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18 January 2012

Rising child care costs

There is no doubt about it, the cost of living continues to rise and unless we take stock of what we can do in our own lives, we'll be swept along with those rising costs. I watched a TV report on child care costs last week. Apparently, in Australia, those costs are about to rise. When I looked into it further online, Australia isn't the only country this is happening in. I found information about rising child care costs in Canada, the UK and USA, I have no doubt that other smaller countries like Australia are feeling the pinch too.


I guess this is a good time to mention the quality of child care. I hope you're not in the position of having to take the cheapest care you can get, regardless. Whoever you choose has to be trustworthy, experienced and reliable. When you have those three necessities confirmed in your own mind, then ask about the cost. But if what you're paying now is at the upper limit of your spending range? There may be possibilities that don't involve child care centres or child care workers you don't know.


Work from home
When I had my babies, I stayed at home to look after them. It wasn't common then but Hanno was earning a good wage, so we had that option. When my boys went to school I was in the fortunate position of being able to work from home and although it was bedlam some days, most of my work fitted in when Shane and Kerry were at school or before they woke in the morning. If you're in a job where you could work from home, and it's becoming much more common now, think about how it would work in your particular circumstances and if you think you could do it, ask about it.

Home business
The internet has provided a means by which many people earn money at home. If you have an idea for a business, want to make money from a hobby or have a friend or two that could pool resources, ideas and effort, you might set up a business and work from home. If you have the business set up in one of your homes and have three or four working partners, maybe it would be wise for one parent to take it in turns to look after all the children while taking the day away from the business. One of the advantage of this is that babies can still be breastfed and see a parent during the day.

Stagger your shifts
Depending on your jobs, you may be able to stagger your shifts - having one parent at home with the children while the other is at work. This might add pressure because everything would have to run like clockwork, every day, but if it did work, you'd still have the double income and be able to care for your children in your own home.

Relatives or friends
Another option is to ask a relative or friend who is at home all day if they would care for your child/ren. Expect to pay for this too, even though it may not be accepted, you should offer. Hanno and I would take care of our grandsons at the drop of a hat if we lived closer and were asked. I would feel privileged to do it, I'm pretty sure Hanno would too. But if the person you ask says no, there should be no hard feelings. Many people who are at home every day have hobbies, clubs and friends that fill their days and sometimes grandparents think they've already been through their child rearing years and don't want to go back. If they say no, accept it with grace and move on to Plan B.


But what happens if you can't do any of the above or simply choose to stay at home with your baby/children? I believe that's the exciting option. I am aware that for many, it is a big emotional and financial commitment to give up paid work and stay home to raise children, but many people do it, and do it happily. In my own family, Sarndra and Sunny both gave up work to look after their babies while Shane and Kerry continued working to bring home a wage. Both couples are renting accommodation and they're getting by just fine. Of course, it doesn't have to be the woman who stays at home with the children, many men find this a satisfying and enriching experience too. If you've been forced into giving up work, see it as a way of taking control of your home and running it cost-effectively while at the same time, improving the quality of your home and your home life. Babies and small children thrive in a warm and nurturing home, and the housework can stop and start according to their needs.


If you're trying to decide whether to go with child care or stay at home, make sure you make your decision with realistic understanding of your own financial situation and how much you actually benefit from working. You have to take into account things like the costs of transport, work clothes and shoes, grooming, lunches, drinks and the convenience foods or takeaways you buy when you're too tired or too late to cook something. Add all those expenses up and deduct them from the amount of money you bring in every week or month. You need to make your decision based on your net wage, not your gross wage. If you're not earning a large amount, when you have to add the cost of child care into your weekly expenses, it may mean it doesn't make good financial sense to work. Or if you're getting by when you have one child, adding a second child care cost might tip the scale. Whatever you do, make sure you do it knowing exactly what you gain and lose with the decision.


And also consider what you'll  be able to save at home when you actively work at cutting costs, shop for bargains, grow some food, cook from scratch, make your own cleaners and laundry products. You'll also be able to monitor your use of water and electricity, make a good work lunch for your partner, recycle, mend, sew for the baby and your home. You might even get into knitting, baking or soap making. All these activities are possible in the average home and are becoming more popular. They're seen now as not only a way of saving money but also eco-friendly and healthy.


