Million Dollar Journey

Questrade Democratic Pricing - 1 cent per share, $4.95 min / $9.95 max

Building Wealth through Saving and Investing

Welcome to Million Dollar Journey! If you're new here, you can learn about me, read our user guide, and even follow my net worth updates. A great place to start reading is with the popular articles located in the right side bar. If you would like to join thousands of others and keep up with the free daily updates, you can subscribe to the RSS feed via reader or E-mail.

On your way out, make sure to check out the exclusive Million Dollar Journey Freebies and Deals.

The Choice Between Daycare and Staying at Home

I guess I had it coming when posting about putting our child in daycare after writing about buying a new TV and new furniture. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s what a reader emailed me.

First off I must say I quite enjoy your pieces. I do however completely disagree with the childcare road your are contemplating. You may say it’s a personal choice issue and it is.

It’s ironic that you would go out and buy a nice big TV and new furniture which does in fact sacrifice the timeline of your “Million Dollar Journey” yet you aren’t thinking of doing it for your kids with one of you staying home and taking a small part of your life (0 – 5 or 6 years, recognizing that it could be 7 – 8 years if you have 2 kids 2 years apart). Yes, you can “care” for your kids but who will care is the best day care in the world? Who will offer them unconditional love, where you will get a ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 attention?

Life is long. Your kids are with you for a relatively short time. I hope sooner rather than later you realize that and make the sacrifice… for them. It seems you are creative and determined enough to make it work if you want it to. You won’t regret that choice. I guarantee that.

To summarize the email, the reader is basically stating that we’re putting making money ahead of getting the best care for our children. I guess since I fully disclose everything about my financial life, it may seem that all of our decisions revolve around money. While this may be true a lot of the time, it’s only partially true in this circumstance.

With two professional careers in the household, it is very difficult to drop it completely for 5 years or so and jump back onboard. In fact, there are some professional careers that require practicing so many hours per year or else the license to practice will be suspended. My wife’s career is just the case, which is the reason why she has chosen to work part time following maternity. While we are grateful that her employer has accepted her as part time, they’ve implied that they will only allow it for a limited time (1-2 years max). During this time, the grandparents will care for the bambino on the days that we are both working.

The next option would be for me to take time off to take care of the little one. Personally, I would probably enjoy being a stay at home Dad. However, being an Engineer, it is very difficult to get back on the career path after an extended leave. I’ve also never seen or heard of part time Engineer positions as most positions are project/goal oriented.

Although daycare may not provide the same love and attention that a parent would, we feel that it does provide a social atmosphere that is not available at home. In addition to that, the childcare programs that we are looking at have educational aspects to them such as getting them a head start on other languages such as French.

In conclusion, there is no cookie cutter answer to the childcare or stay at home question. For us, we could probably make it work financially (with all the child tax credits) if one of us were to stay at home, but we would end up giving up our careers, perhaps for the rest of our lives. Even though we are heavily considering daycare, we haven’t completely made up our minds yet.







55 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1. Rebecca

    Even money considerations aside – day care can be hugely beneficial for children, who learn to be around others and socialise from an early age. Working part-time and giving kids a couple half days of day care each week can be a great way to get the best of both worlds.

  2. 2. George

    There are pros and cons to daycare, and pros and cons to staying home with the kids. While your kids might get “unconditional love” if they stay home, there’s nothing saying they won’t get the same at daycare – our kids are in an awesome daycare, and the staff there truly do love the children to bits.

  3. 3. Stefam

    It is a personal choice, and it all depends on each couples’ situation, taking into account money, career and other things. For my wife and I, who have one son who is in daycare, we would find it tough to stay home every day for several years. I say this because some people are better are coming up with ideas on how to teach your children, places to go, things to do, you can’t just sit at home when your home. For some people this may be too much, and would need to get out and interact with adults. If you where to stay home and get all stressed and have cabin fever, you’re not going to give you child the proper loving full attention. This way, we go to work, when we come home, weekends and holidays we spend all our time together and absolutely love it. His daycare is great, he is exposed to other kids, which he wouldn’t be at home, and he is learning many things there.

  4. I can’t stand when people decide that staying home with your kid is the best way to go and judge accordingly. There are lots of benefits of daycare and lots of benefits in having a stay-at-home parent.

    As has been mentioned there are very different circumstances and different families/kids. A lot of families put themselves at higher financial risk by having 1 parent stay home – even if the kid is better off, are you really doing them any favours if you have some sort of financial calamity?

    In our case my wife is at home with the kids – a lot of this has to do with her career – she quit a job she didn’t like before having our first child so at this point she isn’t really giving up much since she doesn’t have a job to go back to. Now that we have 2 kids it’s hard to justify her going back to work because of the daycare costs. It’s also very nice that we don’t have to rush around dropping off/picking up kids and trying to do errands outside of work hours.

    Another factor is the parent – I love spending time with my kids but I can’t do it full time – you couldn’t pay me enough to stay home 24-7! As Stefan mentioned – I found that if I spend too much time with my kids then the quality of that time was not as good as when I spend limited time with them (ie before and after work and weekends).

    Another factor is security – what if mom stays for 7-8 years and Dad takes off/goes nuts/dies etc – Mom will be working for minimum wage trying to support the kids since her original career has probably disappeared.

    I really don’t understand that reader drawing a connection between tvs, furniture and daycare – you never once mentioned that you couldn’t afford to have a parent stay home – it was just something you guys had decided.

  5. 5. ceely

    I agree with what four pillars said.

    The person who wrote that comment is probably a stay at home parent.

    That is fine, but don’t judge other people because that is not what they choose.

  6. 6. Marianne O.

    Add me to the list of people supporting the choice to put kids in day care.

    My husband and I each took 6 months parental leave after each of our two kids was born (me for age 0-6 months, due to breastfeeding; him for age 6-12 months).

    We were glad to stay home for the first year, and are equally glad to be back at work now. By the end of my 6-month stint, I was becoming a VERY grumpy mom. Even now (when the kids are 3.5 and 1.5) it’s a relief to get back to the office after a weekend of intensive childcare.

    Like your reader, MDJ, some of my family make critical comments (e.g. “why have kids if you’re not going to raise them?” arrgghh!). They don’t realize that although the current arrangement means that the kids see their parents for fewer hours per weekday, those are now MUCH happier hours for all of us.

