Skip to main contentSkip to footer

How much childcare really costs – 10 mums reveal all

Real mums give HELLO! their honest opinions

childcare costs real mums
Rachel Avery
Rachel AveryHomes Editor
Share this:

As childcare costs continue to rise and many parents have the back-to-work dilemma on their hands, the UK is facing a big problem. Revealing the true costs of childcare, 10 mums share their personal stories with HELLO! and weigh in on the big pricing debate…

MORE: 8 of the most relatable parenting Instagram accounts

WATCH: Gemma Atkinson's parenting decision sparks fan reaction 

£75.50 per day - Fiona, Bristol

"We pay £75.50 per day. She goes three days a week and that includes all food, nappies, sun cream, etc. It's definitely at the high end of childcare costs. Lots of people I know pay less than this rate, but we chose a nursery right in Bristol City centre close to work and it's bound to be higher.

"Also, the fact everything is included makes it more reasonable.... we don't have to pack a bag or anything, just drop her in as she is, which saves time in the morning. I also think her speech is advanced for her age and her confidence and social skills are great from being at nursery.

"Family offered childcare when I went back to work but because my daughter was born in lockdown, we wanted her to go to nursery to gain the social skills and be around other children. Cost was a secondary factor really... It is very expensive, but I'm looking forward to the £900 disposable income we will apparently have when she goes off to school."

nursery© Photo: Alamy

Childcare costs have risen in the UK 

£1,450 per month - Yasmin, London

"We pay £72.50 per day at the moment, which is around £1,450 per month. We get a discount because she’s in five days a week, and we use the tax-free childcare scheme. It feels really expensive – it's a huge chunk of money to pay out per month and before I changed jobs, I was working part-time as it was unsustainable for me to work full-time and pay the full-time fees.

STORY: Postpartum psychosis: the crippling mental health illness as explained by Laura Dockrill

MORE: When mums multi-think and how to stop it

"Childcare should be more affordable – my daughter loves nursery and is happy to be there every day which is great. However, I often feel like the food she's served is nothing like what we were told she'd get – it's a lot of baked bean bakes and hot dogs and tinned fruit. I know that it's not cheap to run a nursery and the staff aren’t paid loads - and when you break it down, I'm paying less than £10ph for her care which isn’t really that expensive, but I feel like nurseries should have government support too. Childcare is such a fundamental part of early years development.

"And more should be done to make it accessible before the age of three. It also almost always falls to women to step back from work to afford children and their care, and it's unfair that it can result in years out of the workplace and huge career setbacks. I feel like if the onus was on men, it would be totally different."

nursery drop off© Photo: Alamy

Working mums have to balance income with childcare fees 

£73 per day - Kathryn, Bristol

"We spend on average between £800-£1,000 a month on nursery fees but it depends how the month falls. It's £73 a day. I think I'm in the minority that thinks it is reasonable, as this includes three meals a day and all nappies, wipes, creams, etc. I only send my daughter with clothes and they provide everything else. We're lucky that we're in a position where we can afford it so I can go to work part-time, if I was on my own there would be no point in me working at all after we paid for nursery fees."

£1,100 per month - Siobhan, Weymouth

"When covid hit and my freelance slowed down, I had to give up work as I wasn't bringing in enough to cover the fees - it was more than our mortgage at the time. I think it was around £1,100 a month for my twins (which to be fair could have been a lot worse as some London nurseries would cost that much for one child). But still, the cost was crippling.

"I don’t think it’s reasonable - I think I'm right in saying the UK has one of the highest rates of childcare in the world. To put the £1,100 figure into context - that wasn't for full-time care, it was for three short sessions a week - so trying to earn that fee in a three-day working week (plus trying to make it actually worthwhile and earn more on top), even pre-pandemic was difficult. I counted down the seconds until they got their free hours (which is the term after they turn three). The cost of childcare was 100% the reason why I gave up work."

£75 per day - Mollie, Bristol

"We pay £75 per day and I think it's a relative price for Bristol! It’s a childminder so she has costs to cover, and I think people working in childcare should be paid a good salary but it’s a big financial cost for us to take on, on top of me reducing my hours. We've only gone for three days a week childcare with grandparents doing one day to try and manage the cost of it, but it's still around £10k a year!"

£87 per day - Heidi, Bristol

"It's £87 a day for us although they're amazing! Not reasonable but I heard it was good so wanted my son to go there as I felt more settled, and they've been incredible with him, so we do think it’s worth the money. I'm sure many are the same, but I just felt secure knowing it was highly recommended, if it was cheaper I would probably send him for more days for a little structure but we're lucky we have parents that help out."

MORE: Feeling frazzled? The four types of parental burnout revealed and what to do

£55 per day - Carys, Hertfordshire

"We pay £55 per day which includes three meals and snacks and it's 8am-5pm. I find it reasonable because I know it's one of the cheaper nurseries in our area. The cost affected how many days I went back to work post-baby, (and with commuting I’d have been making very little). I'd love to put her in more, but it just doesn’t make sense cost wise. Her grandparents don’t live nearby so no free childcare options."

£348 per month - Natalie, Bristol

"We pay £348 for one day a week and it's not a reasonable price. However, he gets cooked meals nappies, etc and they do lots of extra stuff with him like French singing classes and football lessons so it is a good nursery. Typically, the waitlist for a good nursery is two years if it's reasonably priced so that's why we’ve ended up going to this one - the waitlist wasn’t as long because of the price!"

childcare play

Some parents like the interaction benefits of childcare 

£220 per month - Laura, Bristol

"We use a childminder and a nursery and it's around £220 a month which is low, but we also travel so our parents can help too. When he's three we get funding for 30 hours so we can be a little more relaxed.

"It is great pricing considering the learning he has received. It's such an added expense though but helped as Covid meant we were in a lot."

MORE: Is your child a fussy eater? Top 20 foods to introduce to kids under 5

£35.50 per day - Leanne, Bristol

"We spend £35.50 per day for a private childminder at the moment but that’s only 5.5 hours so not really what some people would say is a full day.

"Childminders tend to I think be a little cheaper than nurseries. That's not the reason we went with her, but it was a plus point on reflection. We only send him one day a week as that's all we can afford."

£630 per month - Rochelle, Bristol

"We spend £63 a day and we do two days a week so the bill this month is £630. I only think it's 'reasonable' as I know other places that are £20 more a day for the same hours, mainly because it’s more central Bristol. Without the comparison though I think it’s still crazy money!

"It’s over half my paycheck just for her two days of nursery bills. We are lucky that my partner's mum has her the other day or it wouldn't be worth me working. I reckon I'd only have about £200 a month to show for working three, 10-hour days a week!

"That being said, she could have her two days a week and us half the nursery cost, but I feel it's so beneficial for her to go two days rather than just one that we are willing to pay it, I guess.

"Also, my brother lives in Finland and pays what I pay in one week for my daughter to be in nursery for just two days to cover my nephew's nursery five days a week for the whole month!"

Like this story? Sign up to the HELLO! Family Hub newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

More Parenting

See more