The daycare debate: A double-edged sword

The daycare debate: A double-edged sword

As many of you know, my husband had a career crisis that left him unemployed for several months last summer. It was scary, but we learned a lot from the experience — including the fact that ;the grass isn't always greener and that we really needed to learn to be happy with what we had. And, beyond that, we now feel blessed that he found a new job he likes, even though it required us to move to a pricier area.

Downsizing to Save

But moving isn't always all fun and games. In fact, buying and selling a home can have serious financial consequences that last for years or even decades. Since we knew that ahead of time, we thought long and hard about what we could do to ensure the move was good for us not only emotionally, but also financially. So, to diminish any financial consequences caused by the move, we used the opportunity to downsize into a reasonably-priced, smaller home.

That tradeoff has been well worth it in my eyes. I hardly notice that we lost 400 square feet when we moved, and I mostly made up for it by de-cluttering and being smart with the space we do have. However, I did stress at first about how our monthly expenses might change. What would the utility bills be like? And would our grocery bill be comparable to what it was before? Those kinds of questions caused many sleepless nights in my house for some time — as if the move itself wasn't stressful enough.

But there was one bill I wasn't quite prepared for before we made the move — yeah, you guessed it — the price of daycare. I knew it would cost more than it did where we lived before, but I still wasn't quite prepared for what that really meant. That was, of course, until I started calling around to get a general idea.

The Daycare Bomb Goes Off

The first daycare we looked into had a location that could not be beat. It was directly outside of our new neighborhood. I instantly had visions of us walking there each day, holding hands and stopping at the little park on the way home. But with a fancy building and a huge outdoor playground, I knew it would be costly. But how expensive would it be? I wasn't sure.

Unfortunately, I quickly learned they charged $450 per week for full-time care for two kids. In other words, almost $2,000 per month.

The second center we considered was recommended to me by a friend I know from high school.

“They teach baby yoga and Spanish,” he gushed as he explained all the extra perks they included in the deal.

That sounded great, but could I afford it?

Not by a long shot. In fact, putting my kids in the second daycare would consume nearly all of my take-home pay. No thank you.

Still, I got lucky. Even though the traditional daycare centers here are relatively expensive, there are many smaller in-home daycares still offering full-time care at a price most families can afford. After conducting some research, I found a small, in-home daycare that would take my kids for about half the cost of what I would pay elsewhere.

And while it isn't exactly the daycare of my dreams, I had to take it. After all, what other choice did I have?

When You Can't Afford Daycare

My friend Cat, on the other hand, found herself unable to afford daycare after her husband, a medical student, was assigned his residency just outside of New York City. The young mother of newborn twins, Cat is lucky to stay busy at home with freelancing jobs and her website, Budget Blonde. However, that doesn't mean the situation is without its challenges.

“It's much harder than I imagined, and I had a lot of trouble adjusting at first,” she told me. “I've learned that I have to get work done between 6 to 9 in the morning and between 7 to 12 at night when they are in bed.”

According to Cat, the average cost for full-time daycare in her county comes in at around $13,214 per year for a newborn. And she's got two. My wallet just shuddered at the thought.

Since she can't afford traditional care, Cat has a mother's helper who stops by a few times a week to watch the kids while she works. It isn't much, but living in a high-cost area means that is all she can afford for now.

The Growing Cost of Daycare

It's no secret that the cost of daycare is spiraling out of control and consuming more of the average family budget with each passing year. A recent study illustrated how a single parent working a full-time minimum job no longer earns enough to put two kids in full-time daycare in most cases, meaning that daycare would consume his or her entire paycheck — not leaving so much as a penny for housing, food, or anything else. To add insult to injury, another study shows that daycare now costs more than the average cost of in-state college tuition in 31 states.

Since women are more often the ones electing to stay home with the kids, the scarcity of affordable daycare often results in a disproportionate effect on their ability to earn, according to The New York Times. Sociologist Joyra Misra even refers to the phenomenon as “The Motherhood Penalty,” a term used to describe the financial sacrifices women face when they step away from the workforce to raise kids.

When Women Give Up Too Much

But some experts believe that women should think long and hard before deciding how to deal with the stay-at-home quandary. In fact, financial expert and author Laura Vanderkam believes that staying home to raise the kids could do more financial harm than good over the long run.

“You don't just lose the income you'd earn during the years you stay home, you lose seniority, skills, and connections, which affect your lifetime earnings,” she told me in an interview. According to Vanderkam, one study showed that women who take three years out of the workforce can lose as much as 37 percent of their earning power for the duration of their careers.

That's why she says it is important to think beyond a simple point-in-time analysis and look at the big picture.

“If you keep working, eventually your salary will rise and your childcare expenses will fall,” she says, adding that many women consider paying for childcare as an investment in their lifetime earning potential.

And it isn't only about your career, says Vanderkam. “Kids need time and money. Over time, investing in your career will help you earn the resources that will give your kids lots of opportunities: to travel, to go to the colleges they choose, to take music or sports lessons that help them figure out their passions.”

Laura Vanderkam has a good point. Stepping away from the workforce might save you money while your kids are young but cost you in ways you may never have never dreamed over the course of your career. Still, some women — like the theoretical parent working a minimum wage job I mentioned earlier — have no choice. When faced with paying for daycare or having a place to live, there simply is no debate.

A Double-Edged Sword

With the cost of daycare spiraling out of control, it seems that any decision a family makes has consequences. The parent who stays home with the kids might be sacrificing their long-term career goals, and the parent who continues to work might be missing out on most of their take-home pay for years to come. With those options, it's no wonder that many working parents struggle to get ahead while their kids are young than spend decades making up for lost time. After all, what other option do they have?

That's why Vanderkam and other experts believe it is important for working parents to consider options beyond the normal 9 to 5. “There are lots of jobs that look a little different, and there's no reason to view this as an either/or situation,” she says. “Often, flexibility matters more than the total hours you work. If you can choose which 40 hours to work, you may find working full time to still be a pretty doable lifestyle.”

Unfortunately, not all parents have the option for flexible work hours, which can leave them facing a double-edged sword with immeasurable consequences on both ends. And even though the fact that kids are “only young once” might serve as consolation to some families, it certainly doesn't make the growing costs of daycare any easier to stomach in the meantime. That's why it is important to weigh the pros and cons of your situation and figure out what works best for your family in the short term and in the long term. Decide what you are willing to go without to get the kids through the early years. Then formulate a plan to make the transition as painless as possible.

