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#1 of 22 Old 05-10-2002, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi ladies -

I'm a working mom with a 2 year old ina really nice pre-school. I love it, and so does my son- but talk about expensive!

Anyway, I'm expecting #2 in August, and since I'll need to go back to work, we've been trying to come up with ways to get around having both children in this preschool at the same time. Granted, they have a great program for infants, but the fee for an infant is even more expensive than for a pre-schooler.

Have any of you all been faced with the need to work but you barely make it because the child-care is so expensive?

Some notes:
A private nanny wouldn't work - we'd only feel comfortable with a nanny from a licensed agency, and around here they are even more expensive than the preschool.

Has anyone had any creative ideas on how to make a living without going broke paying for child care? We're unfortunately saddled with some expenses right now, so we've both got to work.

Thanks everyone!

ladybug
Mama to 2 year old son
due with #2 August 2002
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#2 of 22 Old 05-10-2002, 04:51 PM
 
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I'm not really much help but I can totally sympathize. I had my son in a great home daycare, paying $90/week. Then my sitter passed away suddenly and I'm looking for a new one. All of the ones that I have found that are worth going to are charging out the ear. Like $150/week for home care We are trying to work out some creative scheduling so ds only ends up in daycare less than 5 hours a day, which would cut our cost in half. I don't know what you or you dp do, but is there a way that you could say go in earlier in the morning and get off early and he could go in later and get off later? Or working opposite shifts? That is whay my parents did when I was young and it worked out great. There isn't alot of family time so you need a really strong relationship to make it work but it can save you bundles in daycare fees. Or if one of you could telecommute, be a work from home parent? I don't know how feasible any of those would be for you but those are all options I'm currently looking into.
Something else I have read about is to get a nanny with a couple of other people. You split that cost of the nanny by how many ever people and then take turns at each house so it isn't one home getting destroyed day after day. Good luck finding something that works for you and your family
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#3 of 22 Old 05-10-2002, 05:27 PM
 
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I, too, can totally sympathize. When I was pregnant, I kept procrastinating looking for childcare because I couldn't stand the thought of putting my new little baby in daycare. Yet I knew I had to go back to work -- we just bought a house and I was in the middle of a two-year contract with my employer. Then when I was eight months pregnant, my husband was laid off from his job. At first, I was totally distraught, because I was about to take an unpaid maternity leave and we needed his income. Now I believe it was a blessing in disguise. My husband has used that time to start contracting from our home so that he could be home with our daughter. It's been a tough, long process, but now, six months later, he's finally starting to get clients and we've been able to keep our daughter out of daycare. We incurred a lot of debt during this time, but with some luck my husband's work will continue to expand. I'm hoping that when my contract ends in a few months that I'll be able to work part-time and that we can take turns watching our daughter during the day while the other works.
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#4 of 22 Old 05-10-2002, 07:17 PM
 
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telekinetic pyro, where do you live that you can find in home childcare for $150/week? We pay $400!! i am dying!!!
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#5 of 22 Old 05-10-2002, 09:06 PM
 
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I'm wondering if you've considered what the net income is when you subtract the added daycare costs? I'm sure you have, but maybe it just isn't worth it and you might find something to do from home? Sorry if this seems simplistic - it's all I can think of!

I sympathise with the high cost of child care, but I have to say that if I were looking after someone's child as a full-time job, making only $150/week would really suck. How can anyone make a living on that income? Considering the responsibility these workers have, placing our children in their care, it seems a pittance for an income. But I guess that's a whole other issue, lol.

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#6 of 22 Old 05-11-2002, 02:14 PM
 
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piglet68 you are totally right. I didn't mean it to sound like childcare providers should be ripped off. That's why we usually pay our nanny extra money on top of the $400, off the books. Because it is a hard job, and it deserves good pay. In fact, when I interviewed my nanny, and we were negotiating the price, she said " well, you should spare no expense when it comes to good childcare for your children"--I thought she was just being a shrewd business woman, but she was absolutely right. Still, my pocket feels it anyway when we pay unemployment, social security, and taxes for her too, though it is absolutely the right thing to do.
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#7 of 22 Old 05-11-2002, 06:20 PM
 
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ladybug-
Know anyone that would want to 'share' a nanny? 3 kids w/one nanny might be a good deal?
Mary
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#8 of 22 Old 05-13-2002, 02:54 PM
 
