When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I had a moment of panic. OK, let’s be honest here — I had like three months of fear. We were already paying through the nose for child care for my oldest. How were we going to afford a sitter or day care center for both kids?
After I freaked out for a while — augmented by pregnancy hormones (don’t even get me started on those — I cried over a sandwich once while pregnant!) my boss gave me the option to telecommute. Not everyone has that option, though, so if you’re due with No. 2, here is how to afford daycare for two.
Write a Budget
I know I’ve said this a gazillion times, but if you’re worried about being able to afford something — day care, a new car, a downpayment on the house, whatever — write a damn budget. Figure out your income, and make a detailed list of all your expenses. Determine where you can make cuts and reduce those expenses. Once you have an overall budget, it becomes easier to figure out if you can cut enough corners to afford child care or if you’re going to need to peruse other options.
Even if you don’t have a second little bundle of joy on the way, write the budget anyway. Everyone should have one. They should teach you how to write a budget in high school before you need it, instead of spending 12 years teaching you how to take a test. They should show you this instead of having to learn from Professor Google.
OK, I’ll get off my soapbox. On to my next tips.
Ask About Sibling Discounts
If you’re using a day care center for your first child, talk to the staff there. Many facilities offer sibling discounts — reducing the cost of adding a second child to the account. It might not seem substantial, but if you only need a little bit of wiggle room, it could help make child care more affordable for you.
If your current facility doesn’t offer sibling discounts, consider looking around for one that does, or choosing different options. Keep in mind that infant care is always going to cost more, so you’ll need to take that into account when selecting a day care center.
Look Into In-Home Care
If you’d prefer to keep your kids at home, but don’t have the option to stay home yourself, there are plenty of different types of in-home child care you can choose from.
You could hire a nanny, who will likely live locally, to stay with you 24/7. If you prefer to add a little culture to your children’s lives, you could hire an au pair – a foreign national that comes to stay with you for a year from overseas. Once your children get a little older, you could hire a teenage baby-sitter to watch them in the afternoons and evenings.
I wouldn’t trust a teen with an infant unless it were someone I already knew well, but that’s just me.
Day care centers aren’t your only option, and with two kids, a live-in nanny or au pair may end up being cheaper than traditional child care.
Talk To Your Boss
If you’re working, talk to your boss. Companies are starting to realize that if they want to keep good employees on the payroll, they need to be more flexible and supportive when it comes to their families. As such, many are starting to offer things like child care reimbursement, savings accounts or other options to help lighten bills or make it less stressful for new moms and dads.
Some employers are even offering on-site day cares, which are ideal for breastfeeding mothers. All you have to do is walk down the hall when it’s time for them to eat.
Start a Side Gig
Have you ever dreamed about selling things on Etsy or eBay? Do you have a hobby you could turn into a side gig to earn some bank? Start now! Side gigs are a great way to make extra money to offset child care costs, and if you stick to it and you’ve got a skill or product that’s in demand, you could even turn it into a career.
Ask Family for Help
If all else fails, consider asking a local family member for help if you feel you can trust them with your children. I know not everyone can, but it is an option if you’ve got a parent or grandparent who lives close by and is happy to spend some time with your little ones.
Don’t Stress Out; You Have Options
Child care is expensive, especially for two kids. If you don’t have the option to telecommute or stay home to become a single-income family, you don’t have to panic about being able to afford it. Do your research, talk to your boss and your current day care facility, and take things one step at a time.