By: Revanche

Our childcare and costs: Winter 2017 update

February 20, 2017

2017 winter update: the costs of childcare Childcare was a scary thing for us well before having JuggerBaby. Culturally, I should have been able to “expect” my parents to be our live-in babysitters. Multigenerational living is what we’ve always done. But much like ย the rest of my life, when the time came, our reality was totally different from what I was told to expect. Mom was long buried, and Dad was utterly disinterested. While I regret what JuggerBaby loses as a result, a richer life with interesting and strange grandparents, there was no use dwelling on what “should” have been. It’s a good thing I’d gotten used to adversity by now!

We went through a long and fruitless search for a good nanny, and finally had to take advantage of my flexible work schedule to be a work from home mom.

I kind of miss my #BabyCoworker, but before age 1, ze was just too social and active for our old arrangements to work for us anymore. The daycares in this area range from the at-home care situations to very commercial operations, and the wait lists were miles long. Naturally, by this time last year, I was pretty stressed about what we were doing with JuggerBaby. We had a huge flash of luck when one of the daycares on our approved list had a few unexpected openings earlier than our requested start date, and we went for it.

It’s expensive, but they’re certified, they’re a big enough operation to really pay attention to all the rules and regulations and gives me confidence that they’re not as likely to have problems with abuse as smaller operations that perhaps have less oversight or employ family members. On the one hand, I love a family operation. On the other hand, if a family member of the daycare provider abuses a child, I simply have no faith that the welfare of the child is going to be put above the provider’s livelihood and natural urge to protect their family.

We expected a tough start but JuggerBaby was PSYCHED. Ze has exactly zero compunctions about diving into the new environment and immediately adored zir adoring caretakers. We only started part-time because of my worries, to ease into it, but that worry was allayed immediately. We continued part-time to save money.

Almost a year after that, we settled into a full time routine at daycare. Verdict: mostly good. The germs streaming home from that place had me more sick in 6 months than I’ve been in ten years, but ze has been largely unfazed. Which has been, as you might imagine, nothing but good for me.

Ze has been through three classrooms and we really miss the first one. There were 5 caretakers in the classroom, they were all loving and attentive and calm personalities, and they were very good at redirecting JuggerBaby when frustration with communication reared. The biting started there but it was only at times of great frustration. Ze was remarkably tolerant of all the small babies using zir as a jungle gym as they learned to stand and walk.

When ze was moved to the next classroom (they’re moved around by age group) the transition was downright horrible. It had me doubting our choice, constantly.

JuggerBaby was crying every day, saying “no-no no-no” and trying to go (RUN) back to zir old classroom. The main thing, and it was SUCH an easy fix, was that 2 of those 5 teachers were standoffish and not at all involved in the children’s care. The other 3 teachers were great but they couldn’t completely negate the negativity from the two bad teachers. We had been told so many times that transitions are always hard and that the kids are always upset that we gave it more time than we should have.ย  I should have listened to my gut.

After observing the class one morning, we gave the teachers feedback – say hello to JuggerBaby when ze comes in! All they had to do was say good morning to zir, and acknowledge that ze was coming in. Ze just wanted to know that ze was wanted, and every cold morning drop-off was more frigid by the morning teachers who sucked. Lo and behold, within 36 hours of asking for this specific change, ze was happy again.

I know my child – ze is temperamentally inclined to getting on with people but ze is also very attuned to being unwelcomed, by adults at least. And zir unhappiness was wholly unnecessary.

We reported this experience to the directors of the daycare, who were mortified and also grateful that we’d brought it to their attention, and assured us that steps would be taken to ensure this didn’t happen again, and that this was not at all the daycare’s policy to be standoffish when transitioning children to new classrooms.

I later discovered that other parents had the same experience, and had also reported it. It’s a great reminder that we have to be our children’s first advocates, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us, or how we might doubt ourselves.

Ze had a second transition recently, and that one was much more smooth. Unfortunately, we don’t love the classroom set-up because they drop the caretaker to student ratio by 2 caretakers for this age group. Now there are only 3 caretakers for 12 rambunctious toddlers and there’s quite a lot more chaos. Mostly controlled chaos, or directed chaos, but I think it’s also difficult because toddlers are loving and jerks at the same time. It’s not that they’re jerk-jerks, they can’t communicate well with each other using words yet so they still revert to slapping, hitting, and biting. I know it’s developmentally normal but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

We’ll be in this class until the end of the year barring any problems, so this is who we have: JerkFace is back. He was in zir first classroom and left us with a bad impression that he’s just renewed. He bullied JB, hitting zir with his jackets, kicking zir, standing over zir so ze couldn’t get up to defend zirself. Any time you walk in, he’s hitting kids, climbing on things he’s been told repeatedly are dangerous, and generally just getting his kicks out of causing harm or dismay. So he sucks.

Zir bestie is there, now, and the two of them are bounding with joy together.

The money part

Year 0

Partway through 2014, I realized the smart thing to do was to start saving for daycare, so we started salting away $2000 a month.

Year 0-1

We spent $1500 on childcare as we tried nannies, sitters, quit for several months, then finally part-time daycare. We continued to save $2000 a month. Between gifts and saving, zir saving account reached a whopping $49,000.