    I think it would surprise some die-hard stay-at-home advocates just how happy and functional a family can be with both parents working outside the home.

  7. 7. Ramona

    I guess everyone is allowed to have an opinion, but I don’t recall you asking anyone whether you should BUY A TV, or stay home with your kids. I wish my world was as perfect as your other reader. Personally, I kept my son with me at work (family business) until he was 3. At which time he needed more, so I put him in montessori, 4 mornings a week. This worked out well although it cost a lot more as you can imagine. When he was in Grade 1, I was in a position to take the year off, and I was able to provide a lot of hands-on support at school and home. Since that time, I have worked full time, my son has experienced different types of care – babysitter, school program, grandparents, and today I look at my 15 year old who is very well adjusted and happy. Could I have stayed home all these years? Possibly. Would he have been better cared for? Probably not. FT if you want to buy a TV, buy a TV. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your children. And please keep writing the good write.

  8. 8. Ben

    Socialization is a very important part of a child’s cognitive development and there is no way a child is getting enough exposure when staying at home with a parent. Taking a child for walks in the mall or to swimming lesson once a week just doesn’t cut it. He/she must be placed into new situations where they are forced to start making their own decisions; good and bad.

    I hate to say it but keeping your children at home is a selfish move and one that will come back to haunt them later in life.

  9. 9. Tim Shephard

    It’s an interesting conundrum.

    For some parents, day care is a superior solution because it is quite possible that their children will not get a great upbringing by parents unhappy about sacrificing their careers. Little children can be frustrating for parents who are happy about being stay at home parents! Imagine how hard they are on parents who are not happy.

    It’s also important to realize the dedication to ones career is a great role model for you children to show them the importance of being passionate about something.

    However, personally, my advice, is to let go of the notion that ‘careers’ and the desire for money is the optimal way to be passionate.

    It’s important to realise that nowadays, we are a pretty wealthy world. We can all survive just fine without the big houses and nice cars. The rampant consumerism is not particularly necessary, and in fact, is somewhat destructive if you look at the pollution it causes. Once you internalize that, you may find it easier to give up on your careers.

    I’m not saying don’t work hard, do for sure, but don’t necessarily think working for money is the best way to be passionate. Teaching your children is also very laborious and is a great way to be passionate. Contributing to the world in a positive way at a job that might pay less, is a great way to be passionate. Spending your time volunteering for worthy causes is a great way to be passionate. Spending your time accumulating little pieces of paper? Hmmm..

    I think it is also important to remember the tone of these blog posts as well. They are somewhat materialistic (“The million dollar journey!”) and reflecting on that fact isn’t such a bad thing, which is something the blogger did, which is impressive in itself.

    To summarize, I personally agree with the ‘criticism’, but from what I’ve seen the blogger has a lot of other strengths which certainly makes up for some of his flaws. I suspect his children will be lucky indeed to have such interesting parents, even if they spend some time in a french immersion daycare.

    Probably even luckier than some children with parents who have chosen to be stay at home parents because they can’t figure out anything better to do with their lives.

  10. 10. Chuck

    My daughter is deathly shy (like me) so I’d much rather see her in a daycare where she can start building relationships with other kids.

    My mother was a stay at home mom and I had little interaction with other kids until I started kindergarten, which IMHO is too late. Because as an adult “I don’t play well with others”, and “demand others on my team maintain my own standards of excellence”

    Dollars aren’t an issue, but when we look at our cash flow, daycare is our second biggest outflow. When putting on our keeping up with the jonses hats, my wife and I find it frustrating that people who earn less than us can carry a much bigger house than us beacause they have a parent from the old country who can watch the kids for free.

    For us we do a lot to maximize the time we do have with our kids. So the moments together count.

  11. 11. Dedicated Dad

    Great topic and some great posts already.

    Wow, FT, you have to have pretty thick skin to accept pot shots like that one and turn it into a new post for all. I agree that it comes off as very judgemental (& self-righteous) to decide that staying at home is right for your situation and then assume it’s the best way for everyone else, too.

    I’ve definitely seen, first hand, that many of the kids who have the most difficult transition into formal schooling are the ones who’ve been home with Mom or Dad during the pre-school years. I’ve even seen those transitional difficulties actually take away from the learning experience of the child, as well as, others in the class. It may seem convenient but, there are socialization benefits for the child to attend daycare, for sure.

    Another factor to consider is the cost of living in your area. My wife and I both work fulltime, we love our kids (4 & 6), struggled with this decision and hate to say good bye at the daycare each morning, even though it is an excellent, loving environment. But, we also live in the GTA. Even with a good household income of $150K (gross), it sometimes feels like we barely get by. We have about 60% equity in our home, but even without the $14K/year we spend on daycare, after household expenses, contributing to RESPs, & other investments related to our retirement plan, we live on very little monthly disposable income. We absolutely couldn’t make it without both incomes. We live in a suburban area (30 min. outside the core) that we chose carefully for the lifestyle it affords for the family & kids, so we’re not even talking in-town RE prices (I also do not have a large flat panel TV, either!).

    Perhaps, your original commenter might say, “if you really loved your kids, you could sacrifice and downsize to a less expensive home, or even to a smaller town, etc.”, we’ve tried that (at least downsizing) and previously lived in a home with half the sq footage of our current home. But, with a large extended family (and a growing one of our own), it was too small and the overall cost of living in the GTA still had a similar effect anyway. Our jobs are here, and close family relationships also keep us here. There is also great value for my kids to intimately know their Grandparents. The solution for us was to lock in RE value gains experienced to that point (3 yrs ago) and leverage into more house in a great community, a bit further out.

    One other factor is that part of our financial plan is to save enough to put the kids into private schools, at least for their secondary school years. That is an example of what I’d call real sacrifice out of love for your kids and trying to give them the very best start in life, possible. Due to high cost of living factors in our area, this goal will likely be impossible (& unthinkable) without two fulltime incomes for the foreseeable future.

    IMHO, people should give consideration to a much wider array of factors before judging the lifestyle choices of others, as your original commenter seems to have done to you.

  12. Child care is really one of those sticky issues that are completely a case by case basis on what works for the family. It is money related, but lots of emotional issues as well. This is no one answer.

    As to Tim’s comment above:

    “I think it is also important to remember the tone of these blog posts as well. They are somewhat materialistic (”The million dollar journey!”) and reflecting on that fact isn’t such a bad thing, which is something the blogger did, which is impressive in itself.”