“Working or staying home with kids is a very difficult decision, and it's important to look at the whole picture, not just the first few years,” Vanderkam says.

How does your family cope with the growing costs of daycare? What sacrifices did you make when your kids were young?

 
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Beth
Beth
5 years ago

Really interesting post, Holly! I do find it curious that any discussion about daycare looks at the effect on the mother’s take home pay. I wonder what would happen if we framed the discussion differently? I.e. if daycare costs $10,000 a year then $5000 comes out of each spouse’s pay. I wonder if that would help couples see the long term benefits like seniority, pay raises, pension contributions, etc. (Not to mention the potential for early retirement/financial freedom). Parents should do what works for them, of course! I think changing the language in a discussion can help people see things… Read more »

Horatio
Horatio
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

@Beth, While there are Dads out there that would love to be a stay at home dad (I am one of them), I think in many cases there is a cultural predisposition to seeing the mother as the primary care-giver. (In the US. In Europe, YMMV). And there have been some studies showing that, in certain capacities, mama really is best. So rather than saying “it is this much of mama’s pay” (which I did below, without thinking – see cultural predisposition) maybe it should just be “it is this much of the net family income” Or! We could try… Read more »

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  Horatio

I agree 🙂 My stay at home dad friends say “we made the best financial decision for our family and our goals.” The stay at home moms say”with so much of my income going to daycare, there wasn’t much point in working.” As if it was only their income, not the household income, at stake.

Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com
Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com
5 years ago
Reply to  Horatio

If someone is going to be a stay-at-home-parent then shouldn’t it simply be the one with the lower earning potential? Not necessarily the lower earner at the time but ceilings are much different in various fields.

Jay

Jeremy
Jeremy
5 years ago
Reply to  Horatio

Hi Horatio, I think that the cultural predisposition for women being the stay at home parent actually penalizes stay-at-home men when they try to re-enter the workforce after being absent for years.
– Jeremy

Sharon
Sharon
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Why is it assumed that the mother will be the one staying home while the children are small? Why not split this responsibility between both parents (if there are two) so that neither career takes a huge hit?

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Unfortunately, there are many single moms. Making ends meet after that big bite from only one income makes a tough situation brutal…

Horatio
Horatio
5 years ago

So, in St. Louis, where my wife had a really remarkable job (she has her J.D., and was working in regulatory) we discovered that the daycare SUBSIDIZED by her company would consume almost all of her take home pay. So we took a page from MMM and Jack Bogle and decided we had ENOUGH. Enough income from me – barely – to squeak by.

And so she went from a Globe-spanning 80hr/week corporate job to the life as a SAHM. Guess which one was more demanding. (Hint: Not corporate life).

JoeM
JoeM
5 years ago
Reply to  Horatio

The real question will be with the legal industry as it is, will she had a job when she wants to return to the workforce? If that JD debt is paid off, maybe it won’t matter, but that might be a rough decision in the long term.

Elisabeth
Elisabeth
5 years ago

I never considered staying home a “sacrifice” so much as I thought it a privilege. So many parents don’t have a choice in the matter.
After 8 years home, I can see what the experts are saying and there are days I wonder what my career would have looked like if I’d continued working. But childhood is a short season- much shorter than my adult working life will be.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago
Reply to  Elisabeth

Why can’t it be both? If a person really enjoys their job and it gives them a sense of purpose, giving it up for years is a sacrifice (“the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else”). At the same time, staying home with your babies is an amazing privilege and blessing. Recognizing both aspects is OK

vasiliy
vasiliy
5 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

Sometimes it’s not possible to have both due to various reasons. In other cases, it’s a choice a person or family makes. Having a career may not be as important as raising kids and spending time with them (especially when they are young and need parents) vs. having daycare being your kids parents. It’s all about choice and different people have different choices.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago
Reply to  vasiliy

You did not read my post correctly–I said that if one stays home with their children, it is OK to say this decision was a sacrifice AND a privilege.

However, having children in daycare does not mean the people watching over your children have become the parents–anymore than a kindergarten teacher is the “parent” to all of her students. Saying that one is no longer is the parent to their children because they use a daycare is insulting.

Jane
Jane
5 years ago

Whatever daycare you choose, be sure to do your due diligence checking them out and reviewing their safety standards. This should especially be the case for in-home facilities which have less overall regulation. I know in my state, in-home facilities have a disproportionate record of SIDS fatalities. I don’t imagine this matters for Holly’s kids, since I believe they are older, but if you have an infant be absolutely sure they follow safe sleep practices. Also, I read some in-home facilities don’t have to count family members (cousins, siblings, etc.) in their child count, and parents later found out that… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
5 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane –

I completely agree with you. Although the costs are high ($80/day) when you break that down, we are paying $8/hour (the center is open from 8:00-6:00) for an exceptional day care facility to watch our child. Much less than hiring a nanny in Boston at the rate of $15-20/hour.

Meredith
Meredith
5 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I live in the Boston area (and before that I was in the Bay Area, CA), both places where daycare is pricy. My kids were spaced 4 years apart so I only had one year of paying for both to be in care full time while I worked. Each kid was $1600/mo for full time care. This was the average/low cost. I am a big fan of childcare centers as opposed to home day cares. I like the accountability of having more than one set of eyes on my kid (and as well as on each other with the teachers).… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
5 years ago

In Boston, the average cost of day care is closer to $20,000/year. Luckily, my husband and I both have flexible jobs that allowed us to alternate working from home every Thursday, which has decreased our costs of day care by $4,000/year. Unfortunately, due to the high costs, we are going to hold out on having another baby until our little one can go to preschool, which is substantially lower.

