Should You Pay For Child Care or Leave Your Job?
Becoming a parent means facing many important — and difficult — decisions. Where will your children go to school? What will your parenting style be like? And maybe one of the toughest decisions: Who’s going to be the one to take care of your kids for eight-plus hours a day?
There are a lot of factors to consider when making the decision of whether to stay home with your kids or pay for child care. “The decision comes down to what is best for your family,” said Jessica Fields, a former middle school math teacher and founder of family and lifestyle blog Take It From Jess.
After she had her first daughter, Fields had to decide whether to be a stay-at-home parent or pay for child care. Ultimately, she decided to stay home to raise her children full time. But that may not be the right path for everyone. She shared three major factors to consider when deciding whether or not paying for child care is worth it for your family.
1. The Cost
First, there’s the most obvious consideration: How much will child care cost compared to your household income?
There are a few factors that impact the cost of child care. For example, your child’s age will make a big difference. The average cost of infant care in the U.S. is $216 per week, while day care for a 4-year-old drops to $175 per week.
Where you live can also greatly impact the cost. In states along the coast, for instance, parents need to allocate 20% or more of their household income for child care. In the southern regions, on the other hand, child care takes up closer to 10% of household income, on average.
The type of care you need also matters. “Generally, in-home day care is the cheapest option, while full-time day care or a nanny is the most expensive,” Fields said.
You’ll then need to compare potential child care costs to your current salary. Fields said she didn’t earn much as a teacher, so she felt like she was working just to pay for child care. “My husband also had a great job, so we knew we could make it work on one income.”
2. Emotional Considerations
Aside from the financial aspects, you should also think about how each choice makes you feel in your gut. “If you feel a strong urge to continue working and you love your career, you’ll want to make it work and pay for child care,” Fields said. “You may also want to further your career with future promotions, so paying for child care would be worth it.”
Other parents, like Fields, will feel a strong pull to stay at home with their child. “After more than a month of taking my daughter to day care, I was still getting upset when I dropped her off and had to go into work.” Because she didn’t enjoy her career as much as she once did, she knew staying at home was the right choice.
Finally, it’s important to consider your lifestyle and goals, and what type of budget they require. For example, if you want to travel often, invest in real estate or build up a sizable retirement, having two incomes would naturally help.
However, you might enjoy being home more often and contributing to the community or want a more active role in your child’s upbringing. In this case, being a stay-at-home parent might make sense from a financial and personal perspective.
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