Women with big careers — moreso than similarly situated men — are highly likely to be in 2-income families. And that means figuring out childcare. Consequently, childcare is one of our most requested topics on Best of Both Worlds. So we’ve covered it a lot! Since Sarah recently made some childcare changes, we decided to revisit the issue in this episode, mostly in light of our general BOBW childcare rules:
Think through day-to-day life. Unless your partner is responsible for all things kid-related, childcare will affect your day-to-day routines. So little annoyances add up. A daycare that is 15 minutes off your route vs. 5 minutes is going to add an additional 40 minutes to daily travel time. Even split among partners that’s 20 minutes apiece, or 100 minutes per week for each of you. So make sure this is a well-considered choice. One reason many people wind up going the nanny route is to avoid having to pack up multiple small children in the morning with assorted bottles, diaper bags, snacks, etc.
Be honest about how many hours you need. If you’d like to have help in the evenings with bedtime because your partner travels a lot, acknowledge this. If weekends will be crazed without another driver, figure this out. Sarah shifted her schedule to get evening coverage and also hired sitters to come for a few hours on weekend mornings so she and Josh can work or exercise, and then be more present the rest of the day.
Don’t be cheap. If you’re using daycare, don’t shop on price alone — you want to make sure your children are safe and happy and that you’re getting adequate hours and support. If you go the nanny route, just like in any other hiring situation, you’ll get better people by paying above-market rates, and offering paid vacations, bonuses, and the like. And, a reminder: anyone working in your home at hours you set is an employee. That means you need to pay on the books (withholding taxes and paying the employer portion of Social Security, plus making payments to your state’s unemployment insurance scheme, etc.) Sarah uses NannyPay, which is an app. I use GTM, which is a more full-service payroll company (they can do small business payroll too).
Think through trouble spots. If your daycare closes at 6 p.m. but you almost always have to work late on Thursday nights, what are you going to do about it? If you both travel occasionally, what are you going to do if one of you might have to work late and the other’s flight is delayed? Being optimistic is great in life, but not when it comes to childcare. Think about what could go wrong before it goes wrong and you’ll be much more calm when it does.
I realized, listening to the episode, that I sound a bit distracted — recording a podcast while feeding a baby is a bit more multi-tasking than I’d generally like to do, but that happened this week, so there we go.