The Atrocious Cost of Childcare

My mom took care of preschoolers for a living and then later in her career, she moved into the nursery room. It was full of squirming, crying, chubby babies and she had her work cut out for her. She loved her job and found a satisfaction in having a new baby smile at her, but it was also exhausting.  But she provided a much-needed resource. I often wondered how the full-time mothers felt about driving their child so early in the morning, sometimes before it was light, and dropping their babies at the daycare.

Given that childcare is so freaking expensive in our country, it did not make much sense to me that my mom paid minimally. Where was all that money going anyway? It’s not fair that a profession like that is not well paid here. Most of the workers are women and how do you expect to make a decent living out of that?  The other ironic part is that some of the childcare workers needed somewhere to drop off their kids too.  I can’t even imagine what single mothers with minimum wage jobs have to deal with when it comes to childcare.

Because my boyfriend comes from Germany, I have become more aware of the European system when it comes to childcare. He has recently told me that if you have one child, you automatically get a credit of three hundred Euros. Can you imagine how far that money would take you when it comes to buying diapers, baby wipes and formula? And that monetary amount is on top of the free childcare which is available to all people.

One of the reasons that a lot of people are not having kids is that it is so damn expensive. I know that is something that I have thought about in my decision making process. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average a child costs about $245,000 and this does not even include their college education!  If you just look at a childcare cost of $1,500 per month for two kids, you are already at $18,000 per year. You are spending that much to have someone else raise your kid.

At that point, what is the reason for the mother to even go back to work, especially if she has such a low paying job to begin with? She will just be breaking even.

It is really unbelievable that the U.S. does not have proper childcare options in place. I do applaud companies that have daycare at their facilities so that the parents can visit their kids on their lunch hours. And some people are really lucky because they have their parents nearby and are able to just drop them off at grandpa or grandma’s house.

Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury. Maybe I would consider having a kid if I had some other options.

Photo Credit: Jason Parks via Flickr Creative Commons

Jula Pereira

Jula Pereira

I am a freelance writer living the good life in beautiful Sonoma County with my partner and our dog Timmy. Please say hello on Twitter or connect with me on Facebook.

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4 Responses

  1. carmille lim says:

    This is my favorite post so far. I know too many people that just accept how expensive childcare is without second-guessing how absolutely ridiculous it is. Thank you for pointing out this out, and sharing how Germany offers credit. Other countries – particularly in Europe – also have their versions of paternal leave, and paid family leave, which helps to offset the cost (time and money) of raising children.

  2. The saddest part is that even the most educated people never really think through the costs before making the decision. If the cost is $245k before college for an average family, then for a tech worker it is easily in the vicinity of $350-400k. Decent colleges are already $100-150k. And then count the opportunity cost and the incalculable cost of personal time/energy. Just the money cost and opportunity cost comes to be around $1.5m which is a known figure, not made up from thin air. If that is not scary, I don’t know what is. If someone is not desperate to be a parent but still walks that path, it would probably be worse than life in prison.

    • Jula Jula says:

      It’s really true, Childfree Indian. I hear about a lot of people who sign up for parent loans for their children and find themselves in massive amounts of debt. It’s a huge financial and emotional commitment.