Child care has always been tricky for our family. My husband Michael and I are both in the restaurant industry. Him as a Chef, and myself as a front of house Manager, after which i transitioned into commercial restaurant equipment sales in 2015.
I mention this because if you, or anyone you know is in the “industry”, you know the hours are loooog. Minimum 9 hour shifts, but could be as long as 12-14 hours depending on the season if you are Management (I’m stink eyeing you Christmas, New Years, Valentines, and Mothers day!). Also this is no Monday to Friday gig. We worked Saturdays and Sundays every weekend, (my hubby still does), so when we were coming to the end of my first maternity leave after having our son, we had no choice but to get a nanny. Also tricky, because we needed someone who would work weekends all the time, every weekend, no exceptions AND deal with our ever changing shifts, sometimes day, sometimes night, sometimes mid-shifts AND various over lapping hours. Some weeks we would have 35 hrs of work for the nanny, some weeks only 20 hrs, some shifts would be as short as 4 hrs for her and some as long as 10 hrs. See what I’m saying?
It was complicated, but over the years we found some wonderful nannies (and a few major duds, but that’s another story)
Now, factor in the cost. Oy! For any decent nanny worth their salt, you’re looking at $15 per hour, minimum. At our peak we were paying over $1600 per month for our child care, and that wasn’t even full time work! That factored to an average of 26 hours per week. Seriously, over $1600 a month, that was more then our rent at the time and even our mortgage now! WTF?
We did that for a year, but the ever increasing costs, and ever changing shifts became way too complicated for me along with the fact I was quickly realizing that I was d-o-n-e with restaurant management. We had to reduce costs, and schedules would have to change (meaning mine). So I made the move into sales at a national restaurant equipment and supply company. I took a 25% pay cut starting off at the bottom again, but it was a wonderful breath of fresh air. For the first time EVER I was a Monday to Friday 9-5 gal, and I loved the hours. The job also cut out 2 whole days of the child care we needed, reducing our monthly childcare from over $1600 to around $800. Wow right?
Well yes and no. You see throughout the restaurant years of our relationship, Michael and I only ever shared one day off together (standard Chef days off tend to be weekdays). Now with me working Monday to Friday we shared ZERO days off together. Its always a trade off right? Save a ton of money, but never see your husband. Believe it or not we lasted that way, no days off together for almost 3.5 years, and no I don’t recommend this for ANY COUPLE. But it was the only way we could survive financially, and that was by the skin of our teeth.
We found out we were pregnant with our second January of last year and our beautiful baby girl was born in October, and I was (and still am) blissfully on maternity leave. Yes the EI is only 55% of what I was making, but we are paying $0 for child care, and with the increased child tax benefits I’m only making a couple hundred dollars less a month than my salary.
Of course though, this will not last. When I go back to work we will need 3 full days of child care again, which tips us right back to over $1600 a month. That is almost half of my take home pay. HALF!!! What are we gonna do? I honestly don’t know. The struggle is real people. It won’t ruin us, but it is simply just a grotesque number to justify in my mind when so many European countries have universal childcare, or $10 a day childcare that is WIDELY available to everyone. Here in Vancouver you have to put your name on a daycare list the second you get pregnant, OR literally line up at 5am till 7pm to put your name down for a first come first serve WAIT-LIST, and a lot of the time those efforts will be futile. So frustrating.
Anyway, I don’t have the solution. We will work with what we’ve got and manage, we always seem to.
So if you’re i the same boat as us, and I’m sure there are a lot of you, know that you’re not alone. I get it. I feel for you. I’ve been there. You can vent to me at any time, and drop all the f-bombs you want (believe me, I’ve edited out at least 10).
I’m sure this is a major topic we will be covering in my upcoming Mom & Baby classes. I can’t wait to hear your stories.
That’s all for now.