Daycare: How to People Make it Work?

DH (Dear Husband) and I have invested so much into the whole infertility process and trying to get pregnant, that we hadn’t approached getting pregnant in the way I’d prefer: having the major financial matters solved or at least tentatively agreed on prior to having a child.

Daycares around here cost about $1900-$2000 a month for infants. This seems fair — after all, if someone has the skills to take care of a child, that person should be compensated fairly for their time and the upkeep of their facility. These daycares appear to be open from 7 or 8am to about 5 or 5:30pm. Given DH is going back to school next year, I’m starting to have mild panic attacks over what that means for managing maintaining my job and keeping baby alive.

It’s not impossible at all. Husband will be in school from 7am until 8pm (classes are 4:30-7:30), including student teaching during the day. That means that I just have to learn how to be a different person, waking up in the morning to get baby ready (perhaps husband can help before he leaves for the day) and then, what I’m more concerned about, picking up baby by the time daycare closes at 5 or 5:30 (while I do some days leave work at 5, I also some days get pulled into important meetings at 5.) My boss would understand if I need to leave to get my kid (as long as I’m doing a good job in all other aspects of my role) – but, I’m worried I’ll miss out on important opportunities having to leave at a set time everyday.

I’m accepting that for the next few years, we’ll be paying $24k a year for childcare. Maybe we can find a slightly lower cost option, but I think we’re going to have to focus on finding the most flexible program in the best location* to for daytime drop offs.

Location wise, I’m not sure if we should opt for close to home or close to work. In the mornings, close to home would be the easiest. But at the end of the day if pick up is at 5pm/5:30pm, it’s probably unrealistic to have my kid close to my house, 45 minutes from work. The closer to work my child is being watched, the better. Of course, husband’s school is an hour in the other direction, so – while he could come help get the kid in an emergency, I would be on drop off and pick up duty every day.

The biggest issue w/ daycare location is that we have to pick one daycare for the entire week. I likely will be working from home two days a week, so, theoretically we can find a daycare that provides 3 days a week care by my work, and I can keep baby at home on other 2 days. But, this is assuming I will be able to work while watching over baby during the day (I hear this is not a good idea) and also, that we’ll find a daycare that allows a 3 day a week schedule (most cost the same or almost the same for 3 vs 5 days, and it’s easier to find a spot in full time programs.)

Now, this only will last a year, as once husband finishes his credential he can get a full time teaching job, and his hours will be much better in terms of picking up kid from daycare. It’s just that the one year is the first year of my first child’s life – and I’m a little concerned about how this all plays out. Wake up in the morning, nurse baby, put baby in car seat (oops, forgot to dress baby already), put baby in car (oops, forgot to dress self too), drive to daycare, drop off baby, have meetings all day at work, lose track of time, get to pick up late, pay extra $$$$ in late pick up fees, come home exhausted at 6-7pm, nurse baby, wait for husband to come home, who is likely also exhausted from his busy day of teaching and school, pass out (*if kid sleeps through the night) and repeat.

If my husband worked a traditional full-time job today, this would all look similar. But, husband could possible trade off pick up days with me, which means neither of us would have to leave work early five days a week. In our actual life, husband has been working remote for a company for the last 10 years. He goes into the office occasionally but he basically works from home. Not only does he work from home, but his schedule tends to be quite flexible — he works a lot, but all hours of the night and day. It’s actually a really good set up for taking care of a baby while I’m at work. Yet husband decided that finally, after all these years of talking about it, now is the time he’s going back to school to become a teacher.

I really want to be supportive of this — I know he’s wanted this for a long time and I also know he’d be an incredible teacher. Long term, logistically, the reduction in pay will be hard BUT the teaching hours will be good for helping out with childcare. Getting home early, summers off — there’s a reason why a lot of women teachers have children while their husbands work stressful/never home full time jobs. The gender roles are just reversed in my relationship, and I’m ok with that.

It’s just the next year is scaring me a bit. He seems to still think his father will help out a few days a week, so we don’t have to put our kid in full time daycare. We tell his parents we are pregnant today, so we haven’t been able to have that conversation yet. But I’m still thinking going full time daycare is the best, most sustainable route for the next year. It’s certainly expensive, and the 5pm pickup is going to be a challenge, but I’m sure we’ll figure out how to make it work.

The hardest part of all, really, is finding a daycare with openings. I’ve expressed this concern to my husband, but he doesn’t seem worried about it, yet. I’m, meanwhile, contacting a bunch of daycares in the area to find out what the odds are we might be able to secure a spot. There are plenty of preschools around here for age 2+, but not a lot of reputable places that serve infants. And, I’m still completely torn on the idea of dropping my 3-month-old baby off with strangers when they’re too young to tell me if something is wrong. It all makes me want to quit my job and become a SAHM, but I wouldn’t enjoy that either – I’m sure I’d be bored out of my mind, and, we can’t survive in the Bay Area on a teacher’s salary. So that’s out of the question. I just wish my husband was willing to have this conversation with me vs pushing it off — I know we’re still early in the pregnancy, we have that first trimester risk of miscarriage, and he wants to wait until he tells his parents and can ask if his retired father has any interest in helping out. But I’m getting ahead of that because we are going to run out of options.