Kathy
Kathy
5 years ago

Really nice, thoughtful article; thanks for a clear-eyed piece. I’m a SAHM of 12 years and really, that’s too long. I’m slowly putting together a freelance career but may never meet the earning potential I had when I left the working grind. It suits me, however, since my husband is a workaholic and I knew the children would be lost in the chaos if both of us worked. It’s been a peaceful time, thank goodness. I worry about the pay of the women who provide daycare. I agree that the cost is incredibly high for daycare but I know women… Read more »

SAHMama
SAHMama
5 years ago

I have a master’s degree in public health and had 8 years of experience working in state government and 5 years of research experience before that. Once my second child was born, daycare and the bus pass to work plus taxes and union dues ate up my entire paycheck. I was miserable and my baby was constantly sick from all the daycare germs, so I quit. I’ve since had a third child. While my oldest is starting second grade, the costs of two in fulltime childcare plus latchkey plus summer care would not be affordable. And that would be if… Read more »

Laura
Laura
5 years ago

I’ve heard that daycare costs are about the same as rent or a mortgage, and that IMHO holds pretty true. When DS was young, we paid monthly $950 in rent, $800+ for family day care as an infant/toddler, and $1200 for a day care center as a preschooler. The family day care was only for 4 days a week thanks to flexibility in my job, and the day care center was 20% subsidized by a grant. These rates were less than my income so it made sense for me to continue working. DH had to moonlight and suffered from lack… Read more »

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
5 years ago

I think the daycare dilemma disproportionately impacts the middle class. Working class mothers often get child care initiative, at least in my state. The monthly cost averages $30-50. (Yeah, you read that right). If you are wealthy, costs are not a barrier or a concern. This stark reality may have an adverse impact on family planning — some of the families the most equipped (i.e., emotionally, financially) to raise children may not feel they can. DH and I do not have children, but I have often pondered if we ever did how would we mange daycare costs while servicing $130K… Read more »

Sam
Sam
5 years ago
Reply to  DreamChaser57

This seems to be true in many situations. College expenses, the poor will qualify for need based, the rich will be fine, the middle and working class are hit the hardest. Same for health insurance, poor have medicaid, the rich can pay full board the middle scrapes by. I could go on with examples.

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  DreamChaser57

I don’t disagree with your point that SAHMs should be having retirement savings, etc.

But just to correct your facts, according to the CDC’s latest study (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/02news/div_mar_cohab.htm updated in 2010), only 33 percent of first marriages end in divorce and 39 percent of second marriages.

That 50% number gets thrown around all the time, and it’s just not true.

JK
JK
5 years ago

We have a nanny for our two toddler-age kids. She is legal and we pay taxes / workers comp for her, and report her income to the IRS (you have no idea how hard it is to find a legal nanny that is willing to pay taxes). We pay the nanny $16 per hour. In total we pay her ~$40k per year including FICA etc. Given Fed and state marginal tax rates, the nanny costs us $60-65k per year in pre-tax income. In other words, the first $60-65k of my wife’s gross income pay the nanny (I have the higher… Read more »

imelda
imelda
5 years ago
Reply to  JK

Please read the first comment. The way you phrased yours puts all of the responsibilities and consequences on your wife. That doesn’t sound fair.

JK
JK
5 years ago
Reply to  imelda

Please reread my comment and you will see why I was comparing this to my wife’s salary. This was not some misogynistic default assumption but the result of an explicit and open discussion where we as a couple made a joint decision.

imelda
imelda
5 years ago
Reply to  JK

I didn’t mean to accuse you of misogyny. The first comment suggests looking at both salaries when doing a cost-benefit analysis of whether a second job is worth it. It’s a perspective shift, rather than a change in the substance of the discussion. Say you each make $100k. Rather than saying that the nanny’s $65k comes out of her $100k, you would phrase it as: is it worth it for us to spend $65k out of $200k to hire a nanny? If not, what are we willing to sacrifice? Maybe it’s one person’s job. Maybe it’s doing a cheaper daycare.… Read more »

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  JK

Except you phrase it much better than I did, Imelda! Apparently I can’t recall terms like “cost benefit analysis” that early in the morning. 😉

FindX
FindX
5 years ago

Last school year I was paying about $1600 a month for toddler daycare and before and after school care for my daughter. During the summer it is closer to $2500 a month. Anyway, its brutal. We pay $1500 for rent, so you can see we pay more for care than rent. Thankfully my daughter is starting middle school next week and with after school activities and early morning school pickup, we will no longer need to pay for childcare for her. My toddler still has two more years of daycare and then we ave to pay for half daycare when… Read more »

Old Guy
Old Guy
5 years ago

If GetRichSlowly’s mantra is “nobody cares about your money more than you,” then an obvious corollary should be “nobody cares about your children more than you.”

I will just leave it at that.

SavvyFinancialLatina
SavvyFinancialLatina
5 years ago

Daycare costs are expensive. One of my colleagues pays $400 a week for daycare for one child! One more reason we are not ready for kids.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
5 years ago

I wonder if SAHDs face greater barriers upon re-entering the workforce due to old-fashioned attitudes about which parent should stay at home with the children. Do people look at the SAHDs and wonder, “What’s wrong with them? Why are they the ones to stay home? Couldn’t they hack it on the job?” Does anyone know if this happens to SAHDs? Also, another possible long-term casualty of paying for daycare is college savings. One of my friends has twins and she told me they were unable to start saving for college because of the daycare costs. They simply couldn’t afford both.… Read more »

Meredith
Meredith
5 years ago

So, when my daughter was 3.5-4 years old there was an alternative Spanish class that cost an extra $40/mo. I was already paying $1600/mo for daycare and I thought what could a 3.5 year old possibly learn of the Spanish language in one hour a week so I opted not to sign her up. Turns out, she was the only kid not taking it and when the teacher came (with her fun songs and maracas) my daughter had to be taken to another room so she cried and begged me to be included in the class. I paid up so… Read more »

Beth
Beth
5 years ago

One of the stay at home dads I know is a developer who worked on contract (he’s self employed). He just cut down his workload a lot when he stayed home with the kids and took on more projects when the kids started school. Another dad took on a completely different career when his kids went to school and he went back to work so he’d have the flexibility to be around more. I suspect it might be the type of career rather than gender that makes it hard to get back into one’s field. If you lose seniority or… Read more »

Millionaires Giving Money
Millionaires Giving Money
5 years ago

All this talk of daycare will scare young couples off from having children. I wish everything was clearer! Thanks for sharing, insightful.

Chris Eaker
Chris Eaker
5 years ago

“I wish I had earned more throughout my life and hadn’t spent so much time with my kids when they were young,” said no parent ever. Don’t prefer the money over the child.

