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kids and daycare(16 posts)

kids and daycaremohair_chair
Oct 1, 2003 3:00 PM
I just read a post on the main board when someone mentioned that their child's daycare cost $2200 a month! I find that to be an incredible number--$26,400 a year!!! I have no kids, so consider me naive, but is that normal? I can't help but think that at that price, it has to be cheaper to stay home and watch the kid yourself. Think of the great bikes you can buy for $26,400.

Unless you are doing well, I'll bet if I run the numbers, subtracting daycare, income tax, and other assorted costs of working (commuting, clothing, tools, etc.), the net result of working while your kids are in daycare isn't all that much. And that makes me wonder, if you have a spouse that has a job with healthcare, why bother working?

Now I'm going to climb up on my soapbox and switch into judgemental/moralistic mode, I personally think that someone, either mom or dad, should stay home and watch the kids. Shipping them off to daycare seems wrong to me. Why have kids if you are going to pay someone else to raise them?
lots of variablesms
Oct 1, 2003 5:05 PM
$2,200 sounds high to me. But, given our experience when my wife tried to take a job ten years ago when our daughters were four years old and eighteen months old, it may be a valid number. There is a wide variety in child care providers and costs. We tried to do it with a non-live-in babysitter who would come to our house. We also tried to do it legally (i.e., no illegal aliens, pay fica taxes, do income tax withholding). We went through three different sitters in three months. We had to increase the pay each time. We never reached $2,200 per month. But, who knows what we would have had to reach to get a satisfactory person. Given the babysitter problem and the fact that my wife's job was not paying much more than the costs that you list, my wife decided to quit. My wife then waited until our youngest daughter was in kindergarten and got a part time job -- she could drop the kids off at school on her way to work and pick them up on the return. My wife just returned to full time employment last year.

It makes sense for both spouses to work if they can find affordable day care or if both spouses make lots of $$$. Also, even if the money is a wash, taking off several years from work can kill a career. It has taken my wife several years of working to get back to where she was before she left the workforce for seven years. Insofar as the benefits of a stay-at-home parent are concerned, it depends upon the person. I had a colleague who had planned to stay home with her children and work part time. Six weeks after her son was born she could not stand it at home and returned to work full time. Both she and her son were better off than if she had stayed at home.
Very real53T
Oct 1, 2003 5:38 PM
The most I ever payed for my two was $18,000 in a calendar year (Massachusetts). Is it worth it financially? Hell yes. My wife made a little less than me at the time, about $70,000 Gross. That's about $40,000 after taxes and working expenses. 40,000 - 18,000 is only 22,000, but it was still 22,000 we wouldn't otherwise have.

Soon the kids were in public school, big savings? Not really. Public school hours are so inconvenient that she finally gave up the office job.

As far as the moral aspect of shippping kids to day care, my kids are going to have to compete for the best colleges and the best jobs. There are some kids in my son's first grade class who have never seen the inside of a classroom. My son has 5 years of school behind him. Who has the advantage?

The yoke of leadership may weigh heavy on his shoulders, but he seems happy!
as of 2000, child care averaged...dr hoo
Oct 1, 2003 7:02 PM
... $325 a week for two kids. Cheaper some places, more expensive others. That's about 17k a year average. High quality care (low kids/worker ratio, etc.) is higher. Urban locations are higher.

The numbers I run for second incomes for my students is looking at 2 people each making 52k a year. It turns out that after taxes, child care, extra expenses for lunches and work wardrobe, and other costs associated with a job, that second 52,000 income ends up being 10,400 or so in positive cash flow.
How come nobody's mentioned the value of a parent at home?Cory
Oct 1, 2003 8:01 PM
Sorry if that sounds like Dr. Laura--my kids both spent time in day care--but there's value in having a parent at home most of the time, too. No babysitter or day care place is going to take the interest in your child that you do. When you get down to talking about positive cash flow in the sub-$10,000 range annually, which is probably how it would work out for an awful lot of people, it seems to me a pretty close call.
Of course it wouldn't if that $10,000 meant the difference between living in a one-bedroom apartment and buying a house, but for us, it didn't.
As a side issue, anybody who's shocked at the idea of spending $300 a week on child care should remember that you DO have an option. Having children isn't mandatory. Though I understand the Bush administration is working on legislation....
OK, I willmickey-mac
Oct 1, 2003 8:27 PM
Based on personal experience, both as a child and a parent, I see tremendous value in a parent staying home with the kids. My mom stayed home until my younger sister and I were well into elementary school and then went to work part-time. She was always there when we needed her, and we didn't spend half our lives being shuttled from home to school to day care to home. We didn't have to adjust to a new group of care providers every six to twelve months.

