it. I can't work it out because I am pretty sure that next year when I will have two under-3s, it will cost us money for every day I work as childcare is so expensive. So are all the people who say they have no choice those with older children or only one child? Or are they very high earners or do they have access to low cost childcare? For me it feels the other way round, that I will not be able to choose to work - but yet it often seems to be presented as if SAHM are living a luxury lifestyle, propped up by their wealthy husbands. Why is it okay not to be able to afford not to work, but not okay not to be able to afford to go to work?

smallwhitecat Fri 05-Nov-10 19:59:11

Message withdrawn

SauvignonBlanche Fri 05-Nov-10 19:59:38

Many working parents co-parent and split childcare between them.
Quite a few of my lower-banded staff do this. I'm surprised this had not occured to you.

CatIsSleepy Fri 05-Nov-10 20:02:30

it's okay to not to be able to afford not to work

it's also okay not to be able to afford to go to work

whatever works for you or for anyone else is okay

okay? grin

hairytriangle Fri 05-Nov-10 20:03:28

You're going to have children and go on benefits?

Or are you lucky enough to have a partner with good enough wages to be able to afford to live on one wage?

Work shouldn't be a choice. It's what you do if you can. If you can't (because you are ill) that's a different scenario. If you don't because your household income is sufficient without relying on benefits then that's fine.


CarGirl Fri 05-Nov-10 20:03:36

If you are on a lowish family income and use registered childcare then you get help towards your childcare costs thus making you better off working than not working.

Simbacatlives Fri 05-Nov-10 20:04:09

When my children were young there childminder took home twice as much as I did after paying her.

I had a career not a job. If I had quit I would never have got my career back later. Today I earn 7 times what I did then.

Maisiethemorningsidecat Fri 05-Nov-10 20:04:39

Crikey, you've stirred up a hornets nest.

Are they high earners? No, can just afford to meet the cost of childcare - even though they may not have much money left over afterwards

Are those with older children or only one child? No, not necessarily.

Do they have access to low cost childcare? Oh, I wish...

I'm sure that for many it's not financially worth working, but for plenty more it's about accepting that for the next few years you'll not be earning much after childcare, but it means that a)you keep your pension and other benefits eg holiday entitlement b)that you keep progressing in your career c)you earn a small amount, which is better than none at all.

That's fantastic you can afford to live on one wage, but plenty can't.

Crazycatlady Fri 05-Nov-10 20:05:23

More often than you'd think, parents are calling in favours from family to look after their young DCs so they don't have to pay for childcare full time. For many this is the only way it's affordable. Or parents do shift work / juggle childcare between them.

In my own current situation I have 'no choice' but to work since we have a large mortgage to pay. My day rate as a freelance consultant is 3 or 4 times what childcare costs though, even paying for a nanny, so you could say I fall into the high earner category which is a different thing entirely.

AnnieLobeseder Fri 05-Nov-10 20:09:18

I should think the lower earners who have to work to pay their bills are relying on family to help with childcare. Or they work alternating shifts.

YABVU to think that your situation applies to everyone else.

Some people can't afford to work. Some people can't afford not to work. Either situation sucks if it's not the situation you'd prefer.

MaMoTTaT Fri 05-Nov-10 20:11:02

oh the whole "can't afford not to work/can't afford to work" is complicated

A few years ago we couldn't afford for me not to work........^but^ we couldn't afford for me to work either as I would have been working for a loss......and we needed money then not to be spending out money on something that might have benefitted us a few years down the line.

We got round it by me working a night shift and exH working day.

DuelingFanjo Fri 05-Nov-10 20:13:53

I don't understand what you are asking, what do you think you might be being unreasonable about?

SauvignonBlanche Fri 05-Nov-10 20:15:26

When dcs were tiny I did a night shift and DH looked after them the next day, giving DD EBM that I'd expressed during the night. Can you understand that nesomja? hmm
Some children have two loving parents!