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Ladybug,
Unfortunately, there is no real advice. I reduced my work hours in half and am currently working 24 hours. The kids are placed in pre school and family day care and that is pretty much my pay check. The reason I am still working is that my son will be going to kindergarten next year which will make financially less painful for me. I also live in a pretty expensive area and I agree that a full time babysitter is a lot more expensive than family daycare. However, my employer is pretty generous with child care expenses which makes it a little bit easier. I just decided to bite the bullet and pay for one more year the outrages tuiton.
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#9 of 22 Old 05-13-2002, 03:26 PM
 
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Holy cow man! $400/week? That is more than I make a week. $1600/month would be 4x my rent and 5x my car payment every month!!! Wow, if I had to pay that much, it wouldn't even be worth my working. I mean $150/week is half my monthly income, that is why it seems so outrageous to me
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#10 of 22 Old 05-13-2002, 04:45 PM
 
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I'd suggest really taking a hard look at what you'll be paying in childcare & associated costs (work lunches, drycleaning, gasoline, wear & tear on your vehicle) against what you'll be making. If it's only a hundred or so a week, why bother?

You could make $100/week housesitting, or providing childcare every Saturday night for a few families (Mom's Night Out), walking the neighborhood dogs, making meals for elderlies, tutoring, giving lessons on an instrument, working as a post partum doula for $15/hour if you like new families & helping out. You could easily make $100 - $300 under the table per week working out of your home, without the hassle of dropping kids off/paying $$$$/working 40-hours per week.

Just a thought. Good luck!
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#11 of 22 Old 05-14-2002, 10:40 AM
 
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It is a tough one. In our situation I tried for 3 years to find a home buisness but not much of it helped out our income. I didn't want to go back to work full time because you miss out on so many money saving things you can do from home. Like home made meals, a garden, garage saling for used children's clothing etc. Besides family time.

I am a nurse so working could considerbly help our income so what we have finally done is I work 2 evening shift a week and my husband works full time days. That way the kids are only with a baby sitter 3 hours 2 times a week. She will watch a 2yo and a 4yo. for a total of $5.00/hr. I also occasional pickup a week-end shift and my husband can be with the kids then.

It is not easy but if you sit down and figure out all the expenses that it costs to work full time, you might make more working part time, nights, evenings or week-ends.
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#12 of 22 Old 05-14-2002, 10:54 AM
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It's really hard, ladybug. If only we lived in a country like Sweden that provided high-quality, government-subsidized child care and lots of paid, job-protected maternity leave. I know I'd be more than willing to pay more in taxes in return for that. I got into a huge argument with this redneck sales rep the other day at my job who was telling me all women should stay home with their babies, but didn't think they deserved any help at all from society at large. How do people honestly think those two things are ever going to reconcile????

Anyway, I digress... can I ask why you would only want a licensed nanny? Here in NYC I don't know anyone who uses a licensed nanny, but many of them are wonderful. You can often find an Irish or Italian or Jamaican woman who can't work on the books, but is lovely and caring and so on. Other than that, perhaps some kind of child-sharing situation with another mom?

This is actually such an impossible situation that I just quit my job last week rather than go through it. I've been working part time and dh has been home with our 8-month-old beanie, but now they want me part time or nothing at all so I said... see ya!
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#13 of 22 Old 05-14-2002, 11:14 AM
 
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Hello Serena,

I sure get you there!

I was hired PRN (as needed) and they pushed me to go to a part time position. I put in my notice and planned to quit. Then they offered me better hours for my family situation so I stayed. It bugs me though because working part time gets a little out of hand sometimes. They want me to go to this training and that meeting and all these little extra's I have to find child care for it hardly seems worth it sometimes.

I sure wish I could find a home buisness that works and stay at home!

Keep plugging away!
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#14 of 22 Old 05-15-2002, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ladies, thank you all for the valuable advice!!

An update on my situation - any advice welcome.
Sorry, this is very, very long


My parents had a live-in housekeeper for 18 years; she was with my family since I was in grammar school. After my mother passed away she moved on, and is now working for another family in another city. She spent the last couple of years with my parents basically taking care of my mother during her illness so my father could work. You know, too many memories, etc. to stay on at my dad's house after my mother's death, so she has moved on but stays in touch occasionally.

