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Advice needed - coping with childcare costs for twins - IMPOSSIBLE?

(31 Posts)
Skyblue81 Fri 16-Oct-15 14:03:35

Hi everyone,

I really really need some support and advice. I am Mum to 2-year old twins and am tying myself in knots over trying to balance work with childcare costs.

I was studying for a PhD when I fell pregnant, so when they were aged 1 they went to nursery full time so I could study. I paid for nursery using my savings (which are now all gone) so that I could finish my PhD. Now I have finished studying and I've just started a GREAT full time job with a good salary for my field and great benefits. I took the job and enrolled the twins in nursery full time, with a local nanny doing nursery drop-offs and pick-ups due to my hours of work.

Now I've started the new job and have realised that after deductions (Tax, NI, student loan etc) my monthly wages don't actually cover the cost of nursery & nanny. We're short by about £400 a month. My husband's salary only just covers our other expenses (rent, bills, food etc) and so we really cannot afford to subsidise my job by £400/month. We also have some outstanding credit cards we need to keep on top of.

I have tried to find alternative solutions to this problem; I've looked at childminders and nannies, but the cheapest option in our area is the current arrangement of full time nursery + nanny to pick up / drop off. We have no friends and family who are able or willing to support us or help out.

I am turning myself in knots trying to figure out alternative options, and have got so stressed I now cry when I think about how to fix it / how impossible it all is. I really want to stay in my job as It's a great job and I want to build my career for my family's future, and also I'm aware that next year when the twins turn 3 years old things will get easier, as we'll get the 15hrs/week free childcare.

If I stay at home then we'll still be struggling financially. My reasoning is tat at least if I'm working, yes we're short of £400/month but at least there's two salaries coming in to cycle through so we can pay credit cards and overdrafts each month. If I don't work, and stay at home, my husband's salary will mean we're still really tight and there may not be spare money to pay off credit cards. I should add that my husband earns a decent wage which puts us well out of being eligible for any Government help or Child Tax Credits etc.

I'm basically going to work to pay my childcare costs (and more) and it seems ludicrous and far too stressful to arrange otherwise. Can anyone offer ANY advice on this topic? Am I just being stupid trying to make this work - i.e. should I just stay at home with the twins until they turn 3? In that case, I'll have to get some bar work or something in the evenings to support us, but I'll be knackered from looking after two 2-year olds during the day.

ANY help or advice would be REALLY appreciated, I am seriously worried I am heading for a nervous breakdown trying to juggle all of this sad

ThatsNotMyHouseItIsTooClean Fri 16-Oct-15 14:19:06

What deal are you on with your nursery. Ours offers a discount for children there full time & for the second and subsequent DC. Does yours offer this? If not, do any other local nurseries.
Whilst you may not benefit from government help directly, have you & your DH at least signed up for childcare vouchers? They are tax free.
From the term after they turn three, each child will receive approx £190 per month from the EYFS (15 hours for 38 termtime weeks at about £4 an hour divided by 12) which means you would just about break even.
It will depend on how easy it is to get jobs in your field & in your area, what your salary is & what your earning potential is whether it is worth you making a close to £5000 loss over the twelve months until then. If jobs are hard to come by, it may be worth staying. If jobs are hard to come by and your salary is going to increase over the next couple of years meaning you can break even and re-pay the £5k you have lost this year then you should definitely stay.
The other thing to consider is your sanity! I imagine it must be hard work at home full time with 2yo twins. We made a loss on childcare at one stage but I knew I couldn't give up work as I needed the change of scene from the DC and domestic drudgery.

BrassicaBabe Fri 16-Oct-15 14:19:14

Sorry, I've got no clue. But don't want to read and run. I feel for you! I'm also a mum to DTs (4.5 yo now) and for us a nanny was cheaper than nursery (probably due to our location)

I hope someone with some sensible ideas come along soon

MrsHooolie Fri 16-Oct-15 14:22:17

Do you have room for an Au Pair?
When my daughter was a baby we had a live in au pair as it was the only way I could afford to go to work.
This was 8 years ago and was £70 a week,would obviously be more now and this was for basic Au Pair hours. When I was busier at work I paid her more.

ceeveebee Fri 16-Oct-15 14:24:41

Hi. I have nearly 4 yo twins and feel your pain. Think we've paid out well over £100k in childcare since I went back to work when they were around 1 (and I only work 4 days a week!)
We had a nanny for the first year. We then put them in nursery 2 mornings a week with nanny doing the rest and now we are just about to move to full time nursery as we're moving house and I don't want another nanny now they're so close to starting school. Not sure whether that will work out well but we will see how it goes!

