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Childcare Costs

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With summer approaching, I’m once again moved to think about the costs of summer childcare.  This is such an issue for us and while I certainly do not want to rush the kids aging…I will be happy when childcare is something of the past.

For the first time, we are comfortable with the boys staying alone BUT we still aren’t willing to leave them alone for more than 30 minutes at a time–and never with the youngest child at home with them.  We’ve done a couple of 30 minute runs to the store and all has gone well….but longer than that just isn’t in our comfort zone yet.  They’ve done nothing to worry us mind you–this is more our adjustment to the concept I think.  As for the 7-year-old–we definitely need all day care for her throughout the summer.

I’ve done just about every arrangment you can think of and am fortunate to have help from family for at least part of each summer.  For the last three summers I have created an online calendar for my ex and I to access.  We then fill in the weeks with various options–his parents always take one week for Vacation Bible School and my parents take another week…sometimes a sibling of his or a sibling of mine takes another week…we each take a week of vacation…and then the rest is usually filled by summer day camps but those do not come cheap!  So, this year we are trying something new.  We are going to have someone come to the house on the weeks we need care and my ex and I will be splitting the fees.  My friend is actually semi-retired and is not looking to make a lot of money. We will each pay $100 per week.  I know this sounds like a lot but summer camps are running $150 to $250 per week and the lower end is only 9 am to 3 pm–it is about $30-$40 additional per week if we need morning or afternoon care.  By having someone at home, this will allow some indirect supervision of the boys–they’re allowed to ride bikes in our neighborhood and go to the neighborhood pool (lifeguard all summer and over age 12 can go without an adult) and I like the idea of someone being at “home base” for them to check in with throughout the day.  My son also has boy scout camp and will be volunteering at least half days at the nursing home my Aunt resides at.  The youngest one will have various low cost (girl scouts) and free events to attend that the sitter will take her to and from.   That is a HUGE help that I am willing to pay for—to have someone run the kids here and there all summer b/c the time I  lose at the office really adds up by mid-June!  I will supply the vehicle and the gas but everything is nearby and the sitter is fully aware of our budget constraints–so I’m hoping that works.  Looking at 12 weeks of summer–we hope to arrange free childcare for 5, possibly 6, weeks of that timeframe.  It is a logistical challenge but the kids are at least not stuck in one place in front of a television for the entire summer.  The other aspect that ALWAYS impacts is the amount of food that is consumed when they are home…something to think about and start planning for NOW.

We pay $200/month right now for afterschool care for the youngest.  While I am sick of paying even that, I am glad the diaper/preschool days are over…that was running $600/month for just one.  I don’t know how young families are doing that these days.  If there are 2 kids in day care that’s easily $1000 a month in Texas…I’m sure it is more in other parts of the country.  That’s just crazy!


18 Comments

  • Reply Pamela |

    If there are older cousins in the picture, you might consider hiring one of them as your nanny/manny – my daughter nannies for my nephews (8 and 9) in the summer and it works out great. She makes some summer job money and my sister has a stress-free summer.

    • Reply Claire |

      If only the cousins were nearby Pamela! Those that are in the right age group are all out of town. 🙁 I did this for my nephews and nieces when I was a teenager—a great help to me and my sis!

  • Reply Hawaii Plan |

    At its highest, we were paying nearly $4k/month for full-time care for our two kids. (This was when they were infants/toddlers.) We live outside of Seattle & the cost of high quality childcare is mind blowingly expensive. As it currently stands, I pay $2K for full-day kindergarten (public school only covers 1/2 day) + after care + full-day preschool for my 5 year old.

    Kids are expensive! 🙂

  • Reply John |

    Childcare is so expensive! Yikes! Pretty scary stuff. Now that I’m working from home though, I have a feeling we won’t need childcare when we have a baby as much as most. VERY fortunate!

  • Reply Maggie |

    It sounds like you have a workable plan. I know several years ago I was saying the the household help I could really use was a driver to take my kids to the 5:30 practices, 1/2 day camps, freshman band practice… Good Luck!

  • Reply Walnut |

    Do you intend to start giving a little bit more freedom to your oldest children to watch your youngest? I’m an oldest child of four younger siblings and spent a good deal of time watching them when I was younger. I started babysitting all the neighbor kids when I was 13.

    It seems like a good way to teach responsibility and build trust with the oldest kids.

