I’ll be honest and throw out something that might be an unpopular opinion: choosing whether or not to put our child in daycare was based 99.9% on the money, not whether or not we felt it was “best” having a parent at home 24/7. You can debate all you want about the merits of working v. staying home, but there are successful examples on both sides of the equation and we were committed to making our decision work, no matter what it was.
That being said, for the sake of simplicity I only considered 3 numbers when evaluating the cost/benefit ratio. I took my monthly income, my monthly cost in gas to drive to work, and the monthly cost of daycare. I did not consider any other bills I currently pay, or registration for daycare. The reason I did not consider any other bills is because if I were to stay home, we’d be paying those out of one income anyway, so including them in the equation muddied an issue that was straightforward:does it cost more to work and put a child in daycare, or to stay home?
Every daycare I looked at resulted in different numbers, but the same net effect. I was only considering infant care at this point, because it gets cheaper as the child gets older and the class ratios increase. Of course, I was really hoping to be able to go with Chain B, as I felt it was the best match. The reason we looked at daycare in the first place is because we both wanted me to have options for continuing my career instead of losing significant time and having to return at an entry-level position, either full- or part-time.
Unfortunately, the math worked out so that, even considering only the cost to commute and child care, it was so expensive I would be bringing home negative hundreds of dollars a month. So I will take my maternity leave, with paid benefits, return to work for 2 weeks, and on the first day back give my notice. I’ll then stay home until our child is older, care is cheaper, and I’ll find some activities I can participate in to try and keep my skills up and sharp.
I will need daycare for those 2 weeks I go to work, and I think I’ll just go ahead and register at Chain B, since they only have 2 spots open for the month we’d start and I’ll need something no matter what.