Child Care Is Crazy Expensive For Everyone So Stop Saying ‘Don’t Have Kids You Can’t Afford’

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shutterstock_154420619__1383843374_142.196.156.251A report released this week proved that the cost of child care exceeded the cost of rent, mortgage payments and food for most families. That makes child care the single highest expense for many households with kids. I’ve often wondered how on earth people afford to put their kids in daycare, since it’s something my family has yet to find the budget for.

Here are some interesting findings from the report:

The cost of full-time center-based care for two children is the highest single household expense in the Northeast, Midwest and South. In the West, the cost of child care for two children is surpassed only by the cost of housing in the average family budget.

The cost of child care fees for two children exceeded housing costs for homeowners with a mortgage in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded annual median rent payments in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

In every region of the United States, average child care fees for an infant in a child care center were higher than the average amount that families spent on food.

Whenever I talk about my trouble with finding affordable care for my kids, there is inevitably the “don’t have kids you can’t afford” argument. Well, I hate that argument. Because, really? Only the wealthy are entitled to reproduce? What in the hell kind of world is that to be living in? Now that we know that childcare exceeds almost every other expense all across the country except the West – to which it is second to only housing payments – it’s obvious that there is a huge problem here – for everyone, not just lower income families.

Even the average annual cost of care for a 4-year-old, in a center, which is less expensive than care for an infant, was higher than public college costs in 19 states and the
District of Columbia.

In 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college.

Seriously? It used to be that parents spent their child’s entire young life saving and planning for their college education. Now, they are expected to make the same financial commitment with their toddlers. Wow. Bookending the raising of children with insurmountable expenses seems counterintuitive to supporting families and raising functional members of society. It seems like everyday there is a new study about how badly we’re screwing our kids up by being stressed all the time. How can we not be?

Not everyone was born bathed in gold. I think it’s pretty ridiculous that so many of us are in a debt trap that is just getting worse and worse every year. God forbid we complain about it – then we’re just told not to reproduce, which is a really helpful argument.

(photo: alexyndr/ Shutterstock)


  1. JLH1986

    November 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    The hubs and I are TTC and we are comfortable. We want for nothing, can afford to eat out on occasion, pay our bills etc. And child care would strap us, a lot. We don’t have family in a position to help nor could one of us not work. Its not the kid and what comes with it for survival. It’s making sure they are safe when not in our care that costs so much!

    • Surly Canuck

      November 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      Seriously! We’re also TTC and a quick look at the daycare near us nearly turned my hair white. It makes me miss Quebec and their $5 a day daycare.

    • Véronique Houde

      November 7, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      well, it’s 7$ now 😉 but when you go to a private daycare, even if it’s technically 35$ a day, with all of the subsidies and tax credits, it comes out to 6$ only.

    • Surly Canuck

      November 8, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Oops my bad! When I moved away, it was still $5. It’s still a great deal. Now I’m all misty-eyed for Montreal.

    • alice

      November 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      same here. we’re on the cusp of TTC and i’m horrified.

      sidenote: am i the only person who is NOT planning to save for a college fund for my future kids? sigh.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      nope, me too. College is such a bubble, even if you TRIED you’d probably end up so short. Add to the fact that the more you save the more you are penalized.

    • Amanda

      November 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      You are not alone. Frankly, that’s the smart financial choice. You’re supposed to put that money towards your own retirement so you don’t saddle your kids with all sorts of expenses when you’re old. There are a lot of things that can happen with college before then, it’s best to see where things are at in 15 years (when my daughter goes to college).

    • Guest

      November 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      No, you’re not alone. There is absolutely no way I will subsidize my child’s adulthood. Midnight on their 18th birthday they become an adult. Any legal, financial, or other things they incur are theirs alone. College and weddings pay for it yourself. Can’t afford it? Get a job. Any financial planner will tell you, your retirement planning trumps everything.

    • Yves

      November 7, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      I’m struggling to pay my own student loans and will still be paying on them in 25 years when they get “forgiven” under the income based repayment plan. So sorry to my kids, but they’re on their own just like I was since I’m still paying my own college costs! Plus by the time they go to college it’ll cost like 200,000/year or something outrageous anyway lol
      Plus I think going to college (for me) was kind of useless anyway and just saddled me with tons of debt. So won’t encourage them to get a useless BA degree but go for something technical, job training, etc…basically something they can get a job in!

