Resourceful juggling: childcare on a budget

Deciding to return to work after having a baby requires two important decisions. First, can I afford not to go back to work? Second, can I afford to return to work? Childcare is expensive and some new mums find the majority of their wages are spent on nannies or nurseries. But, it doesn’t have to cost the earth, if you’re prepared to be more resourceful.

In my book, The Resourceful Mum’s Handbook, I outline a series of money-saving childcare options such as using family and friends, experimenting with flexi-working and sharing childcare with a friend, so you look after their baby one day and they look after yours another.

My friend Emma shared childcare one-day a week with her next-door neighbour, she looked after next door’s baby Ellie one day with her son, and the favour was returned the following day, saving them both over £60 a week in nursery fees.

Similarly, many families use their parents as regular childminders. In the early 1970s, the proportion of children cared for by grandparents was 33%, today it’s more like 82%. Or your partner could request more flexible hours and help out too. For example, work four 10-hour days, four days a week.

So, if you need to work a four-day week – perhaps your mum can help out one day, your partner another, you can make up a day by working in the evenings and at the weekend and then use a childminder or nursery for just one day.

Elen Lewis is the author of The Resourceful Mum’s Handbook

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