I recently graduated into the middle of a terrible recession. I had my first and only child while in college; since the college daycare wouldn’t take a child under two, I had to rely on family to watch my son while I was in class. After I got my degree I was excited to go to work and send my only son to daycare, where he can learn socialization with others his age. It shouldn’t have been a surprise when I discovered that there were no jobs available, and that the jobs I might land wouldn’t even cover daycare costs.
I have put in applications everywhere, and at the same time have browsed local daycare facilities in preparation for when I do get hired. The problem is, average full time daycare is between $150-$200 dollars a week, if not more. Part time daycare is only slightly less expensive, and has to be less than four hours a day, which doesn’t work well even for a part time working schedule. When you do the math, having even a full time minimum wage job will barely cover the costs of daycare. So where does that leave me? Is it even worth looking for work, when I know that unless it pays over $10 dollars an hour full time, it’s not going to cover daycare? This doesn’t even include other essential costs of living.
We’re living in a world where in order to survive on your own you have to send your kids to daycare, and yet at the same time the costs are so ridiculous many can’t afford it. It is now obvious to me that I am not the only one in my position; there are many stay at home mothers and fathers who have been forced to become homemakers because of the recession. I admit I cannot stand not working, and the hard work I do is essentially unpaid for, except with the knowledge that my son is well cared for. At the same time I feel for the working mothers who do not get to stay home with their kids.
Perhaps I would be less worried about sending my son to daycare if he had other kids to play with. There are arguments that the early years are the most important, and I feel he is missing a learning experience being an only child. Being the oldest in my family, there are not going to be any other children coming any time soon, and I can’t afford to have another. There is no one my age and socioeconomic status who are having children; they can’t afford it. If I had bothered to do the math at a younger age I would have known I couldn’t afford it either.
I am my son’s round-the-clock caretaker, and yet dreaming of becoming a career driven work mother. The recession has forced me into my position, and I can’t help but wonder how much time will go by before I am given the opportunity to succeed. Perhaps not until my son is in school, and I don’t have to worry about daycare costs.