    • Zettai

      November 8, 2013 at 9:59 am

      I won’t be doing this either. It’s up to the kid to get the best grades they can for a scholarship and/or get a job or financial aid after graduation. If they want college they have to earn it and hopefully they’ll appreciate it more when they do.

    • Elizabeth Licata

      November 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      Yeah. Some of my friends really wanted to go back to work after having kids, but they couldn’t afford it because the cost of childcare for two kids was more than the lower-earning partners could feasibly make. And it wasn’t like they were particularly low earning, it was just that childcare is that expensive. I was shocked when they told me.

    • Aimee Beff

      November 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Ugh, it’s so true. When we thought this was a single pregnancy we were going to be financially comfortable still after I went back to work; after we found out it was twins there’s going to be a lot less “comfortable” involved. 🙁 It’s just not worth it for me to lose 5 years of career growth though, and there will hopefully be future raises/childcare will get a bit cheaper when the twins aren’t babies anymore …

  2. AE Vorro

    November 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    It’s unjust and it’s infuriating. If we had nationalized childcare, something like every tax dollar we invested would be returned at least threefold. (And this is from someone who has no kids and never will!) This kind of change would benefit all. It would be the smartest investment for our country.

  3. Mai

    November 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    I would be interested in what you think the solution should be? I worked in a daycare for over a year. I was paid a little over min wage. Daycare workers need money too. 😉

    • Amanda

      November 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      That’s the thing that drives me up a wall, you should have a decent wage but jeez it’s expensive. I mean, I want the people looking after my kid to be high quality but I need to afford them as well. I don’t know what the solution is.

    • CMJ

      November 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Nationalized/ government subsidized child care. I don’t think anyone thinks workers should be paid less….in fact, I would wager most people think workers should be paid MORE.

    • EX

      November 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      I agree with this 100%. Cue the cries of “socialists!!”

    • CMJ

      November 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      Oh god, I don’t even care if you call me a socialist. If you gave me nationalized childcare, healthcare, and government mandated maternity leave I would get “Socialist” tattoed on my butt.

    • keelhaulrose

      November 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      It amazes me to see all these other countries that have national healthcare, subsidized child care, all that and they’re doing fine, but people here scream socialism and cry it’ll be too much.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Which countries are you talking about?

    • EX

      November 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      I knew we could count on you to join the debate!

    • keelhaulrose

      November 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Denmark would be a great start for you to look at, where childcare and universal healthcare are ‘entitlements’.
      Finland is another. Both economies are in decent shape even with “crazy” entitlements.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      I think that these countries are able to have success for two reasons: homogenous and small populations, and very high taxes, for EVERYONE, including the lowest income brackets.

    • keelhaulrose

      November 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      They also pay people in those ‘low’ income brackets enough that they can survive getting equal percentage of taxes taken out and not starve. And that means the uber-rich are paying the same percentage, and if you think they’re doing that here you’re not worth my time. They fight for every freaking dime, and pay a pittance compared to someone making $70,000 a year.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      The biggest difference here is that the unemployment rate in Denmark is low, and that again, the lowest brackets pay taxes. Here, the effective tax rate for the lowest quintile is 2%.

    • keelhaulrose

      November 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      And here the people getting that 2% are making enough to get them from paycheck to paycheck… maybe.
      I wonder what our unemployment would be if we didn’t reward companies for sending jobs and money overseas.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Please explain, what “reward”? Do you mean “…if we didn’t punish companies by keeping jobs here with oppressive tax codes?”

    • Aimee Beff

      November 7, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      Yes, our tax code is sooooo oppressive to those poor companies. ;___;

    • Annona

      November 7, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Yeah, you know what…I pay taxes. My husband and I own our own business, we’re not wealthy (lower end middle class, I’d guess. Not starving, but not taking vacations either) and our taxes every year make me sick just thinking about it. But you know what makes me sicker? Listening to some drunk asshole real estate investor at a meeting a few years ago talking about how the “trick” to paying less taxes once you clear a million bucks profit in one year is “creative accounting” that he’s willing to pay extra for. I pay my damn taxes, and as far as all the things they’re used for are concerned, subsidizing daycare is right up there with funding schools as something I can totally get behind. And if the super rich weren’t shirking their tax responsibilities, we could certainly afford it.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      The top 1% and the bottom 50% pay about the same amount in taxes, dollar-wise. How about 100% tax rate for the 1%? Would that pay for anything or make people happy?

