The Biggest Downside To Daycare And Preschool Is Not The Cost

The Biggest Downside To Preschool Is Not The Cost

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 childcare by state

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.

73 thoughts on “The Biggest Downside To Daycare And Preschool Is Not The Cost”

  1. I’ve heard the saying that if they get sick when they are little they dont get sick as much older. I was never a strong believer of that. However, due to my husband and I both work and we did not have the financial means or trusted recommendation for a nanny, my 1st born went to daycare at 2.5 months. She was sick constantly until about 2. when we put her to a good preschool, she was rarely sick from 2 – 5. Last fall, she started public school and we put her in an afterschool program that is suppose to be good. All hell breaks loose, she has been sick one after another since sept. I discover the afterschool s soap dispenser in the bathroom broken for more than a month and only fix when I complain. We are talking about kids going to poop or pee not able to wash their hands w soap! No wonder she is constantly sick!
    We had a nanny for my son for 15 months and he is rarely sick even in preschool, or when my daughter or me or my husband get sick. He was well taken care of , have good appetite, and strong.
    So, does exposing kids to germs early on really prevent them from being sick later? Not in my case.
    Being sick when first exposing to the public is inevitable. However In any case, the preschool, daycare, or after school should be clean. I believe having the kid grow big and strong and first have many benefits as opposed to exposing them to germs too early .

  2. What I noticed is, parents in my daycare don’t send their kids into daycare if they are sick, I might see some light cough or running nose once in a while, but I know my fellow parents keep their kids at home (which is both an inconvenient and luxury I admit) and I try to do the same. If you continuously find sicks kids in your daycare, it might be worth switching even with a longer commute.

    Also, parents need to dress their kids warmer, especially in SF. I saw so many parents dress their kids in a light jacket during chilly weather while playing outside. I know everyone is different, and kids move a lot of blah blah, but at least in my experience, every time my son got a cold (2 or 3 times last year). I can always recall a moment when I feel “he might be cold, but I didn’t put more cloth on. “

  3. We waited until out twins were 3 before sending them to preschool, and only for 5 hours a week. This reduces the chance of them getting sick but still allows them socialization. We will increase the hrs as they get older. They still get sick from school, Only twice this year so it’s manageable. Hopefully this is a less disruptive and more gradual way of “exercising” their immune systems.

    1. Sounds like a good plan.

      We’re visiting a preschool today that o LT has classes 3X a week for 3 hours. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but maybe that helps with sickness.

  4. A total of 64 comments and only 3 that espouse the benefit of parents actually raising their own kids.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Bill. While I appreciate the fact that some have to work so there is no choice many choose career instead of raising their own children. The usual excuses can be applied I won’t repeat them but really it comes down to want you want to invest. Everyone is free to make their own choice but we bypassed the extra money tightened our belts and choose our kids and have never regretted that decision for a moment. You remember Jackie Kennedy’s famous saying!

  5. This article rings so true! Our 9 month-old son who had never been sick before began daycare a month ago and got sick after just two days with what we believe was norovirus. He then proceeded to pass it to us a few days later for what was probably the worst 24 hours of my life. In just the past month, we’ve received several emails from the daycare informing parents of confirmed illnesses throughout his class and/or school: flu, RSV, hand-foot-and-mouth, croup…the list goes on. Like you, I’ve heard getting sick early helps them stay healthier later on but it is difficult to accept knowing how many illnesses are floating around his school. Even after just a month though, he seems to be benefiting from the socialization so my wife and I are pleased about that.

  6. Mirko S. Kojatovski Genijalac

    well, it all depends on the kids and their environment.
    We have 3 kids in daycare here in Colorado (Denver Metro Area) and we too pay the retail (no government discounts here). It’s expensive to say the least. We expect to pay about 65K in daycare costs in 2020. Like article mentioned, that is purely after tax money. One of our paychecks goes exclusively to the daycare. However, one has to think long-term and realize that they won’t be in a daycare forever and in the meantime by working we are still getting the benefit of contributions to Social Security, 401K, and career advancement. After daycare, private school will feel like a bargain. I was hoping to send my kids to public school but unfortunately here in Colorado they teach based on lowest common denominator. Not to mention class size, low teacher pay, etc, etc.

