The Child Care Dilemma

As some of you may have read, the annual cost of child care in some states exceeds that of tuition for a four year degree.

Let’s think about that for a second.

I am all for paying childcare workers a fair and living wage, as well as treating their positions with respect.  But is the high cost of a full-time daycare truly reflective of a highly trained staff and a safe, stimulating setting, or  is it a business just trying to take advantage of a situation where both parents feel they need/want to work?

When I became pregnant with the Munchkin, my husband and I sat down and discussed what I was going to do with myself once our son was born.  My husband was all for me continuing to work, as he likes having money.  I too, like having money, but I pointed out to him that the cost of childcare would negate much of my earnings (although not all) but the net gain we would make from my salary wasn’t worth it to me.

This was a point of contention for a while, with him pointing out that we could hire some aging grandmother off the street who would come in for cheap.  Well, that might have been true, but I still felt that my son was best off with me as his caregiver, period.

So, as in many of our disagreements, I came out the winner.

If good, reliable childcare that didn’t break the bank in my area was obtainable, I might have considered staying at work, or at least scaling back to half or part time.

But it wasn’t.

And so here I sit, stay at home mother to a 4th grader and a toddler with speech and developmental delays.

Yeah, not looking good for a return to the workforce any time soon.

Is childcare in your area reasonable, or a big ripoff?  And how did it influence your decision to stay/not stay at home?

3 Responses to “The Child Care Dilemma”

  1. Awesomemom August 22, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    My mom worked and I always thought I would too. Then I started looking into all the costs and I also realized that if I wanted to be a parent I also wanted to be there for everything that happens. Then we had my eldest and my decision was completely solidified because of his medical issues. I don’t know how working parents can handle the stress of having a child get sick and having to decide who has to stay at home with them. Or what happens when you get the random days off school. It is so much easier and less stressful to have one parent devoted to taking care of the kids. I am so thankful that my husband’s job takes care of all our needs and a lot of our wants. I do plan on finishing my degree and working once the kids are older and more self sufficient.

  2. Seana August 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    I struggled with the idea of staying home with my kids on a number of occassions. When they were babies I was afraid I’d miss important milestones. When they entered school, I wanted to be available to be a room parent or volunteer on campus. In the end, I put them into child care and made sacrifices to spend time at school or go on field trips. I found places at school to volunteer that fit my schedule.

    The childcare issue was a hard one too. When my first son was born, the building where I worked had daycare on site, but it was almost twice as much as I could find closer to home, and the care was more personal in my home town than in my building. I worked in a city that was 60 miles from where I lived. I ended up putting my kid into care at home and spending a ridiculous amount of time driving and pumping breast milk but made it work. Once the kids started school, there was daycare on campus that I felt really good about. The littler they were, the pricier it was though because you paid by the hour.

    No matter what you end up doing, you make it work, because it’s what you really want.

  3. La Petite Acadienne August 23, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    For us, daycare has worked out well. In our area, the cost ranges from $100-$150 a week, which is well within our budget. Mind you, things will be tricky once #2 arrives, because after I go back from my one-year maternity leave (thank you, Canada!) I will wind up having two in daycare for about 9 months, until my eldest starts school. So THAT will be a little tight on our budget, but we’ll manage somehow, I’m sure.

    I’m extremely fortunate, however, in that the nature of my job and the flexibility of my employer allows me to work from home whenever I want to.

    I probably COULD work from home more often and be with my son, but I find that I wind up giving neither my full attention. I’d rather he be with his friends and having fun, rather than with me, trying to get work done and doling out attention in brief intervals and parking him in front of the TV or the computer much more than I should. However, if he’s sick, or if there is some other reason why he can’t go to daycare, I can easily stay at home. And if I absolutely HAVE to go to work while he’s sick, my in-laws live next door, and will happily mind him for the day.

    As I said…I’m extremely, extremely fortunate.

    I realize, however, that there are a LOT (i.e. most) women out there who do not have the flexible workplace and built-in support system that I do. At the end of the day, we all have to do what works for our own individual families.