    • AE Vorro

      November 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Yes! Thank you, yes! Warren Buffet said it best (paraphrased): there’s something wrong with our tax codes when I (a bazillionaire) am taxed higher than my secretary!

    • Guest

      November 7, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      AE Vorro, Warren Buffet stated that there is something wrong because he is taxed LOWER than his secretary and he is only a billionaire. There are people richer than him. The problem is that he is comparing apples to oranges. Secretary makes typical wages. Buffet earns his money from stocks. Completely different systems of taxation.

    • AE Vorro

      November 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      Doh, you’re right. Warren (and his fellow 1%er’s) only pay capital gains taxes and they are lower than income taxes. This is a disparity that needs to be rectified, for sure. I tripped over myself trying to say something more along the line of how unlike Eisenhower era, the top earners are still paying a disproportionally smaller amount than what’s heaped upon the middle and lower income brackets. Taxation back then for the top 1 and 2% of earners was close to 90% – it’s nowhere near that now.

    • m

      November 8, 2013 at 6:41 am

      Umm I’m not sure about Denmark, but here in Finland unemployment rate is about 12%, which doesn’t seem that low… And also my income is very low (I’m a student), so I don’t pay that much taxes (usually about 10% but this year 0% as I didn’t really do much work). My husband has a tax rate of something around 20%, since he makes more money.

      Anyway I’ll gladly pay higher taxes, as I don’t need to worry about getting sick and how to pay the bill, and also if I have kids the highest possible fee for childcare is 264 euros/month (it depends on your income).

    • Psych Student

      November 8, 2013 at 2:24 am

      Sweden and Norway also have very good social programs. I’m not sure if they have fully government funded everything, but they are just amazing countries!

    • Mystik Spiral

      November 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Unfortunately we’re too busy making sure that women can’t get safe affordable abortions, minimum wage workers can’t get affordable health care and gay people can’t get married. I have an idea – rescind tax-exempt status from churches. They may not be able to get those new stained-glass windows, but America’s youth might finally be able to compete with the rest of the developed world.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      hey, I think that there should be NO exemptions, and that all tax returns should be simple enough to fit on an index card. But we spend the most $$ by far on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid by FAR. A LOT more than defense, actually.

    • EX

      November 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      I always think it’s funny when someone suggests nationalized this that or the other thing and the conservatives cry “socialism” but they have no problem driving on our socialized interstates, or being protected by socialized law enforcement.

    • Andrea

      November 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      People say socialist like it is a dirty word. Like it means you wanna be on the governmet’s tit all your life. What it DOES mean is that the govt provides for things like healthcare, childcare, and other things that benefit the public good. You know instead of the monstrous military infrastructure and tax breaks for corporations.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      Or you know, more on SS and Medicare/Medicaid, which is already 3x the cost of defense in today’s budget

    • Psych Student

      November 8, 2013 at 2:32 am

      I love being a socialist. I very much want the government to have it’s hands in my food (FDA), my environment (EPA), my roads/bridges, my health care (though not stopping me from making decisions), my parental leave, etc. It works well in other countries and I want that here.

    • Mai

      November 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      I am not sure nationalizing it is a great solution either. The money has to come from somewhere and this would mean even more taxes on everyone.

    • Surly Canuck

      November 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Actually the numbers in Quebec showed that subsidized daycare helped the economy because more women came back to the workforce and could pay higher taxes. Basically it pays for itself.

    • TLeaves

      November 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Maybe it needs to start at the state level, instead of going immediately to the national level for solutions. That is why state governments exist.

    • AE Vorro

      November 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      No. Far from it. Our peer countries (as in, not developing nations) who do nationalize have proven that for something like every $1 they spend on childcare, the taxpayers get back $3 in the long run. It reduces other services and gives families more money to spend on other things, which grows the economy and creates more tax dollars to spend.

    • EX

      November 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      The frustrating thing is that a bill nationalizing child care passed congress in 1971 but was vetoed by Nixon. It’s just so frustrating because it’s hard to imagine a bill like that passing again.

