I'm going to step into some controversial ground now so I apologize in advance should I happen to offend anyone.
As some of you may already know, we operate a licensed childcare in our home. I am so grateful for our business and for the amazing families that entrust us to care for their precious children. I love each family as if they are an extension of my own. I believe they appreciate and love us too, as we usually have a child from 6 weeks old until kindergarten age. The low turnover rate tells me that we are doing something right here.
This business allows me to stay home with my babies while earning a living. Ultimately, this is the reason we choose to operate a daycare.
Now that I've said so much positive about my situation, I'm going to say something a little crazy......Get ready for it........
The Big Revelation
It often doesn't make sense for both parents to work outside of the home. I know, if it weren't for working parents, we wouldn't have a business. Crazy thing for me to say, right?
I do understand that not all parents are in a relationship, much less a supportive relationship with their child's other parent. So please take single parents out of this discussion for a moment. Or leave them in if you wish.
Childcare is Expensive!
One of the most compelling reasons for a parent of a small child to stay home with them is.....ME! Oh, I don't mean that a child won't get love and good care with a daycare provider. Although quality of care is a concern, we'll save that discussion for another time. I'm simply talking about the cost of childcare!
I don't know what the current national average childcare tuition is, however in our region of the nation, $100 to $200 weekly is a common range. This varies based on the age of the child and the type of facility. Centers are generally more expensive than in-home providers.
Our average fee is $150 a week. That adds up to $650 a month per child and a whopping $7,800 a year! That is ONE child.
Is it Worth Your Time?
You can do some simple calculating to decide whether working outside of the home is worth it for you and your family. I'll give you an example situation based on a mother of a child enrolled in our daycare. For the sake of privacy, she will remain anonymous. Her income is based on $10 an hour - 40 hours a week.
Mom's Income and Job Related Expenses-
Income - $400.00 $1,733.00
Deduct Income Taxes -$ 58.00 $ 251.00
Net Income weekly $342.00 $1,482.00
Childcare fees -$130.00 $ 563.33
Cost of fuel -$ 32.94 $ 137.24
Insure 2nd vehicle -$ 30.32 $ 131.42
Loan on 2nd car -$ 46.15 $ 200.00
Net Income $102.59 $ 450.01
As you can see, my anonymous daycare mother was ultimately contributing only $102.59 a week toward the household income. That calculates out to approximately $2.56 an hour!
These figures aren't taking into consideration her commute time, nor the money she was spending for lunches and convenience foods. Also not being included in these calculations are the money that she spent on professional clothing, haircuts, etc. I suspect if we were able to factor in those numbers, she likely would be spending money, instead of making money to work.
With our encouragement, this family made the very wise decision to have Mom stay home with their baby. Now, convenience foods and eating out are the exception in their household instead of the rule. The whole family is eating healthier because Mom has time to prepare home cooked meals and pack a lunch for Dad. Dinner time is now a relaxing experience for them instead of the mad rush it used to be.
They sold their 2nd vehicle and are getting by with one until they save enough cash to purchase a quality used vehicle. This is huge savings for them each month.
Mom said she feels much more at peace being with her baby. And although she worries about money still, the extra money savings they've realized just in their weekly grocery bill alone more than make up for that $102 she gave up.
Being a stay at home parent can be a career to be very proud of. Sometimes we let society's expectations tell us how we should live our lives. We may feel we aren't contributing if we don't have a job. We might buy into the stereotype of the lazy "bon bon" eating wife and let that turn us off to the idea. But as you can see, NOT working can actually add income to your family's budget. Just remember the old adage, a penny saved is a penny earned.
To take the step to become a stay at home parent is a big decision. I believe both Mom and Dad must be supportive of the idea. Both must see the value that a stay-at-home parent adds. The stay-at-home parent should understand the importance of their position and realize the impact they are capable of having on the household budget.
So, if you've been contemplating staying at home with your child(ren), or if you've wondered if your family will ever get ahead, even though you are both working hard, you should put pencil to paper and calculate your actual take home earnings. You might be surprised at how little you are earning for each hour you work.
Please feel free to share your personal experience. I'd love to hear how your family makes it work.