Guest Author - Kris Bigalk
As many new parents will tell you, quality child care is very expensive. Multiply expensive times two, and you have the cost of caring for twins. So how can you find quality, affordable care?
The first step in assessing your situation is to call different types of care providers in your area and find out what an average rate is for each type of care. Get rate quotes for both full-time and part-time care from corporate daycare centers, licensed home daycare providers, and nanny services. Be sure to ask if there is a sibling or a twin discount!
After looking over the quotes, look at the salaries of you and your spouse. If the cost of care is equal to or greater than one person's salary, perhaps it would be a good idea if that person stayed home with the babies, at least for a year or two. The cost of care for older children is usually a bit less than for infants.
Some parents, myself included, can't imagine taking off work entirely. In this scenario, consider the option of part-time work and part-time care. This situation can be beneficial to both the parents and the children, in that the parents get some "downtime" and the children are exposed to new experiences and people.
In addition to traditional care choices, like a daycare center or a nanny, consider creating a child care co-op with friends or relatives. One group of four moms I know uses this method. One afternoon a week, the moms drop their kids off at one of the mom's houses. She watches the kids for the afternoon. The next week, another mom watches the kids, and so on. This way, each mom gets three afternoons a month for some "me" time, and one afternoon a month with all of the kids.
Another non-traditional option is nanny sharing. Find another family who needs part-time care, and split the cost of the nanny according to the percentage of time she spends with each family. This arrangement provides some variety for the nanny and some flexibility for each family.
Whatever child care option you choose, make sure you observe the caregiver in action with your children, and that you pop in unexpectedly on occasion to see what's going on. Ask the provider for references from families currently receiving care, and those who no longer receive care from the provider. Finally, it's always prudent to check with the agency in your state the oversees daycare licensing (usually the Department of Human Services), to view the provider's record and any complaints that may have been registered. When you're not with your children, you want someone there who loves them and cares for them the same way you would.