How would you feel if the price of daycare dropped giving you an extra $250 per month? We'd all be having an emoji working mom party. A 2016 Care.com member date report showed the average cost for center-based infant care is around $10,468 per year, and for toddlers, it’s $9,733. Given the financial cost of daycare, there's no wonder that 85 percent of working parents would love it if their employers offered childcare benefits.
The Economic Policy Institute has a comprehensive chart on the cost of childcare in each state. If you live in New York, then your annual daycare cost is an average of $14,444. That represents 21.2 percent of the median family income in the state of New York. Infant daycare costs in New York represent a 205.2 percent share of public college tuition (college tuition! $6,892) and a 94.1 percent share of the annual rent findings of $15,030. Those are some hefty percentages cited by The Economic Policy Institute, and they aren’t that pretty throughout the rest of the U.S either.
These are the infant day-care costs in 10 other States according to the Economic Policy Institute:
New Jersey — $11,534,
Washington — $12,733
DC — $22,631
California — $11,817
Texas — $8,759
Massachusetts — $17,062
Florida — $8,694
Rhode Island — $12,867
Georgia — $7,644
Pennsylvania — $10,640
While we don’t have total control over the average cost of daycare, after-school programs, or a nanny, we can control the derived value.
1. Get involved in the future of daycare.
One of the best ways to add value to a service is to help improve it in the short and long term. Holly Flanders, a childcare consultant from Choice Parenting, says, “Offering parents night/weekend family events during non-work hours can be an amazing way for centers to offer their staff more hourly compensation and a type of 'wellness' that is healthy for family, staff and community bonding.” Ask your daycare provider what their center plans are and offer to help in simple ways.
2. Work a job you love.
Working gives us a sense of purpose. If you’re happy at work, then you’re likely to see more value in the cost of daycare. In over seven years of experience as a Career Coach, I’ve found that individuals often dislike their jobs because it doesn’t utilize their strongest and desired skills, abilities or values. Or they don’t get on well with a boss or co-worker. Being underpaid is also a frequent reason individuals dislike their job. Perhaps, you don't like your job for a combination of those reasons. If you're feeling overwhelmed with the task of finding a better employment, get support and start with small, impactful steps.
3. Do your part to decrease what experts say is key.
Marcy Whitebook, the director of Berkeley's Center for the Study of Early Child Care Employment, noted that turnover in early education centers is often about 20 to 30 percent. The stability of staff is one aspect that experts recommend parents consider when choosing a daycare provider. Turnover sometimes occurs when low wages don’t compensate for the demands of the role. Express gratitude to your little one's teacher in their preferred way. A smile and a positive attitude go a long way; you’ll also want to do all you can to make sure your child regularly sleeps well. Poor sleep can increase the chances of children being irritable and hyper aka more hard work.
4. Form comprehensive questions based on your values.
What are five things you value about sending your infant or toddler to daycare? When your monthly daycare bill goes out instead of seeing it as a daycare expense see it as a price you're paying for your five values. Jot down your number one value and make a note to talk about it at your next parent meeting. Thinking of questions ahead of time can help you have a more comprehensive discussion especially if you frame your questions using the five W’s (who, what, where, when, why), and how.
5. Capture the memories.
Dr. Sally Goldberg, a professor of education and parenting book author, believes "A parent wanting to provide “age-appropriate activities” is better off turning to a preschool staff than relying on a nanny." Children get up to a lot of stuff in daycare. Make sure you capture all the memories. It can be helpful to schedule time on your calendar to save pictures and videos on a hard drive or electronic device. That way you're frequently creating storage space before you need it.
6. De-stress, energize and problem solve.
A daycare is a great place to make friends with new moms. Chances are you have similar values to other parents, live in nearby errors, and share similar experiences given that your kids are close in age. Being part of a community of like-minded mom’s can give you the energy you need to be an even better parent. A motherhood community can also provide a place to vent, problem solve and reduce stress. If there isn’t already a Facebook group or a group on a similar platform with the moms in your kid’s class, then why not start one?
7. Use what you’re paying for and...
Don’t forget to ask for recommendations, too. Daycares are often perfect places to find recommendations for child-related services or products. Doing so is a great way to save time and money. Balancing work, children, and self-care isn't easy, and it definitely keeps us busy, getting quality and quantity sleep has a domino effect on our career, parenting, and our health. Pull out the welcome paperwork, visit your parent portal and make sure you’re fully aware of all the bells and whistles offered by your daycare provider.
The cost of child care can be hefty for even a two-parent family with a high household income, and especially for single-parent families or low-income families. But you can make the most of daycare centers. As always, I’m rooting for you and of course hoping the average cost of daycare drops. But in the meantime, I’m sure you’ve found a solution or two or feel more inspired.
Rachel Montanez is a career coach and career development speaker. Check out her website here and connect on LinkedIn here.