Wednesday 8 February 2017

Parenting Expectations Versus Reality

Holding my JJ in the very early days!

I've been a parent for over fourteen years now as I believe the parenting gene kicks in from the moment you find out you are pregnant, not just when the child arrives. I loved and nurtured JJ in my womb, I was planning for our future together and I was certainly already spending money on him before he had even been born.

I can vividly remember my lunch breaks from work in Hemel Hempstead town centre making frequent visits over to Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre to buy baby vests, pastel coloured toys, nappies, cot accessories, feeding bottles, more nappies and in truth a ton of other stuff that I probably never even used. If I added up the cost of all the mother and baby magazines that I bought we are probably talking at least three figures!

It is no wonder that parents underestimate the true cost of raising a child and of course there isn't only the monetary cost but there is also the emotional and lifestyle costs too.  Truthfully as a younger woman I never thought I'd be a mother, I didn't have that desire but then for me, meeting the right man and getting married triggered that maternal want but with it came many sacrifices. I gave up my well paid job as I just couldn't justify having a child and working those kind of hours any longer, we stopped going abroad as of course the money I used to earn was now not there and I then had this little being that I had such a fierce love for and I had to let go of many of my selfish ways.

Of course it is worth it. I don't mind any of these sacrifices at all, I went on to have another two children and my life is definitely richer for the three small crazy beings that share a home with my husband and I. But I do wonder if people really know what they are letting themselves in for when they make the decision to have a baby?

Whitestep have been exploring this subject too and they have taken the research conducted by the financial institution LV which shows that the average cost of raising a child from birth to age 5 equates to £1245 per month (1) and compared it to their own research from a cross section of 1500 people in the UK to show that the average person underestimates the cost considerably. In fact 80% of adults incorrectly estimated the cost.

Their research showed that the average person thought the cost would be about £464 per child, in comparison to the reported £1245 and you might be like me and think but £1245 sounds ridiculously high, how can a child be costing that? But it will depend on many factors - where you live in the country, how much paid childcare you are having to use, if you are paying school fees, whether savings are being put away for the child's future and so forth.

It did also make me smile to see that men thought it was cheaper to raise a child than women. Could this be because they are more frugal and better budgeters or is it just that in many households it is the woman buying the school uniform, new bike and food shopping? I'll let you draw you own conclusions on that.

If you want to find out a little more about how your expectations match reality, why not take the Whitestep quiz. It is just nine simple questions to test if you really know your stuff or are you living on cloud cuckoo land? Click the Image to head over and try the quiz -

I was quite pleased with how well I did and I got most questions right with the exception of guessing which age the parents spend the most money on raising the child. I opted for ages 11 - 17 thinking that education and all associated costs (trips, uniforms, books etc) might really boost the cost but actually it is ages 1-4 years that are the most expensive with childcare and babysitting amounting to nearly one third of the total cost. It certainly makes you start to think about whether one of you might like to stay home and raise the children, doesn't it?

I won't reveal any more of the answers to you as that would just be cheating and you should head over and give the quiz a go yourself, it is both simple to complete and a bit of an eye-opener. Both parents and non-parents are invited to join in and help Whitestep gain a better idea of people's understanding of parenting in the UK.

One final word from me, don't be disheartened if you see the average monthly cost of £1245 per child and think 'agghh, I'll never be able to afford to have kids'. We have three and our income is little more than the reported cost of one child but we don't have any childcare costs, we don't pay for our education, the children attend low-cost clubs and we eat well on a budget. All my kids would tell you they are happy and healthy and you can see from all our days out posts that despite having a limited income we still have an amazing time and enjoy being a family.

Time is as important as money to your children. Don't forget to enjoy them!

Source:  (1) LV Cost of Raising a Child Report, 2016

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