    You are reading a personal finance blog of course some of the posts are materialistic based! It’s part of FT’s style and there isn’t a thing wrong with it. If you want touchy feeling personal finance, go read JD or Trent.

    Tim

  13. 13. Start-Up

    Engineers are capable of working part-time. You can work as a consultant and only pick and choose projects to work on. There are a few engineers that work at my company only part-time. The rest of the time they are working on other projects, but they are still only part-time at my company. You would not get benefits, but im assuming you could get them from your wife.

  14. 14. Tim Shephard

    There is a difference between financial security and materialism.

    I think a rational approach to ensuring your money is invested wisely is an enlightened thing to do. Going out and buying new TVs and Furniture .. not so much.

    Personally, I wish the government would just tax the hell out of anything that wasn’t a strict necessity (food, clothing, reasonable shelter, education, health, etc) and eliminate income taxes all together.

    But anyways, I’m not here to roll in the mud. I think FT is a great blogger and an important contributor on the Canadian scene. He posted a criticism about himself which I happened to agree with, and I think he was open to a bit of reflection. Kudos to him. He’s human and realises that like all of us, he has flaws. I know I certainly have mine. (Damn you coke zero!!!)

    No kudos to those people who want to turn this into yet another internet mud slinging match..

  15. 15. Tim Shephard

    Besides, have you ever thought about the compound interest impact if he invested rather than outlaid the cash on that TV & Couch? He’s setting back his journey .. what, months? if not even a year?

    I’d like to add though about the Grandparents thing. That is truly an awful dilemna. I live in an area that is probably one of the most expensive postal codes in Canada. And it’s pretty much because the grandparents are here and we don’t want our children to miss out on that.

    RE prices have certainly caused a lot of family stress these days.

  16. 16. Kristina

    I’m an engineer, my fiance is as well. Which has lead to some great child care discussions. Like what the difference is between me being a half time, and an 80% time employee is… it’s like almost being on the mommy track vs. almost being on the full time track!

    I just turn around and ask him the same questions about his career. It’s interesting he percieves my career as being more flexible… when he works two part time jobs (one consulting gig mon, wed & fri) and one half-time gig Tues/Thurs… I think it’s just that society is more accepting of flexible female careers – even in predominantly male fields.

    Then we have discussions about how we’d give up less money if I stayed home vs. him, only because I’m five years younger – I would be earning similar amounts at his experience level, as long as I don’t take much time off for children. Why sacrifice all of my earning/learning potential?

    My ideal solution would be two 80% careers, and a 2-3 days of daycare a week. Here’s to hoping I can swing it :)

  17. 17. Dadtopics

    I just had this conversation with my wife last month. We decided that the daycare route had far more advantages than disadvantages. We are very happy with our daycare and appreciate the amount of planning that goes into their daily activities. If one of us stayed home, our children would have less access to activities & sports, would not travel as much as we currently do (1-2 international vacations per year), and have much less education savings when they are older.

  18. What a good response to a rude, presumptive and holier-than-thou comment. Many of us survived, and thrived, with working mothers (and it’s generally the woman these commenters want at home …) and are delighted to see our mums thriving on the other end.

  19. 19. Gates VP

    FT: Kudos to your for putting yourself out there in a very real way. As mentioned by a few posters, I honestly think that having at least a trusted part-time daycare is a really good idea, even you do stay at home. And spending money on a big-screen TV is a fair use of your money, it’s the Million Dollar “Journey” not the Million Dollar “Hoarding”.

    FT, I’m going to sling a couple of things your way and I may sound like an ass, but I mean it in a very caring fashion:

    …it is very difficult to drop it completely for 5 years or so and jump back onboard…but we would end up giving up our careers, perhaps for the rest of our lives

    Pure illusion. You’re telling me that a teacher can’t leave their position for 5 years and then simply “come back”? Would it be “very difficult”? Probably not. It would be “an adjustment”, you may be “a little rusty”, but you don’t wake up 5 years later and forget how to teach. You’re not suddenly irrelevant after 5 years away, you may not be further up the payscale, but 10 years experience is still 10 years experience.

    Moreover, this makes the dangerous assumption that you’re going to spend 5 years doing nothing related to your career. You’re in engineering where things change at a reasonable pace. But let’s face it, you’re not going to “turn off the tap” for five years and then just walk back in. You’re going to read blogs, you’ll pick up a new book or do some continuing ed courses in your free time. You’ll join the Professional Engineering Group and maybe do some volunteer stuff (Member-at-large) just to keep “in the loop”.

    However, being an Engineer, it is very difficult to get back on the career path after an extended leave. I’ve also never seen or heard of part time Engineer positions as most positions are project/goal oriented.

    Based on what? How many engineers have you ever met or read about that took 5 years off and then were unable to find a job?

    Consulting engineers do single projects all of the time. Most engineers I know are concurrently working on 2-6 different projects. Offer to do 1 or 2 projects on a consulting basis and you are magically “part-time”. Most firms don’t offer part-time because most engineers don’t want to work part-time (who gets a 4-year degree just to work 20 hours / week?) and b/c they tend to get more mileage out of the salaried workers. Just b/c the jobs aren’t posted doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    My father is 50+ and he’s considered doing this as part of his “retirement” path. He started a new job a few years back b/c he was worried that nobody would really want to hire on people after 50. Now he gets regular head-hunting calls. In fact, there are 5 guys in his office right now doing part-time consulting work in temporary cubes. At least a few of them are returned “retirees” working on a project basis.

    Either way, I think that you’re unfairly writing off some legitimate options based on nebulous fears.

    You are likely going to have a 40+ year career. You’re probably not going to die for another 55+ years. Measure out 5 years into those numbers.

    (PS: again, I admire that you’re putting yourself “out there”)

  20. 20. sundae1888

    Day care is something which is on the top of my mind right now — my due date is less than 2 months away, and my friends are all telling me the better daycare centres have waiting list of 1-1.5 years!

    I have seen a few examples of kids raised by stay-home moms, and they seem to pick up skills, especially social skills, later than kids in daycare. Plus, if there’s only one child in the family, I sometimes feel sorry for the kid because he seem so lonely when he plays by himself.