So if you're faced with rising costs, start keeping track of the money you spend so you know exactly what your real expenses are, then sit down with your partner and work out how you can go forward. Life is rarely black or white, there are usually options in between that, with a bit of tweaking, will work well for you. When you decide on the way forward, work hard at it so it gives the entire family the best chance of living well. And if you decide that you'll take that giant leap from paid work to staying at home - you, my friend, have a wonderful opportunity ahead of you. Dive in.

Rising child care costs:
Australia
Info about childcare rebates in Australia
Canada
United Kingdom
United States

44 comments:

  1. Excellent post. I do not know how mom's of more than one child afford daycare-childcare cost. I often think that they are magicians with time and money.

    For me, I was fortunate to be able to stay home. I was able to be the one to raise my children and although I have been asked many times what I will do when the children move on, I smile because~I will continue to do what I have done for almost 24 years. I will tend to the home.


    Have a lovely day.

    Jennifer

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  2. It's ridiculously expensive here. Many, many women can do better staying home and caring for one or two "extra" kids than by working. Especially if the spouse gets overtime. The cost of working is often steep--especially in office jobs where an up-to-date executive wardrobe is expected and you have to pay to park (public transportation is not a given here). At least, if you must work, many employers have flex-accounts so your child care expense can come out pre-tax. Otherwise, DO THE MATH--you likely aren't getting home with enough to matter! And, it isn't always true that you can't "make up" those lost years of income potential.

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  3. A very thoughtful post! And so important. I have no grandchildren yet, but if I could live closer to any one of my children who would perhaps be thinking of daycare, I'd love to step in and help. I hope all of my daughter-in-laws (and one daughter married) stay home, and it looks like most will. I really admire any young mother who gives up an income to stay home. If it is financially impossible, I think the different shifts idea is best, and I would've done a part-time job and stayed home during the day. I think two full jobs would be too much on family life. I also don't think dad's are made to do a mother's job at home, and if you are saving money with breastfeeding, that wouldn't work. love,andrea

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  4. An excellent post. I have chosen to stay home with my daughter (and we have a boy on the way)largely because my husband is in the military and the erratic hours he works (and extended absences) would mean long hours for our daughter in childcare; not to mention that moving every one to two years is not very conducive to job progression. I think another cost people don't take into account for primary school aged children is the cost of school holiday care. For some, this can be outrageous.

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  5. My husband and I have done the staggered shifts and the me home full time. It was a struggle to make it through on just one income but we managed. My son and his wife are expecting their first child and I am blessed that they are close enough so that I can care for my grandson this Summer (I'm a substitute teacher so I have the Summer off)for them. I'm looking forward to having that very special time with him and wish I could do it year round but we need my income at this point to pay off bills and become debt free.

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  6. Thanks Rhonda - I like that this post highlights all the "choices" that are possible. You might think you have no choice but to work outside the home, but actually there are other ways if you look at the problem in a different light.

    My husband and I feel fortunate that we have the choice for me to stay at home. His income supports us, but I still earn some money too. On the surface it might look ideal, but there are compromises. For instance we live a long way from his work and the commute is taxing, but in Sydney we can't afford to own a house without two incomes any closer in.

    I find looking after my kids and home a really creative project, and I was a cranky, tired, awful person when I tried working in town two days a week last year. But can a encourage anyone who would actually like to be working a bit outside the home but feels trapped there 24/7 by saying it is just a season of your life. It will change all to quickly and be gone forever. Try not to wish away this precious time (obviously this is the sentimental rambling of a woman with a week old baby!!!)

    You rock Rhonda, keep it up,

    Jen

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  7. Gosh, I remember when I moved to VA from California. Imagine my shock to find out that the avg. salaries ran 40% less and that daycare was about the same! That was nine years ago.

    We very quickly did the math and figured that it did not benefit us to have a newborn in daycare and two in afterschool care. The infant alone would sink us. We knew we would have to make some cuts...drastic cuts and changes...and so we did.

    My husband is a professional firefighter and started a powerwashing business, which he operates on his days off. This brought much added relief...until recently.

    We are homeschoolers of three..well, actually one has started college...so two really.

