Can We Really Afford Child Care?

Daycare babiesBack in the day when I used to work on staff at magazines in New York, I'd see other women in the office get pregnant, have babies, and disappear.

I thought it was because they were doing what they thought was best for their little ones, or because they were so smitten with their newborns that they couldn't bear to leave them.

Yeah, I love Kavi and would love to spend all day with her. (Well, maybe be not all day. But you know what I mean.) But now I know the truth. These women simply couldn't afford to go back to work.


If you've been following my grad school saga, you know that at first I thought it would be simply impossible for me to go, considering the cost -- in cold hard cash, but also time-wise.

Well, we crunched those numbers and figured out how to make it affordable, because after discussing it with my super-supportive husband, we decided it was an opportunity I shouldn't pass up.

Then we realized that to make it work, both my husband and I would have to at least keep working at our current pace -- or perhaps increase our workloads. I work from home, which we thought (okay, naively) would keep us from requiring outside child care. But to actually continue to work and get things done during my ever-shrinking "work" day, someone will have to watch the baby. So we'll need some form of child care for Kavya at least some of the time.

While we were still reconciling ourselves with the fact that we might have to leave our little one under a stranger's care, the number-crunching began anew. And the result was startling, to say the least. At minimum, with in-home care or even just hiring a babysitter locally for a few hours at a time, we're looking at about a grand a month. If we go the formal daycare route, we're matching our mortgage payment pretty easily. Ouch.

Call me crazy, but does this really mean I have to work more to have more free time? That doesn't make any sense.

These are the days when I wish we could revert to that old extended family structure, where grandparents or aunts and uncles could pick up the slack when mama had to work. But alas, grandma, grandpa, and Meena Masi are at least an hour away. Still, we might have to hustle and sort out some kind of family care solution, because I don't know if we can really afford taking that big of a bite out of our budget.

How did you budget for daycare?


Image via loyaldefender2004/Flickr 

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