    The downside of daycare, as many are well-aware, include the high cost, time away from parents, and getting sick more easily. Even ignoring the career side of the equation, things aren’t clear-cut.

    My current employer is very flexible, and I can probably arrange to work part-time or shifted hours full-time so my child doesn’t have to be in daycare full-time when he’s still young. Besides, from a strictly financial point of view, my take-home income will be more than sufficient to cover the cost of daycare and a second car for my commute.

    However, I was considering a career change before I found out I was pregnant. If I choose to switch field by the end of my mat leave, I will probably need to go back to school and/or take a significant pay cut, not to mention commit more time away from my child. At this point, the career change doesn’t seem to be the best option, and sometimes I feel I’m constrained by my upcoming child.

  21. Million Dollar “Hoarding”. Lol.

    I’m afraid I don’t agree with you Gates – at all…

    You’re telling me that a teacher can’t leave their position for 5 years and then simply “come back”?

    If said teacher tries to go back at a time when the boards are not hiring then it will be very difficult.

    You’re going to read blogs, you’ll pick up a new book or do some continuing ed courses in your free time. You’ll join the Professional Engineering Group and maybe do some volunteer stuff

    Not if you are looking after your kids you won’t.

    Offer to do 1 or 2 projects on a consulting basis and you are magically “part-time”.

    How many projects are part-time? Most consultants I know work full-time hours but they might have breaks in between projects – if you average it out over a year it might end up being part time hours but you will most likely still be working fulltime when you are working.

    My father is 50+ and he’s considered doing this as part of his “retirement” path

    Apples and oranges – FT is in his late 20′s, has a new house etc – they need to make some money!!

  22. 22. Tim

    I think it’s important to point out that there are plenty of socializing opportunities for the ‘stay at home’ mom who certainly doesn’t have to stay at home.

    Play groups are a very common approach, as as well as friends with PlayDates. These provide chances for the engaged mother to ensure that her child is being properly raised.

    Certainly, if you can get a daycare which you feel will raise your children as well if not better than you, then it’s a reasonable option. I think the big downside is a decreased amount of bonding with the parent which might cause issues later in life when the child feels less connected with the parent. Early childhood has a critical impact on development.

    However, these are all just guesses and anecdotal remarks. I don’t think there is any credible evidence really either way if daycare is (on balance) good or bad for children. If there is, I’d love to see some citations. :)

    Just to be clear though, this is a decision everyone has to make on their own. Just because I (or someone else) is sharing their thoughts and feelings on the subjects doesn’t mean we think, for even a second, that we could make the decision for other people.

    I appreciate the temptation to think that our criticism is actually a veiled attempt to ‘run other people’s lives’, but it really isn’t. It’s just our feedback, which I think was the point of this blog post.

  23. Gates, don’t know what line of engineering FT is in, but if it’s anything in the construction sector I can assure you it is pretty rare to find part-time professionals on all but the lowest rung (ie, stuck doing CAD junk and photocopying) or the very highest. Managing teams/deadlines and part-time don’t mix too well in this environment.

    But regardless, FT & Mrs. FT have made the best decision for their family, and we shouldn’t be micro-analyzing his points!

  24. Guinness416,

    I have to agree. Most engineers I know that pull any part time do it on a project by project basis. So they do 40+ hours a week for 6 weeks then take off the next four weeks. Any project based work is hard to do part time. You are either in the project or out. You can’t really do it halfway.

    Tim

  25. 25. Gates VP

    FP: If said teacher tries to go back at a time when the boards are not hiring then it will be very difficult.

    OK, this is definitely a reality stretch here. At the worst you may have to start your job search a little earlier or spread the net a little wider. You may have plan to go back when the child is 4, 5 or 6. But hey, you made it 4 years without the second income, you should be able to handle a few months either way.

    You’re not going to end your career and be forever barred from the teaching profession because you took some time off. You don’t suddenly “un-become” a professional engineer b/c you didn’t work last year. You may have to pay some dues, but your local PEGG isn’t going to tell you that you may never practice engineering again just b/c you haven’t worked for a few years. They may require a “brush-up” exam, but they don’t give you a one-way ticket.

    Look, I agree that you will have to put some extra effort in to the job search. But your hiatus does not suddenly mean that you are incapable of generating future incomes for prospective employers.

    FT said: if one of us were to stay at home, but we would end up giving up our careers, perhaps for the rest of our lives.

    And that’s just baloney. If you leave for five years and never go back to being an engineer that’ll be your choice. You may stunt your career growth, you may feel like you’re “behind”, but that’s just your own ego talking.

    How many projects are part-time?

    Yes, it depends what engineering you’re in. Civil has tons of “non-full-time” projects. They’re constantly juggling 3 or 4 different projects while waiting on various things. Let’s put it this way, they have an entire time tracking system that bills in 15 minute increments b/c they’re juggling so many projects. He could easily juggle 1 or 2 instead of 3 or 4.

    Obv. FT can do whatever he wants with his life. :)
    But using the argument that time off may end his career is a little absurd.

  26. 26. Cyllya

    “With two professional careers in the household, it is very difficult to drop it completely for 5 years or so and jump back onboard.”

    I’m frustrated by this. If someone is going to be a stay-at-home parent, why would you do it for five years and then stop? I’d say the school age (four to however old the kid needs to be to stay home while the parents work) is the most important time to be at home.

    As a former kid, I don’t mind the fact that my mom put me in daycare. (Though it didn’t make me any less shy.) But I have almost always been, and probably always will be, distinctly bitter at the fact that for THIRTEEN YEARS she sent me off to an obnoxiously lit, under-stimulating government facility where they try to brainwash you into being a good little zombie consumer, because she didn’t have time to take care of me herself. Thirteen years! When I think of all that I could have been learning or accomplishing in that time, it makes me want to cry!

    I could not, in good conscience, inflict that upon a person I love unless I was absolutely forced to.

  27. OK, this is definitely a reality stretch here. At the worst you may have to start your job search a little earlier or spread the net a little wider. You may have plan to go back when the child is 4, 5 or 6

    4,5 or 6 years old? – now you are talking about a potential 2 year job search – if that isn’t the definition of difficult then I don’t know what is.

    I agree that for teachers it shouldn’t be impossible to resume their career after a long layoff but I don’t think it will necessarily be easy which you seem to imply. It really depends on the demand for teachers when they try to get a job – it might be easy, it might be hard. This probably applies to every profession.

