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to think dual person 'full time' worker family households should never have become the norm?

(756 Posts)
workingdilemma Wed 24-Jun-15 20:57:09

Was thinking about the other thread talking about tax credits etc.

Around 40 years ago, as a society we'd reached a point where one person working in a household was enough to support a young family.

Now we've ended up where it's pretty much required to have both working full time to be able to afford the same lifestyle - mainly due to the insane 'cost' of housing.

It would have been far better to have had both people in a couple working perhaps part time to allow engagement with the world of work, and also a healthier work/life balance.

Why did we end up like this? Was it all an orchestrated plan to keep the debt cycle going - after all, you can lend on two incomes now for a mortgage. Lovely jubbly for the debt pushers. Is that why the banks and governments encourage this?

I dunno, but I do yearn for a better way to deal with the problems we're having now then everyone demonising each other.

Scholes34 Wed 24-Jun-15 21:01:09

It's difficult to deal with the demands of a family if both parents are working full-time and there is little family/friends support locally. It's unfortunate that it's perceived to be necessary to have two full-time incomes to be able to "live", or that you miss out on career opportunities if you take a break from work.

workingdilemma Wed 24-Jun-15 21:06:50

I fully agree. It's sadly more than a perception now though - it's more or less reality.

Where I live, you would need one person to be earning around 60k to be able to support a young family if the other partner doesn't work. And that's in a small 2 bed house. Two earners at 30k each part time would be fantastic, but find me two jobs like that :-(

Is this progress?

Athenaviolet Wed 24-Jun-15 21:07:11

Yes, it's one of the governments ways to make gdp (this them) look good.

All gdp is is a measure of money changing hands therefore everything needs to be commodified. Unpaid work has no value in a gdp obsessed economy.

UterusUterusGhali Wed 24-Jun-15 21:08:02


It's madness that it's the norm to send your kids to child care when you'd much rather be doing it yourself. Fine if you want to work, but there are thousands of families pulling their hair out trying to juggle it all so they can keep a roof above their heads.

WinterOfOurDiscountTents15 Wed 24-Jun-15 21:10:02

Sometimes its just that people want to have so much more though. We are a one income family at present, as are many others I know. We get by just fine, we aren't very material.
Lots of people are dual full time because they want to be, not because they have to be.

ghostyslovesheep Wed 24-Jun-15 21:11:06

I was born in 1970 - it was common for women (well my mum and her fiends anyway) to work PT at least - to make ends meet

but I do think it's got silly lately - mainly due to low wages and high housing costs in my opinion

bakingaddict Wed 24-Jun-15 21:14:04

Society changes all the time, what was relevant 40 years ago ceases to be in present times. Women have more choices in the type of work they can do and I welcome that

Florriesma Wed 24-Jun-15 21:14:04

Lots of people are dual income to put food on the table! I work pt if I didn't then even if we cut back to the bone on everything there wouldn't be enough to feed the dc adequately let alone anything else.

Since I am working we have spare for the extras that we don't need. If we could afford to live relatively comfortably without me working I wouldn't.

workingdilemma Wed 24-Jun-15 21:14:31

I guess it depends on where you live Winter. Where I am, families are paying over 1500 p/m in rent for a small home.

You can't really afford to be materialistic anyway when your income is swallowed up by that :-(

Florriesma Wed 24-Jun-15 21:15:24

Forgot to say op Yanbu. It does feel like a conspiracy. I blame the housing boom of the 80s and 90s. It's spiralled from there.

WyrdByrd Wed 24-Jun-15 21:15:39

Yanbu at all.

Obviously it's great that we all have the option, but my gosh does it complicate matters.

DH & I have just one DD and are extremely fortunate to have a relatively small mortgage & we both work term time only. I also 'only' work 25 hours a week during term time, but it's glaring obvious when I'm not working (recently had a month off recovering from surgery) how much happier & more relaxed our home is.

How people manage 2 x full time WOH parents & multiple children is totally beyond me.

BrilliantDayForTheRace Wed 24-Jun-15 21:16:06

I think there used to be a lot of unhappy Valium popping housewives in dem golden days who would have preferred to be at work.

We both work full time because we have careers that we love. I think what's sad is how few people find careers that they love.....

Degustibusnonestdisputandem Wed 24-Jun-15 21:16:27

I agree. It's all a bit shit, really

Maliceaforethought Wed 24-Jun-15 21:17:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

workingdilemma Wed 24-Jun-15 21:18:00

This isn't to do with women having more choices for work though bakingaddict.

That's great that that has changed. But what we've ended up with isn't. So we now need to look at society today, and as a society we appear hell bent on destroying the concept of balanced family life to maintain 'GDP' and house prices.

Becles Wed 24-Jun-15 21:20:24

YABU for the majority of the population across decades and centuries, 'dual person 'full time' worker family households' were the norm.

Very.few % of families could afford to have a stay at home parent. It was always a luxury and the problem is that more of us identify with middle class values and the expected lifestyle without the income, skills or network to facilitate our aspirations.

paxtecum Wed 24-Jun-15 21:20:43

50 years ago a family survived quite well on a one low wage.
Rent, heating, food and a few clothes.
No car, no holidays.
Now one low wage won't even pay the rent.

Rents and house prices have increased because of HB.

As you have stated, the banks benefit with the extra interest.

Also interest only mortgages are immoral.
Some people spend years just paying interest only and will never actually get any of the capital paid off.

BathtimeFunkster Wed 24-Jun-15 21:21:25


People could still have careers they loved and work much shorter hours.

The way work is organised is not rational or done for the benefit of workers and their dependants.

OliveCane Wed 24-Jun-15 21:22:28

YADNBU. I was thinking the same the other day. It isn't healthy, and especially not good for children. Ideally I would like to be in a position where both of us only work part time.

WinterOfOurDiscountTents15 Wed 24-Jun-15 21:22:32

It does of course, but you can always choose to move somewhere cheaper if you don't want to work just for housing costs. I did.

Bodicea Wed 24-Jun-15 21:23:33

I think there was only really a very short period in history when it was the "norm" in most families to have one earner and one at home.
I also think our lifestyles are a lot more extravagant now, all the latest gadgets aren't cheap, we eat out a lot more, more holidays abroad, trips to he beautician etc,etc. It all adds up.

workingdilemma Wed 24-Jun-15 21:25:07

To be clear - I have nothing against anyone who can make a 2 person full time family household work for them of course.

But the problem is that - left unregulated - bidding on housing becomes a race. Once one couple does it, and decides that they can 'stretch themselves', everyone else has to do it. The prices are set at the margin, and the lenders seem to love that because the price is a function of the credit available.

It was far better when lending was capped at 3 x higher + 1 x lower. That at least would have kept the prices in check.

Sorry - life is getting a bit infuriating at the mo!

Kennington Wed 24-Jun-15 21:25:11

We both work full time with one child and it is tough so I doubt I will have a second. We have some family help and chuck money at childcare so I agree there should be a better way.
I do like working though and see the baby years as not forever. I have also got used to the money unfortunately too.

sweetkitty Wed 24-Jun-15 21:27:04

We are a single earner family, we have four DC and the cost and logistics of childcare really rules me out from working. We have no family support.

Almost everyone else I know who has a dual earner family has family support.

The thing that annoys me is when people say you are so lucky I wish I could give up work, then they go on to talk about their brand new car and holiday to Florida. confused

We've cut our cloth so we can have four DC and for me to stay at home just now.

I think with our parents generation housing costs were a lot lower and you could get married and we're practically guaranteed a council house. Aspirations were lowers hardly anyone had foreign holidays or two cars.

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