For today’s parents with children, there is a dilemma when it comes to caring for them: Try to live on one full-time income or pay the cost of child care. It’s not an easy decision to make, as one study found that the average family spends nearly 8% of its income on child care, and that can easily be more in larger cities where it is more expensive. Most people choose daycare, with more than two-thirds of children spending at least some time in daycare. Whatever decision you make, to make your child care management easier, here are a few tips to follow.
If you only have one child who needs daycare, it can be easier and cheaper to put that child in a child care center. The cost for one child usually is manageable and can be a lot cheaper than the cost of providing full-time in-home care. Keep in mind that if you just pay someone minimum wage to watch your child, that’s almost $300 a week, and you can find a spot in a child care center for less than that in most cities.
If you have more than one child, the decision can get a little harder. At that point, in-home care may actually be cheaper, because even if you get a multiple-child discount at your childcare center, it still is likely to cost more than $300 per month. And if you have more than two kids who need care all at once, your daycare payment can be astronomical, so in that case it definitely makes sense to use in-home care in that case.
Another option that many parents try is a flexible work arrangement. If your job allows you to change your hours or to reduce your hours and work part time for a while, it can make your child care management situation a lot easier. By changing your hours of work, you can cut down on your childcare needs or possibly even alleviate them altogether. That can be a good tradeoff, even if you take a hit on your income.
As your kids get older, they may only have a need for after school care, which still can be pricey. If your school has an after school program, that may be the way to go, as such programs can be a lot cheaper than a commercial daycare. Using a part-time nanny may also be a solution.
It’s a good idea to plan out these child care management issues well before your children need to go into daycare. In fact, you might even want to think about planning them out before your child is even born. It can make things a lot easier — and a lot cheaper.