  28. 28. Tim

    Well, the most important time is between 0 and 5. However, I agree, home school is a great way to go as long as you can properly manage the children’s social lives.

  29. 29. RM

    What I find interesting in this whole debate, and which may be slightly off topic, is how the federal government actually penalizes you for choosing to stay home with your children.

    A couple making a gross annual income of $80,000 with both parents working, using available tax deductions, pays significantly less income tax (Don’t remember the exact amount, did the calculations long ago) than a gross family income of $80,000 with one parent working while the other stays home.

    I’m not going to debate which choice is better, as we chose to stay home with our son and I think both ways have their definite advantages and disadvantages, but I do find it alarming that Revenue Canada appears to have made its choice by financially rewarding families with two working parents.

  30. This is probably one of the toughest decision you will face : spending time with your kids or work and make money to assure them a decent lifestyle and enough money so they can go to school and do activities.

    We are in the same dilemma after having 2 children (presently 3 an 1 year old). My wife just got back to work a few weeks ago and we both think it sucks. However, we can’t afford on living on only one income.

    We are seriously thinking of opening a daycare at home so my wife could work and enjoy the presence of her kids. Since she is working in a daycare, it won’t be a big deal for her.

    Speaking of which, daycares seem pretty cool from the outside but they are not what people are telling you. They obviously take care of children, feed them with healthy food, do some activities and children have the possibility to play with other kids of their age.

    However, they are also restricted to schedules where kids have to eat at a certain time during x minutes. They have to go to sleep at X and wake up at Y. During summer time, most groups are dispatched according to children and employees vacation so your kid don’t play with their friends for a while. There are so many kids per group that sometimes they don’t necessarily get the attention they would get from their mom/dad at home.

    I would say that the perfect solution would be to work part time and have your kid going to a daycare 3 days (with small hours) a week. Then they would get the best of both world.

    In any case, it is more a value based decision than a money based decision.

  31. Grow your blog, make enough money online and work from home :-)

  32. 32. Sarlock

    My 3 year old daughter goes 4 days per week to daycare and the social development she has experienced there has been an invaluable part of her growth as a little human being. She can interact with small babies and 5 year olds with equal proficiency and she is almost always the first one to initiate new friendships with other kids… and I attribute this almost solely to the fact that she does this each and every day at daycare. We have an awesome daycare and our daughter loves going there every single day… she sings in the car on the way there and barely even looks back at us when she goes through the door.

    If I could go back 2 years and have the choice of keeping her at home with my wife or sending her to daycare, I may reduce it to 3 days per week, but I would still have sent her to daycare. A good daycare is just like a preschool; they learn far more and receive far more stimulation than you could even provide at home. I believe she’s a better human being because of going to daycare. I also believe that we’re better parents because of it too.

  33. 33. Marc

    FT,

    I don’t begrudge you for buying the big tv. I have a 50 inch HDTV myself and I love it, especially for NFL football. However, I do agree with a lot of what the original poster said. I have a three year old and a 6 month old and it is amazing how quickly they grow up. Your working life will likely be 30-40 years. In the grand scheme of things is the 4-5 years you spend looking after your child before they go to school really that big a sacrifice? You have plenty of years left to climb the corporate ladder. Time spent at the office can never compare to the joy you will get from watching your children grow and being there for them. Do you want a day care worker to be the one to hear your child’s first words or see them walk for the first time?

    With respect to day care do you honestly believe that a day care worker making $10/hour can provide the same love and attention that you and your wife can as parents. Tim made the comment that he does not believe there is credible evidence that day care is good or bad for children. Well if you are interested in doing more research I suggest you read the book Day Care Deception by Brian C. Robertson. This is a well researched book with plenty of references to studies on the negative aspects of day care. The harmful effects of extended periods of day care include higher rates of illness, greater chance of sexual abuse, higher rates of aggression, and greater risk of antisocial personality disorders.

    I actually think you have the answer to your child care dilemma in your post today. By working part-time your wife will get to spend a lot of quality time with your child and on the days she works your grandparents are there. This will provide your child with a stable loving environment and at the same time allow your family to continue to earn some money. This is what my wife and I did with our first child and it turned out great. My wife really enjoyed the time she got to spend with our daughter. My grandparents also developed a very special bond with our daughter as a result of their time together. We did sacrifice financially and even had to take on some debt temporarily but I do not regret that for a minute. Our children are worth more than any amount of money and the fun moments we have had together are irreplaceable.

    And do not worry that your child will not develop social skills if they do not attend daycare. Our daughter never attended day care. She now attends nursery school 3 afternoons a week and is one of the most social and talkative kids there.

  34. 34. Doug Ransom

    There is no doubt in my mind that daycare is a superior environment to staying at home with a parent, not matter how loving and caring and smart that parent is.

    Daycare is a luxury for the relatively (to those who can’t afford it) wealthy.

  35. 35. Chuck

    @RM Though partially off-topic I agree with you. One of the few things I love about the US taxation system is the fact that they tax familes so a family earning 80k pays the same amount of tax regardless if both spouses are working.

    At a certain point, especially in the GTA, it might make sense to get a live-in nanny. As such its about $1500/mo plus room and board. They’ll even cook you dinner and clean your house. however I’ve seen a lot of nannies get trampled all over by the kids they’re supposed to be looking after. I wouldn’t want a nanny unless she had a backbone and wasn’t afraid of discipline.

  36. 36. Andy

    Great post and appreciate you sharing the email. It is tough for those of us who put our kids in daycare, but like you said 2 careers and bills to pay leave little choice. With college costs so high, you need to start saving early. Life is short, but so is your earning horizon. Also, kids after the age of 2-3 need social interaction so child care actually has benefits here. The key is to find a good day care.

  37. 37. Sarlock

    The crux of the issue is that those of us who put our kids in daycare, or plan to, field a considerable amount of criticism from some people, judging us to be selfish parents for choosing to have our children attend daycare, as if we have chosen our careers to be more important than our children.
    This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and I’d gladly go to bat against any stay at home parent and take the “my child and our family is happiest” litmus test. My daughter is an extremely happy child and loves her daycare days immensely and our evenings and days off together are filled with endless love and fun.
    In re-reading the email in the original post, it perfectly punctuates the battle that those of us with children in daycare must endure.

