Calculating Costs
posted by Amy

Over at Austinmama.com, Melissa Lipscomb looks into The Costs of Daycare. And no, this isn't another article telling you that once you subtract the cost of drycleaning and lunches out and daycare from your salary, it's not worth it to work. As Lipscomb points out, those articles are invariably in magazines aimed at mothers, not fathers.

Back when I had a gift subscription to a glossy parenting mag, I read my share of those same articles. While lunches out and drycleaning were never a part of my work life even before I had kids, my first baby was my husband's second child, and the cost of daycare for two kids was way too high for us. Me staying home was the right choice for us then, but I quickly realized that there are other costs to being home with kids, including higher electric bills since I was home using our electricity, rather than my workplace's, all day, and the delaying of my eventual retirement, since I didn't receive any Social Security credit for the caregiving I was doing and was only contributing a teeny-tiny amount to my work retirement account as I was working so few hours. Because one of my goals as a parent is to make sure my kids don't end up having to support me in my old age, this matters to me a lot.

In her Domestic Disturbance column, Lipscomb writes that "small decisions get compounded, so that once a family has decided to allocate most of the breadwinning to one parent and most of the childcare to the other, it becomes increasingly difficult to reverse that decision." There are no easy and perfect answers to how to share caregiving, but these all-or-nothing choices many of us are faced with due to the lack of affordable, high-quality childcare don't make things any easier.