    On a topic of getting sick….Sure our kids got sick. But not any more or less that they would get sick staying at home. We are not “stay at home” type of people. We go to libraries, outdoor events, church, playgrounds, hiking, vacations, etc, etc. Kids explore the world through they mouth and fingers. As a result, sometimes they get sick.

    I will mention that our two youngest kids were never vaccinated. For some reason (could be related or not) they are hardly ever sick. If they do get sick it doesn’t last more than 24 hours. After our first almost died from the vaccinations we decided to postpone their vaccinations until much later or perhaps never (we aren’t against vaccinations but we are not the ones to follow vaccination guidelines either). Please don’t comment on vaccinations regardless if you are pro or against. Just do you no matter your beliefs.

    1. I agree. I think you’d have to live a pretty isolated existence to avoid getting sick, especially as your son starts participating in sports or any other group activity. It’s part of life, and not a reason to avoid preschool. Hope your family feels better soon!

  7. I love that you’re posting more about your whole life and decisions your wife and you are making not only financially but also some of the upstream and downstream decisions that are still totally related to finances! My husband has read your blog for years and in an effort to be a better partner to him I made it a goal this year to increase my financial literacy. I challenged myself to to read at least 1 of your articles per week. We’re also expecting our first child, so your posts about parenting and childcare have been so timely and insightful!

  8. It’s not just daycare. Kids are little germ factories. Everything they touch and play with is coated in a thin layer of boogers, poop/urine, or spoiled food. They just haven’t learn yet. Don’t worry Your immune system catches up.

    Just make sure you get a flu shot

  9. Lemme just say I was the sickly child. I caught everything and anything including measles and mumps. I was teased because I always had a runny nose. Now as an adult, my immune system is like a tank (technically though once I had my sinuses fixed and started using a neti pot consistently)! The last time I got flu was in 2017 when the entire office got a bad strain.

    My brother on the other hand never really got sick. Now when he gets the flu, he’s gets knocked out. He also got pox and believe me, pox as an adult is anything but fun (he was basically a walking skeleton in a week!).

    So although it doesn’t feel like it, it’s a good thing to get sick as a child. It makes you more resilient, you learn how to handle the smaller illnesses and builds your immunity.

  10. Stephanie Ko

    Just wait until you get Hand Foot Mouth Disease… Or pinkeye. This is turning into a parenting blog.

    I only want to read things that make me money.

      1. I completely disagree with Stephanie. I follow your blog specifically because it is an all-rounded take on all things that affect you financially and written in such an open manner, which is what sets you apart from other mundane financial blogs. Kids and the content of this post are highly relevant financially.

        On a side note, I have a son a similarish age to yours and experience these exact issues, which is hugely impactful on mine and my husband’s ability to work at times. I’ve also had hand foot and mouth disease TWICE in the last 18 months care of my toddler, which is an absolutely hideous thing to get. (And no it’s a myth that you can only get it once, because there are multiple strains and you’re only immune to the strain you’ve caught). So I forewarn you of that – because it sounds like every young kid gets that at least once!

  11. I do want to point out, using a gym child minding service is a god sent and incredibly cheap.
    We dodged daycare until 18 months for both of our little ones.

    At 18 months we appreciated the lessons and learning that happened in daycare so we bit the bullet and coughed up the money. We were horrible at teaching lessons at home :O

  12. Oh man it sucks being sick. I had a good stretch of minimal illnesses in my 20s and early 30s except for one winter I was sick for an entire month. Now as a mom I am sick for at least one week every single month sometimes 2 weeks. It’s definitely a drag. St least it makes feeling healthy such a relief when the sick free days come around.

  13. With my first kid (8) I got sick a lot.. With my second kid (2) it was a bit. With my third (1), barely by following Nutrition Divas guidelines, that added to your include Vitamin D twice a day and drinking kefir once every day or other day. But washing hands a lot too.

  14. We started dropping our toddler off for part time day care to establish a routine and socialize him from an early age. Much like your experience with pre-school, he immediately started a progression of illnesses, and we caught several of them. Thanks to your post and the comments on it, I’m re-assured that this is completely normal.

