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Facing The Daycare Dilemma

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By Cheryl Gochnauer


Copyright 2004


"In my nearly 9 years of motherhood, I've always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom," says Kass, who has three young sons. "It's not just because I don't like working outside the home. It's not because I'm not particularly career-minded, or because I love to spend every minute of the day with my wonderfully obnoxious, energetic boys. It's because I simply dread the whole 'gotta find a babysitter/childcare provider/daycare' baloney!"


"In nearly every job I've had, I've left or had to change jobs because childcare issues affected my attendance and productivity at work," she continues. "Either the kids aren't happy or adjusting, the provider isn't willing to work with me, or she can't accommodate my working hours any longer, or I just plain can't afford it."


Kass found no help at church or her homeschooling group. Her neighbors haven't worried about daycare in 15 years, and aren't the babysitting type, anyway. Local childcare referral agencies only disappointed her. "One has cats, oops allergies - she's out. Two don't speak English, oh bother. Four can't do Saturdays, which I really need to keep my job. The rest want my right arm and left leg - up to $50 more a week than I earn."


After a stint as an at-home parent, Kass stepped back into the workforce to put more money in the checkbook. But daycare expenses and aggravation overshadowed the gains she anticipated. "I know childcare providers must earn a decent living, and so must set their rates to adequately compensate for their long hours, hard work and expenses," Kass says.


She's right; we're not faulting daycares or dedicated people who care for others' children. But if you're encountering the same headaches as Kass, take a moment to revisit your decision to work outside the home. Are you exploring all your options?


TAKE DAYCARE COSTS OUT OF THE EQUATION. Work during school hours, telecommute from home, or work an opposite shift so your spouse can watch the kids.


ASK YOUR SPOUSE TO WORK OVERTIME. Though it's slowly changing, men are still usually paid more than women. Why work 10 hours if your husband can make the same amount in 5? (Plus, you won't have to pay for 10 hours of daycare.)


LOOK AT THE BUDGET - AGAIN. As Ben Franklin said, a penny saved is a penny earned. A frugal mindset is an at-home parent's best friend. Cut coupons; shop sales; be creative in using what you've got.


Joanne Watson has written a book I'd like to recommend: "Team Work: How to Help Your Husband Make More Money, So You Can Be a Stay-at-Home Mom." It's a unique look at helping your spouse in determining if he is underpaid, negotiating his raise, hunting for a higher-paying job or building a business of his own. Definitely an idea-sparking book that may provide some alternatives you haven't considered. Ask for it at your library, or check it out at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com).



Comments? Write Cheryl at Cheryl@homebodies.org, or visit http://www.homebodies.org, where you can share ideas with other family focused moms and dads on the active message boards.

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