    We make our own laundry soap, I'm going to try clothes softener next. I cook from scratch (always did). I am mastering bread making. I make tortillas. I can stretch a Costco size of dish detergent a whole year or more. We shop consignment or sales as much as possible. We are square foot gardeners...and I know there is much more we can do...as I am learning from you, Rhonda. :o)

    Yes, do the math..do the math...do the math! And above all be honest about those numbers! Where there is a will there is a way.

    Thank you, Rhonda for such an important post and thank you for all you do!

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  8. I have 3 children under 6, for us it's cheaper for me to stay home and I really want to be the one raising my own kids. However for my best friend who's a lawyer married to a lawyer she and her sister in law split a private nanny between their 4 kids.

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  9. Hi there, can you please tell me where I can buy your book? I would love a copy.
    Dawn Dutton
    Email is pine-ridge@triwest.net
    As always a great post!

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  10. I went back to work for several months just over a year ago. We thought we were at least making a small amount of money after paying childcare (for three home) until we did our taxes and realized I had actually been PAYING to work. So, back home I came. But I do (and did before the job) many of the things you mention: gardening, making my own soaps, lotions, deodorant, etc..., cooking almost entirely from scratch and so on, and we pretty well even on a modest income.

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  11. I went back to work part-time when my 2nd child was 15 months old. We had a private childcare arrangement, so no govt. rebates. then I read a book called 'The Smart Womans' Guide to Staying At Home'. She pointed out the real cost of going to work and I calculated that my $50/ hour pay actually only brought in $1.86 an hour when taking all of the expenses into consideration. I rang my then husband and said I'm not willing to leave my child for $1.86 and hour!
    So, lucky me, I quit my work outside the home and did a small amount of piano teaching from home to make ends meet. It was hard, but I have no regrets about the reduced income and a lot of great memories of watching my kids playing in the backyard.
    Madeleine

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  12. Great post Rhonda...this is why i am still at home with the twins, i thought i would head back to work when they turned 1 but after doing our sums it just wouldn't be worth the money we would be left with at moment so we are trying to cut costs in other ways (many ideas of which come from your blog of course!)
    I worked in child care for 15 yrs before moving across to community services and the main reason for that is because i was so dissapointed that centres seemed to be increasing their fees every year and the workers were not receiving anything extra.Large centres began bringing in many young trainees who they only had to pay as little as $4.00 an hour and these kids were overwhelmed and not being trained properly, it made our job so much harder and although i loved working with children, i became so burned out and disallusioned and so decided to go back to study and leave the field.
    I still get very angry when i see the rising costs...there is no need and the workers do not receive any higher pay...just the owners of private centres.There are many wonderful childcare educators out there but they really are not recognised for the work they do with children...our future!QLD has had the ratio of 1-4 for many years and i was actually paid more when in QLD than NSW so the current excuse of having to raise fees in NSW because of the new regs is just not true. Sorry to go on but i am just so angry at the current state of the child care system....they are pretty much forcing many parents out of the workforce.
    For those that have to use child care, Family Day care is usually a cheaper option or you could do it yourself from home and still look after your own children, i did this for awhile as a single parent and it was a great compromise!
    It is tough at the moment but you are right Rhonda...it really is worth a close examination of your family situation before you have to pay those high child care costs.

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  13. As always, thought-provoking, Rhonda!

    I'm similar to you in that my husband works for a good wage and when our first baby was born three years ago, I could give up paid work and stay at home.

    I tried to run a very busy handmade home-based business at the same time and found, for me, the stresses of a new babe, a new house, a busy small business and managing the home took too much of a toll on my mental health. So when I was (very) pregnant with our second I closed the business and started to simplify our lives.

    I feel so much more content now, and once I gave myself the space to breathe - by simplifying and cutting back - I found that I had the energy to pursue my writing.

    I don't think my contentment has anything to do with whether I do/don't work outside the home, but rather that I understand that there's pay-offs and drawbacks to each situation.