    As an aside I think your childcare costs are low, at least for San Francisco. Our day care program runs about $3k/month. A full time nanny would have run close to $60k a year. The merits of either can be debated, but the one expense I would wholeheartedly recommend for those not breast feeding: a doula or night nurse.

  15. Thanks for a great post!
    My husband and I have a ten and an eight year old and as soon as they left kindergarten and started school they simply just stayed healthy. It was such a releif for us. As life suddenly became easy again we forgot the hard days of being full time working parents with constantly sick kids and no sleep… and yes we had a third baby… now 2 years old and in kindergarten. We are now completely back to always having a sick little child to care for. Big difference is we know it will pass, the rest of the family stays healthy (we have already had everything) and we can see how greatly all of our children have benefited from kindergarten. Our older children have an amazing network of friends from kindergarten and they are so experienced in managing social relationsships. My husband and I took turns to stay at home for the childrens’ first 1,5 years which was fantastic, but I would never give up kindergarten as it is so rewarding for the children also in the longer run.

    Hang in there!

  16. Hi Sam-

    Stick with preschool; the illnesses will get less. I have an almost 4 year old who has been in school since 4 months old. He has not stayed home from school once in the last 18 months. There were 2 weekends in that period that he was ill, but fortunately it did not fall over school time. So, yes, kids develop immunity with time.

    My 1 year old has been in preschool since 10 weeks old and has only had a few minor colds. His preschool is hyper aware of hand washing, good diaper practices and covering coughs. His worst cold he actually got from a babysitter that didn’t realize she was sick until the next day.

    As for mom and dad getting sick, I am a high school teacher so I have strong immunity and most cold bypass me. My poor husband now only gets everother illness, since his immunity has improved in the last 3.5 years.

    Last, there is some strategy in keeping a kid home when some highly contagious illness is going around- especially with a baby at home. But the trade off is disprution to your kid’s routine. Hand, mouth and foot was not a pleasanat experience in our house.

    And, I remember the double whammy of just getting back in bed after feeding baby and then the toodler needs you. That stunk.

    Have you considered some vitamin C, elderberry, and/or other immunity supplements? What about a humidifier when the toddler has coughs? Those have helped us teremendously with getting good sleep.

    It will get better!

  17. Josephine Golcher

    I was a SAH mother until my youngest was 7, when I trained to be a teacher. We loved having that ability.
    But here is the downside. The SAH parent misses out when the youngest child is out of the house. No 401k, little SS in your own right, missing out on career progression, reduction in salary. All this adds up to female impoverishment in old age.
    I dealt with this by working till I was 76 because I loved it. And I am still working as a substitute teacher at the age of 78. But this is not an option for most people.
    When my own daughter, residing in the U.K. became pregnant, I advised her strongly to keep working. And she was able to do this due to the amazing social benefits provided by the U.K.
    America, wake up! And provide our parents with the help they need.

      1. Josephine Golcher

        Yes I did! We have been married for 57 years this year and he was supportive from the start. In the beginning, he worked 6 day weeks. But we lived in the U.K. when our children were small so we had a better social network.
        We have always shared everything even the coughs and colds!
        But now I see plenty of impoverished women around my age.
        But I did have an outstanding Tiger Mother who was on her own from 1941 to 1945 in WW2 with 2 children. She did not tolerate any slacking at school from her children and taught us to save.

  18. I appreciate your thoughts but single moms and those supporting their parents don’t have the option of just staying home. I am working mom of 8 years now. I do not believe my wonderful daycare provider fully raised my kids. My husband and I raised them. Raising isn’t just watching them from 9-5pm. It takes a village to raise kids. I think it’s important to do the due diligence around day care. Find a good fit. At home it’s important to share home responsibility My husband and I share 50/50 of housework. I do have a college degree and a CPA designation.

    There are days I wish I could have stayed home. America is very tough on working moms. My husband was also unwell and do for a while I had to be the sole breadwinner. It really helped that I was already working and we were able to maintain our middle class lifestyle and continue contributing to 401k and 529 plans. I have a lot of friends who are stay at homes who cannot afford to do this. It is not easy for a woman to be hired if she has been out of the workforce for 5 years. For men it is easier. Clearly I am very passionate about this and have struggled a lot. I dedicated a full blog to being a working mom and I help other moms going back to work.

