Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Planning Ahead: Child Care

A friend who works in child care told me I should get on a waiting list now that I am in the second trimester. I find this mind-blowing. I've always imagined that I could play the "wait and see" game with child care, since I firmly believe that you can't predict how you will feel about it until much, much closer to the time - let alone judge the child's readiness for the situation. I may decide that I love staying home with my child so much that I want to quit my job altogether. Or my child might be so outgoing and busy that the social atmosphere of a child care would be far better for him/her than our home. Or anything in between. I used to scoff at people who would make these decisions when their child was just a few weeks old - now I'm having to plan ahead for it months before the child is even born. It's a little stunning.

On the other hand, I do understand the underlying urgency of it. If I "wait and see" and then decide that child care is needed, I may not have the choice as child care waitlists can be months or even years long. That's kind of terrifying, and probably says something about the policies of our current government, but that's a rant for another day. For now, I have to be the pragmatist and figure out how to deal with the situation I've got the best way I can.

So I went ahead and asked the local CCRR for some referrals. They sent me a list of five child care facilities, but I have no idea how they chose these five out of the dozens we have locally. Are these the ones that have openings *now*? Are they the ones who have long waitlists and may have spots opening by the time I need them in April of 2009? They can't possibly be the five closest to my geographical location, because one of them is 20 minutes away across town. I am clueless.

The first thing I did is try to find all of the facilities online - I found two out of five, and both of those had prices listed. Child care at these two sites is about $40/day. I plan to work part-time after the babe is born, so I'd need child care for three days a week. Moreover, my mother-in-law mentioned months ago in the first pregnancy that she would babysit one day a week, so if she means that, we'd only need child care two days a week.

Assuming a monthly part-time take-home wage of $830, I would then be paying out about $320/month for two days a week of child care and have just enough left over to pay my car loan, insurance, and gas. No groceries, no RRSP contribution, no gym membership or travel fund or haircuts. Luckily for me, though, I have a husband, and he makes much more money than I do, so I guess this is the time in my life when I have to lean on him financially.

If, heaven forbid, Karen doesn't actually want to provide a free day of babysitting and I need to pay for three days of child care, the numbers get a little more bleak. Three days would be over $500/month, leaving me with less money than I'd need to pay my car loan. Ugh.

Despite the bleakness, the figures are actually somewhat *better* than I thought - I thought once I added up the costs, working would be a break-even or slightly better proposal. Even $300/month is something.

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