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  14. My husband prefers that I work. And not so we can maintain an expensive lifestyle (we actually live pretty frugally - cook from scratch, garden, thrift shop for work clothing, etc.) but in order to pay off our mortgage early. So when it came time for me to return to work from maternity leave with our first child, I asked my Mother to move in with us. She was in a position to do so, as my Father had passed away a few years prior. And maintaining her own home was becoming a financial burden for her. The arrangement has saved us $1000s in childcare expenses I'm sure (we have 3 children). Plus, we had the comfort of knowing they were in the care of someone we knew and trusted. Even though our children are older now and entering school full-time, my Mother is still there to watch them during school holidays. It's been a real blessing for our family!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

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  15. Potential savings to a parent that stays home and takes care of the household ..interesting article http://finance.yahoo.com/news/much-homemaker-worth-182358580.html

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  16. When I fell pregnant with my first child (now 6 1/2) I was running a small business. I chose to sell the business and stay at home with my baby rather than try and cope with the stress and demands of both.

    For me it was the right decision, staying at home with my children has been wonderful in so many ways.

    A year ago I started a very small online business selling my 'makes'. I can work when it suits me, and I love that the kids can join me while I work, with their own craft projects. Not only has it given me a little extra cash, but it has given me an identity other then 'mum' which I think a lot of women crave when they give up work to become a SAHM.

    I feel like I learn a little about myself when I read and consider your posts...thanks!

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  17. My daughter is about to give birth and she is planning to be a stay at home mum. I am in the process of helping her find ways to cut their costs so that this can happen, so your post is very helpful.

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  18. I went back to work 3 days a week when my oldest was 1. And one day a week after my second child was born. I was extremely lucky in that my mum Doesn't work and was more than happy to look after my kids. If she didn't, I would have been working to pay child care. I did offer to pay mum but she said no. I didn't think that was right so we ended up working out that I would pay her home/mobile/Internet bill every month. Now after my third daughter we are lucky to be in the position that my husband earns enough for me to not have to return to work. We do have to be frugal with our money and I enjoy preserving and cooking, I make my own laundry liquid (thanks to you, Rhonda!) I sew and I would like to get chickens soon and start a proper veggie garden. I love being able to stay with my kids and feel so fortunate that I am in the position to do it, as I know there are a lot of others that need to work..

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  19. A wise and informative post. When I had my first two we managed on one wage. Both of us were raised by non-working mothers so we really didn't discuss me going back to work. Though financially it was not easy, we managed to buy the cheapest house in an okay suburb, renovated doing the work ourselves and got by helped by lots of visits to op shops.
    Before I had our third, and now with a bigger mortgage, I had considered going back. But the after school care costs, petrol, work clothes and (losing) time to make things from scratch were why we chose not to go down that path.
    For 9 years now we have managed on one wage.

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  20. I recently started working again - - - I do "before-school" childcare in my home (the local elementary school starts late - at 9:15 - and so many working parents are scrambling to find childcare in the early morning). I have 4 kids of my own (though 3 of them are gone by 7), so I am here anyway with my youngest. I have to admit that at first, I found it a tiny bit "beneath me" to "do childcare." I have a graduate degree and once taught at university, for goodness sake!

    But once I got over myself, I realized I could aim to do my very best by these children who come to me every morning, sleepy and no doubt dragged out of bed quite early. I make a nice (frugal!) breakfast for everyone, and the kids play, draw, finish homework and tend to our goats and chickens. I try to keep it cheerful and calm (though it can get raucous at times!) I highly recommend this type of arrangement for mothers who wish to be home with their children, but need an extra side income. It has worked beautifully for me, and I love the fact that these kids go off to school with a pleasant, tv-free start to their days (though I think it could work well for after school as well).

    Cheers, Kate in NY

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  21. I was divorced when my girls were 3 and 6 and sort of fell into working from home (in high tech, writing). I had the girls with a friend during the first year (and paid her), and then in a school-based program after that. I had them at home as much as possible, but used the out-of-home care as I needed. You're post is an excellent reminder to consider ALL the options. So a part time care situation might work as well. I could be home with a sick child, volunteer in the classroom, have them in care (especially before the youngest started school) when I needed to. Looking back (they're 17 and 20!) it seems like a bit of juggling but it worked for us. I still work out of the home (meaning work IN the home!) because I like the flexibility but back then it was absolutely the best choice I could have made. Oh, and I did start a web site that makes a bit of income for me through advertising. But it also helps people who just need information on cutting back food expenses. It's also my creative outlet, so a win-win.