My wife has stayed home since shortly before our six year old daughter was born. Our daughter and our three year old son love having their mom at home. They've been well-socialized with sports, pre-school, and loads of "play-dates." Because my wife is at home during the week, she's able to watch our kids' friends when their parents run into conflicts. This makes our house a popular place with other kids and gives our kids plenty of opportunity to play with other kids in a comfortable and familiar setting. In all honesty, we have two of the happiest kids I've ever known.

We are, I must admit, lucky. I don't make a fortune, but I make enough money for our family to live comfortably but not extravagantly. My job allows me substantial time at home to help out. I've never been critical of anyone who has followed a different path by running a two wage-earner family. However, I wouldn't consider having it any other way. We've never had to apologize to the kids for missing an important milestone or activity.
Since you bring it up.dr hoo
Oct 2, 2003 4:53 AM
Studies show that if daycare starts no earlier than 6 months, and it is high quality (clean, stimulating, low worker/child ratio), and the parents spend time with the child when they are not at work, daycare has no ill effects on kids.

I agree, it makes little sense for the couple where each makes ~50k, unless both NEED to work to be happy. If it were me, one of us would stay home.

For those making more, it can make sense. If both my wife and myself made 200k a year, I think we would both work after 6 months (maybe a year if we each took a 6 month hiatus).

For a couple where each parent makes 20k (which is about $10/hr each), that second income is a HUGE boost in opportunities for the child. Is that worth it? If it were me, yes.

Like so many things, you have to decide where your values are and how best to pursue them. No single answer will work for all situations.
Where do you live?53T
Oct 3, 2003 5:32 AM
Are you suggesting that one income at $50K is OK for raising kids? I couldn't do it. Maybe I'm spoiled?

Not that many people don't do it, I'm just not convinced it's right.
about anywhere would work.dr hoo
Oct 3, 2003 6:08 AM
50k is above the median HOUSEHOLD income in america. So if you make 50k, you are well into the top half of people in the nation.

For point of reference, 50k where I live is about 86-90k in los angeles, taking into account cost of living. On 50k here you can buy a solid house and send your kids to wonderful school. It's safe too.

The winters can be a bit long though. At least that keeps me fresh and eager to ride every spring!
Watch it with those stats!53T
Oct 6, 2003 6:34 AM
Don't confuse housholds with families with two kids. How many "housholds" have kids? I would like to think that a lot of housholds in the lower half of the income scale would hesitate before starting a family.

Who can raise kids on 90K (Gross) in Los Angeles (in the city)? I mean kids that will contribute, not sell crack and die at age 16.
Since our friendly feminists villified domestic aspirations128
Oct 2, 2003 6:23 AM
(and the masculists effeminize housedad)and our Captains of Industry export jobs and plunder the profit margin, 'stay at home' mom is endangered and a living family wage now takes two.

Culture and society suffer; neighborhoods need daytime adulting.

Note: I do not know what masculist is and femisism is generally 'a good thing' imo. I just think berating women for wanting to have children and raise them is wrong.

If one person can't finance the family, maybe the family should become the purview of the wealthy. You know, means testing for...uh oh, I sense a slippery slope here.
Have you ever heard someone berate a woman for staying home?Kristin
Oct 3, 2003 6:17 AM
I've never heard or read of any person (feminist or otherwise) berating women who choose for themselves to quit work to raise children. I've heard the opposite. My boss believes openly that women belong at home and not in the workplace. No lie. He's said that to me...a 33 year old single, professional woman in his employ. Scary?

I would suspect that these beratements are extremely rare at best. More likely, they are the invention of some religious-right, anti-feminist group atemptting to villanize the feminists movement. I could be wrong.