Long story short:
Former housekeeper is not a citizen but a resident alien, and has a work permit authorizing her to work in the U.S. - but only for the family she currently works for; if she wants to go to another job, she has to change her paperwork, etc. So, she has suggested her 23 year old cousin, who is looking for a live-in domestic job. The area we live in is desirable to this girl, but I just wanted to list some of my concerns to see what you all think about them - am I being overly cautious, not cautious enough, etc.?

The pros as I see them:
My dad knows the cousin, and if our former housekeeper recommends her, we know we can take her word for it because our former housekeeper is extremely dedicated and trustworthy - she would never recommend anyone (even though it's her cousin) she didn't feel was good for the job. She knows and loves my son, and would never recommend anyone she didn't think would be a good fit for my son and our newborn due 8/25.

What we would pay her would be less than 1/2 the cost of day care for 2 kids - this would be an enormous savings in terms of time and money, i.e. paying day care, carting two small children to school each day, picking up, etc.

Having her live-in would include her taking care of the kids during the day, cooking dinner, general housekeeping and laundry. For purposes of relief, I would not ask that she watch the children after DH and/or I return from work, on weekends, get up with them at night, etc. except under special circumstances.

The cons as I see them:
This would mean having her move into our house, and that would be a huge adjustment for everyone - a lifestyle change. No more lounging around in undies, no night-time 'escapades' anywhere but behind closed doors.

We would need to set her up as an employee, i.e., pay the employer/social security taxes - this would just be a minor hassle in comparison to the other things, though.

My son loves his school and this would mean taking him out of there and losing the interaction with his friends, the structured environment and activities that have been so good for him, and the play facilities especially for kids. He would also no longer have the instruction of the pre-school teachers there who teach the kids a pre-school curriculum.

As far as I know, the girl does not know how to drive and doesn't have a driver's license. I would also really want her to take a first aid course, but I don't know how feasible that would be - finding a class taught in Spanish.

Although I speak Spanish, the girl does not speak English, and so would not be able to communicate with my husband.

I worry about having her care for a toddler and newborn day in and day out. What is it going to do to her? How will she handle it? What if it doesn't work out, then how am I going to gracefully let her go - I'll also be back at square one with regards to child care. Will she be able to successfully manage an infant and very active toddler without going bonkers? I guess that's a question that can be answered only by having her actually try this out. I'm sure this is true for anyone, but given the fact that she will have essentially no support system other than myself and Dh around, I don't know how she'll handle the isolation.

Am I just worrying too much about all this? Having this girl live-in would certainly save us a lot of money and would really help with the household duties I can't seem to find the time or energy to do or do well. But I definitely don't want to sacrifice what's best for my kids in the interest of money or my energy; I'd rather spend the money on taking the kids to this great pre-school my son attends rather than worry all day that the kids and the nanny are ok. *Sigh*

Hey, how come my OB never gave me the manual on how to manage your life after you have kids?? :
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#15 of 22 Old 05-15-2002, 09:10 PM
 
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Here's my two cents, for what it's worth: I would give it a go, but make sure she understands that there will be a "probationary" period where you will both decide (her and you) if this is what you want. Then you can get out of it if you don't like it, and so can she if she is overwhelmed. There are a lot of advantages to having live-in help, and your child will benefit from picking up another language, which I consider to be a great educational asset. I'm sure the girl will pick up English in no time, and you can encourage her to take your son to playgroups and other activities so he can interact with other kids and she can get out and learn English. I understand the appeal of the pre-school and if money weren't the big issue I'd say leave him there, but this situation sounds good for you and he will go to school eventually....I guess the only downside is if it doesn't work out he'll have left his school. Oh, and also I wonder what her attitude towards parenting is. She's quite young and you don't want her using parenting methods that you aren't comfortable with. I hope you find a solution that works for your family!

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#16 of 22 Old 05-21-2002, 11:25 PM
 
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If you want my opinion, I would steer clear of the live-in. I have a friend who hired one through a reputable nanny agency. Six weeks after she started, the friend discovered that the nanny was spending 6 hours a day on the internet searching for dates instead of caring for the 3 yr old and 6 mth old! It helps that you have a referral from the cousin, but I would still be leary if she can't speak English. These years are the formative ones for language and reading. My neice and nephew had a nanny that didn't speak English very well and I think it really hurt the nephew's development.

