Mothers forced to stay at home by rocketing costs

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First we had the stay at home mum, dominating the 50s to the 80s with a smug sense of superiority and deep distrust of working mothers. Then in the 1990s and 2000s we had the rise of those who could 'have it all' juggling work and childcare and achieving success in every walk of life.

Now, however, we're back to the 80s, as mums are back at home. So what has happened?

Staying at home
According to figures compiled by Aviva for the Daily Mail, 32,000 women have left the workplace in the last year, many of whom have simply decided that they cannot go back to work after the birth of their child. They are victims of a number of moves which have effectively squashed the income of the working mum and ensured that work doesn't pay - at least while your kids are of pre-school age.

Soaring costs
A major part of the blame lies at the door of the cost of childcare. In many cases it is cripplingly high, with families forced to find £1,000 or more a month to pay for the care of their child. According to the Daycare Trust, the cost of a place for a child under the age of two is 25% higher than it was five years ago, and the increases show no sign of abating.

Once they reach the age of three they have some of their care paid for. However, for those who work more than a couple of mornings a week this is a drop in the ocean.

Few households can suddenly take these sorts of costs on the chin, and many are struggling to make the maths work.

Less support
To add insult to injury, the government is slowly taking away support for this group. Child benefit has been frozen, child tax credits have been withdrawn (averaging a loss of £545 for each family) and child care vouchers have had many of their tax breaks removed for higher earners.

From next year things will get worse, as those earning over £25,000 will lose more tax credits and from the beginning of January 2013 any household with someone making more than the the threshold for higher rate tax will lose their child benefit altogether - at a cost of almost £2,000 a year.

Add in the soaring cost of living, and many mothers simply cannot afford to work any more.

Is this so bad?
Your view on whether this constitutes a good or a bad thing will depend on our view of the right approach to motherhood. There will be those applauding the move to more traditional roles for women and the stability and one-to-one parenting it will promote.

However, at the same time there will be those who point out that a frustrated stay-at-home mum, who wants to be at work, is not going to be the best influence at home.

And there will be those who don't see why a woman's career has to be left in tatters because she has chosen to have a family, when at he same time men can have as many kids as they like without having to take a hit in their working lives.

So what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
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