  38. 38. plonkee

    There are multiple ways to bring up good kids. I’m sure the one that you’ve chosen is fine.

    I suspect that saying a 5 year career break would destroy your career is an exaggeration, but not by much. Most women that I know (who have qualifications) that have tried to do just that have ended up having to work their way up again through admin, which has taken then another 3 or more years. So, that’s probably putting you 8 years behind your peers who didn’t take a career break, which compounds to a lot of money.

  39. 39. sundae1888

    While not all careers will be destroyed by a 5-year break, but more often than not, you can’t pick up from where you left off. You forget things while others in you field advanced.

    This is especially true for certain fields. For example, given a choice, would you visit a doctor you never had a relationship with and who hasn’t been in practice for 5 years? If you’re an accountant specialized in tax preparations, how do you keep up with 5 years worth of tax law changes? Or, for an extreme case, a pro athlete sitting out of 5 years of practice and competition?

    On the other hand, many fields are more static and won’t be ruined by a 5-year hiatus. However, you will still be competing with a pool of candidates who are either 5 years younger or has 5 more years of work experience than you do. Unless you (or your skills) are in high demand, it won’t be as easy as if you didn’t take that 5-year break.

  40. My wife and I are very impressed with the quality of the feedback/comments. Thanks guys (even you Gates), it has really given us perspective and will hopefully help us when it comes time to make the final decision.

  41. 41. Leah

    I just have to weigh in on a few things after reading some of the comments above. I am a mom of an 8-month old who had to decide whether or not to return to work. I am fortunate that financially I was able to make that choice (my husband’s income will provide enough for us to live on). I have decided to stay home, for now.

    I don’t believe that taking a break from the working world for a few years will destroy my career. It may require more effort to get started again, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. In some ways it is freeing, because it gives me the opportunity to explore new options I may not have if I had stayed on my original career track. I think it provides a natural break that we need sometimes to avoid getting stuck in a rut (career-wise).

    Based on some of the comments regarding daycare, and socialization for kids, you’d think that kids that don’t go to daycare all end up shy and socially underdeveloped compared to their peers. I don’t believe this is the case. Two (or more) generations ago, daycare was a rare thing and most kids stayed at home with Mom until school (and Mom was often home after that as well). Seemingly entire generations of children were able to grow up with perfectly fine social skills without daycare. I agree it may be easier for kids to be social in daycare settings, but that doesn’t mean they can’t develop the same skills by “staying at home” with a parent. It requires more work on the parent’s part, but that’s what being a parent is – work.

    For example, in a given week I will do the following with my son so he gets to meet other people and kids and experience new situations: go to the library for story time, go to the playground, have a playdate with kids near his age, go swimming, go to the ball pit at McDonalds, etc. When he gets a little older he will be able to go to parent-tot drop-in time at the gym, art class, soccer, gymnastics, part-time pre-school, etc.

    I have no problem with daycare and people who want to put their kids in it. I think it’s great that they exist and that we probably need more of them. I also think we need more flexible employers/companies to respect parent’s who decide to stay home for one, two, five, or more years. Besides, for every parent that decides to stay home with their kid(s), that frees up a daycare spot for the rest :-)

    Two last comments that relate kids to personal finance. People love to say that no one cares more about your money than you do, the same goes for your kids. Also, when it comes to money (investing, saving, spending etc.) you have to do what is right for you. Again, the same goes for kids.

  42. 42. DAvid

    Leah said: “Two (or more) generations ago, daycare was a rare thing and most kids stayed at home with Mom until school (and Mom was often home after that as well). Seemingly entire generations of children were able to grow up with perfectly fine social skills without daycare”

    However, two or more generations ago, the neighbourhoods were teeming with kids of similar age cohort. Where I grew up every house within view had kids my age, so there was little need to go to the library for story time, go to the playground, have a playdate with other kids, go swimming, go to the ball pit at McDonalds, etc There was enough interaction across the back yards (no fences back then) to meet pretty much any socialization need. Once we were skilled enough to ride a bike, we were street rats; biking, Hide & Seek, street hockey, you name it, all around the neighbourhood. We didn’t have ‘playdates’ we just went out and had fun.

    At that time, many families were able to easily manage on one salary, and there were many non-career wives, who did stay at home to raise their family.

    Today is very different; many could not survive financially on a single income, families are smaller, there aren’t the hordes of children to populate the neighbourhoods. Many parents would not allow their children out on the loose unsupervised today as we were in the 60′s, as they worry about their children’s safety. The choice to use daycare or not is a major decision on the part of parents, however, referencing the good ol’ days is not really a valid comparison.

    DAvid

  43. 43. Panda3

    To Rebecca who said “day care can be hugely beneficial for children, who learn to be around others and socialise from an early age” I beleive thats what a lot of parents tell themselves to make themselves feel better and justify their selfish decision. I know so many couples who who make over 6 figures who both work and pay to put their kids in “star child” and use that very justification. These parents also take so much time off work and drain the rest of us because their kids are constantly getting sick from being at day care centers. These people also have a car loan and or lease? Make no sense. As the reader said “Who will offer them unconditional love, where you will get a ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 attention?
    ” Now to frugal trader, his wife making the decision to go part time was very thoughtful and as long as the other caregivers are family like grandparents, that makes sense, but day care, while children are in diapers? If your children are under five, and you are not a single parent, there is no need if you have children under 5 for both parents to work outside the home? I doubt you would find a very functional family. The reason people can’t survive on only one income is because they choose to go out to eat (with their children, horrors) instead of cooking, have flat screen tvs, two cars, buy a coffee every day instead of brewing it yourself, and live high on the hog. I just wish people would take personal responsiblity for their selfish choices

  44. 44. Panda3

    To Ben who said “I hate to say it but keeping your children at home is a selfish move and one that will come back to haunt them later in life”

    If you hate to say it, why say it? You are obviously a very selfish parent who doesn’t want to be around his children. Putting your 2 or 3 week old baby in a day care is CRAZY. I just don’t get why you would desire a stranger to care for your newborn infant. Maybe at age 4 the child can start preschool. No infant who can’t even talk needs socialization skills, ha!

  45. 45. Ben

    Dear Panda3,

    You are a perfect example of someone who needed daycare as a child because clearly you are lacking basic social skills. If my mom had stayed home when I was I child I would have questioned her work ethic and wondered why I couldn’t enjoy the finer things in life like my friends did. Thank goodness she had the sense to go back to work as soon as she could.

