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Today I was talking to my hair stylist about our kids and about getting older. We are both in our mid to late thirties and both considering having a 3rd child. We discussed the age thing, the impact on the other kids, and the dads. Then the conversation inevitably turned to the cost of and how to pay for childcare, as we are both in two career households.
Her children are both within two years of my oldest at 7 and 9. And last time she was a SAHM and in a different relationship. So she had never had the *pleasure* of paying more than the cost of housing or college to pay someone else to raise her kids. Needless to say, I had to school her on the hard truth about the cost of childcare here in the Seattle area.
I just did some quick research and found that the average cost of infant care in the Seattle area is $1,083/MO. To me, that seems low based on my experience, but I’ll go with it. That’s for just ONE kid! And it’s more than a year of tuition at the UW! Crazy isn’t it?
Now let’s backtrack a minute to about 9 years ago when I was in those same shoes. I was so naive when I first began to suspect I might be pregnant back in 2008. I truly believed that everyone got 3 months paid time off, that I would be immune to gaining any baby weight, and that childcare would be affordable. By now I’m sure you’re laughing at 20-something me and my blissful ignorance! Affordable childcare? What is that? It’s this thing we hear a lot about in political arguments, but none of us out in the trenches have ever seen it.
And as naive as I was back then, I was even more of a procrastinator and an idealist. I truly believed the old adages that “everything happens for a reason” and “it will all just work itself out.” Wasn’t I precious? So I visited a couple centers before I gave birth, but hadn’t nailed anything down before I had GQ. And as my return to work date approached, I realized that I really should select a location and button everything up.
And then I got a phone call. MR was calling to tell me that he’d been laid off and my heart sank into my shoes. Now mind you, this was during the heart of the recession and there were no jobs to be had. So I went back to work and he stayed home with 3-month-old GQ. And that was our life for two years. It was tough, but in the end, he was still being raised at home by a parent.
And in hindsight, it was truly a blessing in disguise because of the unemployment benefits and all of the extensions available at that time. We were probably in the same boat financially as we would have been even if he had been working. That is if you consider the high cost of having to pay for childcare.
By the time GQ went to daycare for the first time he was already two, so the monthly rate was under $1,000. But not by much. So we pretty much worked to pay the bills and to have other people raise our kid. This is why we put off having a second child. For six and a half years!
But he got older and we became more stable. We planned everything out perfectly…right? Firts, we sat down with the cost sheet for the same daycare that GQ was attending and figured out how we would pay for their combined rates. Plus we scheduled around my busy time at work. We were on top of everything! And we got pregnant on our second month of trying! Winning at parenting!
So I called our daycare to reserve our spot and was informed immediately that it would not be possible because of some new regulations. All of their spots were now reserved for the new Early Head Start infants & they were not accepting any private pay infants. I freaked out but figured there must be somebody who had an opening. Boy was I wrong! Everyone had that same answer or a waitlist that stretched into eternity or cost $2,000+ per month. We were screwed! What to do?
So we hired a nanny. And that was a whole new basket of issues. We had some great experiences & some awful experiences between the three nannies that we dealt with over the course of 5 months. I know…three.
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But even at the bare minimum a nanny ain’t cheap! We were facing a child care bill that was about 150% of what we pay for our mortgage. How can anyone afford to pay for childcare these days? So, what…is child rearing now only a luxury for the rich? It didn’t seem fair, but I understand that’s the thing with life…
We made it work for a little while but quickly realized that it was not sustainable if we kept doing the same thing that we’d been doing. So we sat down to brainstorm. How in the world were we going to make this work and continue to pay for childcare? One of the thoughts that eventually came up was this idea of the side hustle.
If you’re not familiar with the side hustle, it’s really just any type of side project to make extra money. It’s usually a little unconventional or novel and creative. For some people, it’s selling essential oils, or overpriced leggings, or fancy shakes, or slimming body wraps. Or it could be an Etsy shop or playing gigs in a band, and on and on. And in this case, it led us down a path that has changed our lives in so many ways.
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Now MR had been throwing around this one idea for ages, but it always seemed a pipe dream because he didn’t have the tools needed to make it a reality. And that idea was rideshare driving. But he had this old 2001 SUV that was his baby and you just can’t use a car that old. So we put that idea to bed. That is until he was in a wreck and totaled the truck. Which led to a friend offering to sell him a fancy Saab for a killer price that was less than 10 years old!
This was the series of events that paved the way for MR’s side hustle. Honestly, the ink was barely dry on the title before he signed up to drive with Uber! Things moved fairly quickly and he was out on the road within about two weeks. The plan was for him to drive weekends and some nights. And that is exactly what he did.
It was like a miracle. He immediately began averaging $20/hour and earning an average of $300/Week on top of the salary from his day job! That’s around $1,200/month!
Right around that same time, I realized that the blog I had been tinkering with might have the potential to earn some money itself. This was a foreign thought to me as it may be to you. However, I will quickly tell you how bloggers make money and you will have your “ah-ha” moment too!
First, they allow display ads on their blog. Second, they write what are called sponsored posts. That is where a company pays them to write about a specific product or service. Third, they participate in affiliate marketing. This is where they will write a blog post like normal, but add links to products or services that they naturally mentioned in the post. If you make a purchase then they receive a commission. And finally, many bloggers sell their own products like ebooks, printables, online courses, etc. I have a friend who earns over $100,000/MO from her blog doing just those very things!
No, I’m not bringing in anywhere close to that! I wish! But some months I’ve earned around $300 and it continues to grow! Not too shabby for a gal who just writes about mom life!
And That’s How We Pay for Childcare
So between the two of us, we are side hustling our way through the crippling cost of daycare! And some months we have extra money left over! It has been such a feeling of relief knowing that we have this extra money coming in so we don’t have to worry about how we’re going to pay our bills from one month to the next. For a while there we were really worried about how we were going to keep all the balls in the air. And finding our own unique side hustle(s) has made all the difference!
How do you pay for childcare? Do you have any unique tips or tricks for other families reading this? If so, please leave them in the comments below! And if you’d like more information about driving for Uber click HERE. Or if you think that starting a blog might be more your style click HERE. And good luck to you as you navigate this special, and so very expensive, time in your life!
Update – May 2017
Since this was originally published MR was able to quit his day job to stay home with the boys during the day thanks to rideshare driving! He also drives for Lyft now, but Uber remains his steady! He made over $1,000 this week alone! And we no longer have to pay for childcare! Woo hoo!