I knew it was coming. I knew it was coming a long time ago. I knew it was coming and I knew it would be bad, so I even warned YOU it was coming. What is it? Child care, the cost of.
A month before my son was born (almost a year and a half ago now), I wrote this post about finding child care–and then finding ways to afford it–and I brought up some important points and dished out some good advice (if I do say so myself). What I forgot to do, however, was actually take that advice, and so just a few days ago we found ourselves a week away from being a two-job household again but with no firm plan about who would care for our toddler when our work schedules overlapped three days a week. Uh oh.
I wrote about about dilemma in more detail on my personal blog (and then about the solution the next day), and as much as it makes me cringe to say it, we really did put more weight on the cost of different daycare options than I’d have liked to. Even though the place we ended up choosing–the less expensive place–was the one that also felt better, seemed more appropriate, and offered unique opportunities we’re really excited about, it was definitely uncomfortable to think that every time we pulled out the calculator to compare numbers, we were, in a way, putting a price on our child’s education, social development, and personal safety. (Not that we were deciding between a safe, stimulating expensive place and a dull, dangerous cheap place, but you know what I mean.)
Child care is one of those things that it’s hard to compromise on, even a little bit (you’re turning over responsibility for your child!), and yet sometimes the money aspect forces people to make concessions whether they like it or not. We’re lucky that we didn’t have to, but even the thought that we could put a price on something so precious made me feel heartsick.
Would you ever let cost prevent you from choosing the best child care for your family, or is that something you’d absolutely find a way to afford somehow? Is this an area of parenting where you feel it’s sometimes okay to settle for second- or even third-best? Is there such thing as good enough when it comes to finding a quality yet affordable caregiver?