May 7, 2010Summertime Blues
By Cheryl Gochnauer
We just came through tax time, but there's another financial hurdle rightover the horizon for working parents of elementary students: summer break.For most families, daycare costs will skyrocket once the kids need care 10to 12 hours a day, instead of simply before and after school. This monetaryreality can trigger depression in those moms who don't want to work outsidethe home, anyway.
I spent six years as a working mother who wanted to be home with mychildren. Like so many of my peers, I figured that since we were barelymaking it on two incomes, we'd go under if I quit my job. However, anunanticipated conflict between a sick child and a big project at work forcedme to take a serious look at our financial situation. Could we afford forme to become a stay-at-home mom?
I was as surprised as anyone when I realized that, after subtracting all thecosts associated with my job (childcare, transportation expenses, eatingout, business clothing, taxes, etc.), I was only clearing $39 a week. Thecalculations I used included daycare charges for my first grader (before andafter school) and my 2-year-old (all day). During the summer, I actuallywasn't making any money at all, since that $39 a week was easily erased byincreased daycare costs for my older child.
Was I nuts? No. I didn't know I was working for free from June toSeptember, because I'd never done the math. If you've been consideringbecoming an at-home parent but think it will never work financially, Iencourage you to learn from my mistake.
Check your own figures now
Beyond the actual dollars and cents, be sure to take into account theemotional cost of allowing someone else to care for your babies when youwant to do that yourself. Also, if you're one of the ladies with latchkeychildren who gets nervous between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., you're going to have anextremely difficult time leaving your older kids alone all day for nearly 3months. So be sensitive to your feelings and to those of your children.
My becoming an at-home parent relieved so many pressures in the Gochnauerhousehold, not the least of which was worrying about what to do with thekids over the summer, and how to pay for it. Although I am the first toadmit that this lifestyle is not for everyone, it has been a great move forus.
Before you start singing the Summertime Blues, look at all your options, andsee if, as was true in my case, there is a Plan B that will work better foryour family.
or visit her website at
, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
Posted by Staff at 1:42 AM