Childrearing

It’s Impossible To Be Prepared For The Cost Of Daycare So Don’t Even Try

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shutterstock_126138524__1393347962_142.196.167.223-160x200According to a report by Child Care Aware America, the annual costs of infant day care exceeds the average cost of in-state tuition for public colleges in 31 states. You read that right – in a majority of states, day care is more expensive than college. You better start planning for your family before you even know you want one!

An article in the Washington Post yesterday brought this unbelievable fact to my attention. It made me realize that I am not crazy for thinking that day care costs are astronomical and everyone who doesn’t agree is either rolling in money, or nuts. The writer points out that it typically takes a child’s entire young life for parents to tuck away money for a college fund: “Considering that child care is an equivalent, if not greater, expense and that the average maternal age at first child birth is 26, this suggests that we should similarly start putting money away for day-care expenses when we’re roughly 8 years old.”

Wow. I was much older when I had my first child – but the comparison is just as inane. With my first child being born at 38, I would have had to start putting away money for childcare when I was 20. Somehow, that wasn’t a priority for my globe-trotting 20-year-old self.

It seems we all need to just accept the idea that if we decide to have children, we basically need to devote our lives to planning for it. So, if you want to give your children the foundation for starting a young family and being as ready as they can be – I guess you can replace your eight-year-old’s “birthday registry” with some savings bonds for their future pre-schoolers. That’s not depressing or anything.

This isn’t an ideal scenario, is it? And I just imagine it’s only going to get worse, as the cost of things don’t tend to fall, do they? A Pew research report released this week explained why so many more women were SAHM’s now – and it all boiled down to finances. Child care is crazy expensive and no one can figure out how to get around it.

When I was a kid, you didn’t go to preschool. Your first day of school was kindergarten – and it was public and paid for by your parent’s tax dollars. My mother carted me to work with her on her maid jobs – behavior that is typically frowned upon today. I was a latch key kid by the time I was in second grade – and my sister, who is five years older than I am, was “watching” me since my earliest memories. Times have changed and this behavior is now unacceptable. Everyone agrees that early childhood development is important and those in the field need to get paid for their work – but not as many believe it’s something that needs to be subsidized. So what are parents supposed to do about this conundrum?

What used to be a typical life occurrence that everyone was agreeably entitled to, is now something you better be financially prepared for or – your fault! The punchline is that it’s almost impossible to be financially prepared for these kinds of costs in this kind of economy – so good luck! You wanted kids! Stop complaining!

(photo: Iaroslav Neliubov/ Shutterstock)