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Your reaction to the childcare crisis: ‘To avoid childcare costs, I work at night. I can’t afford to work full time’


By Dominique McMullan
11th Aug 2022
Your reaction to the childcare crisis: ‘To avoid childcare costs, I work at night. I can’t afford to work full time’

Last week we published an article about the current childcare crisis in Ireland. Your response was deafening. Parents, who want to work, are being pushed out of jobs as for many, it no longer makes financial sense. Here’s what you had to say in reaction…

“Between two crèche places and a mortgage, I am broke as soon as I get paid.”

“Me too! Childcare costs amounting to €2,300 a month for two along with commute costs mean it’s not worth it for me. I am leaving a job where I spent years working to achieve what I did to now face into three part time jobs while juggling childcare. I’m so angry about the situation.”

“We have two great incomes but the abject lack of support (and no family support locally) has meant that we have decided not to have kids. Sad but true. It is not a big tragedy for us. But it is sad to come to that realisation at the same time.”

“I have a 3-year-old and 5-month-old and it just isn’t possible for me to go back to work. I love spending time with my girls but I loved my job too! It wouldn’t pay me to go back and I’ve never not had my own money, feel like I’ve lost my independence. I’m 40 and I feel like I’m living my mother’s life. She didn’t go back to work until we were all well into secondary school”

“The early years are the most expensive. My strategy was to know that it was an investment in my future career and financial independence to spend heavily on childcare and get back to work. It should never be just a deduction from the lower earner’s net pay, but from the household income. In the end an au pair worked out best for me.”

“I handed in my resignation today and I feel every word. Thanks for sharing Dominique

“We have lego camp next week from 10am-1pm for €125/week. I’ll be late to work everyday and still need to worry about the hours of 1pm-6pm. Then from September my little one is in Senior Infants. I need after school care from 1.30pm with collection help on Monday-Friday. My other child is in pre-school. ECCE for 3 hours. WOW!!!! Then creche 8am-9am and 1pm-6pm. You think as they move into school it gets cheaper/easier. It doesn’t. The juggle begins. The drop offs, collections, after school. School holidays etc. Never ending.”

“You have written my actual thoughts on paper. I’ve emailed all my local TDs on this crisis and just took my 4 and 1-year-old out of their creche and got a childminder in our house due to the constant room closures and staff turnover. It’s costing more, if that’s even possible, but we had no choice! Thanks for giving this the platform it so needs. In solidarity!”

“Hi Dominique – thank you for highlighting this. We are a one income family; I’m the one working and my husband (who has a PhD and was a Government of Ireland scholar) has had to put his career on hold (a.k.a. give up his career) to care for our twins from the day I went back to work. And it’s purely because of the cost of childcare. I think it’s important to highlight that it’s not just stay at home mums who are at breaking point – there are a huge number of stay at home dads there too!”

“I was in Poland during February mid-term and Polish schools were on midterm as well. During a tour, I spoke to the tour guide who told me her kids were in sports camp for the week, full day just like school and fully paid for by the government! It’s a mad society where a government minister in 2021 has to fight for her maternity leave. Shows the lack of thought for babies and children in this state… lack of female representatives as well.

“This is true yet it’s also the case that to afford any kind of life you need two incomes! It’s so frustrating and exhausting.”

“What can we do to change it? 3-year-old and 1-year-old here, wholly reliant on creche, already worrying about what we will do when school starts…”

“It’s so hard isn’t it? Everyone is suffering so much – I don’t have any children but I work in early learning and care and just got my masters this year in leadership in ELC and the government have decided I’m only worth €15.50 per hour which is madness in this economic crisis. I will never be able to afford a mortgage or even get one and I am broke every summer when I am laid off and have to sign on to the dole (who haven’t even processed my claim yet in early August!). I feel so sorry for the parents and kids who are pinched on all sides every day rushing between places, trying to get quality time in the evenings, paying huge money to their provider (a huge chunk of which goes on running costs and insurance rather than to the teachers, thanks to our inflated economy) the truth is that nobody is winning with our current model!

“Omg this might as well have been every word in my brain… we need to get really angry and rally for change but where’s the time for that in our schedules? It’s so difficult right now and then there’s afterschool which is about  €700 a month so not much better post ECCE years.”

