If you ask me, like all other households I have been looking at how to make economies, and it pains me to say that I have decided the children are a luxury we can no longer afford and have therefore decided to lay them off.
In boom times, the average family can carry a few children, and may even turn a blind eye to their shiftless loafing, but in hard times – yes, life is hard – I'm afraid they cannot be justified.
Previously, laying off children was a complicated, drawn-out and costly affair, but David Cameron, who works so tirelessly against the weak has, I'm pleased to say, relaxed all the rules. However, this does not mean there are no longer any rules at all, and the first thing you must do is inform the children of their impending redundancy and, tempting as it is to put a note in their packed lunch saying they are now surplus to requirements and need only return home from school to hand in any keys and clear out their things, I believe you owe it to them to meet face to face, even though this is bound to be an uncomfortable encounter, and there may be tears and some screaming.
One father I know told his daughter he was laying her off and she vomited all over him, as if this was going to help change his mind!
Obviously, you must give them the option to relocate elsewhere in the family, perhaps with grandparents, but as grandparents are in the same boat as the rest of us, and their pensions are now worth diddly-squat, it seems unlikely they will take them on for even a trial period. You must also, by law, inform your children that, should the situation change, and things pick up again, they will be among the first to be restored as a family member.
However, to avoid giving false hope, it may be best to put it to them straight and say the outlook is bleak. It's the truth, after all, even if it's not what your children want to hear. One mother I know told her boy the outlook was bleak and he wet both himself and the carpet! Like that's going to help!
Naturally, your children will keep bleating "It's not fair!", and may even take you to an industrial tribunal, but don't worry, as any tribunal is going to instantly spot them for the shiftless loafers they are.
Sorry, kids, but we just can't carry you any more. (Also, do remember to factor into your finances that each child has a statutory right to one week's pocket money on dismissal.)