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  22. A controversial post but still nice to see that you tackled it so thoughtfully. I guess for parents who have made monetary commitments, eg mortgage, staying home just may not be an option. I have heard of many Mums who would love to stay home more. However, for those who are able to squeeze through with less, the sacrifice is definitely worth it. I wonder if stay at home parents were not given the option of childcare whether working parents would be able to find it more affordable. I was lucky my kids were easy to look after,even though my first child had a major eating disorder, but surely most parents should be able to care for their children without all the timeout available now. Hope this does not offend anyone but I guess it is beyond my understanding. Cherrie

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  23. Dear Rhonda I found your post today very interesting due to the circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment. We are always striving for a simpler life but find that things have a great way of complicating it. My husband lost his job as direct result of the GFC and as the sole income earner it was very stressful. A month later however he was able to secure a new job but only as labout hire. We were at the top end of low income earners before and this new job has meant a loss of $300 per week as well as no paid holidays, paid public holidays or sick days. We have really struggled to rein things in as we were living pretty simply before. We are now carrying 20K debt which was unforseeable and mostly unavoidable. We are trying to pay it down but it is very slow and the interest rates are a killer. We have two children and one is now homeschooled as a last resort due to a disability. So he is now my fulltime occupation as well as the home duties I had before. In the last 12 months everything has gone up including all of our utilities despite reducing our useage considerably. Now we face a housing issue where landlords are selling their investment properties as housing market drops. We have been in our current rented home for 10 years, very lucky I know. Our landlord is selling this property and we have been given 60 days to move out. We are just about at our dead line and have not come up with anything. We are going to open houses with 40 and 50 people attending. Cars lined up around the neighbouring streets and people lined up on the foot path. We are facing a rental crisis in our regional centre where demand is higher than the number of properties. It is a buyers market right now but who can afford to buy when you are a low income family. The government has developed a plan for affordable housing in our area and is selling off ex-government housing to qualifying low income earners. We would qualify but our debt cannot be more than 5% of our annual income(which is probably a good thing) but we also have to have 10% deposit and our own mortgage finance sorted. Where does a low income family living week to week get 25-30K from to pay the deposit? How crazy? Who is this going to help? We are faced with going up a bracket and paying rent which is 45% of our weekly income just to secure a roof over our heads. We cannot just move to the country where rented housing is cheaper as we have to secure work first. Most country employers we have found so far don't want to bring a family from a regional area into the country in case the job doesn't work out. Now we are in a predicament where we now must earn more money each week in order to met the rental housing prices but I cannot work as we are looking after our son fulltime and now also schooling him. Childcare is not an option either. We couldn't afford it as anything I earn would be taken up in care costs. Where to from here? This life is not of our choosing but is what we have been given.

    x lil

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  24. Thank you for your post Rhonda:)
    I found all the comments so interesting.After reading some of the comments it made me feel so very grateful that I can stay at home with my children,we are certainly not well off,but we had an opportunity to move to the country,with my husbands work being forty minutes from were we live.We grow food,cook from scratch,we dont do things like other families really,(the zoo,cinema,stage shows...just is not affordable)our childrens entertainment is the our local swimming hole,tending our chickens,other animals and helping out in the garden,to name a few:)
    I just want to say to the other women that are struggling I feel so much for you and you are all in my thoughts,I hope your journeys will bring you opportunities to be living in happiness,without having to worry about the increasing hideous costs of living in this time.
    Blessings Carleene

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  25. This is a difficult one for me. I really, really enjoy my work, and I really didn't enjoy being at home full time. I felt isolated, resentful of my husband and didn't feel like my true self. Not to mention my daughter has just flourished since going to day care. She is very active and taking up sewing, soap making etc are actually not a possibility when she is at home with me. Thankfully we are still ahead after day care costs are taken into account, so perhaps that has helped. Also my mum worked and it's given me a sense of independence that I am forever grateful for. I understand some women love being at home, and that's great. But it wasn't for us. Eliza

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  26. You are so right !! You can adapt to a lot of different situations, just by getting your financial plan in order. We started out working both when the children were little, we just had to, we lived in an expensive part of the country. Then we moved to the country and I could stay at home with the kids. A few years later my husband went on disability and we still live on that. We had to adapt even more, but we manage and are happier than we ever have been.
    We enjoy the things we can do and live a simple life and that is enough for us and it has tought our children too. Our son now lives on his own and manages. If he has any financial questions, he calls and we get it figured out. That is great isn't it ?
    Have a wonderful day. Hugs from The Netherlands.

