I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on extragavant giving and giving on a budget! I hope you also were able to get some inspiration for getting your budget working for you, and by my account of how Mike and I have set up our personal budget.
Yesterday I posted about how Mike and I have asked ourselves, “What do we really need,” how we hope to apply that question (and answer) to our rent when the time comes to move, and how some of the practical ways we have found to cut our energy bill in half in the meantime.
Next on the budgeting agenda? Olivia! The two biggies are child care and pediatrician visits. . Because this turned into a bigger topic than I originally intended, I am going to split the post into two, and address child care today, then pediatrician visits tomorrow. Here is how we have arrived at our budgeting amounts for these two big budget (but not budget busting!) categories
Because I have had to go back to work part-time to help supplement our income while Mike searches for a new job, we have had to find someone to watch Olivia while I am at work. I really do enjoy my job, thankfully, but I’m never thrilled to leave Olivia in someone else’s care. Not because I don’t trust other people (I have a few great babysitters on my list), but because I really enjoy my daughter and the fleeting time we get to spend together.
However, since it’s pretty much a non-negotiable that I work outside the home during this season, I’ve had to find child care for Olivia.
So what were my options?
I knew right off the bat that I didn’t want to put Olivia into day-care for several reasons, the primary being that day-care, at least the really high quality ones, can be extremely pricey. I would be working just to have someone else watch my kid, and that would not be very productive!
Another big reason for me is that if I am not going to be able to give a lot of personal attention to my daughter, I want to know that she is at least in a place where someone else can give her that attention, and a day-care facility just isn’t that place. I’m sure there a lot of great ones out there, and I know people who have had very positive experiences with a day-care, but it’s just not for our family.
At Home Care
For about a year in college I enjoyed a really great relationship with a little guy who I babysat regularly in his home while his mom worked for a few hours. I definitely know first-hand the benefits of having a babysitter at home– the kid is in a familiar environment, you can control the environment for the most part, and you know your kid is the only one who is going to be there. And the going rate for babysitters can be pretty reasonable, at least around here.
However, the kind of babysitter that can come to your home is usually a student, and students can sometimes have unpredictable schedules. Besides that, you have to rely on that person to be able to get to your house every day on-time. I totally locked myself out of my car on my first day of the babysitting gig I mentioned above, and was about 45 minutes late. Awesome. (And if you read this Ame, thanks for not freaking out on me for that!)
Maybe we could have found someone to watch Olivia at our home, and we do have a couple of back-up options that we have used before when our primary babysitter is unavailable (thanks Jodi!), but in the end, this too just seemed to be too much of a logistical nightmare for us.
Care in the Babysitter’s Home
In the end, we have a great babysitter that watches Olivia at her home only five minutes from my job. The proximity to my job is a huge bonus, because it means that I can pop over for my lunch hour on days when I work late, and it also means I don’t have to spend extra time in the care missing my daughter to pieces (we live about 25 minutes from my job).
This woman is closer to my mom’s age than my own, and has plenty of experience with her own children and several nieces, many of whom she still watches, and she has a really fun house tucked into some woods out in the country.
The best part is- I only have to pay $80 a week for about 20-22 hours of child care! That is a great deal for one-on-one convenient care. How did I find her? Well a friend of mine actually was looking for someone to watch her boys and ended up calling her church to see if they knew anyone who had plenty of availability and a good track-record with kids, and my friend started sending her boys to this woman. When I got my job, I asked if she had time to watch another little girl, and lucky for me, she said yes!
I think the best part, too, is how flexible our sitter has been with negotiating pay as my hours have fluctated. She is willing to work with me to find a reasonable price for both of us, and she is also willing to let me trade some of my other skills for babysitting hours (i.e. tutoring in Spanish before she took a missions trip to Mexico).
Another idea I had when I was thinking about going back to work and figuring out child care for Olivia was to try and trade babysitting with someone else. This one is probably the biggest nightmare logisically, and would only work if I found someone who had a flexible schedule and a similar circumstance.
Anway my thought would be that if I found someone working off hours from me (say, I go into work in the morning and they work in the afternoons), we could trade babysitting favors, even if it was just some of the time.
Also, my mom is a school-teacher, and she only lives a few hours away, so during the summers she offered to come down and stay a couple of days a week and watch Olivia for free! Yay for family!
How about you? Have any creative ways to save on child care while still ensuring that your child has the best possible care? What do you consider a non-negotiable when it comes to care for your kid? And if you are a babysitter…well thanks for what you do! 🙂 I would love to hear your fun child care stories and mishaps!!
Go To: My Budget Boot Camp Day 7