Let me preface this by saying that I love the child care centre my kids go to. My firstborn started there seven years ago and we’ve had our kids booked there year after year ever since. Compared with other child care centres in our area, it’s on the more affordable side, and the quality they offer is excellent. I’ve never had a bad word to say about this wonderful place.
But like many other parents, staying on top of the bills for said child care has been an ongoing battle, and when I say battle, I mean BATTLE in every sense of the word.
Month after month we’ve stressed and struggled about paying the hefty child care bill for our twins to attend the centre three days a week, and being in our last year there, I’ve been looking forward to the sweet relief that school will bring in the money department.
Then I got THAT invoice
But when I opened my latest invoice for our May and June fees, I nearly fell over. I know we are at that tricky time of year when the rebate cap runs out, which means we pay full fees until the end of the financial year. I’ve encountered this every year, and somehow we manage to get through it.
“Yes, it’s a big bill at this time of year,” I usually say to my husband. “But, it’s so worth it. They learn so much at that place and they get to see all their friends. We’ll get through it!”
Like I said, normally, I would have been okay with a slightly bigger child care bill at this time of the year – after all, it happens to most parents and it’s nothing new.
But this bill was for … $7000.
Did you nearly fall over too? Yep, $7000. Otherwise known as the price of a small car, a trip to Disneyland or a new couch. A really fancy one.
All of these things would be a reasonable investment for that price, and no doubt the impact from any of them would have lasted longer than the two months of child care that $7000 was to pay for.
It’s laughable really. And weirdly, I didn’t freak out at this bill like I normally would have. I didn’t break into a sweat or start pacing up and down, wondering what sort of bank loan I could get to pay this bill. Instead, I had a sudden realisation, a moment of clarity: I’m done with the stress of paying for child care in Sydney. It’s UNAFFORDABLE for us.
It’s time to call a spade a spade and spend our precious pennies on other things.
Read more about child care here:
- Everything you need to know about sorting out problems at childcare
- 4 fail-proof ways to finding the right daycare for your child
- Dear Mummy, this is how I really feel after a long day at preschool
We made a big decision
So, my husband and I have decided to take our twins out of child care.
We’ll both take leave from work so we can balance out the extra parenting between us, and instead of spending money on child care, we’ll spend the money on our family instead. Because affording the ridiculous child care fees in Sydney has meant we can’t afford a bunch of other pretty important things, like swimming lessons and family holidays.
When I think about it, we’ve scrimped on everything constantly for the last few years, and now we’re done with it. Life is too short to be struggling like this.
We’re fortunate that between us and some special family members, we can make this work. With the money we save, we can spend it on activities and classes, books and cool educational toys that we can use at home.
We’re also fortunate that being twins, (and with two older siblings) our boys won’t miss the socialisation aspect too much. Plus, it’s halfway through the year already. It’s really not that long until they start school.
I reckon we can bridge the gap until then.
I’m excited about what lies ahead
Personally, I’m very excited about spending some time doing fun things with my boys, that we wouldn’t normally be able to fit into the budget.
I can put them in karate lessons (they need the discipline) and buy them bikes so they can learn to ride them this year. We can go on day trips to the zoo and the farm, and I can’t wait to start planning some family mini-breaks that we can actually afford.
When I think of the experiences this will give all of us, and the memories we’ll be creating, I think this is going to be money that is better spent for us.
In the meantime, it’s goodbye to our beloved child care centre. We love you to bits, and we’ll be sad to leave, but it’s time we waved the white flag.
We give up trying to afford you – but we feel kind of empowered at the same time.