I’ve been a mum for almost 10 years now, and I think if I ever sat down and worked out how much money I’ve spent on parenting-related things I would, well, have to sit down.
Apparently, the average family spends over £10,000 in just the first year of their child’s life, which just sounds unbelievable until you start thinking about all the things you do end up spending money on when you start a family.
It starts with the basics like a cot, a buggy and a car seat. Then obviously you need clothes and nappies. If you decide to use formula then you need to pay for that, along with bottles and a steriliser. And if you breastfeed then you might want nursing bras, new clothes that make feeding easier, a breast pump and bottles so you can express milk.
And that really is just the start of it.
For all the milestones of the early years with a child there are new costs, new things they need for each new phase. For a lot of families though, the biggest cost comes from childcare.
If you’re a parent living and working in Wales though, there is some help available that could make a big difference.
The Welsh government have created the Childcare Offer with the aim to take some of the financial pressure off working parents.
The Offer lets working parents of 3 to 4 year olds claim up to 30 hours of early education and childcare a week, for up to 48 weeks of the year.
The exact split between early education and childcare hours will depend on your local authority and how
much early education they offer. As a rule though you can get up to 30 hours a week, made up a minimum of 10 hours of early education and a maximum of 20 hours of childcare.
When Nerys turned 3, for example, she was able to join the Rising 3s class at her school for 5 mornings a week which was great for us as it meant I had more time to work at home and she had a brilliant introduction to the routines of the school day.
The way the Childcare Offer for Wales is set up is that the funding goes directly from the Welsh Government to the childcare provider, and this amount is then taken off the bill you would normally pay.
So you don’t actually get handed any money, but you do get the benefits of the money you’ve saved.
What I love about this scheme is how it opens up so many opportunities for parents.
I know a lot of people end up needing to change jobs or reduce their hours at work, as the costs of full-time childcare are so high. So this offer takes some of that pressure away and can enable people to go back to work they love, increase their hours, or even use the time to start their own business.
There are some criteria parents need to meet to be eligible for the Offer, but it’s all relatively straightforward.
Here are the main criteria:
- your child must be 3 or 4 years old
- you must be working and earning at least the national minimum wage for 16 hours a week, on average – this applies to single parents and to both parents in 2-parent families
- each parent must earn less than £100,000 a year
If you’re eligible and want to apply, or just want to get a bit more information about the offer then head over to gov.wales/childcareoffer.
You can also get more information on the offer, as well as useful parenting advice in relation to childcare, over on the the Childcare Offer for Wales Facebook page.
There are so many ways this offer can help families, especially those who don’t have the option of relying on friends and family for childcare.
These 30 hours a week could mean you can get back into doing work that you really enjoy, or be able to dedicate more time to growing a business on your own terms. It can also free up a bit of extra money for families to take some of the financial strain of raising children away, or even to spend on the things you enjoy doing together as a family.
So if you live in Wales and have a 3 or 4 year old child, it’s well worth taking a look and seeing how the Offer can help your family.
Disclosure: this is a sponsored post