Nightsdrawingin Fri 05-Nov-10 20:15:26

Maisie, I don't think the point is affording to live on one wage, but that if you actually have less with two wages than one - so even if you can't afford to live on one wage you haven't got much choice?

Janos Fri 05-Nov-10 20:15:28

How about, people do what suits them and their family and you mind your own freaking business, Ms Busybody? Hmmm?

JarethTheGoblinKing Fri 05-Nov-10 20:15:43

I have to work because I have my dream job, and if I gave it up permanently (I work PT at the moment) I'd lose my amazing flexible job and someone else would get it. I also HAVE to pay into my final salary pension.

RibenaBerry Fri 05-Nov-10 20:16:01

What's your point, that you feel MNers who have to work are insufficiently sympathetic to those who can't afford to work?

Either situation is hard if you don't get to do what you prefer.

waterlooroadisadocumentary Fri 05-Nov-10 20:17:22

I am relatively high earner, probably not by MN standards - but in excess of 50K. I am the breadwinner in my family and also support 3 elderly parents who need full time care and a step child. I am also helping out a sibling at uni but that will end soon.

The first time round I was a SAHM but with all the commitments above I just could not do that now. We have saved for years so we can afford another child and I hope that in January we can start trying for a baby, even then I will only be able to take minimum maternity leave.

Fibilou Fri 05-Nov-10 20:17:55

I earn approx £11 per hour. I currently work 27 hours per week over 4 days (1 x 10 hours, 3 x 6 hours). We pay £66 per week for DD to go to nursery but this is considerably less than the income I gain from those hours. The rest of the week she is looked after by my husband (a shift worker) or my parents.

And to answer your question, no, there is no way I could afford to be a SAHM, however hard we economised. We could not pay all our bills if I did not work at least 16 hours.

cory Fri 05-Nov-10 20:21:30

I think I do see what you are getting at: how can people in low paid jobs actually not be worse off working and paying for childcare? I did work part-time when dcs were little, but we were spending so much on childcare (childminder, cheapest option) that it was not a case of us not being able to afford my staying at home, more a case of how we could afford for me to work.

The answer for many of our friends was to work in shifts, so mum went out to work when dad came home.

wonderstuff Fri 05-Nov-10 20:26:56

I work 3 days, Mil has dd one day, when I come off mat leave dd will qualify for 15 hours childcare thing, which will help and ds will be in nursery 3 days, I can get nursery vouchers (so money for nursery taken off before I pay tax on it) The cost of childcare will be about 40-50% of my take home pay, and I will be keeping up with pension contributions and I will be maintaining a career. We couldn't pay our bills if I was a SAHM.

GruffalosGirl Fri 05-Nov-10 20:28:47

When I go back to work after my maternity leave I will earn £200 less a month than our childcare costs will be. It feels terrible knowing I will be working for a loss but it will only be for one year and then it will balance out once the eldest starts school.

I'd never get another PT job I loved with a decent pension and holidays again if I left, although I'll be lucky if my civil service job is still there when I go back to work in this climate.

pozzled Fri 05-Nov-10 20:28:53

Not having a choice is pretty shit no matter what way round it goes.

I can't afford not to work, even when I have 2 DC, my salary will still be more than the childcare cost. Combination of reasonably well-paid job and reasonably low childcare, along with a DC who is reasonably well-paid but couldn't support a family on his wage alone.

Not too difficult to understand, surely?

1percentawake Fri 05-Nov-10 20:29:17

I agree that childcare is extremely expensive and that it has to pay to work rather than stay at home..

However the reality is that many parents, including ourselves and other posters above, split the childcare between them, use family or share with friends.

It isn't a choice I would make to work - I hate having to work and would love DH to earn enough for us to live on.

mumbar Fri 05-Nov-10 20:30:21


I do not have a choice but to work and haven't since DS was 13months and his father decided monogamy wasn't for him.

I do get help towards the cost from WTC but its still a struggle compared to the other option though its preferrable.

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