How To Determine What Child Care Choice Is Right For You

Family Finances

Congrats! You had a baby! And now it’s time for you to transition back to work. It’s hard enough to mentally and logistically prepare for a new job of being a parent, but add in fears plus emotions (hello hormones) plus no sleep and  financial factors … equals,  finding the right child care is the toughest and most important job in the world. 

So how much does child care cost? We’re about to find out…  

I am one of those stressed out moms thinking about what I’m going to do after my baby comes in a few weeks. Since I plan on going back to work, I’m  trying to figure out who will watch my child– and the options are overwhelming. Will one of us be a stay-at-home parent? How will the working parent(s) contribute to childcare? 

It’s time we uncover the costs and break down the choices… Au pair, day care, nanny or me?  

Did you know that child care is the third-largest expense in the family budget, behind food and housing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s crucial to know up front what it’s going to cost so you can look at your budget and plan accordingly.  

The average national daycare rate for one child is over $200 per week. Throw daycare costs of $10,000 a child into the mix. Nannies are even more costly averaging about $28,905 a year nationally, according to Care.com.   

Gulp!  

Daycare Centers  

What Are They? This usually the first thought for most parents. Day care options can be both private-residence family childcare and more commercial (and more regulated) daycare centers.  

It’s important to know your local licensing requirements and regulations. 

How Do They Work? Daycare centers usually have a staff and more children than in-home providers like nannies or au pairs; so this is a great way to socialize your child and  help them develop emotional intelligence and language skills.  

How much will it cost me? Day Care averages $9,697 per year. And around $808 a month 

The Cost for daycare varies widely by state, but it’s going to be expensive. A flex spending account can help defray some of the cost. 

Daycare Center Pros – with their large staff, daycare centers don’t call in sick, and a large number of children give kids plenty of socializing opportunities.  

Daycare Center Cons – their schedules and rules can be inflexible. Kids get less one-one attention, and dropping off a baby in a new environment can be scary  

Au Pair Programs 

What Are They? A young person from overseas who travels to the U.S. to live with an American host family. They help take care of their children and participate in a cultural exchange.  

How Do They Work? With au pair childcare, you have the freedom to schedule 45 childcare hours per week —including night-time and weekend hours. An au pair can get your children out of bed and dressed in the morning, provide supervision, drive them to school, activities, and appointments, do their laundry, fix meals, and help keep their bedrooms clean. Just don’t ask them to do any hard scrubbing or wash windows.   

How much will it cost me? 

Breakdown of program costs: 

Around $1,571 per month 

Families go through an agency (paying a Processing fee- usually $300  to find a vetted provider who seems like a “match.” 

Add in the Program fee which is around $8,495  

Transportation fee – This is to get the au pair  to you 

 $9,983.25 – Stipend ($195.75/week)  This you pay directly to the au pair weekly.  The U.S. State Department requires minimum stipends based on the type of program, the most common of which requires a weekly stipend of $195.75. 

$500 – Education requirement (you contribute $500 towards her classes) 

Au Pair Pros – Convenience and Peace of mind knowing your caregiver is close by and exposure to a new culture, language and way of life.  

Au Pair Cons – the programs end after one or two years, which can lead to some difficult goodbyes for little kids. 

Nanny 

What Are They? You can hire a live in nanny or a live out nanny depending on your preference and of course budget. With a live in nanny, depending on what you include for room and board, you may pay slightly less than what you would pay a live out nanny. 

How Do They Work? Unlike au pairs, nannies are often living in America.  Also unlike au pairs, nannies are not limited to work a certain number of hours, and they provide help around the house.   

How much will it cost me? Many nannies will charge an hourly wage that is significantly higher than minimum wage, but you should pay a nanny at least minimum wage . The cost will depend on where you live, the number of hours, number/age of kids and previous experience. 

According to the 2017 International Nanny Association survey, the average hourly rate is USD $19.14. That’s $861.30 for a 45-hour week. Again, that can vary by state, community, agency, and qualifications of the nanny. 

On average, you should set aside $525 a week for a nanny. Or $3,445.50 per month/ 

Nanny Pros – Someone who will take care of your house, kids and errands. Kids get plenty of one-on-one attention, and having the care in the home can make kids more comfortable. 

Nanny Cons – Nannies aren’t regulated. Well-educated nannies can cost a premium. And kids get fewer socialization opportunities at home. 

Me 

Ok so maybe you’re taking a different route and staying home with baby. Sometimes both salaries are necessary to keep up with expensesI. But if you can do it- you’ll not only find the time together early on is super important, but this obviously saves you money if you’re making less than you would for childcare. 

Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, but it’s a reality that the biggest limit to choices will be the cost. So start saving. The Mint app can help you get started and set budgets. Let us know about your experiences below the comments section! 

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