Jacob
Jacob
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris Eaker

I totally agree, for several reasons. Not only does my wife get to spend more time with the kids, but she is also the main influence in their early lives. If we send them to daycare, the workers are raising our kids, whereas if my wife takes care of them, all of the ideals and discipline instilled will remain consistent. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily bad, but it is inconsistent. I realize the children will eventually choose their own path in life, but I’d really like to instill our values in them early on. My wife and I have… Read more »

Allyson
Allyson
5 years ago
Reply to  Jacob

At Chris Eaker and Jacob, your comments seem pretty judgmental to me. I would LOVE to stay home with my daughter but financially, we could never afford it. And we have a very modest lifestyle as we continue to work on paying down our debt. If the numbers simply don’t add up to one parent being able to stay home, it doesn’t mean that the parent is “choosing” their income over the child. And honestly, I LOVE our daycare. She attends three days a week (home with Daddy two days a week during the work week and home with me… Read more »

Allyson
Allyson
5 years ago
Reply to  Allyson

Not to belabor the point, but just because daycare is getting paid to watch your child doesn’t mean they don’t love them. When my daughter first went to daycare at 8 months, she had been through a LOT of medical issues. When my stress leave was exhausted and I had to go back to work, leaving her was about 100x harder than for mothers of healthy babies with no medical issues. One of my greatest fears was that her oral feeding would decrease when different people were feeding er. The owner/director of the daycare we selected was so compassionate and… Read more »

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
5 years ago
Reply to  Jacob

“If we send them to daycare, the workers are raising our kids, whereas if my wife takes care of them, all of the ideals and discipline instilled will remain consistent. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily bad, but it is inconsistent.” We purposefully chose a childcare provider that shared our ideals and discipline, so using a daycare does not necessarily mean it is inconsistent. Also, having a stay-at-home parent does not guarantee consistency – the two parents may have different ideas.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris Eaker

Meh. I’ve seen PLENTY of women on anonymous forums saying, “I wish I’d worked instead of being a SAHM” “I wish I’d had a career.” They say it when their husband divorces them for a younger woman. They say it when their husband is laid off and can’t find work. When they have trouble with rent or the mortgage or the car and have to go to food pantries or sign up for SNAP. They say it when their kids go to school and they can’t find jobs. And yes, they report their mothers saying it in hospice or when… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
5 years ago

This plus ten googols! There’s way too much sniping (especially on the mom boards — stay off them!) at women who continue to work after having children. I’m older than most of you — 57 in December — and my mom worked. It wasn’t unusual back then and it isn’t unusual now. Here’s an attitude that irks me: When lower-income women (especially non-white women) have children, society at large wants them working, dammit. Even if it means taking a crap job, which often means crap day care. When middle- and upper-class women have children, we call it “selfish” if they… Read more »

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Donna – yes yes yes yes yes yes and YES. You are 100% right.

Barb
Barb
5 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

And Let’s remember that most of those day care providers are working parents as well. Who deserve to be paid a living wage.

sarah
sarah
5 years ago

You took the words right out of my mouth.

Besides, it’s not all about money. I love my career as a community social worker. And I go crazy if I have to spend more than 8 hours in a row with my toddler. And he loves going to his daycare, and the people that work at the daycare are crazy about him. Even if I wasn’t working I’d want to find a way to allow him to spend time there.

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
5 years ago
Reply to  sarah

Agreed!

Chuckie G.
Chuckie G.
5 years ago

Why does your whole post concentrate solely on regrets of stay at home mothers as opposed to stay at home parents? Is it not feasible that stay at home dads report similar regrets? Each other comment posted here is gender neutral when referring to a parent staying at home, as it should be. The only time folks deviate is when someone is referring to themselves as being a stay at home mom/dad or their spouse as being a stay at home mom or dad. It is really hard to take you and your “paraphrasing” seriously when your comments are clearly… Read more »

Beth
Beth
5 years ago

YES! I don’t have kids, so I get both the stay at home moms and working moms alternately loving their lifestyle and venting their frustration and guilt about it. Regardless of which lifestyle they choose, women can be conflicted and insecure about their choices, and I think they lash out at others (including me for “all your missing out on” — as if I had a choice). I often wonder what the dads think. They don’t discuss it — at least not to me. Statistically speaking, women are more likely to live the end of their lives in poverty because… Read more »

Kamado Jim
Kamado Jim
5 years ago

You really just have to be wise and know what you’re looking at, from an expense standpoint, before you decide to have children. We knew we were looking at a hit of about $1,000/month and made the necessary budget changes to accommodate that BEFORE we even attempted to have children. Two years ago, if you would have asked me if we could have afforded the extra $1,000, I simply would have laughed. There was no way. But here we are now and we’re paying it without issue with money left over every month. Now that we’ve gone through that process,… Read more »

Kat
Kat
5 years ago
Reply to  Kamado Jim

Yes! Planning ahead is definitely key to being financially prepared for childcare costs. People create saving plans for house down payments and other large costs. Why not have one for kids? I started putting away $180/mo about 3 years ago to cover the cost of childcare. We’re not planning to start a family until 2016, and my company has an option for parents (regardless of gender) to work from home for 2 years after a baby is born, so we probably won’t need full-time childcare until 2018 or so. By then my husband and I should have about $30,000 saved… Read more »

Laura
Laura
5 years ago

If you can make it on one income, stay home with your kids until they start school. You will never regret it!!

PawPrint
PawPrint
5 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Frankly, I’ve never regretted working while my kids were young. I do, however, wish one of us had been present after school when they reached the age where daycare wasn’t an option. Those 3pm – 6pm years from middle school on are, IMHO, more challenging, especially if your kids are not involved in after school activities.

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

I was raised by a single, working mother and I agree that those years can be challenging. I think that’s when I could have gotten into a lot of trouble growing up. I was a latch-key kid that came home to an empty house everyday. But, luckily, I *think* I turned out okay!! So, being raised without a parent at home, I see both sides of the debate. My mom did her best, but I always wished she were there. Plus, she always told me that she wished she could be home with me. I was always jealous of my… Read more »

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  Laura

(Different Laura here)

I was raised by a single (widowed) mother who worked as a teacher and therefore worked school hours so was home with us after school and in the summer. She hated being around kids and sent us out to play until dusk so she had peace and quiet. The few times she actually did any activities with us, it was fun, but mostly she wanted to be left alone.

