Many people have no choice but to use day care. This post is not for them, at least in their current position. The last thing I want to do is add to their burdens.
But many people do have a choice. This is for them.
In the early 90’s part of my job was to manage the financial support for the Human Resources department at a Fortune 50 company. We had some excess space in a building and I asked the Senior VP of HR whether he considered using it for an on-site day care. He gave his reasons why it might not work out well (What if your kid beats up my kid? What if an illness spreads and lots of people have to stay home with their kids? Etc.).
But the money quote came when he explained why he didn’t think much of day care: ” . . . because there is no G*d-d**n way I’m going to let somebody else raise my kid.”
It certainly wasn’t the politically correct answer I expected from someone in his position, but I appreciated his honesty.
At the time we had our first child my wife had a successful career going and we could have had a big pile of money on the table if she had kept working. We’ve made other smart and dumb financial moves, but we have never regretted having her stay home their first 10-12 years, and then having a career that coincided with their school calendar. Not for a second.
My advice to young couples is to learn to live on one income. Save the 2nd income. I give my wife credit for driving us to that. When we got married she made it clear that she planned to stay home with the kids, at least while they were young. Kids were a foreign concept to me at the time so I went along with the plan. We made house and car decisions solely based on my salary, so when she quit her job we had some money saved and didn’t change our standard of living at all. OK, we slept less and changed lots of diapers, but we didn’t change our spending habits.
If you have young kids and you both work, ask yourself how badly you need the bigger house and fancier cars.
It is such a basic human concept that you can live with less until you’ve had more. People think they have to work but they really don’t. Don’t sacrifice the well-being of your children to maintain material possessions that won’t last.
The myth is that no one sacrifices. The reality is that you sacrifice possessions or you sacrifice part of your kids.
It isn’t that dads have to provide 100% of the resources and moms have to provide 100% of the caring. Maybe it is more like 70/30 or so.
Here’s a final thought that I always share with my departments at introductory meetings: All your money and all your success cannot buy your kids a second childhood.