Year 1-2

We stopped saving the full $2000 a month because we couldn’t save that in addition to our 25% savings rate and cash flow the full monthly daycare bill. We spent $19,977 on part-time, then full-time, daycare. Zir savings remain untouched, moderately augmented, even: $66,000.

It’s really scary seeing those numbers. Really scary. At the same time, it helps to see that our savings haven’t been materially diminished, we haven’t lost anything significant in our lifestyle or any true stressors on our marriage, and we’ve been able to truly appreciate the immense joy that JuggerBaby adds to our lives. Even if it does cost many pretty pennies.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Super Saving Tips*

28 Responses to “Our childcare and costs: Winter 2017 update”

  1. Sense says:

    WOW. Those are big numbers. How…HOW do single parents/low income/HiCOLA couples DO IT?! I don’t understand at all–I feel like I’m just about doing OK with just myself, but I dunno if I will ever be able afford a dog, let alone a kid, at this rate. How depressing. As a country, I am sad we seem to be going backwards instead of making strides toward making maternity leave, childcare, etc. both excellent AND affordable, like in other countries. For one, it is good for the kids. For 2, great for women’s rights, equal pay, etc., which is in turn great for families. We have idiots in charge…I digress.

    I’m glad JB is coping OK in care. Darn that bully, why aren’t the teachers addressing this behaviour issue?!

    • Revanche says:

      @Sense: Honestly, it never felt like we could do it but when the time came, we made it work. I know it sounds totally disingenuous and blase to say that but we did the best we could to prepare by living more wisely than expansively and I think those habits made it possible as much as having income did.

      It really is depressing that the country feels like we’re in a totally regressive moment in time, though, more than usual ๐Ÿ™

      Re Bully: The teachers really are doing their best but he’s pretty impervious and doesn’t seem to be motivated by any desire to get on with others, whether kids or teachers. Stinks!

  2. Childcare is crazy expensive, and we were lucky that one of us was always able to stay home. Little Bit did start preschool at 3, and while it was pricey, it was good for her to get the socialization. We lucked out when a friend opened an outdoor preschool when she was 4 and needed students: not only were half days super cheap, but she had two engaged teachers with Master’s in Early Childhood Ed and got to spend all day in the woods. She misses that school dreadfully, but being in public school’s a heck of a lot cheaper.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Gone FishingMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      @Emily: Being physically able and financially able to have a parent stay at home is an amazing thing. It’s a shame Little Bit couldn’t carry on in her school in the woods – that sounds like great fun.

  3. I am SO happy you spoke up for JB. I mean, of course you would, but it is so important from my teacher perspective. Most teachers’ hearts are in the right places. It sounds like complacency or lack of motivation or something happened. I’m not excusing their actions at all. Just the opposite. They needed you to speak up to prevent more of the same from happening. I love it when parents reach out to me and say here’s what’s worked well for my kiddo in the past. I don’t take offense at all. If anyone is going to be an expert on a kiddo, it’s definitely the parent or guardian who spends time with them from day to day and year to year!
    Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies recently posted…Four Ways Weโ€™re Preparing to Earn LessMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      @Penny: I’m sure that it was more complacency than malice that drove the behaviors and choices they made and I’m glad that they were willing to make changes based on feedback. We’d have had a serious problem if they didn’t welcome that input.

  4. I am lucky that here we have it subsidized by the government in Quebec, but when I was in Ontario I was doing the numbers and panicking. It is no joke, childcare. It’s almost like they don’t want us to have children but then berate us for not having them.
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    • Revanche says:

      @Sherry: That’s exactly what it is here – women are only “hosts” and you’re on your own after you breed. It’s ugly.

  5. jestjack says:

    Coming from a different direction….DD1 had her 1st child and she too freaked out over day care. She approached DW to “baby-sit” our grand baby … basically full time over 50 hours a week. DW and I talked it over and felt she should be compensated for such a large commitment. So DW told DD1 that $200 (less than $5/hr.) a week would be the going rate. DD1 seemed OK with it but her husband had a problem even though his parents had NO INTEREST in being daycare providers. We did it for a week and that’s all they could take and enrolled the infant in local “Daycare Mill” for $425 per week. Which is fine as they gross $160K a year. The relationship became more strained to the point I don’t speak to these fine folks … DW is “allowed” to see her oldest grandson about every 3 months…and we have not laid eyes on our youngest grandson who is almost 4 as this is “not allowed””. Childcare IS complicated….

    • Revanche says:

      @jestjack: That’s a huge amount of childcare to ask a parent to do without compensation. When I say “we should expect” them to be our babysitters, the other side of that coin is that they would be living with us, all expenses fully paid for, and their retirement guaranteed by us. They would not have been giving us free childcare.

      At the same time, that doesn’t work for everyone and if you don’t like the care that your parents are giving, then you need to pay up for whatever it is you want.

      Our reality is that I still support my father entirely, and have for nearly 2 decades, but he’s not interested in helping us and that’s something I’ve accepted. Not with great happiness but for as long as I was able, I’ve supported him without ire.