SAHP is not all it’s cracked up to be, IMHO.

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  Laura

To the other Laura:

Much of it does depend on personality. I have many friends who choose to work. They are wonderful mothers. They question my sanity to want to stay at home with three children under 4! But I happen to enjoy (almost) every minute of it. I admit there are days when I am exhausted and need a break. But I can honestly say I enjoy spending my days doing crafts, going to the park, museum, library etc. I’m thankful for the opportunity everyday!

vasiliy
vasiliy
5 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

Somebody mentioned this above. Provided there is such an OPTION to raise kids instead of having to work, for a family, not too many people, at the end of their days, would think: “Thanks god I spent most/all time at work while my kids were growing”! If so, those people shouldn’t really have kids in the first place. Also, there wouldn’t be so many kids who take guns and come to school and kill other kids/people.

Kiernan
Kiernan
5 years ago
Reply to  vasiliy

Really? School shootings are now the fault of working parents? That’s the most ridiculous comment I’ve ever read in relation to this debate … and the list is NOT SHORT.

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  vasiliy

I wasn’t going to feed the troll, but, as a former teacher, I want to correct this misinformation. Experts say again and again that there’s no one “profile” or “type” of student that commits these acts of violence. There’s no definitive checklist of factors that experts can use to determine who might commit a mass school shooting. They do know of some common factors — such as being bullied and having access to guns — but I can assure you that growing up in a home where both parents worked isn’t one of them. “School shootings” aren’t just Columbine-type tragedies.… Read more »

vasiliy
vasiliy
5 years ago
Reply to  vasiliy

@Beth. Nobody is trying to win an argument here. I am expressing my opinion as anybody else on this forum. You will see what my beliefs are if you read other comments I made.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  vasiliy

That explains a lot! Vasiliy, facts and opinions aren’t the same thing. Stating something that is false (and potentially harmful, like saying that working moms cause school shootings) doesn’t make it ok because the wrong thing is your “opinion” or your “belief”. It isn’t actually true even if you want it to be true. I know that there’s a big research area showing that confronting people who are climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers and so on with actual facts just causes them to report even stronger incorrect beliefs. So there’s probably not much to be done for you. But it’s… Read more »

AMW
AMW
5 years ago

I have been on both sides of the argument. It didn’t make financial sense for me to pay for day care (at the time, 20 years ago, I would have netted only $100/week after all expenses)but we could not afford for me to bring in zero income. I started and ran my own home day care for 12 years. I happen to love children and was very good at what I did. I worked but my children had the illusion that I was a stay at home mom and it was the best of all worlds for my family. The… Read more »

Kirsten
Kirsten
5 years ago

When I first started to get into debt reduction a few months back, I posted my budget on a forum of Dave Ramsey followers for them to hack at it. I got an unbelievable number of folks saying my daycare costs were too high. Yet, I’ve priced all the daycares here end they are all about the same. I pay $75 a day, 5 days a week to have my two kids in daycare. I get so annoyed when people tell me to quit my job because affording daycare isn’t worth it. Well, I may way more than my daycare… Read more »

Chuckie G.
Chuckie G.
5 years ago

Could having a parent stay at home give birth to earning opportunities beyond that of a traditional career? Yes. Yes it can! In the article it is stated that “Stepping away from the workforce might save you money while your kids are young but cost you in ways you may never have never dreamed over the course of your career.” While this could be true, there is also the potential that stepping away from the workforce might offer earning opportunities that one might never thought of or attempted when working full time. When faced with the daycare dilemma we decided… Read more »

SAHMama
SAHMama
5 years ago
Reply to  Chuckie G.

Indeed. A few years before I quit my fulltime job, I started doing freelance writing. I now have several clients and work from home as I have the time between doing stuff with my kids. I can write from the comfort of my couch in my pajamas with the cat in my lap at 2am if I so desire. No chilcare needed. My income from doing this allows me to contribute the max to my Roth IRA, pays for the weekly groceries, kid’s activities, my hobbies (ceramics and crochet) and all the extras like birthday party gifts, swimming class, girl… Read more »

JoDi
JoDi
5 years ago
Reply to  Chuckie G.

So true! If I had not left the workforce to take care of our son and later volunteered at his school, I would not have ended up in the IT field in a job I love that has amazing benefits and a great salary. That came out of being at home, running the financial end of our business and learning a lot about various computer programs, and then volunteering at his school and learning about this job opportunity from his teacher, who I helped each week in the computer lab with her classes.

Don
Don
5 years ago

Now Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote a book a decade ago when she was a bankruptcy expert at Harvard Law School. Her book, The Two Income Trap, was not what you might expect from a progressive liberal. In the book Warren said that families with two incomes go bankrupt at a high rate than those with one income. Households where one spouse stays home do a better job at managing expenses than those where both work outside the home. Yes, you have to make due with less money when the mom or dad stays home to take care of the… Read more »

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  Don

Truth is, I disagree with the comment that you will always do a better job raising your children than a daycare can. As a baby, my son went to a wonderful day care; his caregiver Lisa was an experienced parent who had a gift for childcare. As a new parent, I was high-strung and nervous and it took me some time to get used to a baby. We had no relatives or friends to spell us on childcare so the only break I got was when DS was in daycare. It gave me a chance to relax a little, reflect… Read more »

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
5 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Laura – this has been my experience as well!