    • JimW

      November 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Hm… I just had this discussion with my wife this morning. We were lucky, she was able to work evenings and I days. She even took in a couple of children while ours, 3, approached school age. Easiest way to loose friends is to watch their kids. Once our children were in school she went back to school and became a teacher, a more awesome and dedicated teacher there can not be. So our discussion was on child care, as we now have a grandchild and my daughter and husband, yes they got married, do not have the luxury of different shifts. She proposed that it should be part of the school system. I meantioned that that is only 6 hours or so, She said the school day needs to be extended, they try to pack way too much into 6 hrs. What about summers I asked, she said the infrastructure is already their and empty. Evenings? The same… So we’re not proposing s socialist approach but a manageble, sustainable and monitorable solution. I personnaly believe that their should be some sort of tax break to make up for the thankless and minimum pay that the providers that handle our most precious family members receive. Sorry long post, run on sentences and all, too bad no spell chk…

  4. suzzyq

    November 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I am an American who lives in Canada, we have $7 a day daycare that allows mothers to stay in the workforce and return money to the economy. Maybe government subsidized daycare isn’t so bad.

    • allisonjayne

      November 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      I wish I spoke French better, I really do. I live in Ontario and am very jealous.

    • allisonjayne

      November 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      Although, someone I know is a daycare inspector in Ontario. She told me that (and I might be getting the numbers wrong but it’s something around this) that there are something like 8 daycare inspectors in the city in which she lives…and 8 total in the entire province of Quebec. So that’s food for thought I guess.

      A friend of mine recently moved from Ontario to Quebec, and she said she feels like she is just floating in money now. But she did say the quality isn’t quite the same. Not that it’s bad – she still feels completely comfortable with the level of care her son receives – but it’s just not quite as awesome as the daycare he was at in Ontario.
      There should be some kind of balance between the two though.

    • Véronique Houde

      November 7, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      I think that’s just about an individual day care… Not a generalized experience.

    • allisonjayne

      November 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

      That’s true.

  5. Marisa

    November 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Add to this the horror stories about daycare and it compounds the problem; not only is it difficult to afford, but even if you can, it might be to send your child into an environment of danger and neglect. So, maybe you look into private babysitting, but be prepared to pay as much per hour as you make (or more). So, maybe you look into staying at home (like that’s an option), applying for government assistance (What are you, lazy?), or coordinating your schedule with the other parent (if they’re in the picture) so one of you is always available (while your relationship quietly dies). You’re damned no matter what you do, so it’s a hell of a good thing you love that little person/disaster like breathing…

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      November 7, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      We’re in the coordinating schedules position. It is definitely taxing on a relationship, but we make it work by having the same days off and squeezing “quality time” wherever we can. The child care in this country is atrocious.

  6. EX

    November 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    When I did my taxes this year and entered the amount paid in child care my tax software actually stopped me to double check if this was correct because the amount “seems high.” I only have one kid! I laughed. It’s not every day that doing your taxes is so funny.

    • historychick79

      November 8, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Yeah, that $5000 deduction is helpful, don’t get me wrong. But in terms of comparison to actual costs it is a joke.

  7. keelhaulrose

    November 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I worked in daycares for years. Even the cheapest one was nothing I could have afforded with any other job, the only way I could afford to have mine in daycare was it was reduced-cost for workers.
    I remember saying once, at a meeting where they were announcing new prices, saying “who is going to pay $285 a week for an infant?” in shock. The reply: “People who want to keep their jobs.”

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      I’ve always thought, based on simple economics, that people will pay for daycare up to the amount that breaks even for them to be working.

    • keelhaulrose

      November 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      I talked to a couple parents about it once. One family had five kids in our center, they were paying over $1,000 a week for their daycare. The mom told me it was less than what she was making, but she felt she had to stay working because she couldn’t afford to leave her profession for a few years, she’d be replaced and have a hard time finding employment in that field again. I was shocked that there were a good number of people in that situation. In today’s job market you just don’t quit unless you really have to, or you feel confident that you can re-enter the workforce when it’s time.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      November 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      Right, so even though her entire salary may go toward paying for childcare while her kids are young, she at least has the security of having a job when the kids are older and in school and require less childcare. This is what I am pretty much going through now. Hoping that I will be making more money at about the same time my son is in school full time and would only require childcare after school which would be far less than what I’m paying now.

    • keelhaulrose

      November 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      So many industries have such a tough job market nowadays that even a three year absence, which would save a fair amount in daycare, puts someone on par with those entering the field for the first time. And anyone who has looked at job listings recently knows that there are lots of jobs that have “experience necessary” as part of the qualifications, and the “current” is somewhat implied.

