Well, my friends, the time is fast whittling away as I knew it would, and on 27th it'll be no more than 4 months until I go back to work. POOOOOO!!!!
Luckily and thankfully, J's Mum has agreed to look after GF four afternoons a week, and my mum one afternoon a week (he'll be at nursery in the mornings), although FW will need full-time childcare. With this in mind, I've started to research local childminders and have drawn up a list of about 30, all with the same 3-digit telephone code after the '0208', so they should all be within walking distance or a very short drive away at the most. There's loads more here than there were where we used to live, and we're further out of London now, so I assumed that might mean they'll be a little cheaper. How wrong was I! I went to see one on my list yesterday, she was very lovely and seemed suitable, etc etc, HOWEVER: £4.50 per hour. Sounds paltry, but not when you need her for 50 hours per week. That would total a whopping £900 PER MONTH!!! Once we factor in my commuting costs, my half of the mortgage and bills etc, it would work out that my monthly outlay would EXCEED my take-home pay. I would be PAYING to go to work and to hardly see my children, rather than BEING PAID. WTF????????????? Still, trouble is, we could not sustain ourselves on J's salary alone. And besides, I am contractually obliged to return to my job for at least 6 months.
So what the hell are we to do? The options are:
1) Phone around 'til we find a significantly cheaper childminder, with the hope that one exists. Go back to work full-time as planned.
2) Take a 12-month mortgage break and me take an unpaid 12-month sabbatical from work (if they let me), which gives us another year's grace. Only trouble is, apparently you're only allowed a total of 12 months of mortgage break over the entire term of the mortgage, so I'd worry that we wouldn't have a buffer if something really serious happened later down the line.
3) See if work will agree to me going back part-time, and see if our mums will agree to share childcaring duties between them.
Does anyone ever get the feeling they'd be better off if they'd never bothered trying to pay their way in this society, and just sat on their arse watching the benefits roll in and had loads of kids? For example, a third child isn't even an option for us financially, yet some just keep popping them out, knowing that the likes of us will pick up the tab because it never occurred to us NOT to work. Not that benefits shouldn't be there for those who genuinely need them or fall on hard times through no fault of their own, but really...why do the middle-earners keep getting screwed over whilst bankrolling everyone else?
Ahem. Rant over.