  6. I would have said at one point that young, young children shouldn’t be labeled as “difficult”, but I think differently now. I know a boy who was extremely destructive as a young, young child, and guess what? He still is. I hope that JB is protected from Destructo-Boy in the current class, and that Best Friend more than makes up for his disruptive presence.
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…Donโ€™t Let Your Experiences Determine Your DestinyMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      @Ruth: I admit that I was of two minds about labeling that kid even superficially for the purpose of the blog but it’s anonymous and I would never identify him publicly in any way. I thought and hoped it was a phase but further observation confirms that he’s still this sort of destructive and mean personality a year later. I hope it changes, though. I think JB is doing ok despite his presence right now but it’s not great for the class. All the kids are going to learn from his behavior and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

  7. Linda says:

    That is an astounding amount of money, yet it doesn’t cover all those other costs associated with raising a child. Yikes. JB is lucky that you and PiC are such great planners and providers.
    Linda recently posted…My boon companionMy Profile

  8. Nicole says:

    Childcare costs are crazy expensive, especially here in Northern New Jersey. After Baby #2 arrived, we were spending just about $2K a month for the two of them. Now that Miss Emily has started kindergarten (huzzah!) in our local public school system, we’ve been socking away that money. “Only” 2.5 more years until Miss Jenna is there, too.
    Nicole recently posted…How I Save on TollsMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      @Nicole: are there no public preschool options where you live? Ours are so waitlisted they may as well not exist but they’re So Much Cheaper.

  9. Stephonee says:

    Thank you so, so much for sharing the numbers! As you know, I’ve been evaluating our options in our own high-cost-of-living area, and yeah, it’s similar. As you probably know, we decided to (for now) have me work from home because I can do a substantial amount of my work from here (when the baby naps, that is!), and so the extra monetary benefit of some hours spent working outside the home would not offset the costs of doing so. But boy, is it hard!

    It’s very helpful, though, to have some real numbers to work with. A lot of people we’ve talked to are uncomfortable sharing what they pay for child care, for some reason. (We’ve gotten that information out of a few people locally, but still, would be nice if we had lots of data points!)
    Stephonee recently posted…Just Got Engaged? What to Do FirstMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      @Stephonee: you’re very welcome! I didn’t break it down very far because I thought it’d be far too boring but I’m glad it’s helpful. I found this work from home plus baby was most doable in the infant year but had hoped for a little longer. I hope that you can do it for as long as you want to. That’s honestly the best measure, and there shouldn’t be any guilt involved when you decide you’ve had enough!

  10. As a stay-at-home Dad, it’s a nice reminder to see some of the numbers that I’m saving my household. ๐Ÿ™‚ Granted I have a babysitter twice a week for a half day each time, I’m still saving a pretty penny and getting to enjoy the little ones too. Thanks for sharing your experience with the daycare as well. It’s tough when there are a couple bad apples. They can really ruin an otherwise positive environment. Hope everything smooths out for JB soon.
    Michael @ Financially Alert recently posted…My FBA Project: Part 1 โ€“ Finding My ProductMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      @Michael: I’m glad to affirm your decision to stay home ๐Ÿ˜€ I did love seeing tangibly how much we saved in the first year when ze stayed home with me. Luckily the environment as far as the teachers has changed for the better and JuggerBaby is generally very happy to be at daycare where it doesn’t matter how messy they are, and they get to do so many arts and crafts and activities that I couldn’t come up with on my own and work as well.

  11. I can tell by those numbers alone that you live in a higher COLA than we do. I already knew they, but the same type of care around here runs $15k. Goes up with more kids, but at a discounted rate. So much kudos for being able to pull it off. The husband significantly reduced his work hours and our parents are able to help a lot, which we’re extremely fortunate for. So our bill is zero, minus lost income.

    I used to work in one of those commercially run places. For the most part, accountability is high, but still stay vigilant. Our sister center had a case of abuse and we were all shocked. We had only met the abuser at trainings since we were at different centers, but it goes to show that oversight isn’t always as consistent as the name on the door.

    You guys sound on it, though. Scheduling observations is so proactive and one of the best ways to make sure your kiddo is getting what they need.
    Femme @ Femme Frugality recently posted…Behavioral vs Economic RationalityMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      @FF: We do. We live in one of the highest COLAs in the country and it’s just us around here so we have to both work full time and make full time care work.

      We actually have an open door policy which is even better than scheduling observation – we can drop in unannounced at any time and that’s what gives me more peace of mind.

  12. My kids are grown (with no grandkids at this time) so childcare’s not on my radar, but I wouldn’t have imagined it cost anywhere near that much! It’s quite an investment, but I’m glad you’re able to swing it and JB is for the most part happy with it. On the other hand, I’m sorry to hear that your father isn’t interested in participating. Sounds like you’re making the best of your situation though.

  13. Holy cow, daycare is expensive. Woah.
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  14. […] subsidized in Quรฉbec but not all over Canada, our costs in Ontario for instance, would have been closer to Revanche’s childcare costs. The other amount in 2016 is the cost of his playgroup for the entire year which I attend as much […]

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