    • AP

      November 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      I read somewhere that if you leave the job market for six months, your chances of getting hired back into your field are almost nil. Six months isn’t even that much time, when you figure all the reasons someone might be unemployed.

    • Alex

      November 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      That “break even” point isn’t just financial though, there is often an emotional cost (greater or lesser) to working vs daycare. I have a friend in NYC whose family’s cash flow would come out slightly ahead if she went back to work and put their 8-month old in daycare. However, since her husband earns a comfortable enough income to support them, the cost of leaving the child in the watch of a (relative) stranger for 30-40 hrs a week and missing out on that bonding isn’t worth a few extra hundred bucks a month to them.

      So yes, people will pay for daycare up to the point where the cost is greater than the benefit, but the costs/benefits aren’t all dollars and cents.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      I agree with you very much. I think it’s easier to quantify simple dollars and cents though. But everything adds up, especially emotional and personal thoughts.

  8. TheGiantPeach

    November 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I am so beyond grateful that I live in an area where quality daycare is actually affordable. Our monthly daycare costs are less than the mortgage, food bill, car payments, car insurance, and student loan payments. I spend more per month on gas than I do on childcare (my commute is 100 miles a day).

    • Bethany Ramos

      November 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      100 miles, wowza! I live in a small town outside of a city and am also glad to have found cheap childcare. Thank God, because we’ll be paying for 2 for a few years!

  9. Alex

    November 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    As dismissive as “don’t have kids you can’t afford” might seem, I don’t think it’s completely unfounded. No, it’s NOT a permanent solution to the lack of quality and affordable childcare and/or decent paternity/maternity leave. No, it should NOT be used as a collective justification to keep the aforementioned options unfeasible for many (most) families.

    But on an individual level, it’s tough for me to pretend that it’s a good idea for someone who is admittedly already struggling financially to have a (or another) child.

    I’m sorry that the deck is stacked against you and I support evening the odds as much as anyone; but in the meantime, this may not be the way to play your hand.

    • Psych Student

      November 8, 2013 at 12:20 am

      I rather agree. While it is harsh and perhaps hurtful to tell people not to have kids they can’t afford, there is something to be said for not having 2, 3, or 8 children if you have no money, are living in your parents house and can’t afford to buy food and diapers for your children, then you shouldn’t be having any more. I am a huge believer in social support, national heath care, welfare, national child care, etc., but people still need to stop having additional babies if they can’t afford the ones they already have. I guess what I really want though is for people to have fewer “accidents”. More sex ed., more birth control, and more planned pregnancies. At least if you’re thinking about getting pregnant, you’ve probably been thinking about what some of the costs are and how you might manage them. It would be nice if there could be free financial counseling for women getting prenatal care to help them figure out how best to support their upcoming child. *sigh* A girl can dream.

    • Angela

      November 8, 2013 at 12:42 am

      I completely agree that finances need to factor into family planning. But in general this argument is applied to kids that have already been born. It’s one thing to advise couples to make sure they can afford kids before they conceive and another thing entirely to tell struggling parents that they never should have had kids. For one thing it’s supremely unhelpful and for another just because you’re in a position to afford children when they’re born does not guarantee that circumstances won’t change.

  10. TwentiSomething Mom

    November 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    The thing that is most infuriating is, childcare workers make far less than public school teachers do yet childcare costs so much. So not only are you dishing out the equivalent (or more) for childcare compared to your rent or mortgage, your kids are being cared for by people that are underpaid, over worked and not as qualified to work with children as a teacher would be.

    Most families send their kids to daycare because both parents (if there are 2 at home) have to work. Many parents can’t afford to not work, work part time or do not have the opportunity to work from home.

    Women cannot afford (and should not have to!) drop out of the workforce to care for children. I think once its fully realized in this country that everyone benefits when more people are in the workforce, especially women, then we can talk about some sort of reform.

    • NYBondLady

      November 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      It’s tough. Theoretically, How can women seek a highly qualified childcare provider, yet at the same time not want to pay for it? Imagine being a highly qualified child care provider…
      Anyway, at least this time is only a few years, and then they go to school.

    • FF4life

      November 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      All childcare providers should be “highly qualified” but it shouldn’t break peoples backs to pay for. If your whole paycheck goes to childcare what’s the point. With that mentality only the wealthy can afford to work and have kids at the same time.