Liz
Liz
5 years ago

The other thing about these Boston $20k day cares is that they have a waiting list. There is a ton of demand. While we are very happy with our son’s $20k daycare, it only covers 8am to 5:30pm. My husband is sick today, so that means I can work only 9 to 4:30 in order to do both drop-off and pick up. Normally we split the task to make it work around our commutes. You’re living on a thread in this situation. Usually it just barely works, and when something goes wrong, you take vacation time. It did not escape… Read more »

Emily @ evolvingPF
Emily @ evolvingPF
5 years ago

My husband and I don’t have children yet, but we hope to be a dual-income household for most of our careers. I was in daycare as a baby and once there were three of us they hired a live-in nanny/housekeeper. My husband was cared for by relatives when he was young. There are options beyond just daycare, like what Cat is doing, depending on where you live and the funds available to you. I think even if it doesn’t make financial sense during our children’s babyhood both of us to work we will still try to keep both our careers… Read more »

Sam
Sam
5 years ago

I’m glad this post spent significant time on analyzing child care costs beyond the point in time. Certainly for many families one parent staying home is the right choice, but looking solely at the point in time cost leaves out a lot. While Mom, and it is often Mom, may end up losing money on the child care (if the comparison is take home pay vs. child care costs) but in the long run the hit to one’s career, retirement savings, promotional trajectory, social security savings, etc. is huge. Factor in the costs of education and time already invested in… Read more »

FindX
FindX
5 years ago

Some of these comments do sound a little judgmental. But that’s okay, we don’t all have the same situation or goals. As for my family, yes we can definitely afford for one parent to stay home in the short term. But I’m afraid of my skills becoming irrelevent. What if my husband and I divorce, or one of is falls ill? I want to be always in a position where I can take care of my kids all on my own. I grew up in poverty and do not wish it on my kids. I don’t want to ever be… Read more »

Chuckie G.
Chuckie G.
5 years ago
Reply to  FindX

How about life and disability insurance to tackle at least the death/disability part? I used to be skeptical of such (and especially the people selling it… yick!), but now I am a believer. It became more important when our kids came around. Sounds like such would be a good way to ensure you are always in a position to take care of your kids.

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
5 years ago

Nobody, but nobody has looked at the loss of retirement benefits from the pay matched by the employer. Figuring the benefits of compound interest, this can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nobody suggested having to SAH parents both working part time and trading off on childcare, either. You can’t look just at the immediate few years when you make these calculations, either financially or career-wise or temperament-wise. I have a friend who was a superb mother when teaching and would have been downright abusive if she had not worked. She knew it, too, and chose the right… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM
Jane
Jane
5 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

The part-time solution sounds great, but in a country in which health insurance has traditionally been tied to full-time employment, it unfortunately hasn’t been a solution that many could embrace. We’ll see how or if Obamacare changes this equation.

sarah
sarah
5 years ago
Reply to  Jane

This exactly. My husband and I have fantasized often about us both working part time, but then we’d have no health insurance. As it is, they are making it so expensive to add dependents to health plans that we save a lot on insurance by both working. (My employer subsidizes almost 100% of my premium but only 25% of my dependents, his subsidizes 75% for him and 25% for dependents)

Jam
Jam
5 years ago

And this is why you have grandparents that live in the same city as you (if you’re fortunate) lol 😀

Carla
Carla
5 years ago
Reply to  Jam

Ha ha, in a perfect world! My mother told me time and again since I was a child not to expect her to babysit my children when I grow up, get married and have them. She was dead serious. Fortunately for her (and me), I never had them and neither did my brother. My husband doesn’t have living family but even if they were around, his father would be in his late 80s and his mother passed away living with a debilitating chronic illness. I don’t think she would have ever been healthy enough to babysit, let alone act as… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina
5 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I talk with so many retired female and male friends who are expected by their kids to babysit all the time. They feel that they have to but are tired of doing it. I have already told my kids…I am the emergency situation babysitter.. I am not doing any regular type babysitting. And if a grandparent is doing the day care work….they had better be paid for it.

LMoot
LMoot
5 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

I agree. I’ve had several ladies (and a man) I worked with, retire early to care for all of the grandchildren who lived in their area…in most of the cases all or nearly all of their grown children lived nearby. And each of the kids chipped in to pay them a regular salary. Their children got a HUGE discount in childcare, the kids got to spend time with grandma/grandpa and their cousins, and the grandparents got to spend time working for something they loved, even if it wasn’t for as much they previously earned, they were still able to pay… Read more »

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  Jam

Jam – unless you’re like us – when we found out I was pregnant, Question #1 was not, can we afford it, but instead, how do we keep away the abusive grandmothers? (Both grandfathers already passed.) Fortunately they solved the problem for us – my mother moved 1300 miles away in anger when she realized I was going to pay more attention to my newborn than to her, and my husband’s mother said flat out, “Well, don’t think you’re dumping your brat at MY house to babysit!” trust me, we didn’t. 😀

Tara
Tara
5 years ago

My parents worked opposite shifts so someone could be home with us all the time. They both believed in investing in their career so they had choices and futures – if they decided to divorce, they could support themselves, and when retirement arrived, they would have good social security checks and savings to live on. Currently, I live in Quebec where the government subsidizes daycare and it costs a flat $7 per day. I don’t believe in subsidizing peoples’ personal choices but I am sure the parents here appreciate it.

Nina
Nina
5 years ago

I’m in the middle of this right now. Like Cat, I have infant/toddler twins (I actually “met” Cat through a twins blog post unrelated to GRS!) and a 4-year-old who went to preschool. The cost of having a nanny and preschool is still several hundred bucks less than what either my husband and I take home, but we chose to work. Even with its high cost, paying for child care/preschool would still give us more wiggle room than had one of us quit and stayed home with them. We’d be even tighter than what we are now. And like you… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
5 years ago

I’ve just gone back to work after 12 weeks home with my twins and I couldn’t be happier. We put them in daycare. It’s going to cost us about $26K this year (Philadelphia area, for comparison’s sake), and we plan to split the cost. (I am using the full $5,000 Dependent Care spending plan, so that much will be tax free, thankfully!) I have never wanted to be a SAHM, and after having the twins that feeling was affirmed. I couldn’t wait to get back to work, to be around adults, to have time to do the things I want… Read more »

vasiliy
vasiliy
5 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

This may sound judgmental, but why have kids if you don’t want to be around them and prefer adults at work? Wouldn’t it be wiser to not take such a step and just continue working?

Kate
Kate
5 years ago
Reply to  vasiliy

“If you’re going to take up running, why bother with a 10k and not go straight to marathons?”

Sounds ridiculous when we’re talking bout anything other than parenthood, doesn’t it?

Just because some of us prefer to work for part of the day and take care of our kids for the other part, doesn’t mean we are somehow missing the point.

Besides, as my mother counselled me, “the toddler stage doesn’t last forever, and thank goodness for that”.

JoDi
JoDi
5 years ago
Reply to  Kate

No, it doesn’t sound ridiculous. Your example is not an accurate comparison. An accurate comparison would be someone who takes up running and then pays someone else to do the running for them because they’d rather be doing something else.