    My kids have been exposed to germs since 3 months old and by the time they were 1 Year, I felt their immune system was much stronger.

    Clearly I have a lot of strong opinions, but I also get it. I am lucky I had an amazing boss and other working women in the arena who lifted each other up.

    1. All true, especially for single moms or single dads. There is no other option but to work to take care of the children.

      The debate is quite a conundrum. We can even discuss the situation before having kids. etc.

      I agree it’s wise to keep on working in at least a part-time capacity to keep the skills sharp and work experience up to date. One never knows.

  19. My kids are all adults but I was a stay at home parent. However I felt strongly that they needed to be with other children and I needed some down time, so they all went to half day nursery school (preschool). It was not daycare- only some of the moms worked, so if a child was sick, he or she was kept home, the parents didn’t need the daycare in order to work. Many had grandparents picking up after school also. Not sure if these types of traditional nursery school programs even exist anymore. But it was the best of both worlds – some socialization and learning for children and only a few hours a day. It began at age 2, at 2 hours a day twice a week, age 3 went 3 hours a day three times a week and age 4 every day for 4 hours. It was wonderful!

  20. I successfully avoided the getting sick from preschool problem because my daughter’s preschool was near my office. Once or twice each day I went to the preschool and nursed her there. What I think must have happened was my own immune system was exposed to the preschool germs and played a role in creating breast milk that gave her immunity to them, so no one in the family got sick from preschool. Pretty neat!

    1. Cool, although, if you talk to other parents, they’ll say you and your daughter will end up getting sick more when she is older. Pay now or pay later, they say.

      Good luck!

  21. Our nanny texted me a few minutes after I arrived at my quiet house. I’d just returned from a business trip. She said my son had thrown up in his car set, to bring a towel to the car, and to start a bath. Poor guy!

    Our nanny got sick over the weekend and had to miss Monday, which meant my wife and I tag teamed.

    Then, a few days before Christmas, my wife and I were at two different toilets throwing up while our traumatized son cried listening to both is parents wretch on two different floors.

    It sucked while it was happening. Especially for him. He doesn’t eat well and therefore doesn’t sleep well and is miserable.

    But it passes and now it is funny that my wife and I literally were throwing up at the same time. It is part of the parenting process I think.

    My parents told me stories of all of us having a stomach flu before Christmas as well. That was an inter-generational shared experience!

    On the money topic, I first felt awful for having a nanny. I had read you saying how it was crazy to pay a stranger to raise your kid. This is how I felt at first.

    Now that she’s been with us for awhile, I know that it is money well spent. 1) She teaches us and we are better parents for having her; 2) She provides a high quality of life for my son, social interaction during the day through play dates, and enrichment at story times; 3) I get great satisfaction out of my job and feel like I will have a lot to teach him about emotional intelligence and community impact if I keep working. 4) I enjoy employing someone and providing a steady income. For example, our nanny said we made her Christmas through our end of year bonus. Just some of the benefits of having an amazing, experienced nanny.

    1. Yikes! That does sound like a tough situation of both throwing up.

      I don’t recall saying it is crazy to pay a stranger to raise one’s kids. I think it’s logical for at least part of the day given we have to work and need a break.

      I personally wouldn’t pay a nanny to watch my son all day if we only had one child. So we didn’t. But we did get 3 hours of baby sitting relief 3-4 days a week on average, which was very beneficial.

      1. I don’t think you said exactly that. I believe I internalized that from the daycare article where you wrote, “ Fact: Caring for your child is better than letting a stranger care for your child.”

        I felt awful about having a stranger care for our son. Until we found the right person and she was no longer a stranger but an expert. I am a better parent because of her. I spend one day a week with him and work from home so I get to see him a lot during the day and have to commute to rob me of time and energy with him.

  22. I can commiserate, it is inevitable and you’ll all get sick less frequently as the kids get older. Sorry to say this but pink eye and head lice are also in your future! Annual flu shots help too. Good luck & hope you all feel better soon :)

    1. Christine Minasian

      Yes! Head lice IS in your future Sam!!!! It absolutely stinks!!!! SOOO hard to get rid of but then again you have a boy so you can just shave his head. Not fun.

