31 August 2012 by

Gaby Hinsliff On The REAL Reason We’re Not Having Kids

Money Worries

It’s one of the most irritating myths of modern life, the career woman so busy she ‘forgot’ to have children. But new evidence this week suggests it’s not work but something closer to home driving many of us to defy the biological clock. 

One in five childless 31 to 44-year-olds say they’re delaying having kids because of high house prices and rocketing rents, a poll for the housing charity Shelter has found. Their lives are on hold because they literally can’t afford to settle down - at least not until the age when it’s harder to conceive. 

It’s easy to say these couples should just forget about the property ladder and make babies while they can. But sadly, life’s not that simple. 

It’s natural to want to feel settled and secure before having kids, rather than reliant on some landlord’s whim (or still living with your parents). And there’s a practical reason for putting mortgage before motherhood too: after all, if you don’t scrape together a deposit now, how will you ever do it when half your salary’s going on nursery fees? What this survey shows is just why the argument now raging within government over a possible new programme of housebuilding this autumn matters. Tackling the chronic housing shortage that keeps prices so high in this country matters for human as well as economic reasons, because a house is never just a house: it’s a home, and potentially somewhere to raise a family.  And that’s something no politician who claims to value family life should forget.

By Gaby Hinsliff

Read Gaby's column every week in Grazia


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Nicole Clark Was Cashmore (Fri Aug 31 13:28:28 BST 2012): Just an idea, but perhaps instead of putting half a salary on nursery fees how about mothers (and wait for this, its a shocking one) take a lifestyle cut and stay home to look after their children. I'm a stay at home mum who has struggled to start her own business (my working day beyond motherhood begins at 8pm on average) to make up any shortfall in lost wages (which is doesn't really do because children are a full time job really aren't they and after that there's not much time for anything other than collapsing in a frazzled heap). I miss working in a city and paid for lunches and dinners and all of the other beauties that come with being employed and often I threaten to ebay my children (two preschoolers) when they are driving me crazy or try to hand in my resignation (denied on more than one occasion) or ask for better working conditions (fewer hours, ear protection to unacceptable levels of noise, paid leave, pay full stop come to think of it), but I chose to be a mama and to me that means giving them the time they deserve rather than saying "thanks for a lovely first year, off to nursery you pop". I do get a little jealous of friends who have returned to work and have much nicer homes than ours because they have more income from not staying home with their children. Mostly because we always seem to be fixing our home from leaks etc and miss out on time with children and they seem to sail through with lots of time to spend with their kids and eachother. It's hard, its tiring, its draining even most days and when I'm doing a print run at 2am and hoping the printer isn't waking the neighbours and knowing that the small ones will be awake and my Mama job will begin again in a few hours I wonder what on earth I am doing and whether I should just put them in nursery and find a "proper job". I miss the luxuries (such as holidays) that for the moment we can no longer afford to be able to pay the mortgage. The squeeze is tight but they are my children and they are only small once. I hate that it is more economically viable to put children in nursery and get tax credits than stay at home and raise your children. I hate that stay at home mums seem to have no value anymore, if you are introducing yourself to someone new no one asks what your job entails as a mother, say graphic designer on the other hand and you are suddenly a real person and people are interested. When did motherhood become all about the money and status and less about bringing up your children? Can't we be people and mothers? Why does our government only seem to help the jobless or single mothers and not the ones who want to make a difference to the world they are bringing children in to? Why have I been told that if I put my kids in nursery I will get 70% of the fees paid and start getting the tax credits we have just had taken away again. That's what, about £400 a month cost to the government rather than the £90 tax credit we had, good one George.. who stole your calculator? I am angry that it no longer pays to be a mother (metaphorically as well as monetarilly) and that the status game has meant so many of us will not give up fancy houses and foreign holidays in favour of raising our children and when we do we just seem to be looked down on.
Kerrin Smith (Fri Aug 31 13:31:07 BST 2012): I don't get the joke in this one?
Nicole Clark Was Cashmore (Fri Aug 31 13:32:34 BST 2012): Its a response to http://www.graziadaily.co.uk/conversation/archive/2012/08/31/the-real-reason-we-re-not-having-kids-.htm
Kerrin Smith (Fri Aug 31 13:33:45 BST 2012): Yeah I got that but my hilarious comment fell flat.
Cathy Jones (Fri Aug 31 14:24:36 BST 2012): I take your point and support your decision, but feel it's a little unfair to suggest that those people who go back to work are making a conscious decision not to give their children what they deserve and just packing them off to nursery. I know loads of mums who are trying to balance work and motherhood, while feeling desperately inadequate at both, because they have no other choice. There is always more than one side...
Nicole Clark Was Cashmore (Fri Aug 31 15:30:32 BST 2012): I'm not meaning to sound judgmental at all, I just think the people to which the article refers are a little deluded about what stable and settled means. The worlds nomadic tribes seem to be able to bring up their children to be respectful and clever, I honestly think that if you really want children you figure it out, you make cuts and you accept not having "things" for a few years, you don't always feel bitter about not having them because the mortgage rates were not good when you were in your prime. I went a little off point I'll admit, I just get very cross that the government promotes anything but the traditional family model and pushes nursery as a way of life rather than helps people who want their children to be brought up by themselves.
Sacha Ackland (Fri Aug 31 22:44:29 BST 2012): What this country needs is affordable childcare, not more mums to stay at home. I don't see how we are going to get more women into business, politics and medicine if all women stay at home to look after their children for years. I'm not condemning that choice but I don't think you have any right to push it as a solution or an ideal way of living. And I think the author of the article has a point - affordable housing would be good too. By the way, I may be working but I am bringing up my child myself and as far as I am concerned we are a traditional family unit (or at least the modern version of it).