Jerry
Jerry
5 years ago
Reply to  Kate

^And there’s nothing wrong with paying someone to run for you if taking up running meant you had to run FOREVER.

Jennifer Roberts
Jennifer Roberts
5 years ago

I “sacrificed my career” to be a stay-at-home mom and I have found many interesting ways to earn extra money since then, including blogging, freelance writing, and becoming a college professor. I’m currently working on illustrating a game that my oldest son invented. Perhaps down the road I will jump back into my field (architecture), or maybe I’ll have found something I like better. The only time I’m worried about losing is the short time my kids are small. I can always do something with my skills and talents, even if it’s not somebody else’s idea of success.

Another Beth
Another Beth
5 years ago

Yes, agreed. OK, story time! I quit my job a few years ago to be home with my kids. I had stayed with the same company for, oh, about five years. Nothing changed between my first day of work and when I left; it was essentially the same job all those years. Since I quit, I have been freelancing and learned so many new skills along the way. I am invigorated and eager to take on new projects. I am more confident, too. Being a SAHP isn’t for everyone, and there are some hard days, but it’s not necessarily the… Read more »

Sharon
Sharon
5 years ago

I was a single parent through most of my children’s growing up years. I was lucky that the daycare I had was a not-for-profit in the local school system. It made daycare affordable, but it was still a big chunk of money. I had no choice, though, since I had to work. Summertime meant very high daycare bills and the downside was that if there was a snow day, daycare closed as well. I had no choice but to bring my kids (one at a time, with a 10 year difference between them) to work with me. Since my manager… Read more »

Ray
Ray
5 years ago

I work for early childhood development researchers, and I will only say, carefully evaluate whatever type of daycare you’re considering for your young children. Ask about curriculum, if they emphasize language development and other school readiness skills. Look for centers that have a lot of language materials on the walls, have special learning stations, and have highly organized schedules and routines. Quality early experiences are SO important to developing strong brain architecture, and research consistently finds family care homes to be at the bottom of the rung as far as providing strong learning environments. That being said, if pennies need… Read more »

Mysticaltyger
Mysticaltyger
5 years ago

There’s an easy solution to this conundrum. If you can’t afford to have one parent stay home with the kids, just don’t have them. I can’t imagine 2 parents working full time and paying for daycare. You don’t get to see or raise your own kids and you’re paying through the nose for it. I don’t get why anyone would want to do that exhausting routine for years and years.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  Mysticaltyger

*bzzt* There are 168 hours in a week. Work takes 40-50 hours. Working parents are still seeing their kids and raising their kids. Do you also think that parents never see their kids or raise their kids once they start elementary school? Or is anybody who doesn’t home school a horrible person too? WTF is wrong with people? It’s always GRS with the working parent judging. At least I haven’t seen the “baby farm” comment that usually pops up whenever someone does a post on daycare. IBTP. I wouldn’t keep addressing these stupid comments, but I know women who take… Read more »

Laura Vanderkam
Laura Vanderkam
5 years ago

This has been a good discussion, and I’m glad that it mostly centered on economics and took until the later posts to get more judgmental. When talking about parenting and childcare, that can be considered a win 🙂

vasiliy
vasiliy
5 years ago

So, to get the math right, the 168 hours you consider is not that much after you deduct all other stuff you have to do before you spend time with your kids. 40-50 for work (at least); another 5-10 commute, 5-10 dinner/shopping, etc.; and you probably need to sleep too, right? so deduct another 50 hours. How much is left? Almost nothing. If you don’t have a choice, then you don’t have a choice and thus, take your kid to daycare. But consider this. Sometimes it’s 7 AM-6PM for daycare. What time do you spend with the kid? Maybe 1-2… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  vasiliy

Except that’s complete and total Bull Excrement. Working moms and SAHM actually spend about the same amount of time interacting with their kids, according to time-use surveys. There’s probably some optimum and kids are getting it. There’s a lot of naptime at daycare, and at good ones there’s no TV. Dads are now spending more time with their kids than they did when one-earner families were the middle-class norm. Counter-examples: My parents both worked full-time and I can tell you that they raised my sister and me. I am incredibly proud of my mom and very close with her. And… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
5 years ago
Reply to  Mysticaltyger

Well, a couple can plan to not have children, but unless they’re willing to be abstinent there’s still a chance, however small, they could have children. One of my friends was conceived even though his mother was on the pill.

And for many, abortion isn’t an option.

Marie
Marie
5 years ago

A tubal and ablation worked for me!

asrai
asrai
5 years ago

A number of thoughts come up for me.
When my hubby and I couldn’t afford daycare or to live on one income, we work different shifts. It wasn’t fun, but it was cost effective.

Someone suggested grandparents. My parents still work. And a lot of grandparents who are retired, aren’t up for chasing around toddlers.

And last, it’s sad that parenting ins’t valued for it’s contribution to the future anymore, by our culture and our politicians and companies. Children are seen as a current liability now days, than a future asset.

Barb
Barb
5 years ago

I have not read through all the messages, and I apologize if this has been addressed elsewhere. But seriously, when we talk about spiraling out of control?? 450 a week is eleven dollars an hour, assuming your kid is only there forty hours a week. If we allow fifty hours (more normal assuming mom/dad does not work near the day care) you are talking nine dollars an hour. Most parents looking for someone to watch their children demand background checks, enrichment programming, training and caring. Is paying nine dollars an hour really to much to know that your kids are… Read more »

Tom
Tom
5 years ago
Reply to  Barb

I dont understand the thought process behind the “its only $10 an hour” mentality. You have to look at it from the day care provider’s perspective. If they are only looking only after one kid, then yes $10 an hour or less is probably a fair wage. If they have several kids they will make much more than $10 an hour.

spiralingsnails
spiralingsnails
5 years ago
Reply to  Tom

That $10 an hour per kid is not just paying for the frontline workers. Most of it is allocated to overhead: the mortgage/rent for the childcare facility, playground equipment, furniture and toys, training & certifications, legal assistance, cleaning & repairs, liability insurance, utilities, managerial staff, and company profits.

