It’s that time of year when the childcare rebate starts running out for many working mums, especially those with full time roles using daycare most of the work week.
The childcare rebate seems to provide an unintended disincentive for working mums who want to participate in the workforce full time. The childcare rebate isn’t just a benefit for working mums though. It’s a benefit for working parents and their families. 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).
For me it raises a very good question:
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. 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 and be solely responsible for them.
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 this day and age, with the cost of living being so high (especially mortgages), staying at home seems to be more of a luxury for mums. I don’t know very many stay at home mums in my circle of friends. I have friends who wish they could be a stay at home mums 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/business woman? The cost of childcare is a temporary cost to bear until your children are all at school (and then you’ll still have education costs, most likely cheaper than daycare).
I 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.
What’s your childcare mindset? Is childcare considered to be a COST or an INVESTMENT in your household budget? Is it a cost or investment that is shared among working parents?
There are many factors to consider before becoming a working mum. You can explore these further in my FREE Success Planner for working mums here.