Child Care: Should I Work or Stay at Home?

I remember sensing the guilt my mom had as she dropped my siblings and I off at the neighbor's house where she traded babysitting services. Both of my parents have worked full time since I can remember. Making the decision to have child care versus staying home can be a taxing choice for parents.

There is so much to consider when deciding what will work best for your family's needs. Some of these decisions include; the cost of working outside the home, selecting a child care, and saving money and finding fulfillment while staying home. At the end of the day this is a familial decision- there is no universal answer to the question, "Should I work or stay home with the children?"

Maurie Backman looks at the costs and benefits of both options in her article, "Stay at Home Mom vs. Working Mom- What's Right for You?" Many of her ideas she complied will be outlined in this blogpost.

Out of Home Work

Working outside the home includes costs and benefits that we do not often consider. Some of these costs consist of work attire expenses, food, and commuting to and from work. Does your job require specific attire? Often times work wardrobes can cost anywhere from $50-$800 yearly. Seeking out discount department stores for clothing can be a helpful alternative and can still give you a professional look. The average cost of commuting to and from work ranges between $10-$50 per week according to Business News Daily article on the cost of work. Public transportation average costs are $25 a week. Consider tracking your mileage to and from work to get a better estimate of your gasoline expenses. Often times we are tempted to eat out more when we work due to the convenience and social environment we encounter. Making a sack lunch can help save on these costs that add up quickly.

Think through the benefits of your 401k and health insurance. Does your partner have a better policy through their work? If you decide to have someone stay home with the kids, you can look into a spousal IRA which helps the stay-at-home parent set up a retirement account in their name. Discuss double insurance options verses one for your family's health situation. What are your goals in financial comfortability? Understanding your situation can help you see if staying home should be a short or long-term experience.

Child Care Service Options

If you have decided to look for child care, there are several options to explore. Day Care, Home Care, and a Nanny, are just a few. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the average cost of U.S. daycare centers is $11,666 per year or $972 per month. Home Care options range from $7,761 per year, or $646 per month for infant and toddler care. Although the price is cheaper, you may run into less hours of availability and programming. Nannies tend to provide their services between $500 to $700 per week, or $2,167 to $3,033 per month. If families provide room and board, sometimes this price can be lowered. Another helpful alternative to consider could be trading babysitting services with a neighbor. This tends to work best for families who have close to opposite employment schedules as the family they are trading with. Reach out to your employer and ask if you can get a raise to help offset the cost of child care.

Saving Money at Home and Finding Enjoyment

Often stay-at-home parents feel like they have lost their sense of self. Day in and day out their main goal is to keep their children alive. Some parents have found helpful ways to parent full time while also finding activities that give them satisfaction. Some of these include couponing, starting their own business, and finding local playgroups where they can interact with other parents.

Couponing is a great way for parents to save money, especially while relying on one income. The cost of basic needs such as food and clothing can be reduced when a parent grocery shops efficiently. Pay attention to the ads you get in the mail. Often what we think might be junk mail, could potentially be cash in our pockets.

Self-care is important for all moms, whether working or not. This can include starting your own business on the side where you can further develop your talents. Can you teach piano lessons, enjoy photography, or have a skill in crafting? Combining what you love to do with your home life can sometimes be the right balance in your home.

Playgroups are an awesome way to meet new friends and trade services. Children are able to grow and develop various skills such as personal-social and problem solving, while parents can interact with other adults, relieving them of feelings of isolation. Often times this is a prime opportunity for trading services such as gym time rotations or grocery shopping breaks. Staying connected with a group of good people can be helpful for many parents.

Whether you are home for 6 weeks after your child's birth or for several years, each person is entitled to making this decision according to their family's needs. Ask yourself if the benefits outweigh the costs. There are many child care services to consider as well as opportunities to find fulfillment at home. Whatever you choose, you are going to do wonderful!

"Stay-at-home mothers don't magically raise happy children; happy, satisfied mothers do, whether they're engaged by a full day with small children, or a full day at work (both hard jobs, by the way)." - Lisa Oppenheimer

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Friday, 19 August 2022

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