Expectant fathers and a dose of reality
08 November 2011
I am delighted to say that my wife is pregnant and we are expecting our first child.
Any fears? Not really. Just a smack of reality that I wish MP’s and officials could experience and acknowledge.
All expectant families go through a mixture of excitement, nerves and worries, and I am no exception. That’s in addition to thoughts about losing some social freedom, and doubts about how to survive on one salary whilst looking after a little nappy filling machine.
Like many, my first port of call was to search around the web to see what advice is available for “new dads”.
What I found was disturbing…
The internet is abundant with “cute mummy” sites giving mothers a wealth of decent advice, in various shades of light pink and blue. What’s beginning to become more abundant are sites and blogs aimed at filling the gap for dads. I was sad to see the “Nuts and Zoo” reluctant-dad-lad being portrayed by so many self proclaimed “quality brands”.
There’s no shortage of men’s “diaries” springing-up, talking about the loss of freedom, a lack of bedroom gymnastics, female pregnancy moods and how much booze with the lads should be drunk before the newborn arrives.
Well I cannot wait for the new arrival. I just wish we could have some advice that is positive for fathers and encourages us to embrace the role of becoming a father figure.
Forget all the lifestyle worries, that’s not the issue. It really is the financial aspect that makes you face, and then quickly want to ignore, reality.
Just last week I heard a radio interview with a couple that were unable to get on the housing ladder. They were used as a case study to show that “even a couple” with a household income of £40k+ could not save a 25% deposit nor secure a mortgage. Whilst this is a very common problem - they could have just as easily used a very fortunate couple with an income of £60k+ who would still encounter the same problem! I really don’t think people in the political arena realise just how hard household budgets are being stretched.
This theme continues when it comes to childcare and budgeting; the cost of treading financial water is quite staggering. I quizzed a few friends to gain some rough numbers on typical monthly expenses…this is what I noted down, based on a young family, unable to secure a deposit or mortgage and needing a very average 2 bed home in the South East for their family:
Rent: £900, Council Tax: £140, Gas and Electric: £110, Water: £35, Telephone: £20, House Insurance: £20, Mobile: £30, Food/Household: £400, Some debt / loans: £150, Car Tax: £15, Car Insurance: £30, Car Maintenance: £20, Petrol: £175, Nursery Care: £750, Limited Social Spend: £200…..a grand total of: £2,995!
This equates to the need for a whopping household income of over £50,000."
This equates to the need for a whopping household income of over £50,000 - just to break even. That’s without allowing for luxuries and doesn’t take into consideration the fact that many have bigger debts than the £150 payments per month listed above.
Whilst I would encourage everybody to budget and plan for a new arrival….expect to be shocked, very shocked!
The bit that fascinates me is the following question: just how expensive is it to have children, versus not having them? Will the reduced socialising and weekends away be more or less expensive than trying to create a family environment? Time will tell.
In the short term I can see a credit card bill expanding, but it’s important to keep perspective…
Any spare pound coins that I do have will not be spent on the latest Nike infant trainers. I will need to put them away, otherwise junior will have a far more shocking realisation in 25 years time when it becomes their turn to budget as a new parent.
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