  23. Pay now or pay later, this phase of immunity growth has to happen in every child and every parent’s life. Best quote I read in 2019 – “Before kids I used to think I had a good immune system, turns out I was just really good at avoiding kids who sneeze in my face.”

    1. This made me laugh and is so true. Preschoolers spread germs like the plague and they touch ev-er-y-thing. My son is going through a let me taste random household objects phase and keeps putting sponges in his mouth. Gross!

  24. It will get better. My son is in 3rd grade now and he rarely gets sick anymore. I think exposure is a good thing for the most part. If you avoid germs and bacteria too much, your system will be weak. That why so many kids are allergic to something or another nowadays (my theory.) Kids need to touch dirt, germs, bacteria, and other nasty stuff.

    It’s tougher with a newborn in the house. You’ll need to be extra careful until she’s older.

    The flu shot is a good idea and we get it every year.

    1. I agree with Joe…Kids need to be exposed to all sorts of things to become more resilient…The cost of not getting sick at a young er age could be much higher later. :)

  25. In this culture, your job as a parent is to create a functional adult, thereby putting yourself out of business. You’ll always be a father, but hopefully the parenting role comes to an end at some point and your child moves out into the world for himself. For this reason I object to the formulation of the question, as though encountering viruses is a lifestyle choice for you, rather than part of your job to get your children ready for the world they will live in. Of course preschool is optional, not required, but kids raised at home also need to be exposed to the outside world, to the inconvenience of their parents. Otherwise you are not building towards functional adulthood, you are just doing what’s in your short-term best interest as a parent. The hardest thing about parenthood is how to get your short-term and long-term goals to align.

  26. Mary Poppins, M.S.Ed

    Hi Sam,

    Long time reader who never leaves comment, but as an Early Childhood Educator I have to chime in here…

    I am currently an education consultant for an all-day day school program and private preschool school in Manhattan. In the day school the children start as young as 12 months. In September it is always the case that the youngest group of children become sick due to their lack of exposure. The same goes for the 2’s program in the private preschool. We recently had more than half the class absent with the stomach bug which they all caught over the weekend at a birthday party.

    I wish pediatricians would be more upfront with parents about this and let them know ahead of time that this is normal. As you can imagine, especially for first time parents, they are always outraged and traumatized. We now inform parents ahead of time on the tours about the possibilities of children getting sick.

    As someone who has been in the field for 20+ years and comes into contact with over a hundred children a day I can assure you it only gets better. I can’t even remember the last time I was sick! Keeping your child home during flu season is not going to help his (or your) immune system build. Never underestimate the POWER of hand washing. I swear by good ol’ antibacterial Dial Soap and warm water. Keep fingernails short and try not to touch your face as much as possible. That is the real culprit for spreading germs, especially for children since they always have their fingers in or near their mouth and nose. Gross, I know.

    Again, it will only get better. It is better to expose and build his immune system now than wait until Kindergarten.

    Happy hand washing! :)

    1. I’m thankful for your assurance after 20 years of experience!

      Now I’m interested in your occupation as a consultant in Manhattan. I hear there are some really gung-ho parents over there and preschool is in super high demand!

  27. John Bennett

    The biggest cost from childcare is the child personality changes when they are essentially sequestered with their peer group instead of having a diverse age group to interact with.

      1. John Bennett

        Sure, but look at all the places where a kid is segregated strictly by age: sports teams, school, church, even some playgrounds by the structures they offer. One adult mixed with 15-30 kids isn’t really a diverse group.

        Humans have a built in affinity for things like them and we as a society push kids into an age based box. Throughout history kids used to be raised by extended family so kids interacted with a full spectrum of ages from 90 year old nana to newborn cousins. Kids used to play outside with neighborhood kids which meant the teenagers ruled the choices of games and the little kids followed along as best they could. Certainly there are disadvantages of emulating bad behavior, but my personal experience has seen my kids being kids with younger children and yet knowing how to be mature around adults – because the expectation is there.

        A lot of kids in daycare and preschool are barely one step above unsupervised. They can form little roving bands. Kids need to be able to form relationships with people outside their age bracket. When they become teenagers they will rarely confide in their parents but they will confide in their friends, who are also teenagers not known for making good decisions. But striving to make friends from different age groups takes effort and is a learned behavior just like making friends from moderately different socioeconomic groups.

