When my son turned two I sneakily threw my contraceptive pill into the bin. The Husband had strictly banned expanding our family because our childcare bill was enormous at around £1000 per month and we simply could not afford for that to double. However there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Our bill would fall significantly when the eldest turned 3 – to around £600 per month thanks to the 15 hours of free childcare a week that we were entitled to – as introduced in Labour’s National Childcare Strategy of 1998.
Because of this The Husband said we could start trying for a second child when our firstborn turned three. Without it we may have been waiting until the eldest started school. You see in direct contrast to myself my husband is eminently sensible in all financial matters. Even my defiance in not taking the pill anymore waited until it could fit in with his carefully planned family expansion strategy. You see I calculated that it would take 6 months to actually fall pregnant and then by the time number two was born our eldest would be three.
The husband was still horrified when I casually dropped into the conversation that I hadn’t been taking my pill for a few weeks. I choose my moment carefully and opted to tell him when we he was nice and relaxed. He was sitting on the toilet playing angry birds.
As I so carefully predicted our second little treasure was born three months after the first turned three and despite that it hasn’t been easy. Initially it was costing around £1200 every month and the free hours only covered term time so in the holidays this went up to over £1800. Having three was out of the question. So I was delighted to hear in the Queen’s Speech this week that the number of hours of free childcare for 3 year olds is to be increased. “Measures will be brought forward to help working people by greatly increasing the provision of free childcare,” announced Queen Elizabeth II.
Excellent – this is the sort of thing that I am happy to see my taxes spent on. Of course there will always be people who say “Why should I pay for your childcare?” to whom I reply “You should because getting more people into work creates economic growth” – a fact that the Confederation of British Industry stated in its “Better off Britain” report in November. It argued that action to tackle the rising cost of childcare was long overdue with prices rising 27% since 2010. This, it said, was a barrier to getting more people into work and making the most of the UK’s talented workforce which in turn limits productivity and growth.
According to the Conservative Party manifesto the 15 hours a week currently available to children following their third birthday is going to be doubled to 30 hours from 2017. This may be too late for me to benefit for my youngest who will be five by then, but it does open the door to third child negotiations with the husband. Perhaps now is a good time to tell him that we are trying. I’ll just see if he is in the bathroom….