Posted by: madkentdragon | November 26, 2010

How much? What is the real cost of raising children?


I was listening to my local radio station this morning and the phone in was about the quote about “breeding children” and went on to discuss the cost of raising children which is now apparently in the hundreds of thousands!

I heard people ringing in saying “We didn’t have any children because we knew we couldn’t afford them” and “we waited to have children until we had enough money”. But what is enough money?

There were the usual comments on “feckless teenagers” getting money and housing off the state and having loads of babies, and all the usual comments that accompany these statements.

However it wasn’t until near the end that one lady phoned in and said “It’s all very well talking about money, but what about love?” And then a lady from one of the agencies came on and said that many of these youngsters had babies because they wanted someone to love and love them back that belonged just to them.

Now this phone in got me thinking, as many of you know, my married life was not without its problems, but I’ve always said the one thing I did not regret was having my sons.

Yes, I didn’t have any money, in the 60s there was no automatic help for married women apart from the eight shillings (40p) family allowance I received for our second son. I got the £40 maternity allowance, claimed from National Insurance and for my first son I was able to claim Maternity Allowance from my own contributions for six weeks before and six weeks after the birth.

But and it is a big but, they were happy, wanted and loved – not planned for but happily accepted. The cot, pram and pushchair were bought second hand and I scrubbed and polished them and they were passed down to all the boys – they went on to another member of the family afterwards! Baby clothes, often given or bought from other mums went the same way; the babies grew too quickly for them to be worn out!

Terry nappies were the order of the day and each day a lineful of boiled and hand washed nappies would be pegged out, disposable nappies were introduced at about this time, but not many of us could afford them or expected to use them!

Fun didn’t consist of expensive holidays, a day at the beach playing cricket, swimming and building sandcastles was the order of the day with an ice-cream and bag of chips as a treat to go with the sandwiches which usually ended up with the extra ingredient of sand! There were walks in the country, tiddler fishing and rounders in the park because time spent with my boys was the most valuable thing you could spend.

OK some of their clothes came from jumble sales, but they were clean and tidy and none went out scruffy – came back that way many a time! Clothes got handed down from one to another but they never went without love and food. Not posh food and Fridays might end up as egg & chip day and frequently they had packed lunches for school, especially when I went fruit picking and earned the money for Christmas and winter coats, but they never, ever went hungry and there was always time for a story and cuddles.

So please, you young marrieds, don’t say “Oh I’ll have children when I can afford to” and treat them like commodities, they are your own flesh and blood and the biggest thing you need to save for them is LOVE. I was never a perfect mum – but the one thing I had in plenty was that precious ingredient.

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Responses

  1. What a beautiful post, thasnk you. I wonder if I’m the same age as your sons as that reminded me so much of my childhood, which I always consider to be idyllic.

    My dearest friend finally took the plunge to be a parent, after years of waiting for the right financial/emotional/whatever time and as she says, she is the poorest she has ever been and the happiest too.


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