As most of you will know, when my wife went back to work after maternity leave, I went part time so that I could look after Olivia 3 days a week and work the other 2 while Olivia went to nursery. This decision was not taken lightly. We had to battle with the stigma of my wife going back full time, me being a stay at home dad, the drop in income and so many other things. For many reasons, we decided it was right to do it that way, mostly based on our jobs. We think we made the right choice because as you also know, I was made redundant 2 weeks ago. Thanks to being part time, the hit to our finances was less (albeit still painful) than it would have been had I been the main breadwinner.
We had always said we did not want our child/children in full time care, just so we could work. If you have to do that, then that’s what you have to do, I don’t judge, but if you are in the situation where you can still make ends meet, with one of you being at home, then personally I think that’s the way to go. I was brought up in a home where my mum was at home with my brother and I while my dad worked. When we went to school my mum worked from home, so that she was again always there when we left for school and when we got home. I think that did me the world of good. On the flip side, I know many people who went to pre/after school clubs and it doesn’t seem to have done them any harm either.
So here we are at a bit of a crossroads. We have another child on the way, Olivia is currently not enjoying nursery (or at least the drop off), she is catching bug after bug from nursery (despite common misconceptions, minus the big name bugs, it does not do their immune systems any good), and I am not working. For me this raises a few questions: should I stay home full time and look after both children and not do nursery at all? Would they be better off going to nursery for the social interaction, despite getting plenty with me and other toddlers? Would not going to nursery make pre-school harder? Would I be able to cope with 5 days of childcare, with 2 children? Can we cope with living on one salary?
Thinking further down the line, when one or both children are at school, do we want to have to pay someone to drop them off and pick them up, or for pre/after school care? How did we all get into situations where we had to pass our children to other people for so much of the day? What would I do during the day while they were at school? Would being out of work that long make it impossible to get something?
David Cameron talks about broken families, hard working families, broken Britain etc etc and I wonder how we can solve those issues and reach those ideals (I’m not a Tory by the way). The economy needs as many people to be working as possible, I get that, but is it better for families and society in general that more people are at home caring for their children (if they can afford to do so)?
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but they are all relevant to us right now. I’m not criticising anyone for their choices either, what works for one does not work for another.
So, given the choice, what would you do? What’s your perfect family setup? How much money is enough?
Thanks for reading.