Some ideas but you have probably already addressed them:
Is there a nursery with longer hours - round here do 7am-7pm.
Isn't there any way you and your husband can do drop offs or pick ups? Could one of you start early so you can do the pickups and vice versa for drop offs?
Are you both claiming childcare vouchers?
Any possibility of working from home one day a week for either of you?
Any of the nursery staff able to have them after nursery closes (my friend pays £10 for a nursery nurse to walk her kids home and sit with them for an hour till she gets home)

If not, can you afford the £400 month loss as being an investment in your future career. Once they hit 3 (or the term after) you'll get 15 or possibly 30 hours. Make sure your nursery is one that doesn't charge top up fees!
Good luck

Micah Fri 16-Oct-15 14:28:51

So the first thing to look at is it's temporary until your twins turn 3.

Can you release any money to tide you over-

Negotiate with the bank to lower your mortgage repayments for the year, extend the term, or go interest only.
Interest free credit cards- there are some 2 year deals out there. Be very careful not to go mad and keep within your budget, and start paying off next year so you have a year to get back on top of it.

Can you and your husband temporarily re-negotiate hours- one of you work an hour later, one an hour earlier so you can drop off and pick up yourselves?Talk to work- between A/L and unpaid parental leave you may be able to work something out so you can pretty much stay at home until next year, but keep your job safe. Same for your DH.

Ask at the nursery if any of the staff are willing to pick up and drop off for you on their way to work. Ours used to offer out of hours babysitting. Quite a few of our TA's at school look after kids in the morning and bring them in for parents.

Does your workplace have a nursery? Would it be easier to use one local so you can drop them off on your way in and out of work?

mintbiscuit Fri 16-Oct-15 14:34:53

Definitely look at childcare vouchers with your employer. Both you and dh. Also look at any other savings you could possible make with your benefits package. Some employers let you 'sell' holiday for example.

Have you looked at consolidating your debts to reduce the monthly repayments over a longer period of time? Is this an option?

Is there any way you could get someone to do drop off/pick up for free? Maybe someone who has kids so you could help with childcare over weekend/evenings? Or is there someone cheaper you could pay rather than a nanny?

Have you had an honest conversation with nursery director/manager about your situation? They may have some suggestions or be able to point you in right direction for additional help.

HorribleMotherCo Fri 16-Oct-15 14:47:59

I did not go back to work until my twins were 5 and at school and was almost driven insane grin. Childcare costs (including afterschool club for elder child) would have put us at the same loss at you together with the stress of having to do all the household stuff in the evenings (and get up 20 million times in the night to them).

If I had my time again, I would have continued working (absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that!). If you really love your job (that is key) then I would try to carry on in your position.

Have you run through the entitledto checker to see if you are entitled to any housing benefit (as you rent), you may be surprised! Child care costs are taken into account and depending on how much your rent is, you may be able to get something?

The financial situation will right itself in the future when they are at school and you have more earning power. It will be hard getting there. We juggled from one 0% credit card to the other/mortgage extension just to pay the bills as we lost my income and had 2 extra mouths to feed/clothe.

HorribleMotherCo Fri 16-Oct-15 14:51:49

TBH I wouldn't beat yourself up about not being able to clear credit cards off now if you are managing household bills. Can you transfer them to 0% cards? Honestly a bit of debt due to bringing up twins is nothing in the grand scheme of things!

FatimaLovesBread Fri 16-Oct-15 14:59:07

Can you switch credit cards to a 0% one. This is what we did, kept switching back and forth until all paid off. You could then pay minimum payment, or a bit more, until they turn three and you've got more spare cash to through at it.
Do any nurseries offer discount for two?

shutupanddance Fri 16-Oct-15 15:02:08

Can you work shorter hours so you can pick up/drop off to save the nanny money? Loan?

Just a warning about 15 hours funding. You might find private nurserys don't take that much off the cost.

Au pair? Put the twins in nusery less?

shutupanddance Fri 16-Oct-15 15:05:19

Have you looked st other nurseries costs?, also cm and pre-schools?

Ds1 pre-school is £26 per day compared to his nursery which is £58 for the same hours. Nursery provide everything, I provide it at pre-school.

Pre-school is term time.

HSMMaCM Sat 17-Oct-15 15:35:04

If you think of it as you and DH paying half the childcare costs each, does it feel any better? You have worked hard to get your PhD and the hours you put in now will hopefully pay off in the future, if you can manage in the meantime.