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6 thoughts on “Daycare: How to People Make it Work?”

  1. Omg
    If I take care of 2 kids in my home that will replace my day job! I can save on expensive lunches in the financial district and commuting back and forth and even save in cost of sending my kid to daycare and the kids learn to socialize. My mom was genius!

  2. Considering cost of childcare for people who only take home less than $5k a month in your area it would make sense to just start your own day home than to keep working if u have a child. Save on childcare cost and make money taking care of others kids and the kids socialize together.

    As for us in Canada we have 18 month mat leave and 12 month employment insurance that covers 55% of our salary up to $55k

    My friend is in mat leave now and it’s not at all bored at home. She’s milking every few hours and she saves money from buying formula.

    So I always wonder what would happen of you’re at work and baby refuses bottle? My friend had to feed from the source cause her baby refused body. Is there a work around for moms at work when this happens?

  3. Assuming that your husband’s parents are willing to help, would it be possible to find a daycare near them? That way they can be there for pick up and you don’t have to stress out at the end of each day?

    Or, if you can find a daycare that does 3 days a week (that is available where I live, but I live in a college town in the Midwest where the university dictates all aspects of life) that your husband’s parent’s can take the baby on the days you work from home? That way you can get all your work done (hopefully) and still have flexibility to spend time with kid?

  4. I don’t envy your situation with your husband going back to school at the most inopportune time. I think you need to have a serious discussion with him. The first year of your baby’s life is definitely the hardest. For us, we initially picked a daycare close to my work, but my work is sort of on the way to my husband’s work. That way either of us could feasibly pick our kid up. Which necessary if one person is sick or traveling (do you ever travel for work). You can’t have a daycare that’s 1.5 hours away from your husband’s school. That simply will not work. The preschool we picked is close to home, so that way it’s easier for either of us to pickup/dropoff, which is what I think you have to do in your scenario. I would agree with everyone that you cannot expect to do anything productive with a baby at home. I would say until they’re at least 3, at which point, the only way to be productive is if you stick them in front of the tv, which is what we have to do when they’re sick and one of us has to stay home and can’t take a vacation day. Which by the way is another consideration, babies and little kids get sick frequently. If they throw up, or have a fever, or have loose stools, you will get a call saying you need to pick them up within an hour. And they can’t go back to school the next day or until they are symptom free for 24 hours. You will need your husband/his father to help out with this I imagine.

    Anywho, that was a bunch of rambling, but I guess my main point is that my husband and I have been able to make it work, but only as a team. He does dropoffs and I do pickups. I don’t see it being feasible without support unless you have extreme flexibility in your job, which it sounds like you don’t have, at least not yet. That’s why I recommend you and your husband consider changing his plan so that he is not out of the picture from 7:00am to 8:00pm (which is essentially all hours that the kid will be awake, once they get on a schedule). Maybe he slows down his program to take 2 years instead of 1 so that he can help since you are clearly the breadwinner.

    1. Yea, thanks for that. I know he’s waiting to talk to his dad (sometime this week?) before we get serious about discussing this — but, meanwhile, I’m trying to figure it out logistically… even if his dad is willing to watch baby 5 days a week (which is unreasonable to ask of him even if he offers), his dad could get sick or need a day off. His dad also doesn’t drive, so if something were to go wrong – well, I’m not sure if that’s a big issue but my husband or I would have to leave work/school to get the baby with a car.

      I do travel for work a little bit — though I can probably avoid travel in the first year of my baby’s life. My boss will probably be flexible with me if I need to leave work to get baby — but that won’t make it easier to manage w/ my job. Husband also seems to think he can leave school at drop of a hat if needed (will be harder to do that with student teaching during the day) so he’s not too concerned. There isn’t really an ideal time for him to finish this program… either he does student teaching and evening classes now, or he does evening classes and has to leave before I get out of work anyway to go to class.

      The one thing that is making it seem ok is that I’ll be on maternity leave until October-ish, then really I just need to survive 8 months or so until he finishes school. Once he gets through that, he’ll have summer off and when he starts work teaching his hours (at least out of the home) will be more reasonable – and he can try to get a job closer to home or my work. So, in that sense, eight months of dealing with a bit of a logistical headache should be manageable – I just wish he’d be more open with talking to me about this and how hard it will be for me during those months – esp since I don’t feel like I have a stable grasp my job yet.

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