Perhaps you could look for a group situation...I think someone else suggested that too. Maybe someone in the neighborhood would like to watch your kids along with their own. I personally have pulled my 22 mth old ds out of daycare after 3 months (he was only in for 3 days a week for 5 hours per day). The poor guy was symptomatic all the time, despite still breastfeeding, getting adjusted, and eating a healthy diet. I am having different people watch him on the three days I need to go to my office. Good luck!
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#17 of 22 Old 05-21-2002, 11:41 PM
 
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I was a live in nanny from 17 to 22, and let me tell you, it ain't no picnic from the nanny's end either!!

If this person comes recommended by someone you trust, that is a big plus, and she is old enough to be sensible. Just be aware of what might happen your family's relationship with your former housekeeper if things don't work out with the cousin. My biggest concern would be the lack of English though. A second language for your kids is great, but you guys both need to be able to communicate with the nanny.
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#18 of 22 Old 05-22-2002, 10:49 AM
 
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I found a woman who I thought was pretty good to watch ds for 4 hours a day five days a week. My dad takes him in the afternoon. Well, since he has started going, I have been less than impressed with her but this morning was kind of the last straw. My dh took him in this morning and she was sound asleep on the couch while one of the girls she sits for(who is probably about 6) played on the floor. So now I'm back in the daycare hunt.
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#19 of 22 Old 05-23-2002, 01:49 PM
 
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My opinion, I would try it. Probationary sounds good too. We had a live-in housekeeper/sitter too for a while. A friend in need helping a friend in need. There were drawbacks as you have mentioned, but for us the benefits were worth it.

I dont know where you live, but there is probably a park walking distance and a bus stop too? Bus rides to the library and YMCA etc should work out even with two little ones. And as for Spanish speaking, again dont kow where you live, but I am almost positive there is a First Aid Course available, probably asking your doctor for a recomendation would be enough. Tough that your husband doesnt speak Spanish, but he can proabably pick up some key word quickly, and she will obviously pick up English quickly living here. One idea, it is kindof pricey, but we are all learning French right now using Muzzy tapes. I see Spanish ones for sale on Ebay all the time. They are great for children and adults to learn basic Spanish/English communication. We bought them in early April and already my husband is chatting with our son ok. [I speak French already.]
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#20 of 22 Old 05-24-2002, 10:58 PM
 
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Another alternative I don't recall seeing is to work different shifts. It is hard, but if you need the money, you need the money. We work the 5am to 1.30 pm shift (me) M-F and Dh does 4pm to 12 am Wed and Thur, or 12 am to 8 am on Friday and Sat. . I guess we are lucky to have jobs that offer flex scheduling. Is this an option for you? We have one whole day off together and 2 half days. We eat dinner or lunch with the family every day. It's not too bad. We also only have one car because only one of us has to go somewhere at a time!

The Tabbie Family; DH , DS , DD , a few :, a couple : and me.
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#21 of 22 Old 05-26-2002, 05:01 AM
 
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I'll second the 'tag team' option! Dh & I work opposite shifts- 9pm-5am for me & noon to 8 for him- & so far it's working great! In addition to saving $, I never have to worry about the level of care she's getting. It does cut into our time together, but to us it's a small sacrifice....she'll only be little for such a short time!
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#22 of 22 Old 05-26-2002, 01:35 PM
 
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If you can do it, working shifts is a great idea. I work Thursdays (when the kids spend the afternoon in a daycare), then a Friday/Saturday sleepover - usually start at 4:30 pm on Friday and finish late Saturday morning...so dh just finishes a bit early on Friday (or does extra work after the girls are in bed, as he does a lot of his work from home).

Even with this option, having two kids in daycare means that our daycare costs are approximately 20% of my paycheck - and they are only there 1 afternoon a week! It's definitely expensive when you have two.

The nanny idea sounds OK, especially if it's on a 'trial' basis at first. And I would LOVE the idea of someone who didn't speak English - how old are your kids? If they are little ones (I'm assuming they are), if the nanny just speaks Spanish to them, they will probalby pick it up very quickly and become bilingual - that would be a plus! And living with you, I'm sure the nanny would quickly pick up English.

Good luck - hope it all works out for you.
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