  46. 46. Carolyn

    A thought-provoking post and one that hits close to home.

    I am an engineer. My husband is an engineer. We both really enjoy our jobs and our careers, both work full-time. Our 11-month old daughter has been in paid daycare since the final 6 weeks of my maternity leave were up. She is an only child and will remain so. We are both in our early 30s and do not have relatives who can watch her for us.

    Quite frankly, after 6 weeks at home with her, I was going crazy. I couldn’t wait to get back to work. I love my daughter, but spending all day, every day, with her, was mind-numbing. I am not one of the mothers who could stay at home with my child and be content with that decision.

    As far as all the posters’ (and the original email author’s) advice to have a parent stay at home, I speak from experience as a person whose mother stayed home until I was 17. We (my brother and sister and I) did not have playgroup or structured activities until we were old enough for kindergarten. We grew up in a neighborhood with few other children and no transportation (in the suburbs, can’t walk anywhere). As a result, we are all socially awkward and have trouble relating to people, unlike those that were exposed at an early age to different experiences. Be careful what you wish for. The world is not a bubble. Both sides have to use caution to avoid the extremes and inherent problems with either philosophy.

    My kudos to the author, for being honest and brave enough to begin this discussion in the first place.

  47. We are in the same situation. My wife is a teacher and provides us with more than half our income and all of our benefits. If she stayed home, we would loose all of that, plus she would really set herself back in terms of her career. When our children are school-age, there is no way my wife would continue staying at home. We are making the decision to use a mix of family and childcare.

  48. 48. Kristina

    I can definitely see how taking 4 or 5 years off can have a negative impact on a career. As someone else mentioned before, would you really want to go to an accountant who had just come back from a 5 year break? Tax laws can change quite a bit in that period of time. Similarly, I’d really have issues with going to see a pediatrician who had just come back from a 5 year break.

    Taking several years off as a teacher can still be difficult. There can be a huge shift in thinking about teaching methods, developmental psychology, and discipline techniques among other things.

    For secondary school teachers, the type of endoresments a teacher has can really impact how easily an individual can find a job. Science and math teachers are always in high demand and finding a job in those areas might not be to hard. On the other hand, social studies and art teachers may have a hard time finding a position since there is simply less demand for those areas.

    Since I am a teacher, I have the opportunity to stay at home with my child during the summer breaks. While I enjoy that time with my daughter, I find that I’m more than ready to return to work after two months at home. I’m simply a better mother when I’m not at home with her 24 hours a day.

  49. 49. Esther

    You said:
    Although daycare may not provide the same love and attention that a parent would, we feel that it does provide a social atmosphere that is not available at home.
    —-
    Your site is about saving money. Daycare costs money. Maybe there’s a buddy system you can have with a friend/neighbor where you can watch each others kids for cheaper? If you’re involved with other avenues like friends that have kids that stay at home, church, going places you would normally go and take your kids to run errands, like the grocery store, post office, etc. those are ‘opportunities’ for you and your child to be social. People make it appear as if you’re ‘anti-social’ if you stay at home and raise your kids, yet you have bloggers that do great jobs at home painting, creating things on their own, etc.,. Your children are learning all the time. Every time is an opportunity. You are the best people for them to learn from. You sound insecure about your ability. Sure you may not do the best job, but you’re the best person for the job. You can take them places as your site has shown as well. These are learning and social experiences for them. You can get them involved in your community, visit nursing homes, take them out where business is happening. You’re an engineer? Great, take them to jobs you have done, jobs that are being done. Show them what it takes to be one. They will love you for taking the time, and those are the moments you make to help them remember, and recall when they grow older.

    If that doesn’t appeal to you than just say, you can’t put your career off. It’s understandable in today’s economy. Some parents even work two jobs at the cost of one parent to stay home with their child (raising them, caring for the home, etc. That’s being honest. Just don’t make other stay at home parents that raise their kids look like we don’t do anything, have no life, etc. It really is an insult.

    You also said:
    In addition to that, the childcare programs that we are looking at have educational aspects to them such as getting them a head start on other languages such as French.
    —-
    You can teach that also believe it or not. You can order it online, or go to your local library, etc. If you don’t have the tolerance or patience for your kid that’s totally up to you. You know both you and your wife’s strengths and weaknesses, and can work with them. My husband is not a house cleaner/organizer, and has less tolerance in somethings, that I can do, and I have things that I’m not good at that he can do.

    You said:
    In conclusion, there is no cookie cutter answer to the childcare or stay at home question. For us, we could probably make it work financially (with all the child tax credits) if one of us were to stay at home, but we would end up giving up our careers, perhaps for the rest of our lives. Even though we are heavily considering daycare, we haven’t completely made up our minds yet.
    —–

    Completely understandable. Parents are the primary teachers of their children. When we have children, that is what we need to know. It’s also why it’s such a huge responsibility to have a child, and should not be thought of lightly as some think today. It’s not for us to push them off for someone else to handle, raise, teach, etc. If you have grandparents, that is great, but realize, they’ve done their job, and are not the ‘primary’ teachers. You talk about being frugal, well sometimes that involves turning away from a higher lifestyle, and lowering your standards for living (forget about the fancier furniture, bigger tv, newer car). Those things will always be there, but our children have a ‘time frame’ with us. You’ve shown that through a mom that made sandals for her kids first day of school. Real living isn’t what you can have, but what you’ve got. Using your talents and gifts to make the most and best out of your life. You have shown this through your site – what has made you to be content with your life. Thanks for sharing.

  50. 50. Les

    Why don’t you ask your kids where they would rather be? (HINT: it won’t be daycare). Interesting how the almighty career is so important these days. And yes, your kids WILL get that message. (see post 26).

  51. 51. Sabrina

    There are so many situations and circumstances that would lead to a decision between a parent staying home and daycare. First of all, I don’t think single parents can enjoy this option. Rather than living off Ontario Works to stay home and parent until the child is of age to go to school some parents provide the necessities of life while utilizing daycare to be able to work.

    I am a 25 year old step-mom and while working as a full time server in a restaurant I have learned to get creative in finding care for my 21-month-old step-son when we have him and I have to work. Since server minimum wage is a measly $7.60/hour and our economy is slowing tips can be here and there sometimes it seems like it would be cheaper to stay home. I have made a deal with another coworker to trade off on child care for free or have a family member watch him.

