Being 100 percent focused on work and 100 percent focused on one's children simultaneously is simply impossible. While working from home means that parents could spend more time with their children, it does not mean that working parents have all the time to spend with their children.
That's why parents who work from home might still want to consider day care options.
"I have three kids, and I work from home," explains Lifehacker writer Beth Skwarecki. "Even when I had one kid, or two, that 'What do you do?' conversation you have with semi-strangers always evolved into their admiration that I manage to juggle the kids and the job. Sometimes they ask how I do it; sometimes they say 'I tried that, but it was too hard.' People. Stop. I have a secret, and it is day care. There is no way I could focus with three small children roaming underfoot. I’m reminded of this every snow day or sick day: taking care of kids is work."
Of course, day care is expensive. In fact, the average cost of daycare in the United States is $11,666 per year (or $972 a month), according to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. Prices range from $3,582 to $18,773 a year (or $300 to $1,564 monthly), which means that, regardless of how inexpensive your daycare center feels comparatively, it still costs you a pretty penny.
That said, the cost of childcare is dependent upon where you live, your child’s age and how many hours a week your child or children spend in daycare. But it could also be dependent upon the type of childcare you choose — because you do have a choice. There are affordable alternatives such as going through nonprofits and government-funded programs, hiring an au pair and recruiting neighborhood teenagers to babysit (in this case, in the summer when they're off from school).
But Skwarecki makes a point to say that, if there are two parents involved and the kids are in day care, both parents can work.
"The right way to do [the day care cost] calculation is to look at the costs and benefits to the whole family," she explains. "Don’t forget to factor in the cost of not using day care, too. Taking time off to take care of a kid can lead to a resumé gap and a wage gap that you’ll struggle to recover from."
The wage gap is already tough for women to beat, so time off from work could possibly exacerbate it. That's because women not only start out with lower salaries than men, according to a recent report, Women Can’t Win: Despite Making Educational Gains and Pursuing High-Wage Majors, Women Still Earn Less than Men, but their increases in pay are also lower over time. The research found that men with bachelor degrees see their annual earnings increase by 87 percent over their careers, but women with the same degree only receive a 51 percent increase in their annual earnings over the course of their careers — so taking time off could mean that the gap might widen even more.
Moreover, childcare doesn't only prove invaluable to a lot of parents. Day care can also prove critical to children, too. Early childhood care plays a role in children's development, according to the Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development. Recent research emphasizes the long-lasting effects of early environmental influences and their significance for emotional security, cognitive development and learning skills.
There also is sufficient research to conclude that child care does not pose a serious threat to children’s relationships with their parents or to children’s emotional development, according to the Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development.
If some form of day care is both affordable and accessible to work-from-home parents, it makes sense to look into it at the very least.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.