Our new series, Family Tales, is an honest peek into the daily lives of families across the country who are on this crazy ride we call parenthood! From divulging childcare costs to breaking down family finances to managing bedtime routines with multiple kids, we tap into the Red Tricycle army of parents to find out how they’re making it work. This series is a judgment-free zone.

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I Work from Home & Pay $15K per Year in Childcare: Here’s Why I Love the Life I Have

 

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My age and occupation: 30, non-profit CEO
My partner’s age and occupation: 36, active-duty military
Annual household income: $290,000
City: Tampa, Florida

Childcare costs per year: $15,000 over the table
How we found our childcare: word of mouth
Our kid(s) ages: 4, 6 and 8

 

Photo: Irina Murza on Unsplash

Tampa is a great city in beautiful sunny Florida. If you’re willing to live in the suburbs, you can have a large home with a big backyard and a pool. Plus, Florida has no state income tax! I am so lucky to have a career that pays six-figures and allows me to work from home so that I can see my kids whenever I want. Our three kids are getting older and we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. New moms ask me for career advice all the time. Take it from me: the years with young children who don’t sleep through the night, and childcare that costs more than your mortgage will not last forever. Here are a few things I learned along the way (rule #1: do not quit your job) and how I make it work as a mom of three running a non-profit:

Morning: I somehow manage every morning solo with all three kids

My husband’s alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. He is entirely incapable of being quiet in the morning. I don’t understand it, but he is like a bull in a china shop and always wakes up at least one kid on his way out. By 6:20 a.m. I run from one room to the next getting cranky, sleepy children dressed for school. I say the F-word under my breath at least five times before 7 a.m. The two oldest children ride their bikes to school with several neighbors. They need to be out the door by 6:45 a.m. to make it to school on time. Don’t ask me why the elementary school starts so early.

photo: Elvis Batis via Flickr

We rent our house for $2,500 a month and the elementary school my two oldest attend is the best rated school in the district. It’s a public school, so we don’t pay tuition. My husband would prefer to send the children to a private school, but I like the convenience of the local public school where the kids can ride their bikes with their neighbors. We desperately want to buy a home in our current neighborhood, but want to be sure that we have enough money saved for a down payment (20%) and closing costs (about $18,000).

Once the older two are out the door, I only have the youngest home. I give her a snack and put on a cartoon while I do a quick workout in the garage. I gained 30 pounds in the last three years when I started a desk job. I can’t compromise on this workout. I have to do it. It’s hot in Florida, and extremely humid. I come inside 45 minutes later dripping in sweat. It’s time for my youngest to go to school (we pay $1,000 per month for this daycare). The longer she stays home in the morning, the bigger the battle at drop off. I don’t bother to shower. I throw her in the car and drive her to daycare.

photo: Pexels

My Work Day: I can’t have co-workers knowing that I’m a frumpy mom in real life

It’s now 8:30 a.m. and all of the kids are at school. I shower, feed the dog, eat a small breakfast and sit down in my home office. The phones start ringing at 9 a.m. I am a CEO of a state-wide nonprofit and I have a daily video conference with my national colleagues at 10 a.m. As much as I would prefer to stay in yoga pants with a messy bun all day, it’s this video conference that forces me to put on makeup and look presentable. I can’t have co-workers knowing that I’m a frumpy mom in real life.

I actually started my career as a high school English teacher, and was only earning about $35,000 a year at that time. Within the last four years, I made the transition to the nonprofit industry. In doing so, I more than quadrupled my salary (and we wonder why we cant keep teachers in the classroom…). Anyways, we just recently started having excess money beyond fixed living expenses.

Those first few years teaching and being a new mom were tough. But I told myself: do whatever it takes. Back then our child care expenses were more than $3,000 per month. I made less than that after taxes, and we lost money every month with me working. I was determined to build a resume and have a career though, so we just accepted that childcare would exceed my earning potential for the first several years of my career.

photo: Pexels

Sometimes other new moms ask me for advice and I tell them: do not quit your job, even if you earn less than childcare. If you have a two-income household, scale back your standard of living now so that you can live the life you want later. Remember that these years with young children who don’t sleep through the night, and childcare that costs more than your mortgage will not last forever.

Eventually, your kids will grow up, and will not need around the clock care like they do now. If you don’t keep working on your career now, you will have to start from scratch when the kids are older. The problem with that is you will be older, you will have little to show on a resume and you will be competing for jobs with younger people who have more skills. If you can’t work for whatever reason, do whatever it takes to gain new skills. You need skills to set you apart—whether it’s learning a new language, mechanical skills, grant writing, public speaking or computer programming. Learn something new every year. Don’t stop working on yourself. Yes, I clearly have strong feelings about all of this.

photo: Ashton Bingham on Unsplash

Afternoon: Locking my office door is mandatory

My two oldest children bust through the front door at 2:15 p.m. They are usually bickering about who is faster, smarter or who gets first dibs on the remote. I close my office door and lock it. It’s too early to stop working for the day, but my productivity greatly decreases once the kids are home. I push through the next two hours to wrap up for the day. I pick up my youngest from daycare at 4:30 p.m., head home and stare at a refrigerator full of groceries before thinking of where to order takeout.

photo: Unsplash

Evening: The chaos continues…

It’s now 5:30 p.m., and my husband arrives home totally starving. I could easily eat a bowl of cereal for dinner or some canned soup, but my husband acts like he has to have a meal with all five food groups for dinner. He’s in the military and works out all the time. He never gains weight. This is why I gained weight. I eat with him when I’m not even hungry.

photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

The kids have been outside playing with the neighbors since they got home from school. It’s now 6 p.m., and I call them inside for homework, dinner and showers. This process of collecting my children scattered around the neighborhood takes at least 20 minutes. We argue about homework for a few minutes before someone gets yelled at for talking back or being defiant. My husband sits down with one child and I sit down with the other. It takes the four of us at least 40 minutes to finish homework. I’m irritable now, and already dreading next year when we will have 3 kids in school with homework.

Bedtime: I think about punching my husband in the face for a quick minute, but decide against it

It’s now 8 p.m., and homework is finished, dinner is over and kids are bathed. I start the bedtime routine. Everyone insists on reading a different book before bed. Lights are out by 8:30 p.m. I go downstairs and slump onto the couch next to my husband. It’s 8:35 p.m., and all three children are suddenly so dehydrated that they come down for a drink. My husband takes them upstairs. He doesn’t get suckered into bedtime stories. He tells them all to go to sleep in a stern voice and they listen. That technique never works for me. I don’t get it.

photo: jbdeboer from Pixabay

I take a shower at 9 p.m. I can’t sleep without showering first. I come out and my husband is already in bed. He asks why the laundry hasn’t been folded since I was home. Maybe he forgot that I work ALL DAY. I think about punching him in the face for a quick minute, but decide against it. I make a mental note to fold the laundry tomorrow. We talk for a few minutes about the kids, finances, weekend plans, etc. Sometimes we reflect that we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our children are getting older, and more self sufficient now. We don’t need childcare around the clock anymore, and I know that in another five years from now, we won’t likely need childcare at all. These days go by so fast.

We kill the lights at 9:45 p.m. Wow. We got one whole hour alone together tonight! Not bad.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.