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Child Care Shouldn’t Cost You A Fortune

Child Care Shouldn’t Cost You A Fortune

Few people enjoy going back to work after a vacation, and the return to normalcy can be even more difficult after a major life event, like having a baby. If you will be paying for childcare when you return to work, the costs can be staggering depending on where you live. For infant and toddler care, the US average cost for one child at a day care center is $972 per month. In cities like Boston and San Francisco, new parents may pay up to $2,000 per month. Costs decrease as children grow older and become more independent but still can be overwhelming. For new parents adjusting to a change in lifestyle or families adding another child, here are ways to have peace of mind about your childcare and your bank account.

If you or your spouse has a flexible job schedule, you may be able to have one parent home at most times, which can eliminate or greatly decrease costs. Telecommuting or changing work hours allows you to spend more time with your children, which also eases the guilt that many working parents feel when leaving their children with someone else. This means less time together for the parents each day, so be sure to schedule some alone time at least once a week to keep the relationship strong.

save money on childcareIf you are staying home to take care of children but can’t seem to get housework done, consider hiring preteens as mother’s helpers. They can provide the basic care and supervision while you get work done, but if there is an emergency you are still readily available. They charge less per hour than an older sitter or a daycare center and generally have enough energy to actively play with the children for several hours. In a few years you will have a reliable babysitter who knows the children well and has already proven to be dependable.

If rearranging your work schedule is not an option, you still have resources. Friends, coworkers and neighbors who also have children may be struggling with childcare costs as well, and you can all benefit from a babysitting co-op. Parents in the co-op take turns babysitting, so all members know that their children are in good hands and in a safe environment. Many children appreciate having playmates, and all parents in the co-op save money. If your co-op is small, for example less than five children, you can hire one babysitter and pay him or her extra rather than hiring several babysitters separately.

If you have trouble paying cash for a babysitter, consider a barter system. Maybe you play an instrument, have a green thumb, enjoy cooking gourmet foods or make your own jewelry. You may be able to trade your services to benefit both parties. If you prefer traditional payment structures, there are resources to help you find the lowest price for childcare in your area. Your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency or the Child Care Aware website provides resources to find daycare centers, contact home daycare providers and compare costs in your area. Your child or children are precious to you, and leaving them in good hands shouldn’t cost you a fortune.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • FirstBaby2011 August 25, 2012, 1:22 pm

    I am a stay at home mom, but I like the thought of hiring a “helper”. My 12 year old nephew comes over to play with my daughter from time to time. He is her favorite cousin and he is so active that keeping her entertained is really easy for him. In just an hour’s time, I can double the amount of work I get done and my toddler and nephew burn off loads of energy. Everyone benefits from this arrangement!

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  • dhintaka August 27, 2012, 2:33 am

    For working parents its definitely not that comfortable to bring up their child. It’s also not that easy to shift jobs as we all know many companies have been very rigid working structure. Cost of living is increasing everyday making it impossible for parents to relax. In this scenario what comes to our aid is our family. We need our parents & grand parents to baby sit our children. Older generation also can work if they want to. So if we can bring in these people together to take care of our children &, then also pay them for their services, it can do a dual effect. In our local communities, we can have these groups.

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  • KennyK September 4, 2012, 6:35 pm

    It’s often hard to combine a full time job with child care. In my country, finding a free spot in child care is hard, often you have to start looking for a year. Actually, in reality you have to search for a spot as soon as you know you’re pregnant, or earlier. Now, you can imagine often people start looking much later and then see they can’t find a spot for their baby in a child care center etc. Often people decide to stay home and work part time or just full time at home.

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  • jessamom September 27, 2012, 3:11 pm

    Before I was able to stay at home full-time with my children, my husband and I had to get creative about childcare for my boys. Through word of mouth, I heard of a home-schooling mom who wanted her boys to take piano lessons, but couldn’t afford the cost. Since I can teach introductory piano, we decided to trade lessons for childcare. Trading and bartering for childcare is a great way to help you keep the money you are making outside the home in your pocket! Find someone who needs a service you can provide and see what happens.

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  • L J October 3, 2012, 9:59 pm

    I love the idea of a babysitting co op. I need to do more research to see how one would go about starting a co op.

    I miss working so very much, but with two kids that would require day care or a full time nanny, it just isn’t practical. I would spend 85% of my take home pay on child care. When you factor in the expenses of working, such as gas money, clothing, take out on nights that I just can’t get it together enough to make dinner… there is no gain.

    You have some great ideas in your post. I wish I had a skill of some sort that I could barter. We are moving in just over a week because my husbands (very demanding, time consuming, 70 hour a week) job is transferring him and I think I am going to put some feelers out for interest in a child care co op. If I could keep even 50% of my pay I would happily go back to work.

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  • LoveSanta October 22, 2012, 2:21 am

    I agree with Kenny that sometimes finding childcare can be as hard as paying for it.

    And I hate the fact that parents find it hard to pay for childcare yet child care workers get paid so little for their very valuable service – hard all round really (except for high profit centres of course).

    Anyway, I used to swap childcare with some other Mums – I’d have their kids on Monday, for example, and she’d have mine on Wednesday. That way I had a full day to work (being self-employed) and it was sometimes easier to have more kids than less (they had playmates!) so it was win win all round. So LJ you can barter your time rather than obvious skills.

    I also found that in home care is cheaper than centre care – plus it is more flexible and home-like. In Australia, you can access it through local councils as family day care and it is a great option (if only my carer wasn’t currently on holidays…)

    Years ago, I worked as a nanny for a while – families with multiple kids found that cheaper than sending them all to a child care centre, plus had the convenience of not taking the kids anywhere or packing lunches for them.

    There are lots of alternatives – you just have to be creative…

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