The Crazy Costs of Daycare :: We Can’t Afford It But We Need It

managing the high cost of childcare as a working parent

My husband and I are expecting our third child this year, which makes 3 kids under 4 years old in our house. We are both full-time working parents, and my career as a Realtor proves tricky with some very odd hours. We can’t afford it, but we need daycare.

We’ve laid out our options and I wanted to share what we’ve found if you’re trying to think through the financial and logistical situation like we are. 

Traditional Daycare 

Traditional daycare is available 10-12 hours per day. This allows for parents who need very early drop-off and extra late hours. Payment for these hours is a one size fits all. I don’t need 40-60 hours of daycare each week, so the cost doesn’t make it worth it for my family. 

Mother’s Day Out 

One of the perks of my career is that I typically work inverted hours of the average person. I show houses and negotiate deals with clients when they are off work, outside of the normal working 8-5 hours, so MDO fits our needs perfectly. The price is slightly less but comparable to traditional daycare hours. We have hired additional nanny help for the days my work overlaps, without reliable family in town this is a must for us. 

In-Home Care 

I haven’t had much luck finding a place that can accommodate all three of my boys for in-home care. Typically spots are first come-first serve, but this can be a very valuable option if there is one in your neighborhood. Usually, payment is due weekly for this service and negotiated based on services provided by the caregiver: breakfast/lunch provided, snacks, drinks, and cups. 

Nanny Care 

Full-time nanny care would be the dream for my younger two boys as they are more susceptible to daycare germs and miss more days than they attend at this point. This isn’t in our budget currently, but we do have some after-school care from our nanny. 

My oldest thrives from the curriculum and socialization of actually being at MDO and I hate to give that up for him, so we piece together MDO + nanny care as our budget allows. 

Nanny share hasn’t been popular among my own mom circles, but there are many families who utilize this option with friends and love it. This is a great way to share the burden of childcare costs. 

Au pair Care 

Again, this isn’t something I have done personally, and am a little intimidated by it because the thought of a stranger living in my house doesn’t exactly get me excited. We have a modest home that has close quarters for high-traffic areas like bathrooms and kitchen/dining, so adding someone else 24/7 seems like another headache. For the right price, this could be the option that fits your family best. The average annual cost is around $21,000 per year. That equates to about $1750/month in childcare for 12 months. This excludes meals and additional housing costs of one extra person in your family for the year. 

I tried the SAHM thing with my first but quickly found out that mentally, I’m not cut out to be with my children all day, every day. I’ve done plenty of therapy to help me work through my PPD/PPA during postpartum and still feel confident that even with a toolbox full of skills to cope, I am not a SAHM. 

I love working and need it for myself. Motherhood doesn’t have to equate to being a martyr for the sake of your child. My kids need a mentally healthy mom, and that means a mother who works outside of the home. 

Being a working mom means daycare is a must. Paying for daycare takes sacrifice, financial planning, and an understanding that my career comes at a cost I am willing to pay right now knowing that the days are long, but the years are short. 

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