  • Reply kim |

    Cost comparison – as a soon-to-be mother, in the DC area childcare in a family home runs about $1000-$1200/mo per child, in a commercialized daycare it’s about $1600/mo. Preschool seems to be $1800/mo, but they’ve been playing hide-the-ball on real costs. $1800 is the same as our rent, which I can’t wrap my head around. Luckily I have a few years to come up with a better option. DH is a teacher, so that saves us from daycare for 2.5 months a year.

    • Reply kim |

      That reminds me – I telework one day per week and am considering keeping the children with me…but that might prove disastrous to work productivity!

  • Reply margot |

    Just FYI, your posts would be easier to read if you used shorter paragraphs. It’s hard to read a 5-inch long paragraph in small text on a computer screen.

    You seem to run in very privileged circles, and I hope that your orientation continues to change regarding what’s “normal.” Summer camps of all sorts are a very expensive luxury. I got to go to Girl Scout summer camp exactly once when I was a child. I savored it and looked forward to it and never assumed that summer camp would happen every year. My parents had to save for a long time to make it happen once, and one of them even got an extra job to help. It’s sad how many American kids these days think that luxuries are necessities to which they are entitled (summer camps, cell phones, other technologies, designer clothing, fancy TV and gaming systems, eating out, etc.).

    There are also lots of creative and affordable daycare options for people who do a little research and for those who are committed to spending less. My friends have used neighborhood daycare providers who are caring for 2-6 children out of their homes for tons less than formal daycare centers. And they don’t care if the person is officially licensed – as long as they trust the person and have checked the place out themselves. (It’s not any different than using a babysitter, who is rarely licensed.) Other friends find parents in their neighborhood – via email lists or through meeting neighbors – with whom to share a nanny or babysitter. It cuts the price in half or into thirds. Others cobble together family and friends to cover the entire week. And others trade free or discounted childcare in exchange for providing other services in which they have an expertise.

  • Reply Katie |

    Great plan for covering the childcare! It’s always a juggle, but the end is coming. We live in the DC area, and for 2 kids with a nanny, it’s about $3,500/month (including taxes). We have done every possible arrangement, and other than having my mom watch them, which is no longer possible, this is about the average rate.

    In response to Margo – the summer camps you remember aren’t really the summer camps of today. The camps that we use are more camps to provide short-term childcare, and are almost all day camps.

    • Reply Claire |

      Thanks Katie—that is exactly where I find myself re: my parents. They really want to help with the kids but it simply isn’t realistic anymore. They get to visit and that is so important but all day care just isn’t doable anymore.

      Margo–yes, what I am talking about is what Katie describes. The youngest does not go to a sleepover camp but instead these are simply day care setting dressed up and called “camp.” My son does do an annual boy scout camp but that is just $200 total that I split with his dad AND they feed him for the entire 7 days. 🙂 Totally worth it.

      Oh and maybe you are liking my most recent posts. That wasn’t intentional on the timing but instead I drafted a few random posts–short ones–so hopefully those give you a break from my long winded nature! 😉

    • Reply Claire |

      Thanks Katie—that is exactly where I find myself re: my parents. They really want to help with the kids but it simply isn’t realistic anymore. They get to visit and that is so important but all day day care just isn’t doable anymore.

      Margo–yes, what I am talking about is what Katie describes. The youngest does not go to a sleepover camp but instead these are simply day care setting dressed up and called “camp.” My son does do an annual boy scout camp but that is just $200 total that I split with his dad AND they feed him for the entire 7 days. 🙂 Totally worth it.

      Oh and maybe you are liking my most recent posts. That wasn’t intentional on the timing but instead I drafted a few random posts–short ones–so hopefully those give you a break from my long winded nature! 😉

  • Reply Slinky |

    Wow. sometimes its really weird to see what other people regard as absolute truths. At 7, my brother (8) and I were latch key kids who stayed home all summer and cooked our own lunch (yes on the stove). the only things we did that we didn’t do when our parents were home was slide down the staircase on a cushion, and build forts put of the couch cushions. Its super weird for me to think that other kids aren’t allowed home by themselves for more than a half hour or at all. I do think it taught us a lot of independence and confidence though.

    • Reply Claire |

      Slinky–I’m not sure what state you live in but in Texas this would be “neglectful supervision” and would not sit well with our Child Protective Agencies!

      • Reply Slinky |

        It might not, but apparently there is no legal age requirement in Texas or my own state. I looked. 🙂 in any case, I’m not advocating that others do the same, just saying that its really bizarre to reconcile with my memories of growing up. but I fully admit that my childhood was far from typical. I grew up in a family where the options you put forth weren’t possible. Count your blessings.

So, what do you think ?