6 Childcare Options for Working Parents

by TTMK on October 7, 2013 · 9 comments

daycare_optionsA generation ago, the question of what to do for childcare was more simple one than it is today.  Mothers stayed home with kids.  Sure, there were some alternate arrangements.  However, when kids were young, their mother was home to raise them in a majority (but not all) cases.

Today, our society is clearly different.  There are professional work opportunities for both genders, and it seems like families with both parents working is kind of the norm.  At least, that’s how it seems with the majority of people I know.

This brings about that question again, about how to handle childcare.  In a household where both parents have been working, people have choices to make.  What are some of the options?

Here are 6 childcare options for working parents to consider:

Conventional Day Care

In this case, parents drop off their kids in the morning, and generally have to pick them up by early evening.  6:00pm seems to be a deadline for some that I’ve seen.

One advantage that I see here, based on my own experience with my youngest in day care, is that they get the benefit of socializing with other kids.  As we know, it’s vital to build social skills for success in life, much less survival.  Kids in day care get exposure to other kids.  In a good day care, the behavior of kids is watched so it’s a safe place for all.

Also, kids can get involved in learning activities, and in a good care have the ability to use good facilities and toys.  Being exposed to a variety of enrichment opportunities can be great for a kid.

A downside that some day care centers might have would be that kids won’t get one-on-one attention like they could in other cases.  Little kids are far more demanding than older ones in terms of needing minute-by-minute attention, and they would have to share this attention with other kids.

Plus, day care centers can be extremely expensive.   I worked with someone younger than I, just out of college, who chimed in with his opinion on how people complain too much about childcare costs.  I told him that many day care centers will cost well north of $1,000 per month, and he was floored.  Actually, he thought I was kidding.  His assumption was that it would be more like $150 to $200 per month.  All you can do is laugh sometimes 🙂

Home Day Care

In this case, kids are cared for at a “day care” out of someone’s home.  I know some people who have done this, where the kids are being watched at someone’s place by a day care provider.  Instead of being at a center, the kids are at a home and get the benefits of homemade food as well as more personalized attention.  Additionally, there can be some flexibility as the providers aren’t franchised locations aren’t franchised locations; rather, they are individuals operating out of their home.

Cost could be cheaper than an actual day care center as well, which can be a plus.  However, you do want to be sure that the person running it has the proper licensing, and it seems like a really good idea to get solid referrals.  Additionally, some of the benefits of being an actual, bigger facility won’t be there in many cases.   There might be something appealing and reassuring to some families to send a kid to a known entity for care, as opposed to a “mom and pop” business.

Nanny

While this is not a route I’ve taken, I do know people who have done this.  The nanny provides private, dedicated care to the kid(s).  There aren’t other kids to siphon the caretaker’s attention; yours will get all of her energy and focus.

The people I’ve spoken to who have had a nanny have kept regular working hours for her.  The nanny would come to their home in the morning, and stay there until the designated end of her workday in the early evening.   She would be responsible for taking care of the kids in all aspects during the morning and day.  There is the benefit of dedicated attention as well as daily convenience.

With just one child, a nanny would be a more expensive option than the first two cases.  A couple I know paid over $2,500 per month for their nanny. With multiple kids, this cost might increase a bit but could be lowered on a cost per child basis.  Also, it’s not like going to some established business like a day care center.  Getting a nanny requires more legwork and careful interviewing by parents, and the nanny could quit and leave you scrambling if you didn’t expect it.  So, while there are possible advantages, there are also possible disadvantages.

Grandparent

Yes, I know people who do this too.  The advantages here are the kid will get loving attention from family.  Who will give a kid more focused, attentive care than grandma?  Plus, there is most likely going to be a ton of flexibility.  After all, it’s her own kid who will be one of the child’s parents, right?

This being said, grandparents might not have the energy level that little kids often require of a caregiver.  Plus, there could be some conflicts involved with having your parent or in-law watching a kid.  Furthermore, will the child get the exposure other kids that he or she could get in other arrangements?

Stay at Home Mom

Okay, I know we said that this was all about working parents.  However, maybe leaving the workforce is the best option for some mothers, in certain cases.  Perhaps the differential between income of the working mother and cost of daycare might be so low that it just isn’t profitable to be working?  After all, if a person makes $60,000 per year as an example, but it would cost $30,000 per year to send 2 kids to day care, the real take home income is much less.   Of course, the cost of dropping out of the workforce can be high though.

Nevertheless, despite what pressures society applies, along with other double standards for working mothers, there is nothing wrong with choosing to be a stay at home Mom.  Who is going to provide better care for a child than Mom?  Besides, it just might be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling for her, much more so than working.

Stay at Home Dad

I could have just as easily labeled the above option as “stay at home parent”, and changed the rest of the 2 paragraphs to be gender-neutral.  But, I thought that some people might just assume parent meant mother when it comes to staying at home.  Thus, it seemed appropriate to separate them in order to make sure that stay at home dads were noted as a legitimate options.

In a similar fashion, there are societal pressures and double standards for stay at home dads.  While I personally don’t know too many men staying home as primary caretakers of kids, I’m sure that many that do are great at it and enjoy it immensely.

My Questions for You

Which of these options, either as a parent and/or a kid, have you been involved with?

Do you see one of these as being the best option? Conversely, is there one that you see as the least desirable to you?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin @ Growing Family Benefits October 7, 2013 at 7:00 am

We went the stay at home route for mom. The childcare cost gobbled up most of mom’s income so the choice was very easy. Plus, her heart was to be at home with the kids – at least in the beginning.

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TTMK October 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Yes, if it comes down to effectively working for free after deducting childcare costs, it makes the decision easier.

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Michelle October 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

We plan on being work-at-home parents. I think it will be what works best for us!

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TTMK October 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

That’s great to be thinking ahead

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Money Beagle October 8, 2013 at 10:10 am

My wife stays at home. The reason this worked so well for us is that we had actually discussed this long before we had kids, actually even before we were engaged. So, knowing that we were on the same page, we knew what we were eventually planning for, and our decisions regarding the home we bought and other expenses we undertook were always done with the idea in mind that my wife’s income would eventually not be there. In fact, after we found out we were pregnant, we slowly took her paycheck out of the household budget, and used it exclusively to pay extra on student loan debt. This was doubly advantageous for us as the transition was seamless once she left her job, and we knocked out a considerable portion of one of the loans in the process.

The point being, the ‘stay at home’ approach takes planning well in advance.

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TTMK October 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Well done, Money Beagle! Great example of teamwork and discussing things from the beginning in order to jointly move in the same direction.

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Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia October 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

We currently go the conventional day care route. You summed that option up pretty accurately especially how expensive it is. Actually, around here, $1,000/month (for one child) is CHEAP! I think eventually we are going to have to switch to a home day care provider, but it’s tough making that switch because finding a trustworthy, reliable provider seems somewhat challenging (at least for emotional reasons). One additional drawback to conventional day care is that your kid is exposed to a bunch of sicknesses. I suppose that might be good to build up a strong immune system, but they’ll constantly be bringing germs home.

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TTMK October 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Yes, I know what you mean about $1,000/month being cheap. I too thought that as I finished writing the post! In reality, many places do charge much more for daycare. It can be a shock for 1st time parents, but that’s pretty much the deal. Good points on the germs, there are pros and cons to that aspect.

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Mike November 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

If your employer offers a Dependent Flexible Spending Account it will make paying for daycare expenses a little less tough.

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