  11. anon87

    November 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I worked at a brand new, very expensive daycare in Ontario for almost 2 years. They were so new they didn’t offer subsidizing yet. It was $237/week for a preschool/kindergarten child, and $255/week for a toddler. I was paid $10.25 hour, and we were not provided any facilities to heat/cool/store our own lunches. There were over 100 children at that daycare, they were rolling in money. Despite that, our art supplies were limited because the owner didn’t like anything messy (chalk was banned). She bought the absolute bare minimum each week for each meal/snack, we often ran out of food. She once asked me why I would rent an apartment, why wouldn’t I get a mortgage. I almost laughed in her face, how would I afford a house on $10.25/hour, with no increase in sight. There are huge problems with the cost of child care, the wages that child care workers earn, and the competence levels of the people working in the child care field. I feel for the parents that have to struggle to pay for child care, and I feel for the people who actually get diplomas/degrees to pursue ECE/ECA work because they are passionate about children, and in turn make peanuts.

    • AP

      November 7, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      I suspect part of the reason childcare workers are paid so little is that the average parent thinks, “Well, why would I pay someone $20/hour to watch Timmy when I can just do it FOR FREE?” Really, they’d have to calculate their lost wages as the hourly childcare fee, but I doubt most people mentally make that jump.

    • Rachel

      November 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      I’ve babysat since before having kids (still do, occasionally) and now my toddler receives part time care, so I, like many, have been on both sides. I think rates that many individuals charge for childcare are completely ridiculous. What goes through my mind when determining this is not “OH I CAN DO IT FOR FREE” but rather, how far is my money going? Is this person educated in child development? Is s/he qualified to help my child with languages/reading/writing/tutoring? Does s/he intellectually stimulate and actively entertain my child?

      I know that there are some very epic child care providers out there who do all of these things and more, and they tend to command significantly higher wages (and rightfully so). But most individuals will engage the kids to some degree, but spend a significant amount of their time texting, browsing the internet, or going about their daily lives. Why should someone get $20, or even $10 an hour for that?

      I live on a military base, and the ads some would-be childcare provider ads some people post are ridiculous. They have zero qualifications whatsoever–aside from being capable of keeping a child alive and un-maimed–yet, I should reimburse them my potential lost wages (if I were working and not in school right now) as an intelligence analyst? For sitting on Facebook and telling their child not to hit mine or vice versa?

      When I was still active duty, I charged $5 an hour to watch someone’s 7-year-old and 4-month-old in the evenings so their mom could go to her MMA classes. That was her requested rate that I accepted because I just wanted to keep myself busy while my husband was deployed. The baby just needed holding + normal baby things, and the 7-year-old was content to ask me a million questions about how the world works. IMO, while I could have asked for more because I was watching two kiddos, the work I was doing really didn’t entitle me to much more.

      The tl;dr version of this is, people should really ask themselves if they’re deserving of certain wages for the quality of work they provide.

    • Rachel

      November 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      sorry for horrible sentence structure typos, need to sleep

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      November 8, 2013 at 11:05 am

      I know what you mean, people seem to think that once you agree to mind a child, they can pay peanuts.
      I was raised in a large family and at 23 I am the eldest.
      When I was 15 I managed to land a 4 day a week regular childminding job. I’d finish school at 4, go straight to this woman’s house and mind her kids until midnight.
      Four children, the eldest being 8 and the youngest being 3 months old.
      It never bothered me, and they paid me well and I grew to love these kids and minded their fifth when he came along too!

      Then they recommended me to a friend and I only minded the kids for her once, it was beyond a joke. I’d never met these kids before so I came prepared with my Goody Box (board games and charades, etc) four children as well, eldest was 12, youngest was 6. She wanted me to BATHE the two youngest girls!
      I compromised by letting them wash themselves in their swimsuits (I didn’t know these kids, I personally had no problem bathing them but they were clearly uncomfortable)
      All I asked was that there be bread so I could make a sandwich as I was coming straight from school and would have no meal until I got home.
      Well I was told she’d be home by midnight as well. Midnight turned into 2.30AM.
      We had agreed a rate of €7 an hour, give or take.
      When she came in, she gave no explanation, told me I’d have to call a taxi home (after saying she would drop me home) and handed me a €20 note.
      Then told me I could pay for my taxi with my “wages”.

