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Monday, June 3, 2013

The Daycare Dilemma

One of the biggest racquets in the parenting world is daycare.  Something that non-childrearing people don't have to comprehend, understand, or experience is the massive grip on one's life childcare can have.  It makes the difference what career you have, where you work, whether both parents work, how comfortable your lifestyle is, and even how often you see your child.  Its associate with stressors, guilt, anxiety, and worry that even the most prepared can be reeled by.   Here is why....  

The hours daycares are open.

Oddly, daycare centers and licensed home daycares are open typical business hours.  Very few open early in the morning, meaning before 7am, and even fewer stay open late, after 5pm.  This means that as a parent if you must work or need daycare you have to find a job that fits within those hours.  Not only that your commute to and from your job has to fit within those hours.  So, your shift starts at 7am?  Well, hopefully you can find a daycare that opens at 6:30 so you can budget time to drop off your child, say goodbye, and then commute to your job.   Do you need to stay late after work?  Lets hope your provider doesn't charge you extra for being tardy, or worse, drop your child from their services.  If you work a job on weekends hopefully you have a spouse or friend or family member that will pitch in and help watch your child.  No daycare is available on weekends.  Basically, hope you find yourself working a 9-5.  For Shawn and I that is an exceedingly hard challenge.  We have amazing friends and family who help make my twelve hour shifts all days of the week and Shawn's day and night shift rotation work. 

The expense of daycare

Daycare is expensive. My daycare is under $200 a week for a baby under two years of age and that is cheap, for this area.   Most daycare centers run well over $250 for a baby and home childcare is around $150-200.  That's per week, not month.  That's right.  Daycare costs as much as a decent mortgage payment every single month.  The cost doesn't go away.  Its so expensive that many families are faced with the decision to have one parent stay home simply because it is cheaper to raise the child at home rather than work to simply afford daycare.  Shawn and I have considered that ourselves, but I love my job and need to stay current in my practice to maintain good clinical skills.  Also, we would have to cut back on things significantly and decrease our ability to pay off debts/save if we only had one income.  No thank you.  I like being almost finished paying for my student loans. 

The paying whether you're child is at daycare or not

That's right... even if you don't take your child to daycare on a given day during the week you still have to pay for that day whether your child was actually there or not.  That's the reality of having a "full time" spot at a daycare.  Oh, you don't want to be full time?  Well, if you're a part time child and another child needing full time care comes along your provider may drop you for the full time child.  Its more money for them if they do.  For me this dilemma is the biggest source of guilt.  Emily doesn't need to be in daycare Monday through Friday.  Shawn and I are home one or two days a week at least, but because both of our schedules are erratic, never working the same pattern of days plus other part time jobs, Emily has to have a full time spot.  So, on those great days where I am home, free from work, I am struck with the pang of guilt that we are paying for her to be cared for that day, but yet she is not at daycare.  Do I send her to daycare, get my money's worth, and spend the day feeling guilty at home alone and kid free?  Or do I keep her home, spend time with her, and spend money on a service I am not utilizing? I always keep her at home, but the fact that this conundrum exists and I am wasting my money some days bothers me to no end.  

Why must parents face these issues simply to raise a child?  It is entirely too complicated and there are entirely too few options for parents, especially those in certain fields like health and public service.  Families are now forced to choose between careers and children more than ever and its at an incredibly disadvantageous time when two incomes are most certainly needed to raise a family.  Raising a child should be a heck of a lot more simple...  



Kristin said...

With three kids, we didn't have much of an option when it came to daycare. It would have cost us a fortune, and we only needed part time. I had one daycare suggest that I pay for full time slots, but just bring them part time. No thank you! Hang in there, and I hope you find a good solution soon!

HickChickBritt said...

Right now Hayes is with my mom, but she is 63 and can't keep raising him another 10 years. We can't afford daycare even with both of us working. I am going to try going down to 3 days a week and see if that helps relieve my mom some. Other than that, I have no clue what we are going to do. Quit my job and live off well fair? Sorry how PIC of me!

Pat MacKenzie said...

No, raising a child is never simple, nor was it intended to be. But it can be done, and done well. Compromises must be made, trade-offs too, but always with the child's best interests in mind. It's amazing how well adjusted kids can be even if they don't have all the 'things' we think they need and belong to all the clubs and sports that they're put into these days. I empathise with your day care woes. I realize it's a necessity these days and parents do their best to make sure their children are well taken care of. Value your career. You've worked hard for it. You get a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction from helping others. Good for you. Your daughter will never fault you for doing what you're doing and will have a great role model to guide her life. Life is expensive. Do your best. From a mother of seven, grandmother of 20.

Christine Ferguson said...

Thankfully the daycares in my area open early and stay open until at least 6:00, making the time issue a lot easier. The cost is still extraordinary, and it can make it cost prohibitive to have to working parents.

I think there is a slow shift in the American attitude toward working parents, and emerging options and workplace flexibility will make it easier to balance our work and home lives.

However, the flexible workplace trend has not reached the majority of Americans and so parents continue to walk a tightrope between their work and home lives. It's difficult and stressful, but somehow we figure it out.

Christine Ferguson said...

*TWO working parents

Anthony Skelton said...

I have a friend that is a single parent, and her daycare is very cost prohibitive. It opens at 6:00am, and it closes at 5:00pm. And it's $1.00 per minute she is late. I've always thought that daycare was a lucrative business, much like a casino, with having to pay whether you are there or not, they still get paid even when they are on vacation, and if your child is sick, you have to come and get them, and still pay for them. Plus, they have a lot of benefits and perks that they can get.

Even though I do not have a child of my own, I know your pain!

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