        This was my experience. YMMV.

        1. our youngest has to deal with older siblings making all the rules…I think it’s partially ameliorated if you have a closer extended family with older and younger cousins

  28. I know this post is about being sick from pre-school, but your comment about being rich/poor enough to be a stay at home parent struck a chord. We chose to have a parent stay at home for our for kids, (at least until the youngest was in first grade, than it was part time work during school hours). That obviously had significant impacts on our ability to get ahead financially, and we questioned it some times.

    My oldest two are now teenagers, and they recently, on their own (if you have a teenager, you know how shocking this is) thanked us for having a full time parent at home! Even though not fully developed, they both can see in their peers the emotional difference. They see that their friends have more things, but aren’t happy. Both have received comments about how lucky they are that someone shows up to all their sporting events, school activities, and even the parent teacher conferences!

    Kids want to be your focus, once the basic security and life needs are met, they want to be loved. Time is the most precious of commodities. It can not be bought, and no one knows how much if it they have. Spending your time with with someone is the ultimate way to show love. That works at all ages, because we certainly want our children and grandchildren to spend time with us when we are old.

    Their is a balance, to be sure. Too much time together will make anyone irritable (ask my wife,lol). But I think having a parent at home, with unconditional love, waiting for their child, being that base of support, rest, caring, the place of ‘home’, is great gift to your child if you can pull it off.

    No matter what you say, or what you do, good or bad, how you spend your time is who you are.

    Hope you feel better!

    1. Christine Minasian

      SOOOO well said and I totally agree with your statement!!! We did the same and it creates a calm and loving environment when one of the parents wants to stay home with the child. The key word is “wants” to stay home…. I have no regrets staying home as I’m sending my kids to college. There’s always more stuff to buy….time goes WAY to fast. I’m glad I’m not the only parent that felt that way.

    2. “My oldest two are now teenagers, and they recently, on their own (if you have a teenager, you know how shocking this is) thanked us for having a full time parent at home! Even though not fully developed, they both can see in their peers the emotional difference. They see that their friends have more things, but aren’t happy. Both have received comments about how lucky they are that someone shows up to all their sporting events, school activities, and even the parent teacher conferences!”

      Good to hear! I do hope my kids one day feel the same way. They say kids don’t remember anything before 3… so it’s kind of like we’re still working to pay off our taxes before earning anything.

      1. Yeah, you pay up front like a mortgage it seems, especially physically. I’m your age now and can only imagine having babies again!! A young’s man game I say. Anyways, sleep well at night knowing that the child issues keeping you up at night will be for a whole new set of new reasons!!

  29. Thanks for the interesting content/read Sam and hope your getting some zzz’s! Our 14 month has been in daycare for nearly a year and we are all getting sick non-stop! We are also in the NYC area and my wife’s after tax income is essentially a wash to the post-tax expenses related to daycare. We are hopeful our family will expand and will not be exactly sure what to do regarding my wife employment situation… It seems kind of silly to take a haircut financially for strangers to watch our kids. However, our daughter seems to really love daycare and it has been really positive for her language and social development.

    1. Bummer! I do want to write a follow up post debating paying for childcare and work.

      What are some of the reasons why your wife still works if the cost and her salary are a wash?


      1. She genuinely loves what she does, finds it very rewarding and gratifying. I also think day care for our daughter is far better than my wife staying home with her all day. The socialization and activities at the daycare would be very difficult to adequately replicate.

  30. Mike Weinstein

    How about the very simple concept of raising your own child. I don’t get it really people today who create such chaos in there lives. My kids are grown now, independent, living on there own, enjoying life. We’re fortunate and grateful for our good instincts. You see my wife and I decided long before we ever started a family we didn’t want anyone else raising our children, we cherished the idea instead of looking for someone else to assign that task. We were married 7 years before we started our family. Both worked full time and always banked my wife’s salary. This discipline build a nest egg and got us accustomed to living on one salary. We didn’t make big salaries I was a salesman and my wife a secretary. We just knew what was important to us and being blessed with a family meant raising our children ourselves. It takes discipline, sacrifice, and establishing what’s important in your life yourselves not worrying what others think or have to say. Oh we also live in a high cost state NJ. So if we could do it anyone can if it’s a priority in your life.