Skyblue81 Mon 19-Oct-15 14:37:53

Thank you all for your replies. Even though there is no magic solution, it's been really helpful to have your support and realise we are not the only family struggling to meet childcare costs, even with 2 x professional careers!!!!

We are going to maximise our use of childcare vouchers, and have to somehow get through the next year until our 15 hours/week free childcare kicks in.

Thank you all for your support and advice!! smile

ceeveebee Mon 19-Oct-15 19:10:57

Good luck!
Don't forget it is supposed to rise to 30 hours a week from 2017 - not sure if that will help, depends when your twins birthday is. Some nurseries are rolling this out early on a trial basis from next August

TeamBacon Mon 19-Oct-15 19:15:13

Sorry if I've got this wrong, but a friend of mine who is expecting twins says that funded hours start the term after 2 for twins?

I'd never heard of it before, but just in case, thought I'd mention it

NewBallsPlease00 Mon 19-Oct-15 19:20:29

Where in country are you? The costs vary hugely- is there option for you to do a couple days a week working from home and drop the nanny on those days so you can do drop off and pick up?

LeaLeander Mon 19-Oct-15 19:21:19

No tactical advice but in general, it's best (for your career, for your pension, as a safety net should your husband lose his earning ability due to ill health/redundancy etc.) to gut it out for a couple of years.

Yes you are short 5K per year for a couple of more years but that will ease as the next few years go on. Consider it a 10-15K investment in your future financial stability and ability to maintain your career. Easier said than done, I know, but the pitfalls of quitting work now are far worse.

Is there anywhere in bills or otherwise you can rein in spending? Every drop will help now. Is there anything you can sell to ease cash flow?

Best of luck!

Elmersnewfriend Mon 19-Oct-15 19:26:09

Could you compress your hours at all? Or do a day a week at home so that you can at least save a bit on commuting time? It is a total nightmare, it makes me laugh when my friend tells me children only get more expensive - they really don't if you have had to pay massive nursery fees!

TripleRocks Mon 19-Oct-15 19:29:48

I have an idea. What about looking at childcare close to work rather than close to home, thereby stripping out the cost of a nanny?

Childminders can also be more flexible with earlier starts and later pick ups ime.

Failing that, could you put your mortgage onto interest only payments for a year or two? Not ideal, but we've done it as a temporary measure.

Skyblue81 Tue 20-Oct-15 00:50:16

Thanks again all for your input.

To answer some of the points:

We rent, and so can't alter mortgage payments. We just got locked into a year's contract so we're going to have to wait until Sept 2016 before we can move to a cheaper place. Am thinking of going to Citizen's Advice to see if there's anything we can do to get out of it early and move to a cheaper place.

Great idea about working from home some days so we can drop the nanny on those days - I am going to ask work if I can do that.

After I've been in the job for 6 months I will also make a request for flexible working, and try and condense my hours into 4 days/week which will help a bit as that will be 4 days / month that I won't have to pay for childcare.

Thanks to those who are supportive of me staying in work - I too see the benefits for pension/NI contributions/career/possible loss of other income etc., which is why I'm fighting so hard to stay in work!

Twins' birthday is the start of October, so I think this means our 15hrs/week free childcare will start in January 2017, i.e. the first term after they've turned 3. Wow this seems like such a long way away, I have no idea how we're going to get through 2 x Christmasses being so broke!!!

Selling stuff.....yes have already sold most of anything valuable on Ebay! Only things now not sold are the car (essential) and our 2 dogs (not essential but husband will kill me if I tried that...!)

Re: kids getting more expensive: I agree, nursery costs are crippling, and once they start school, everything will be so much easier!! At least we've had austerity practice for when the time comes to pay University fees.... smile

Sigh, being a parent of twins in this country seems harder than anything I ever imagined....

Micah Tue 20-Oct-15 07:32:45

Re. Condensing hours- check your nursery aren't giving a full time discount. I looked at 4 days but it was only £20/month more expensive with the discount. I didn't really save until I went to 3 days.

If you can condense it might work to do two long days/three short, then you only need the nanny two days...

insancerre Thu 22-Oct-15 20:09:46

Is there any way you can both renegotiate hours at work so one of you drops off and the other one collects?
Then you won't need the nanny

Duggee Thu 22-Oct-15 20:19:28

What hours do you actually need and how much is nursery charging?

SimLondon Sat 24-Oct-15 20:37:09

Sometimes you can get the 15 hours funding from 2, your HV or local children's centre would know.

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