      I never did any childminding for her again. I may have been young but I don’t think I was unreasonable, was I?

  12. G.E. Phillips

    November 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    My son has been in full time day care since he was 5 months old. I have been a single parent for almost his whole life, so I was fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it!) enough to qualify for state-funded aid for child care. I also received a private, need-based scholarship from the first daycare he attended for two of the three years he was there. Now that he’s over 3, he’s in a state-funded “school readiness” program which has a sliding-scale fee. I can’t express how lucky I feel to have had those options available to me. There are a lot of two-parent family households who don’t get those kinds of benefits. (Although I once had a married mom comment to me that she should divorce her husband so that she could pay what I pay for daycare, to which I responded, “Are you FUCKING kidding me?”)
    All of that being said, the assistance I received has brought the monthly cost of full time childcare for my son from $1500 a month to, on average, $600 a month. Needless to say, it would be literally impossible for me to be able to afford to work if I didn’t get the day care assistance.

  13. Blahblah

    November 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I did the math and realized that if we put our baby into child care, my partner’s whole check would go for that. It boggled my mind. How is that bringing us ahead at all?? We decided to do some shift scheduling that pretty much means we high five each other as one comes from work and the other leaves. I’m not looking forward to it.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      November 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      This is our schedule. A piece of advice if you can swing it is to arrange your days off together. It does make a difference.

  14. OhHeyDelilah

    November 7, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I agree that childcare is crazy expensive, and is prohibitively so for far too many people. Where I live in Sydney, daycare starts at $100 PER DAY, with most places around the $130 mark, although there is a means-tested rebate which can soften the blow somewhat.

    Having said that though, I always feel conflicted by the idea that not being able to afford kids isn’t a good reason for not having them. I understand the emotional element to it – that having the family you want should ideally not be a question of finances, and of course, having kids is good for the economy and so the government has a genuine incentive to step in and help – but I also think that, as with the rest of life, budgeting for the life we can afford versus the life we want is just something we have to do. My partner and I will only have one kid, because we cannot afford two. We can’t afford two kids in daycare – we can’t afford to move to a bigger apartment here to accommodate multiple children etc. That’s just the reality.

    That’s not to say I don’t agree that in many cases, governments could be doing more to support women and families. But when it’s a question of the ideal versus the reality, we’re sort of stuck living in the reality for now.

  15. CW

    November 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    This is why our country needs paid parental leave with healthcare coverage and job protection like all other First World countries have. I’m conservative, but I think it would probably be cost-effective in the long run because it would likely reduce government spending in other areas.

  16. jendra_berri

    November 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Daycare is around $1,500 a month at the centre near my house. It’s not fancy, but it’s safe and reasonable. That’s $18,000 a year, which incidentally is less than I paid for a year of college when I was earning my diploma 10 years ago. It’s also more than my current rent.
    There is a subsidy that I qualify for, which would knock it down to under $900. THAT I can afford. Not easily, but I can do it. But there is a wait list, like there is a wait list for the actual daycare. Yep.

    • pixie

      November 7, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      You paid over $18,000 a year for college over a decade ago? Eep! Was that at a publicly funded school or not?
      And yes, I have friends who work in ECE who talk about wait lists for daycares. It’s crazy.

    • jendra_berri

      November 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      LOL! Whoops, I meant to write MORE. It’s more than I spent on college (Which included tuition, supplies & living expenses as I left town)
      Good heavens, what a typo 😉

    • pixie

      November 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Oh! That’s good! 🙂
      Well not good that childcare is so expensive, but good that your college expenses weren’t that much!
      Though I do know that there are people who pay $18k and over a year nowadays, especially in co-op programs. *shudder* (My mom’s work gets co-op kids and they mention/complain about their tuition expenses – my mom doesn’t actively ask them what they pay -, and same with her coworkers who have kids in university)

  17. Yves

    November 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    My husband is staying home with our baby (due next month). I only get 6 or 8 weeks off and have to go back so I am also so relieved that my very tiny baby will be home with a parent and not being watched by a stranger. I work as a school nurse and love my job, although it is underpaid, and there is no way on god’s green earth we could afford $1000+/month for daycare (I bring home about $2300/month!) I really do not understand how people afford it! What is the secret? Is it only for people making 100K+/year?
    And sidenote: Why are childcare workers paid minimum wage when the cost to the centers is so exorbitant?

