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The Choice For Expensive Daycare – This Why I Do This Stuff

by The Happy Rock on June 4, 2009

preschool-colors-moneyI just got back from picking up my two boys, age 16 months and 3 1/2 years, from pre-school.   It was their first day.  After years of in-home single sitter care both boys were ready for something else.  The youngest is a social little guy with a shorter attention span.  He thrives on social interaction and is quite bored(aka naughty) in our 1000sqft condo.  The oldest, The Pebble, is the smart shy engineer type.  He would be happy to stay home by himself dissecting his toys and building trains.  He would benefit from the social and relationship growth as well as more structured learning time.

The choice to put the boys into daycare was not an easy one, as daycare in general just doesn’t mesh well with our parenting and family philosophy.    With that being said it would make some sense that we didn’t opt for daycare, instead we chose an expensive pre-school.    You may not think there is a difference, but to us there is.  We visited one or two places until we stumbled upon Creme de la Creme.  It is the kind of place that once you visit, you want to send your children there.  All the other places pale in comparison and look so tainted.

It is structured more like school with a homeroom teacher that travels with the children as the move from classroom to classroom.   Plenty of friendly staff, impeccably clean, great diversity in ethnicity, and a broad range of educational opportunities.  The only downside…….uber expensive.  A 5 day a week program was about $1200-1300 a month.  We are looking at $300 a week for two boys for just 3 half days. It still sounds ridiculous to me, but there are other things to consider than just money.

Pluses

  • We can afford it. By having 1 and half  good salaries and haven’t spent five years digging out of $70,000 in debt and building a solid emergency fund, you get to consider these types of decisions.  This is what financial freedom is about to some extent.  It isn’t something we would have dreamed about 3 years ago, but now our personal finances are in a much different state.  I mean this is why we do all this money stuff, right?
  • It is an amazing school. Parents rave about it.  Children seem to love it.  The teachers really seem to have a keen interest and desire to improve your children’s lives.  We think the boys will love it and don’t feel any regret dropping them off in the morning.
  • It is an easily reversible decision. If we don’t like it or realize that it is causing financial strain, then 30 days noticed is all that is needed.
  • Change your family tree. Every parent wants their children to have a better life than themselves.  The word ‘better’ is very subjective word so money and stuff becomes an easy measurement, although it is not always the best.

Minuses

  • Not keeping it real. It may seem a little strange, but I don’t want to be those parents.  The parents that spoils their children.  The parents that can use money to insulate their children from real life.  We aren’t those parents, so I want to continue to make sure that the boys have a diverse life education.   I grew up on welfare and government cheese in my early life and watched my mom struggle to move from poverty to a $60,000+ a year job.  I lived a broad range of life experiences along the way and I am so grateful for them all.
  • Using money and good things to replace real parenting. This is the flip side of the last pluses point.  A good education is great, but I want to make sure that it isn’t a replacement for life education and experiences.  I also know that things like moral and character development are potentially more impact on my son’s lives.  A good education shouldn’t replace the everyday opportunities to grow my child’s personalities and develop their character.
  • Makes ‘real’ school dull.  The thought seriously has gone through my mind that this experience could ruin their perspective on what school will be like.

The reason I am sharing is because it wasn’t an easy clear cut decision for me.  Of course they could do quite well with less expensive care, but my children are one of my top three priorities in life and my finances among other things should reflect that.  This is one gift for the boys I was willing to test out.

What are your thoughts?  Do you disagree with some of my reasoning or am I spot on?  What would you do?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura June 4, 2009 at 3:24 am

We homeschool! I don’t think there is a better place for children than in a happy home. And for the price you are paying, you could buy an awesome curriculum, take lots of field trips, and enroll in a few extracurricular activities for “socializing”.

Our oldest went to preschool twice a week for a school year, and kindergarten for a year… Then we brought him home, and we have homeschooled him and his younger sister for two years… With no plans to stop.

It’s whatever you feel is the right thing to do… No one else can be in your shoes and decide what’s best for your kids… God gave them to us to raise, and it’s up to us to do the best job we can.

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Money Magazine Hoss June 4, 2009 at 10:34 am

Mrs. Hoss ran a day care for a number of years before retiring. The parents of one little girl were not happy with their current day care situation. Their little girl would cringe when going to day care.

After a few days with Mrs. Hoss’s day care she literally ran from the car to the day care she was so excited to be there.

The piece of mind those parents now had was priceless, not to mention the benefits to the child.

Please, get the best day care you can afford. It is worth it.

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ed June 4, 2009 at 10:36 am

Mr. Rock,
I wish your family the best of success.

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Lynn June 4, 2009 at 11:07 am

I totally agree with you!!! I have 28 month old twins and last summer my husband and I decided to put them in daycare (or as we call it “school”) 2 days a week. I work 4 days a week and my mom watches them the other 2 days. I actually feel your pain about the cost of day care (I am also in NJ) – we are paying $524 every 2 weeks (actually $1135/month if you annualize it) for both girls for 2 days a week. AAGGH! The center we send them to is also stellar. When we visited I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – the 18 month olds eating with forks and drinking out of glasses without spilling.(if you saw meal times at my house you would know that this was amazing to me!) I have to say they have learned so much in the last year just being there 2x a week that it astonishes us. I think they actually are upset when they find out they have to stay home with mommy. I guess I am just not as fun! :)

As far as Laura’s comments in regards to homeschooling, I agree that there is no better place for children in a happy home. But for me, not only did I need to work in order to survive living in NJ, but I needed it for my sanity. As soon as I started working 4 days vs 2 days, I became a much happier person and my home became a happier place to be. I love my children to death and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but I was going insane being home with them almost all week(probably why they think I am not as fun!). It doesn’t matter that what I pay for daycare could pay for an awesome homeschool curriculum. I really would have no desire to homeschool.

