Childcare: cost or investment?

02F05551It’s that time of year when the childcare rebate starts running out for many working mums. If you work full time yours has probably already run out by now.

I know a manager who works full time and removes her children from daycare once the rebate runs out. She relies on family (grandparents and her husband) to take over caring for her children. Not all of us have that luxury. Family availability or removing our children from daycare without losing the spot for the new financial year are just not options for many millennial families.

By now you’ve probably heard about the Federal Government of Australia’s proposed budget. You’ve probably even lamented the fact that there are no improvements for working parents. No changes in childcare affordability, no increase to the rebate and no increase to paid parental leave. And I say working parents because these benefits support both working mums and working dads. Or at least that’s how they need to be thought about by society.

Ever since I read Annabel Crabb’s book The Wife Drought earlier this year I haven’t been able to stop cringing inside when I hear a working mum say “it’s not financially viable for me to work/go back to work/keep working”. In her book Crabb poses the question – why do we continue to stack up childcare costs against the mother’s income? Crabb explains that families in general don’t stack up housing costs purely against the father’s income (except where the family has decided to financially support a stay at home mum).

Why don’t both parents share the cost of childcare?

Crabb also goes on to explain that there are other reasons for women to return to work as well, largely career investments. Capitalising on the investments a woman has made in her career to date and also investing in the future of her career and capacity to continue earning money (and ultimately earning more money cumulatively and long term through career progression). All valid points, which seem to be forgotten in the face of childcare costs and when working out the family budget. I wholeheartedly agree with Crabb.

Just because women create children doesn’t mean we should bear the full responsibility of them. Does it? It seems to me a very old school idea, one we are still shedding as a society, that women ‘should’ be the primary carer and raise children.

Obviously if you as a family have decided that being a stay at home mum is the best thing for you then go for it. In fact in this day and age with the cost of living (especially mortgages), staying at home seems to be more of a luxury for mums, but that’s a topic for another day. I certainly don’t know very many stay at home mums in my circle of friends. (In fact I have more friends who wish they could be a stay at home mum and can’t financially make that happen.)

I once worked with a very enlightened CEO who told me that his wife had returned to work despite her income not covering the cost of childcare. He thought it was a good investment in her career and sanity. Being a full time stay at home mum was not for her.

On the flipside, shouldn’t we be thinking more along the lines of – what will it cost me NOT to have my kids in childcare? What are you missing out on as a person and career woman? The cost of childcare is a temporary cost to bear until your children are all at school (and then you’ll have education costs). I would hate to think that being a working mum is a luxury for families who consider the mother’s income should cover the cost of childcare.

I’m not saying childcare isn’t expensive or you shouldn’t look at your finances. I’m saying look at the whole picture. Finances, happiness, time, your future and weigh it all up.

Don’t let money be the only reason you decide to stay at home.

So tell me (in the comments below), is childcare considered in your household as a COST or an INVESTMENT?

There are many factors to consider before becoming a working mum. To read more get your copy of my FREE ebook here.

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Childcare: cost or investment?

2 thoughts on “Childcare: cost or investment?

  • May 22, 2016 at 5:02 am

    I love this post! I’m in the throes of returning to work and weighing it all up… Your words are so supportive right now. Thank you!

    • May 22, 2016 at 8:04 am

      Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for letting me know that this information was useful. I love it when my blog content helps others. All the best with your big decision. Check out my Free Ebook and Work With Me page too.


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