I’m discussing the extraordinary new survey that UK childcare is the most expensive in the world & that families now spend a third of their income on nurseries and childminders
Choosing whether to be your child’s full-time caregiver can be a complicated emotional and financial decision. But before you weigh the pros and cons of becoming a stay-at-home parent, you need to answer a basic question: Can your family survive on one salary?
Some experts in early childhood development believe there’s no substitute for the consistency and nurturing of parental care, especially if the alternative is poorly funded childcare.
Many studies have found that children who spent all day in daycare had higher levels of stress and more aggression than kids cared for at home.
But other studies contradict these findings, and most experts believe that it’s the quality, not the type of childcare, that is most important. A great nanny, babysitter, daycare centre worker, relative, or other caregiver can make sure your child gets the stimulation and affection & relaxation they need to grow, thrive & blossom.
What are the advantages of being a stay-at-home parent?
As a stay-at-home parent you offer stability as you know that your child is being cared for by someone who’s going to be around for a long time, not a caregiver who might take another job next month. And you’ll be directly supervising & creating your child’s care, making sure it’s in a relaxed, nurturing, enriching environment where you’ll bond together.
And you’ll be there to see all those “firsts,” which can be incredibly satisfying.
You also know that children grow up so fast and that this is an important time in both of your lives as you will be building memories that will last a lifetime.
For some families, it’s actually less expensive for one parent to stay home than it would be to pay for childcare. So you really need to sit down and do the sums with your partner as it’s not easy juggling raising a child with running a home & creating the lifestyle you both want.
And if you can afford it, you may find that staying home reduces your stress & guilt levels. Many parents decide to stay home after trying to balance work and family & finding it overwhelmingly exhausting. The long hours and the feeling of cutting too many corners leaves them feeling burned out. Staying home may give you more quality time to spend with your children & help you to find that elusive work / family balance.
On the other hand for some Mums loneliness tops the list if you stay at home. If you’re accustomed to the camaraderie and stimulation of being surrounded by other adults at work, the change of pace can lead to feelings of depression and isolation and a loss of confidence & self esteem.
Stay-at-home dads may feel even more isolated because there are so few of them.
If your career has been an important part of how you see yourself, you may feel a loss of identity. Your self-esteem may suffer without the appreciation of your boss or work colleagues as you don’t always get a lot of positive feedback from a tantrum-throwing toddler !
Changing nappies and tackling endless loads of washing can be boring and frustrating. You may have to look hard for a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. Plus, finding time for yourself when you’re home with an attention-seeking baby or toddler can be impossible so make sure you find ‘Me’ Time without feeling guilty!
You may also find yourself worrying about when and how you’ll resume your career and whether you’ll be penalized for taking time off.
Choosing to stay home is a complicated economic decision. Many families with a stay-at-home parent find they have to budget carefully and devote more time to bargain hunting than before. You might have to change hotel holidays to camping ones or cook at home more rather than eating out so often and make other lifestyle choices that may not be so appealing.
Also choosing to stay home could create new tensions between you and your partner if they aren’t fully supportive of the idea, or you feel a bit boring as you feel you haven’t got as much to say anymore. So make sure you discuss all the repercussions thoroughly before making this big decision.
It’s about balance and finding what you feel comfortable with for your family.