I was recently talking with my husband about how much money we were going to save on childcare when my son goes to public school next year. He’s five, and ever since he was three months old, we’ve been footing the bill for a combination of nannies, private pre-K and after-school sitters just to keep both our careers afloat.
For us, our childcare costs have put a significant dent in our annual budget. It’s also a necessity that’s totally unreliable, regardless of how much you try and solve for it. Reshma Saujani is the founder of Moms First, an advocacy group for financial and political maternal support, especially on the childcare front. She perfectly sums up the problem: “If you can imagine a game where every single player loses, that’s childcare in America.” (Meanwhile, rich countries contribute an average of $14,000 per year for a toddler’s care, compared with $500 in the U.S., Saujani explains.)
All this got me thinking about how other families make the numbers work. What are moms spending to send their children to day care? To hire a nanny? To keep their own careers from falling apart? To answer this question, I reached out to hundreds of moms across the country who have kids between the ages of 0 and 7 (when childcare typically becomes more affordable) to find out their brass tax numbers. Here’s a selection of their responses.