      1. Sorry for any confusion but to be clear my wife quit her job once we started our family and I continued working. This was something we planned on together long before we started our family.

    1. There are many parents who think they are awesome parents who are simply lucky.

      Sure, they are generally good parents but when you look at the number of good parents with kids on the wrong track you begin to realize some of the variables are out of your control.

      It’s funny, some teachers think we are awesome parents and some probably not so much but that’s dependent on which child they teach…same parenting environment, almost identical timeframes, two different outcomes. Neither one are “bad” kids but one is a higher achiever than the other. One might qualify for a ivy and the other community college.

      A different swimmer making it to the egg first and we might have two kids that might go to elite school and we too could pat ourselves on the back for our awesome parenting skills…

      Or two kids that are more in the middle of the pack or even lower.

      Folks that would frequent this site generally will do the best they can with parenting so whether they choose to stay at home or not who’s to say which is better for their family? After all, years ago almost everyone had a SAH parent with the same mixed outcomes we have today.

      And with kids:

      Past Performance Is No Guarantee of Future Results.

  31. Ryan Anderson

    Great post Sam. My wife and I have been going through the same thing. My 3.5 yr old has been going to a baby sitter since he was 6 mos old. Now he is taking head start classes twice a week. Since starting to go to the baby sitter he was getting sick and getting us sick. Now that he is in school he is also getting his younger brother and sister (twins) sick too. In the last two months it has almost completely stopped. The only thing we changed was a daily gummy vitamin from our local wholesaler (Sams club). We believe the daily vitamin is to thank for us no longer having to go to the ER every 1-2 months. It was awful for a full year of that frequency due to respiratory issues like asthma, so we thought. We do regularly wash his and our hands, so that didn’t change.

    I hope this helps you and other readers!

  32. I have gained so much from your blog over the years and I’m excited to give a little back. As a dad of 2 (6 and 8) I know exactly what you are dealing with. Both of my kids were in preschool and we seemed perpetually sick. Then after a few years it all stopped. Their immune system built up and are hardly ever sick. I know I’m a small sample size but everyone I speak to says you are going to be sick either in preschool or school. By knocking it out early for my kids they both have almost perfect attendance records in grade school. Maybe all of this is self confirming basis but it feels real!

    1. Michael Arnold

      I completely agree.

      There is a reason they call it the daycare plague; once one kid gets sick, it spreads like wildfire. However, its all part of building up a strong immunity. By way of example, both my kids were/are in day care. As a baby, the oldest was sick a lot with just about everything (RSV (twice), bronchiolitis, hand foot and mouth (three times), croup, pink eye (at least 3 or 4 times), several stomach bugs, and ear infections). While those were seriously annoying at the time, now she almost never gets sick. Like Kenny’s example, and it is a small sample size, but in my daughter’s class, the kids who went to daycare are almost never sick now whereas the kids who stayed at home (or small daycare setting) seemingly catch everything. I’m sure it will all even out as they progress through grade school, but it seems like you either build up the immunity as a baby or you build it up later. From my perspective, I would much rather have it happen now.

      Now my younger one (not quite 2) has had many of the same childhood illnesses and still gets sick somewhat regularly…as she is currently sitting in her stroller next to me in my office.

  33. Oh man. I feel your pain. I’m up early reading this with a sick 2 year old coughing in my face. I agree you can’t put a price on sleep when you have 2 young kids.

    1. Hello Congrats to you and your family on your new addition!

      I totally agree with you, sickness was the worst part of day care. But now we all seem to have great immune systems and rarely is anyone sick. So for our family it all worked out for the best, parents could work and kids are doing fine. However, I could not go through it again so we stopped with 2 kiddos. It is not fun.

      Both our kids started at 6 mo, the first 2 cold seasons were the worst (x2) then it was fine. Healthy food, early bed times and having the ability to pick up the kids by 4 each day was our game plan. Also, we had a family member take care of them one day a week.

      It all worked out for us, they both made great friends that I think they will graduate from high school with and keep forever.

      Just gotta do what works for your family. If we had the same NW as you we definitely would not have Gone through it twice.

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