We knew we wanted to have children before we married. After getting married and immediately moving for radiology residency, we also discussed waiting a few years before having children. That gave us time to grew closer in a new location and concentrate on our careers.
Even before my wife got pregnant, we began planning. A retired family member volunteered to watch the twins during the day during their first year. That provided an easy solution, and allowed us to delay a decision on daycare.
As we approached the year deadline, we considered our options. Some research led us to evaluate in-home daycare, an au pair, neighborhood daycare, or a daycare center.
With me working at home, we decided having child care in our house would potentially be too disruptive. We did not find a good local neighborhood daycare option, but there were multiple daycare centers near us. We toured three of them. The centers were clean, the staff was friendly, and we could not find major differences between them. Rather than flipping a coin, the nearest one received our business since we figured we could always switch if we didn’t like it.
A majority of mothers at 71% work outside the home according to the Pew Research Center.
Daycare Pro – Socialization
One of the big advantages that we liked about a daycare center was the other children. The twins would get to play with other children,
Daycare Pro – Career, Income and Benefits
By continuing both of our careers, we do not give up the associated earnings, benefits, 401k contributions, social security credits, and job experience. Neither of us has any worries about having to re-enter the workforce and/or pick up new skills. The Doctor doesn’t have to concern herself with licensing, accreditation, or re-credentialing. No resume gaps to explain. We used some of the extra income to give us more free time by spending on house cleaning and landscaping services. T
Daycare Pro – Pro Inevitability
The kids will spend much of their day in school once they reach kindergarten anyway. We do not plan on home schooling. That gives us four years of daycare between ages 1 and 5 when they start kindergarten.
Daycare Pro – Curriculum
I was amazed at how much the kids learned at daycare. Part of this was spending time everyday there, but part was a result of a curriculum. I skeptically attended the first parent curriculum night at the school. The teacher reviewed the various educational goals for the 2 year old class (the first year for curriculum). Colors, feelings, letters, and numbers made up a good portion, but other concepts like soft/hard played a part. The kids spent a lot of time creating art. I suppose we could have created something similar by reading books, but I am not sure we would have even thought of it. Since the classes were split by age (either at six months of a year), each class had some older children that the younger ones could use as models.
Daycare Con – Daycare Expensive
Daycare is expensive and constant. I had access to a daycare Reimbursement Spending Account (RSA) that allowed us to contribute pre-tax money up to $5,000. The RSA saved some money, but the cost was several times higher than that. Both of us had high enough incomes where the trade-off of working versus staying at home was acceptable.
Daycare Con – Guilt
Both of us had mothers that stayed at home during our childhood. Often, we look to our childhoods for examples to set for our own children. Daycare is one case where we went a different way. Both of us would sometimes feel guilty that the kids weren’t at home. The above benefits helped, and we told ourselves the twins were still together and there for each other at daycare. Because of our work schedules, we could stagger our work times and lessen the amount of time spent at daycare.
Ultimately its a personal decision, and will vary greatly depending on your personal circumstances. I think we have several somewhat unique variables that led us to choose a daycare center, and it worked out well for us.