Yes, children are great, but they can leave you skint | Sarah Ditum

No wonder Britain’s birth rate is at a record low – being a working parent is so tricky

There is a point in parenting where you ask yourself whether it’s all worth it. In crude financial terms, the answer is probably no. The most well-paid of women aside, it’s routine for couples to find that a mother’s return to work costs almost as much in nursery fees as her wages are worth (and sometimes more). Childcare becomes a patchwork thing: as many sessions in the creche as you can stretch to, hasty parental handovers between shifts, a willing grandparent to pick up the slack if you’re lucky. Always, the low hum of panic that this is the day it all falls to pieces.

When this was my choice to make, my partner and I stretched and strained to make it work, because hanging on until school started would have put a five-year hole in a career that I hadn’t even begun. But there was another option – or there would have been, if I’d weighed this all up pre-pregnancy. Like many of my friends, I could have just not. No babies. No payslip turning to dust in your hand. No begging your childminder for lates when your office needs you just a bit longer. No joy of parenting either, but how can you miss people who haven’t been born?

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