“It sadly does get worse with school age. Irish schools are set up based on old catholic values where the father worked and the mother stayed at home. Most schools start at 9am. Which is not achievable for anyone who actually starts work at 9am. They finish at 1.30pm. Most other European schools finish much later with no homework. Same with the UK. Most have no afterschool and no options for different finishing times for two children (e.g. when one child finishes at 1.30pm but the older child finishes at 2.30pm). Schools close two to three weeks at Christmas. Two weeks at Easter. Two other weeks midterm and then two months summer. Meaning they only open about eight months of the year.”

“It’s a joke. This is a chronic issue which the squeezed middle must pay and yet more money is going to pensioners because they vote.”

“The ECCE contribution is paltry, and you’re so right about how it’s structured around the school term. My son will be starting school in September next year, and I have no idea how we’re going to handle that – it’s not compatible with work hours, the long and regular holidays. I’ve put off thinking about it for this long, but I truly don’t know how people do it. There aren’t really after school clubs out here as much as in towns/cities.”

“Thanks for saying it like it is. I’m working part time as a freelancer because I can’t afford to work full time. Isn’t that a weird sentence! My career has been frozen because I have three kids. To avoid childcare costs, I work at night time when my partner finishes work and he takes over with the kids. It is exhausting and very difficult to juggle all the responsibilities. I consider myself a feminist and my partner does too but that doesn’t equate to a perfect balance of responsibilities in our household. He is the higher earner therefore he works full time. I take care of the kids and house, the food shop, the doctor’s visits, the play dates, the cooking and cleaning because I’m there during the day. And I work nights so we have a little bit of additional income. Despite being all for equality in our house, circumstances like you’ve highlighted here still means the majority of the work life balance burden falls on women. We have a looong way to go yet in terms of the roles women play in society.

“Jeez. Not enough can be written about this. Declining birth rates, I predict the day will come they’ll be paying families to have children. It’s insane, I’m convinced we’ll look back and say how did we do it!? And this is to care for the children who are the tax payers of the future. The generation that will provide for us when we’re no longer fit and able to do so. It’s really nuts. A country still set up for one male income earner families…”

“But basing all mortgages and credit decisions on two incomes! Computer says no! That is set up to fail.”

“My sister toyed with the option of leaving work and kept thinking, ‘It’s such a short stretch of time that they’ll need me’, so why not take the five year hit to her career? But ultimately, the same thought process kept her in her job, they will only need you this intensely and childcare will only be this exhausting for a relatively short space of time. After that, when they’re in secondary school or whatever, what are YOU left with? It’s so important to look long term. I’m absolutely owning my privilege that this is an option for us though! I can see how quickly childcare fees become completely prohibitive for so many people”

“Hi, I’ve been thinking about your piece since you published it. My biggest issue apart from the astronomical costs is that if I were to get a minder into the house, a nanny, I am then considered an employer and as such need to pay the associated taxes. So from my taxes salary, I have to pay another full salary and taxes. This means if someone was looking for €16 an hour, and 40hrs a week, they get net €535 and I pay €710. That’s over €3000 a month I’ve to pay. I am being pushed out of my job by an antiquated assumption that the mother will stay at home and if I stay working, I have to adopt the role of employer and all the complexities associated with that!!!! The government will then say, put them in a creche – but there are no spaces! High turnover and no care if your child is sick. I’m only back to work a month but I am already exhausted.”

“On this – everyone I know with teens say they need you even more when they’re older – so this problem extends way beyond the first five years. Summer holidays are such a mental struggle.”

“I gave up work to look after my two (now three) after Covid as I couldn’t deal with the stress of having to be out of minding kids if they couldn’t get into creche as both myself and husband work with American companies so meant meetings after dinner time. Thankfully we are the lucky ones that can afford to do so. I wish the government would look at the return of investment. For every €1 you put into childcare you receive €2 back when a woman goes back to work. We have had money invested in us from the age of five in terms of education and I was lucky to go to college when it was €800 euro fees and yet after only 12 years of working I had to look at giving up because the cost of childcare and the lack of investment into childcare is prohibitive. We are one of the most educated nations and yet those in government can’t make a proper investment plan on early childhood care? It’s not reinventing the wheel, many other countries have this setup already. Sorry for the rant.”

