This Sunday one of our pastors was talking on service and he threw in the fact that a study done by UNICEF showed that British children were the unhappiest in the industrialised world.
He then showed us the following quote:
"British children are trapped in a cycle of compulsive consumption as parents shower them with gifts to make up for their long working hours...
...While children would prefer time with their parents to heaps of consumer goods, parents seem to find themselves under tremendous pressure to purchase an excess of material goods for their children...
...Parents in the UK almost seemed to be locked into a system of consumption which they knew was pointless but they found hard to resist,"
- UNICEF 2007
It's something I feel I've instinctively always known. I came from a dual income family, but I know I was much happier (despite feigning embarrassment) when my mother left her well paid London based job (which required us to have an au pair) and took up working at my school. It was less pay, and she probably didn't feel that she was reaching her career potential, but we spent more time together.
We homeschool because we feel that no amount of money you could offer me for a second job would be able to buy enough stuff to make up for the amount of childcare my children would have to be placed in.
It's not just about having me around all the time, it's about them being together too. In a school system (or any OFSTED style childcare) they would be split in different classes because of their age differences. My favourite summers were when my sisters and I did things like riding camp, because we were in the same class, over ones were we did holiday club (which was fun - don't get me wrong) where we wouldn't see each other all day.
We are in the really fortunate position of living where my husband works. There's no commute for him, he literally walks through the back door and he's at work (or sometimes even tells his tutor group to come for breakfast in our living room) so we get the maximum time with daddy home possible. He also get's school holidays where he can spend plenty of time with me and the kids.
Sometimes it's hard work. Sometimes there is tears and tantrums and I would love to just get an office job somewhere and have a full day of peace and quiet, but we'd miss out.
We'd miss out on these valuable years building family relationships - and that's worth losing a second income every time.