Happy Friday! I’ve added a parenting category to the blog to switch things up every now and then and cover parenting topics that I know affect my life and probably other readers as well. So you guessed it, I’ll be discussing child care solutions as an alternative to expensive daycare today. If child care doesn’t apply to you or if you aren’t a parent, you can still read along as this may be useful to you if you plan on having kids one day. Or feel free to check out my article on Young Finances about scoring a salary raise and come back Monday when I’ll be talking about side hustles.
Still with me? Great!
Looking for quality childcare can be a challenge, especially when you have a tight budget. Daycare centers are nice but they can get extremely expensive quick. I’m not going to bash daycare centers because I actually like them and my son learned and experienced a lot while in daycare.
But when I was in college a few years back there was a daycare center conveniently located on campus and they offered students a nice discount on child care tuition/fees. If I didn’t have that discount I probably would have been paying a monthly fee that was close to my rent at the time ($579) just to put my son in daycare.
Unfortunately, a lot of parents take on childcare expenses that are equivalent to their monthly living expenses or higher. Here is a summary of the fees among the most expensive and less expensive daycare centers in my state (Still both very expensive in my opinion).
Some daycare centers are beautiful, clean and have a very friendly staff with an engaging hands-on curriculum. So I get it; people need to be paid for their hard work. But what if you don’t have the money to put your children in daycare?
Babysitter or Home Daycare
Getting a qualified babysitter to watch your children is a great way to avoid paying to send your child to an expensive daycare center. Finding a reputable, affordable, and flexible babysitter with references and licensing/certifications that meet your standards is now an easy task thanks to sites like Care.com.
With Care.com, you can search for babysitters in your area and compare their rates, availability, and experience to determine who would be best for your family.
Sometimes you might get lucky and find someone who has a home daycare set up. Home daycares are generally cheaper than traditional daycare centers not only because the care takes place in someone’s home but there are also less providers involved. Usually, a small home daycare might consist of 1 to 2 teachers and about 3 to 8 kids at most.
I tried out a home daycare with my son when he was 2 and we both loved it. I liked the convenience and quality of the care along with the price and I think he loved the homey atmosphere and was able to receive plenty of attention and care from the provider.
Can You Afford to Stay Home?
Couples who don’t want to pay the high costs associated with daycares sometimes opt to have one parent stay home while their child is young and the other parent (preferably the one who earns more) continues to work. This situation is ideal for some but not all. When considering this option you really have to ask yourself Can one of us afford to stay home?
Sometimes daycare costs eat up an entire parent’s income so it makes sense to cut expenses, and live simpler so someone can stay home for an extended period of time. When doing this it’s important to budget accordingly and live within your means since there will only be one income in the household.
Do you live close to any family members? If so it might be a good idea to see if they will help watch your child when you need it. Most grandparents love to spend time with their grandchildren anyway, and if it wouldn’t be an inconvenience asking family to help provide care it will definitely help you save money. This is the route I plan to go when I move this summer. Since I need to save more money and my son will be in kindergarten for 6 hours each day, I see no need to pay for daycare with my mom close by.
Alternative Work Schedules
If you and your spouse have opposite work schedules, one of you can watch the kids during the day while the other one watches the kids during the evening and at night. I know a few people who planned their schedules to intentionally work like this to avoid daycare. If you’re able to accomplish this it could be great for your child to get to spend lots of time with both of their parents but you and your significant other might not get much time together and just see each other in passing.
This was almost the case with Ray and I since I work during the day and he has a lot of night shifts. Sometimes he may start working an hour or two before I get off so the alternate schedule routine for childcare doesn’t work for us (hence the kiddo being in daycare currently). I don’t like how some days we don’t even see each other unless he gets up early when I do but he has a few off days during the week so we all enjoy that.
Have you ever tried any of these options as an alternative to daycare? Why or why not?
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