Regarding your final point. If one person can't finance the family alone, and it is the choice of that couple to have only one income, then perhaps they should dely parenthood until they are able to do it the way they want to. I digress. I've made that point already.
Major plank of the radical feminist 'movement' (70's 80's)128
Oct 3, 2003 11:47 AM
to assert essentially that 'houswives'( to use the prejorative) were a sell out to the paternalistic oppressive regime of marriage.

A sad (imo)part of the (radical) feminist movement was to cast western traditional female roles and even feminiity itself as a gross, self-induced under-achievment.

I agree with you that there is the other issue of men (and women) believing women should be (only) in the home. That is just as noxious in my view.

My point is that it should be ok to choose to be a stay at home mother/father. Not an expectation and not a guilt trip if you do.

To critique my own point of view though: why should women be allowed greater discretion to enter and exit the work place due to child rearing 'choices'? Is that unfair to say men, lesbians or the economy? I.e 'women want to be treated equally until they are', they don't want equality, they want more choice.

Your final point echo's mine in substance (I think). But I went a step further to the logical absurd that then only weathly may reproduce. Fair outcome? Democratic?
No one has also mentioned the earning potential theKristin
Oct 3, 2003 6:01 AM
The stay-at-home parent still has some earning potential. The first 3 years are a wash, of course. You live for your child, you sleep when you can. Hopefully, you find opportunities to relish some extra perks on your husband/wife who now has the frightening burden of carrying the whole load. But after the age of 4, your kids have some abilities and are teachable. Why not take on small jobs that they can help with? Paper Routes, Christmas gift purchasing/wrapping service (very marketable to wealthy families), small jobs on a local organic farm, etc... This can teach your child about the value of working, value of hard work, integrity, structure. And they can bring in some cash. And after the kids go into 1st grade, you can take on a part time job that will net at least 10K / year. Unless you are having 3+ kids, its not that long.
you are right about the $ColnagoFE
Oct 2, 2003 7:29 AM
Maybe a little high, but not much off. My wife is a personal trainer and can only train so many people because our youngest only gets 2 hours a day in the gym's daycare. If she paid for daycare outside of that she would pretty much be breaking even after paying the sitter/daycare so what's the point? And she could be making about $50 an hour training so I can't see how some poor person making $7 and hour could justify daycare unless it was subsidized enough to make it worth working. You also have to take into account that not everyone loves sitting around watching the kiddos, Oprah and doing laundry all day long. Nothing wrong with the wife (or husband as the case may be) having some time away from the little ones as long as it isn't excessive. It can actually be healthy. It is not always a blissful experience dealing with a 2 year olds tantrums all day long. My wife says some of her most peaceful moments of the day are when she is working.
Depends on how many kids are in and where they live.Kristin
Oct 2, 2003 7:43 AM
Here's a blurb I just pulled off a website on daycare costs:

"A recent study by the Children's Defense Fund compares prices for the average annual daycare of 12-month-olds throughout the country. In Lee County, S.C., care costs $3,380 per year. In Boston, Mass., that figure is a hefty $12,978.

As a former personal financial councilor, I can tell you that staying home with your kids is financially doable. I've counciled a number of young families where the mom preferred to leave the workforce and stay with her children; but they feared it was impossible. We helped them work out budgets by which they could stay home. These are balanced budgets, and didn't not require the accumulation of any debt.

Of course this depends somewhat on the couples financial position before they have children. If a couple buys too much house or car, or racks up lots of credit card balances, then decides to have a baby...well these aren't very wise parents. They will struggle no matter what they decide about work. Please only have babies if you can afford them! I can't tell you how many people have come in for help because they racked up 30 grand on the Platnium card and then decided to have 2 kids. Community college for Junior!!

The decision for a mother (or father) to stay home should be based on preferance, not necessity. Raising your kids full time is not always the best option for parents. A high-level executive mother may not want to sacrifice her position on the totem pole to stay at home. And her salary can far exceed the costs of the best day care facilities. Additionally, some women just don't do well as stay-at-home moms. I've had girlfriends quit their jobs, only to return to the work force the following year, because they were climbing the walls.