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Childcare Costs and the Work-at-Home Mother - Live Like a Mensch
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Childcare Costs and the Work-at-Home Mother


I recently hired a babysitter to help me through the infinitely long afternoons that are Tuesdays and Thursdays.

You see, LO is currently attending a language-intensive preschool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The bus picks him up at 8:30 and drops him off again at noon.

The rest of the week, he goes to Montessori from 7:30 (when J drops him off) to 3:30 (when I pick him up).

For most of the year, I would wake up on Tuesday and Thursday full of hope, vim, and to-do lists of all the things I would get done. Yes, BB was home with me in the morning, but he would nap and I could work on my writing. And once LO got home in the afternoon, they'd both nap and I could work on my writing.

Instead, most Tuesdays and Thursdays would find me sitting in the middle of a pile of chaos by the end of the day with no writing done, no children napped, and trail of unfinished tasks in my wake.

Finally, after it occurred to me that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, I hired a Purdue student to come from noon to four so I could close myself in the office and actually get some writing done.

Now, despite the fact that said student does not charge very much and that I really really need the time in order to keep my sanity/deadlines reasonable/etc, I cannot help but notice the fact that between the babysitting, BB's daycare at the Y on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the cost of LO's Montessori, I don't necessarily break even with my income.

(I don't know this for sure, since I'm only doing the mental accounting rather than actually breaking out the old calculator to figure it out. I'm actually a little afraid to discover what the calculator will tell me.)

There have been times when I've wondered why I don't just stay at home with the boys, rather than try to also work from home. After all, if I'm only just breaking even, it might make more economic sense for me to put the career stuff on hold.

There have been times when I've wondered if I should put the boys into more hours of daycare/school so I have more time to work. After all, if I could earn more if I had more time to work, it might make more economic sense for me to have the kids in more childcare during the day.

Very rarely do I feel as though I have the appropriate amount of time to devote to work or to being Mom.

But even if I'm not doing much more than breaking even with our childcare costs, I can't imagine either doubling down on the at-home part of my job description or on the work part of my job description.

That's because I can't imagine seeing less of my boys. There are already days when I feel like I don't get a chance to enjoy them as much as I'd like.

And it's because I can't imagine not having the opportunity to research and write about the topics that fascinate me. There are already days when I think one more repetition of "How Much is that Doggy In the Window?" will send me spiraling into looney-town.

So, I spend close to what I make in order to have the best balance I can muster. I still wish there were more than 24 hours per day and that I could actually have the satisfaction of finishing projects on the same day that I start them.

It feels like I'm attempting to acheive balance on a gossamer tightrope.  Balance may not even be possible.

I will say that I'm ultimately grateful that I have the options I do, even if like so many issues in parenting, it feels like whatever I choice I make will be wrong.

How do you deal with finding economic and time balance as a parent?

Published Apr 11 2014, 02:35 PM by Emily Guy Birken
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