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  27. I stayed at home for many years and now work 3 to 4 days each week. I found that the skills that I developed whilst at home - such as cooking on a budget, being organised, growing vegetables, having routines - stand me in very good stead as a working Mum with school-aged kids.

    all the best,

    Kate

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  28. This is an interesting post. I stayed home for a couple of years when my children were babies. Money was really tight. We kept our heads above water by strict budgeting. Also I have to say we have kept our mortgage to a minimum by buying a smaller, cheaper and older house than many of our contemporaries were buying. Our houses have been sound, but not huge and brand new. This is how we scrapped by on one middle range wage. For a while we only had one car. I can't say this worked well for us and we purchased a cheap second car after a year or two. When I returned to work I picked up one shift a weekend working in hospitality. I worked long weekend hours as time went by. I know some of my friends looked down on this type of work but it enable hubby to care for the kids while I was at work and vice versa. When my children started school I changed jobs but still only worked school hours. This is how we managed without the drain of childcare expenses. I don't have a brilliant career, but we have put family time over careers and money. Everyone has a different situation. This is just how we have balanced the whole work/family thing over the years.

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  29. Rhonda, thank you for this post. And thank you for not saying that mothers must be responsible for childcare. I appreciate it :)

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  30. Hi Rhonda,
    as you know, I am a stay-at-home mom in The Netherlands. It's not always easy, most of the mothers I know are one or more days at work and they don't understand why I am not. It was not always easy to raise two children from one income, but over a few years I learned to do more with less. Thanks to you and your readers I now am able to do the household, play with my kids and make them a proper meal. I even starting to get more and more fun in homemaking.
    It's not always (financially) easy, but I get a great reward from my kids.

    Thank you!

    Love from Holland

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  31. My dear dad warned me when I was 15 not to expect him and Mum to look after my childre while I worked. I thought at the time, so what? but later when the children did arrive, it meant that option was closed off. My husband was a Navy officer at the time, and away from home for weeks at a time. My workplace at the time took a completely inflexible attitude to returning from mat leave(this was 1999) - full time or nothing. Child care in my area was non existent. I looked into family day care but wasn't impressed with the care on offer. So I stayed home, and we managed on one income, for what turned out to be 7 years. We managed pretty well, and although I felt sad to leave a great job,now I don't regret those years at home with my kids. It was the best thing I ever did.

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  32. Very timely post. thank you.
    One of the ongoing costs that is often NOT factored into childcare costs is the frequent doctors and chemist bills from the one in childcare being sick and bringing home sickness to everyone else, it sometimes gets to the stage that parents have to take time off with no pay because each child and each adult have been sick many times during the year.

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  33. That is true Abbeysmum. Although having gone through day care myself as a child in the 70s and 80s, I was sick then but since being 7 have rarely had one sick day. Whereas my husband, who was at home til he started school, is sick far more frequently.

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  34. I just wanted to offer some suggestions to anon (signed lil), because by the sounds of her situation anything may be of help.

    I noticed lil said the reason they couldn't consider moving to the country, is because the work comes first. My husband and I took many gambles earlier on that didn't seem to make financial sense. Everyone constantly warned us we were crazy, and still do, bless them, LOL, but ultimately moving to the country became our financial life saver.

    Had we bought in the city everyone wanted us too, we would be locked into the rising costs of city convenience. We have relatives paying close to $2000 in rates every 6 months, where we now only pay $800. As we're not connected to town water either, we don't pay the water rates on top.

    We took a gamble, quite ignorantly and moved to a rural city, and then to an even more rural location on the outskirts. We left ignorantly, but it sounds like lil's family may not have any other option.