“The childcare sector is definitely set up for one male income earner families, except that the housing market is set up so you need two incomes to buy a house! ECCE is good if you are a stay at home parent, but ECCE is NOT childcare. It was set up to ensure kids are on a more level grounding starting junior infants. Not to help parents with childcare. I’m returning to full time work in September after my third child and still do not have childcare sorted. It is a stress that has been hanging over me my entire maternity leave. There simply is no childcare solution for me with a baby and two school aged children. Afterschool facilities are very hit and miss. Older kids don’t enjoy them. And I was told by an agency that to hire a nanny would be between €18-€22 per hour. That’s minimum €3,500 per month!!”

“Thanks for highlighting these issues, our little girl is starting school and we thought it would be a good time financially to consider a second child, but the afterschool care is more expensive than three full days and ECCE five days a week. She only attended creche three full days but for afterschool, it’s five days or nothing – it’s really disheartening.”

“I left a 9-5 job to take a minimum wage shift job so my two boys are only in childcare two days a week. I am hoping to go back to a career when they get to school age. This does not fill me with confidence…

“This is so true ! It’s a nightmare for us too, one in school and at nursery . We super women are expected to deal with the stress of work, and sorting care for children but with zero flexibility in the work hours! We work for ourselves and our children but still end up skint! The kids need to mix with others for their development, affordable childcare is essential.”

“This just hits the nail on the head! When I started looking for a crèche for my daughter at 8 weeks old it became clear very quickly that the boat had well and truly sailed. I should have booked before she was conceived it seems.  We found a fabulous childminder who our daughter loves but relying on one person is not ideal. She has been out of action for the last 5 weeks and the stress of finding help/taking time off falls to mammy of course. I’m self-employed and want to set a good example for my daughter and that’s proving very difficult. Never mind the feeling like I’m doing a half baked job of being a mum and at my job. And we won’t talk about the financial implications or we’d be here all day!”

“On the brink here too. Twin 6 year olds, one neurodivergent. No family support. They do great in school and we have a great minder for afternoons but holidays are a nightmare, try finding a summer camp that is actually inclusive or understanding. I’m watching my career disintegrate and don’t know how I’ll keep going for the next few years. And that’s from the perspective of someone who is relatively financially secure, so much harder for so many.”

“As someone who doesn’t even have kids yet, we’ve held off on them to get our house bought first because we wouldn’t have been able to do it if we had childcare to pay and needed both salaries for mortgage, and now at a turning point where I can go on to progress in my career and maybe get a masters, but even if I do all that I think what’s the point? I’m going to have to take time out to look after children because my wage will be basically cancelled out by childcare fees! The cost and inaccessibility of childcare has me delaying my own family plans with no light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I left 6 years ago for an opportunity to work in Sweden. We were broken by the childcare system and could see it would not get better once they started school. We left when they were 4 and 1. I cannot believe nothing has changed from what I can understand from your article. It’s actually worse now with the staff attrition. There are better systems that can benefit the state, families and the growing youth population. I always asked what do I pay tax for? Although it’s slightly higher here, we see where it goes everyday. I never spend more than €100 per month for 2 kids in full time school and outside school time care. No uniforms, books or even pencils. It’s night and day. The price we paid though was saying goodbye to our families and I wish I never had to do that but our quality of life massively improved. For the whole family.”

“I’m a mum of two, expecting my third in October. With two in school and finishing up at different times, I am only glad that I will be on maternity leave, otherwise, I’m not sure how I’d cope! I work in the healthcare system and was told by a former manager, that my childcare was my issue, not hers. I was quite shocked at another fellow mother and woman, speaking to me, someone clearly struggling to juggle it all, with such a degrading attitude. I am fearful once I am back to work, whether it will be feasible to even do with chilcare costs, that six months maternity leave is simple not enough!”

“It’s just so maddening. This constant feeling of fret, trying to make ends meet, make an impression in work, make a dinner and make memories with my kids. F**king exhausting!”

“I just spent two weeks in hospital with a mystery virus that caused brain swelling and honestly, it has made me wonder WTF we are doing and for what?”