    My step-son’s mother works full time as a hairdresser and had to resort to putting him in daycare at $25 a day when she had to work and we also had to work. Who is prepared to argue that she should stay at home with him and make no income as opposed to putting him in a place that socializes him, does educational activities and simply gets him out of the house and away from his toys and tv?

    Of course, on days that one of us doesn’t have to work we take advantage of staying at home with our little man but none of us could afford to simply do this full-time. Both myself, my partner, and his mother all work full-time now and have to resort to full-time daycare and we are all confident in this decision.

    Daycare centres and registered home daycares have workers with Early Child Education diplomas and degrees and while they are not intended to replace the love and care that parents provide I think they are quite capable of assisting caring for (not raising) children and it is reasonable for working Canadians.

    Also, I am not opposed to stay-at-home parents. If your lifestyle and career give you this option all the power to you. Playgroups and daily routines and activities are pretty important and so is having a little bit of a life of your own while staying home full-time.

    Thank goodness I am getting tons of practice before I have my own children!

  52. 52. Sabrina

    There are so many situations and circumstances that would lead to a decision between a parent staying home and daycare. First of all, I don’t think single parents can enjoy this option. Rather than living off Ontario Works to stay home and parent until the child is of age to go to school some parents provide the necessities of life while utilizing daycare to be able to work.

    I am a 25 year old step-mom and while working as a full time server in a restaurant I have learned to get creative in finding care for my 21-month-old step-son when we have him and I have to work. Since server minimum wage is a measly $7.60/hour and our economy is slowing tips can be here and there sometimes it seems like it would be cheaper to stay home. I have made a deal with another coworker to trade off on child care for free or have a family member watch him.

    My step-son’s mother works full time as a hairdresser and had to resort to putting him in daycare at $25 a day when she had to work and we also had to work. Who is prepared to argue that she should stay at home with him and make no income as opposed to putting him in a place that socializes him, does educational activities and simply gets him out of the house and away from his toys and tv?

    Of course, on days that one of us doesn’t have to work we take advantage of staying at home with our little man but none of us could afford to simply do this full-time. Both myself, my partner, and his mother all work full-time now and have to resort to full-time daycare and we are all confident in this decision.

    Daycare centres and registered home daycares have workers with Early Child Education diplomas and degrees and while they are not intended to replace the love and care that parents provide I think they are quite capable of assisting caring for (not raising) children and it is reasonable for working Canadians.

    Also, I am not opposed to stay-at-home parents. If your lifestyle and career give you this option all the power to you. Playgroups and daily routines and activities are pretty important and so is having a little bit of a life of your own while staying home full-time.

    Thank goodness I am getting tons of practice before I have my own children!!

  53. 53. lila

    The following, from Carolyn (the Engineer) disgust me. I could weep for her daughter. I may weep for her, actually.

    Carolyn writes about her daughter:

    ” Quite frankly, after 6 weeks at home with her, I was going crazy. I couldn’t wait to get back to work. I love my daughter, but spending all day, every day, with her, was mind-numbing. I am not one of the mothers who could stay at home with my child and be content with that decision.”

    The fact that she put a SIX WEEK OLD CHILD into non-family care disgusts me. You think an infant has the ability to soothe itself faced with a rotating staff of paid caregivers? You should never have had her.

    I am so sad for that baby. I cannot tell you. I am a professional (master’s degree, licensed profession) and while I sometimes struggle with staying at home with my very young children (one is a baby), the thought of placing a SIX WEEK OLD into care sickens me. There are no words for such selfishness.

    Children aren’t consumer items that you get bored of and there are no opportunities to go back and fix what you have so selfishly messed up.

    Good grief. The narcissism.

    No doubt you have decided to have just one child because two children would impinge on your ‘lifestyle’ too much.

  54. 54. Catherine

    Lila Got any helpful advice for the working mom’s situation as it is now? The kid exists. The mom works. She has a career that generally pays well. Her kid will be able to go to university and have music lessons and go to camp. This working mom knows what it takes to get a professional education, to get a job and to keep it —- not a bad example for our times.
    I have a suggestion: find a family member who is available at odd times during the week and have that family member just “drop in” on the day care centre to visit with the baby. Have the family member do it at different times and different days each time. Give the day care a form that lets the family member drop in for a visit and also permits that family member to take the child home/drop him/her off. This will keep the day care on their toes.

  55. 55. lila

    Yeah, yeah. Money is necessary so your kid can go to camp, have classical piano lessons and go to university. That argument suggests that intellectual and/or professional pursuits are most important. If your child, because they were put into daycare at six weeks of age, is emotionally unstable, then all the money, education and piano lessons in the world won’t help them. Everybody ignores emotional well being. EVERYBODY. It’s all about the job, all about the money. Well, you know what — I’d rather have a child that grows up emotionally secure than one who grows up to become a miserable, well educated neurotic. Childhood is fleeting. Look after your babies. Make sure they are okay. There is more to life than a three-car garage, people.

    Trackbacks

Reply to “The Choice Between Daycare and Staying at Home”

Subscribe without commenting



Get the Latest

      

Money Tips Newsletter

Premium Sponsors



Recent Comments

  • Don G: This is a bit off topic but I’d like to comment on Graham’s comment on the RRIF withdrawals and...
  • M Trottier: Its better if you have a professional who has a Digital OTA spectrum analyzer do a signal strength test...
  • FrugalTrader: @My Own Advisor, I wouldn’t discount CPP so easily, but I can see the hesitation about OAS. My...
  • Graham: We are already well into retirement, but used a similar approach. While working, I was not much interested in...
  • Free To Pursue: John Bogle’s “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” offers some view on...
  • FrugalTrader: @Debs, I believe Mark is hoping to leave a financial legacy, which is why his required amount is higher...
  • FrugalTrader: @Joe, companies with a history of increasing their dividend should keep up with (or even exceed)...
  • debt debs: @My Own Advisor Thanks Mark. Maybe I am being too optimistic with my 50K after tax projection. Anyways, it...
  • My Own Advisor: @debt debs, I figure we need just under $60k after-tax in today’s dollars to retire how we want...
  • joe: What about inflation? If your divi yield is too high you arent getting the capital growth to maintain the yield...
 css.php