    Find an area that needs your skill base, or even consider starting something new in demand, in the area. My husband and I both had skills in hospitality and retail, coming straight from the city too, we got every job we applied for. My husband even ventured into another industry for a time, which we never would've been able to do had we stayed in the city.

    We found metropolitain areas kept us locked into doing more of the same things, and as prices rose people seemed to become less generous to themselves, their families and neighbours. The same relatives who thought we were crazy for moving here, always talk down our lives because it makes them feel better about their's.

    You see, we shouldn't be able to raise a family on one income, run a property, keep livestock and meet each other needs. We should be working in the city on a double income, going on annual family vacations and having a smaller garden with a much bigger house.

    Don't let me kid you, we're not riding a gravy train but we are anything but "crazy" to make ends meet the way we do. I just wanted to encourage lil to think outside the metropolitain box if she has no other choice. There are options in the country. They won't be the same as what you're used to but they're not meant to be. :)

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  35. Sorry to go off topic, but what are those yummy looking biscuits or cookies in the tin? Lemon icing or savory cheese? Did I miss the recipe somewhere?

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  36. Panswife, they're passionfruit yoyos. Do a search for them there is a recipe here on the blog.

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  37. Yes, also off topic but I am so envious of your passionfruit. I just can't seem to grow my own and they are so expensive. But one day I'll master it and you bet I'll be making your passionfruit yoyos! Eliza

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  38. Yesterday a friend of mine handed in her notice to her employer.
    She had gotten to the end of her 12 months of maternity leave and was due back at work in a couple of weeks.
    She did alot of soul searching and came to the decision that the most important place for her to be was at home with her baby daughter.
    She is a bit nervous about being on one income but she also seems to be at peace with her choice.I'm so happy for her & i really hope i will be able to do the same when my time comes.

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  39. Passionfruit yoyos, of course! Actually, I would never have guessed. Yes, I will check out the recipe and then try to hunt down passionfruit in rural NY. Thank you.

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  40. I recently got divorced and don't get much help from my children's father (long story...). I had to move to a small town where my parents live in order for them to watch the children. In my old town, I made 3xs as much money as I am making now, but once I calculated child care and everything else associated with working in a major US city, I came out ahead on the low-paying job. And, my kids are happy to be with their grandparents instead of a daycare and I don't have to worry about staying late at work, which was always a panic situation before since the center my first-born was at closed promptly at 6:00. My parents also often make me and the kids dinner which is lovely at the end of the day. So, we are kind of poor now but happy to have family all together. Kate

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  41. I thought your post was practical and well thought out.My husband and I care share our two year old son and have found this to be a great success.

    Nicky Singh

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  42. This is great for those with choice. However there are a lot of people out there without this luxury. I am a single parent, my children have no father, I don't have any family nearby or any friends with the luxury of staying at home that could care for my children. If I wanted my children to eat and to provide a roof over their heads I had to work, which meant to put my children in childcare. For those living in small communities there is no choice on which child care centre to send the too, there is usually only one! Working from home means you need the education and skills to do this, and also the money to establish your own business. For young parents without a lot of experience this is usually not an option. It's unrealistic to think you will start earning a decent wage straight away.
    I managed to finish a degree while I was a single mum as well as working a full time job so I could feed my family. This meant a lot of childcare while they were younger, however i now have a great career with enough flexibility to spend a lot of time with them, I also earn a decent wage now instead of struggling to pay bills, rent and food.
    Everyone is in different circumstances and for some people life is really hard.
    Shelley.

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  43. Speaking of swapping...
    When I was preschool aged, my mother had a daycare co-op a network of other parents who helped each other with daycare so she could work full time, not pay for daycare (with money) and spend time with me and my playmates. My mother and another mother had us Tuesday and Wednesday, One couple had us Mondays and another Thursdays and a dad and mom who weren't a couple on Fridays. They had a written agreement on what was appropriate discipline, curriculum and the lease on a big room at the local park building for us where we met to have 'school'. Mostly I remember playing math games with blocks, playing dolls, our class gerbils, and the field trips to the museums and the zoo.When I was 4 1/2 it fell apart because one of the couples got divorced and stopped participating but it did work for several years. My brother was in a similar co-op for 8 years (he's 7 years older than I) and allowed my mom to afford quality care on a very low budget.

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