    • NYBondLady

      November 8, 2013 at 8:50 am

      Math is fun: say each person can watch 4 babies at 1,000 a month each. That’s 4k a month/48k a year. So Revenue: 48k. Expenses? Rent for the place, guessing maybe 1500-2000/month. Utilities 500/month. Other overhead maybe 500/month. So 2500 a month maybe. 4000-2500= 1500/ month to pay the employee. At these figures the center makes no money, and the employee is only earning 18k a year, about min wage.

  18. Lcferna

    November 8, 2013 at 12:58 am

    I know what you’re talking about. In my area of sydney, childcare starts at $100 a day, and goes up to $150. And the waiting lists just to get a place are crazy. Try 600 people on the waiting list at one centre. I applied for 7 centres when I found out I was pregnant. If I pay the average rate in my area of $120 a day x 5 days a week that’s $600 a week, or over $30 k a year. Thank god when I go back to full time work hubby is taking the reins on paid paternity leave( so grateful that his company agreed, and yes paid paternity leave like that is rare as hens teeth) ft for 3 months, cause I earn way more than he does. God forbid we have a second child, it would cost us my husband annual wage to pay for childcare!

    • Bethany Ramos

      November 8, 2013 at 8:23 am

      Okay, 30k is freaking outrageous. We pay for half-day daycare at a licensed in-home center for $100 a week. I just can’t even imagine how parents are expected to live and work like that.

  19. historychick79

    November 8, 2013 at 9:05 am

    My husband and I are one-and-done, largely due to our ages (he is approaching 40 and would like to optimistically retire someday), the delay we had having a child (unexplained miscarriages), and the fact that we could never afford two children in daycare at the same time; by the time our son is in school it’s just too late. We’re practical enough to know that the finances just won’t magically work out to make it happen (and that’s counting on being blessed with another baby being perfectly healthy, don’t add unexpected medical expenses to the debate…). The tough part is there is A LOT of social pressure to have at least two, because only children are emotionally stunted and broken and it’s selfish otherwise.And if you decide to not have kids at all because of money, well then clearly your priorities are in the wrong place. If you worry about others’ opinions in regards to children and family size, you really can’t win.

  20. Uk Mummy

    November 8, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Maria – I live in a tiny village in the UK,am a married middle aged mum of two primary school age children – and work full time shifts as a police officer – and I completely relate to this and all your other articles. We are only just getting back on track financially as a family now they are both in school full time.

  21. Nica

    November 8, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Having children is a privilege, not a right, and I think people lose sight of that. I’m a mom myself and not in support of government subsidized childcare. It would benefit me for about 5 years, probably minimally at that, and I’d be paying for it for the rest of my working years. No thanks. There are many other places I’d rather see my tax dollars spent first.
    I love to hear when US citizens want this service or that service because people in Canada or Europe have it, but then are the first to complain when taxes are increased to pay for all these services. You can’t have it both ways!!! I’m a believer in personal responsibility. I take care of myself and my family and believe others should do the same. The less government involvement, the better in my book.
    I knew full well what I was getting into financially when I decided to bring children in to this world and planned accordingly. I’m a mom of two and would like to have a third, but when my husband and I took a good, hard look at the numbers, we knew it wasn’t feasible without making considerable sacrifices which we’re not willing to make. So be it. Life isn’t perfect, things don’t always turn out the way you plan and you have to make the best of the hand you’re dealt.

  22. nycnanny2

    November 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I was a private nanny in NYC for 4 years. I got paid $1,000/week cash, plus holiday bonuses/gifts. I am 25. I have been making (and saving) more than any of my friends who graduated from top colleges.
    No idea how people afford childcare. I don’t want children.

  23. GPMeg

    November 13, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    People: So when are you and J having kids?!
    Me: When we can afford them…
    People: Oh, well, you can never really afford kids but you make it work!
    Me: Yeeeeeah, your kids left childcare about ten years ago so you do the research and get back to me on that.

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  25. MamaMar

    June 27, 2014 at 3:35 am

    This is why I’m a SAHM. After taxes, insurance, gas, parking, and vehicle maintenance, my pay wouldn’t even cover childcare for two kids. I’d be bringing no money in. All thanks, but I’ll cut back wherever I van and take care of my own kids.
    Also, living in the west our mortgage is half of what childcare expenses would be.

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