Let's talk about the biggest downside to daycare and preschool. The downside has become extremely apparent post pandemic.
When it comes to analyzing the downside for daycare and preschool, most parents think about cost as the biggest downside. Then there is the societal pressures that come with sending your kids to daycare (not so much preschool).
Are you considered rich if you can afford childcare? After all, childcare for one child can cost between $1,500 – $2,500 a month, depending on where you live.
Or are you considered poor if you have to pay for childcare because you cannot afford to stay at home and take care of your own kids?
What an interesting conundrum to consider! This debate, just like politics, will surely rile people up on both sides.
For most, I believe any family who can afford $18,000 – $30,000 a year in childcare costs a year per child should be considered more well off than the family who has a stay-at-home parent. Mind you, these are after-tax dollars.
I, for one, would not be comfortable spending such an amount after tax. Given we live in San Francisco, the cost of childcare is closer to $30,000 a year. We would probably need to make over 20X the cost of annual childcare or $600,000 to not feel the pinch.
Ironically, because both my wife and I were unemployed well before we had kids, we can more easily afford to stay home and raise them.
Staying home and raising our son has probably saved us $75,000 over a 2.5 year time frame. At least one of us plans to stay at home and care for our daughter for at least 2.5 years as well.
The Biggest Downside To Preschool Is Not The Cost
The biggest downside to preschool is not the cost. The biggest downside to preschool is being perpetually sick!
When our boy first started attending preschool, we felt a huge sense of relief. Suddenly, both of us had eight hours a day of freedom after 32 months of always caring for him.
I mostly used my free time to write more, play more tennis, and take longer naps. My wife used her free time to catch up on business stuff and sleep more since she was close to her third trimester.
For the first three months, I thought preschool was absolutely worth it. But now that the honeymoon period is over, I'm starting to have my doubts.
Getting The Rest Of Us Sick Too
Before preschool, our boy would get sick once every six months. For the five months our boy has been in preschool, he's been sick for three months to varying degrees. On the lighter side, he'd just have a running nose for weeks. On the heavier side, he'd have a running nose, a cough, and a fever.
Being sick disrupts his sleep. When sick, he wakes up multiple times a night because he cannot breathe or is hacking up a lung. This, in turn, ruins our precious sleep given we are waking up every 1-3 hours to feed our baby daughter.
Sometimes we get lucky because we're already awake when he starts crying out for us. At other times, however, we are unlucky when he starts crying for our help 10 minutes after we've passed out from the latest feeding session. That's when delirium sets in!
Unfortunately, every time our boy has gotten sick, he has also given his cold to either his mom or me or both. After going through a month-long coughing spell from mid-November to mid-December, I had a pleasant three-week break before I got sick again. Ugh.
My latest cold has caused me to wake up at least once every night for a week due to a heavy dry hack. I even got a right lung hernia from exerting too much pressure coughing.
Further, my overall energy is down by 25% – 35%, which means I cannot work as much to take care of my family. I also can't enjoy life as much because it's harder to play sports or go out with friends.
The Cost Of Sickness And The Price Of Health
We're paying $1,950 a month for some great teachers to teach new things to our boy. We love his developmental progress. Preschool also gives us much-needed free-time we need to rest and tag-team taking caring of our daughter.
The thing is, I'd willingly pay another $10,000 a month to never get sick. Normally, I rarely have a cold for longer than two months a year. The most common occurrence I experience is no cold or at most two weeks of cold. In other words, I'm willing to spend $120,000 every year to eliminate the risk of getting sick for up to two months.
$120,000 a year sounds like a lot to be healthy, but it's the same thing as me willing to pay much higher taxes and much higher housing costs to live in San Francisco versus Des Moines.
In San Francisco, I can enjoy the great outdoors for 12 months of the year. But if I moved to Des Moines, I could save over $1,000,000 on housing. But then I'd only get to enjoy the great outdoors for eight months a year.
They say getting colds when young builds your immune system. But if that's the case, why are my wife and I also always getting sick? My dad says it's because I never went to preschool! Ha.
They also say if your child doesn't get sick in preschool, he will start getting sick in kindergarten. Conversely, if your child gets sick in preschool, he will be less sick in kindergarten. Let's see what unfolds in the future.
How To Get Less Sick From Preschool And Daycare
If you are like me and hate getting sick, perhaps there are some strategies for still getting some childcare help while also reducing your chances of getting sick.
The first strategy is to always wash your hands and your child's hands before and after school. Encourage the administrators and teachers to remind parents and kids to always wash their hands as well.
The second strategy is to wear a face mask. This WAS socially tough because people would look at you weird and treat you differently. However, post pandemic, wearing a mask is the norm, thank goodness!
The third strategy is to get a flu shot. Although not always effective, getting a flu shot could lessen your chances of getting the flu and lessen the severity of the flu if you get it. The annual flu shot has a ~40% – 50% efficacy rate. In contrast, the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer and Moderna have a ~95% efficacy rate.
The fourth strategy is to not send your kid to preschool and daycare during the high flu season. Flu season is usually from December through February. But the season often starts in October and goes through May.
Keeping your kid home for a month or more is not a viable strategy for many working families. However, if you are like me, and are willing to pay thousands of dollars to not get sick, perhaps taking your kid out for a week or two might be worth it.
Downside Isn't Worth It For Us
In retrospect, If I knew my wife and I were going to get sick after the winter holiday due to my son getting sick, we would have definitely kept him home for the entire month of January.
Having the three of us sick is terrible, especially when we have a baby at home. Our baby also ended up getting sick for about a week, which broke our hearts. When the kids are sick, nobody sleeps well.
Once the pandemic hit in March 2020, we decided to pull our son from preschool. We don't plan to send him back until there is herd immunity.
It's been very tiring homeschooling him all day while having a baby to take care of as well. However, we've also really helped him grow and learn. He loves homeschooling and being around us. We also cherish the time we have with him.
Over 18 months since the pandemic began, my son and wife only got since once. They had a runny nose and a slight cough and was better after 4-5 days. I didn't end up getting sick at all, thank goodness.
Due to this homeschooling experience, we may very well homeschool our kids through middle school. This way, we can spend more time with them, travel the world, and be more free. Let's see!
Recommendation For All Parents
If there's one thing the pandemic has taught us, it's that life is not guaranteed. We must do everything we can to protect our children while they are still dependents.
As a result, please get life insurance. Not only should you get enough life insurance to cover your liabilities, your life insurance term should last long enough to get them through college.
The best place to get life insurance is through PolicyGenius. PolicyGenius will help you find the best plan for the lowest price tailored to your needs. PolicyGenius provides free, no-obligation quotes so you can get the best rate.
In the past, you would have to get a life insurance quote by applying to individual carriers – the process was completely opaque. Now, you can have multiple qualified life insurance carriers compete for your business after applying on PolicyGenius. It's so much more efficient!
After eight years of owning life insurance, my wife decided to check on PolicyGenius for free to see if should could do better. Lo and behold, my wife was able to double her life insurance coverage for less money. All this time, she thought she was getting the best deal with her existing carrier.
If you don't have life insurance, please get life insurance before you need to. Life insurance gets more expensive the older you get. If you get sick, depending on the severity of your sickness, you might not be able to qualify.
If you do have life insurance, I highly recommend checking PolicyGenius to try and get a better deal. Chances are high you're not getting the best terms. Let's protect our family!
The Biggest Downside To Daycare And Preschool is a Financial Samurai original post.