Barb
Barb
5 years ago
Reply to  Tom

An acceptable ratio for child care is generally one to five for toddlers-which usually means a ratio of two to ten at a minimum in excellent centers. However, it’s wise to remember that if YOU are paying ten dollars an hour, the preson who cares for your child is getting half of that except for some family day care homes. As a day care owner I need to pay rent so that your kids are in a comfortable facility, insurance, provide your child with health meals and do many other things. I’m still not seeing how ten dollars an hour… Read more »

adult student
adult student
5 years ago
Reply to  Barb

I don’t think the issue is that people think child care providers are overpaid! The issue is that if you’re making $9-11 an hour yourself, can you afford to turn around and pay that for childcare during all the hours you work? Or can you afford to live without that income? If the answer to both is “no,” it IS a huge problem, and not one people are even able to address on an individual level. For example, I make $16 an hour, but after taxes and transportation to work, it works out to just under $11. I’m expecting a… Read more »

Cat@BudgetBlonde
5 years ago

Thank you so much for including me in this Holly. It’s crazy how expensive it all is!! I’m glad you found a place for your kids even if you have to do your own baby yoga at home. 🙂

Redstar
Redstar
5 years ago

We live in Honolulu, HI, top 5 most expensive cities in the US. We have an ‘Ohana’ or strong, family-oriented mentality where people pitch in to help however it looks. In the case of childcare, that may mean grandparents or a close auntie watching your child in the early years. It may mean forming trusting relationships with neighbors or boss to work out your childcare situation. A Strode Montessori school opened up near my work and costs $1500 monthly! We will be creative and I plan to change my work hours (as I am self-employed) and hubby will watch our… Read more »

Tre
Tre
5 years ago

Thank goodness we are finally out of daycare. My husband switched to the night shift so we didn’t have to pay for care anymore. That freed up over $1,000 in our monthly budget!

If your employer offers a dependant care FSA, I recommend using it. It has a higher tax savings than claiming the expenses on your tax return.

Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income
Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income
5 years ago

We don’t have daycare but I see many of my employees have this same debate. Is it worth the time to work just to have most of it go to daycare? I think their daycare is affordable it’s helping with their other life habits of not making trips to the gas station for soft drinks/coffee and picking up lunch every day. It just eats away so that any potential income they would have is not gone immediately after their paycheck arrives. But you have to do the math before applying for jobs and not find out after that you may… Read more »

zoranian
zoranian
5 years ago

I think we are in danger in this country of looking only at a cost/benefit analysis when we are considering caregivers for our children. We should be looking at what is the best environment for each individual child. For example, I teach parent/child swim lessons and see some parents that are stay at home parents that do a really terrible job of being parents, and I see some kids in day care that are obviously in a great and nurturing environment at home and “school”. However, in my opinion, I am the best caregiver for my children at this time… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago

I’ve been on both side of the fence, I was a stay at home mom for the first two years of my child’s life and then started working when he turned two. Going back and finding a job given that I was only out of the work force for 2 years was a feat in itself. I work in finance and only had 1 year of experience fresh from university when I got pregnant. Many recruiting agencies declined to even meet with me as according to them I took too much time off. This worried me a lot as I… Read more »

Jerry
Jerry
5 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

A couple of points in your post are interesting: 1) My nephew was raised by a nanny until he was school aged. Like you said, he didn’t get sick in those early years, but once he got to school he got sick, quite frequently, and with a vengeance. It’s not such a bad thing that daycare babies/toddlers get sick, it helps to build their immune systems… 2) If you only want to leave your child with someone who loves him as much as you or more, what’s going to happen when he gets to regular school/middle school/high school/college? Or does… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago
Reply to  Jerry

1. I agree with you that once my child starts school he probably will get sick ALOT! But, dealing with a sick child is still better than dealing with a sick baby/toddler. A baby/toddler can’t communicate exactly what their feeling, can’t blow their nose on their own, can’t and won’t go through their illness without hanging on to their mom’s sleeves day and night (this is my experience anyway) whereas when an older child goes to school and gets sick they’ll cope with the illness better, probably would still want the mom there but taking care of a sick older… Read more »

vasiliy
vasiliy
5 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

Agreed!

Marie
Marie
5 years ago

The problem I see among my friends is a lack of part-time on-the-fly daycare options. Freelancers and PT workers with revolving schedules want professional child care, but the daycares around here require you to commit to a set schedule and price contract. If you have the day off and keep your child home, you’re still going to pay for the day. I understand that daycare centers need an accurate head count for safety and legal reasons, but if someone could come up with a functional way to run a “pay by the day” daycare, they would make a killing.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
5 years ago

I see that $450 for full time child care for 2 children was too much for the author, that comes to a little over $5 an hour she’s paying to teachers for the most important little people in her life. Being a single mother myself I understand how difficult it is to afford most things and services on a single income but I do not agree with the author when she mentions a couple of time “cost of daycare spiraling out if control”. Daycare teachers and providers must go through extensive background checks, finger printed, yearly physical exams, and in… Read more »

Maria
Maria
5 years ago

This article and variety of opinions in the comments have been interesting to read. I’m in my early 30s with a well paying job, and my earning potential is likely to be better than my husband’s. We are considering having our first child. I have no desire to quit my job, which would pause or derail my career, to stay home full-time. I am a research scientist, and the part-time options in my field don’t provide financial security. I wouldn’t expect, ask, or encourage my husband to quit his job, for reasons mentioned in many comments – loss of income,… Read more »

Kimberly Rotter
Kimberly Rotter
5 years ago
Reply to  Maria

Be prepared for the possibility that you might change your mind after the baby comes. Sure, you’ll need some time to yourself for sanity, and work is nice that way. But for many of us, work just stops having the same appeal it had before becoming a mom. It’s not as important as it used to be. I hope you will keep an open mind and not consider staying home, or staying home part time, to be less-than or somehow less deserving of your approval. If you decide that’s what you want and you’re financially able, it’s a gift.

Maria
Maria
5 years ago

Second comment: A concerning issue is the general lack of support for parents in the US compared to other countries. For example, my European colleagues think that 6 weeks of maternity leave and usually no paternity leave is barbaric and detrimental to parents who want to care for their children while maintaining careers. They also find it surprising that there is little or no subsidized child care assistance for new parents. There is enough social benefit to supporting families that we shouldn’t view parental assistance as “subsidizing someone else’s life choices.”

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