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Haggel June 4, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Every dollar you spend on the kid could have been used to buy stocks and compounded at 12 percent every year for 20 years, assuming the kid leaves the nest at 20.

So instead of paying $500 a month for rent, food, clothing, transportation, daycare etc for the kid. You could have used that same $500 a month and bought stocks and after 20 years of compounding you would have about half a million dollars.

If you think, I am making all this up then see for your self with a savings calculator.

http://www.finance.cch.com/sohoApplets/CompoundSavings.html

I think most people would wear a condom to get half a million dollars.
I am not gay, I just share a room with someone.

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Debt Destroyer June 4, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Good care for your children is hard to find.

If I’m reading it correctly, a 5 day a week program is $1200-$1500/month and you’ll be paying $300 a week for 3 half days(which comes close to $1200/month). So if the cost is the same, why not have them be there longer?

@ Haggel – “I am not gay, I just share a room with someone.”

It may not have been intentional but that is probably the funniest line I’ve ever read on a PF blog. :)

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The Happy Rock June 5, 2009 at 9:52 am

@Laura – I agree that homeschooling has come a long way since the 1980′s when I was introduced to it and can be a great avenue for education. He have considered it, but neither my wife nor I are interested in teaching. Being a teacher requires a special skillset that not everyone has or desires to flourish in. I know I would make a terrible teacher.

Not everyone is going to be fulfilled by teaching their children as we are each made uniquely with different gifts and talents that need to be shared with the world. I would argue that parents should tend to focus on the activities that fill their own soul and leave the teaching to those whose are filled by giving in that context. If the two areas align for a mother or father, than awesome! I give you great credit for tackling homeschooling as it isn’t an easy job and I am glad that it is working out for you.

The only other two major drawbacks that I have seen is homeschooling with non school age toddlers around seems to be quite a hard things to manage. I have a few friends and family how do it and it is often quite difficult.

You also have to work extra extra hard at the socialization and relationship and life experience aspects as I see a lot of homeshcoolers lagging behind in those areas.

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The Happy Rock June 5, 2009 at 10:12 am

@Hoss – I agree, having your children taught by someone who has the gift and desire to fulfill that role is invaluable.

@Ed – Thanks

@Lynn – Looks like we are on the same page, maybe it is a New Jersey thing! Although I would love to get out of this state.

@Haggel – I think you make an excellent point and the number would be even more exaggerated for us since we are spending much than $500 a month on our children. Being parents is about giving. You willing lay down parts of your life for someone else so that you can share you blessings with someone else. So if money was the only consideration, no one would have children. Yet there is something transformative and special that happens in yourself and other when you invest in them that transcends anything that money can give you.

@DD – We have two boys, so it would be something like $2500 a month for both boys(younger guy is a little more expensive). Your point is still valid, we do pay a premium for not doing full days. The Rockette only works 18 hours a week as a consultant, so we pay a premium, but we would be paying much more if we paid for time when she was at home. We may consider adding a full day on Wednesday if the boys like it.

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CashAholic June 7, 2009 at 10:55 pm

If I had kids I would send them to the uber expensive private school. Mainly because there are some things you can’t quantify – such as education.

Give your kids the best education you can. That’s part of being a parent. I personally wouldn’t give my kids stuff such as electronic junk, or name brand clothes, but I wouldn’t stint on their education. I say give them the best education you can. It will last them a lifetime.

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Kristy @ Master Your Card June 9, 2009 at 12:40 am

I think when it comes to your childrens’ education and well-being, most parents in your position would have chosen the same thing. It sounds like a good opportunity for your boys to experience other things. I hate public schools, but one thing I do like is the opportunity to learn different things from different perspectives. That’s always been my beef with home school curriculum, it’s taught from the narrow focus of one of the parents. Now, I don’t mean that as a negative against the parent at all, but having different teachers opens up different perspectives. It allows children to grow and consider the facts before making a decision – particularly when presented with conflicting information. So, in that sense I think some sort of school with teachers and other students is highly beneficial.

Hope they enjoy it!

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Car Insurance Phi June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm

If you have to invest in daycare, don’t skimp on it. I’m glad you’ve found one you’re comfortable with, but I recommend you still talk to staff regularly and also to your children. You might hear things you don’t like from your kids. Also, it’ll let the staff know you’re on guard.

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Steve @ Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters October 22, 2009 at 2:15 am

Do it! Send them to the good pre school – they will benefit from it. I know there are potential minuses that you outlined, but these will pale into comparison with the growth of your children. We’re lucky enough to have gotten our daughter into a Montessori kindergarten, which doubles as day care, and I can’t begin to tell you how she has flourished there.

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