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The Benefits (and Costs) of Child Care When You Work from Home

Here's what you can expect to pay for child care when you work from home.
A nanny playing with a child.

At some point during your career, you fantasized about what it would be like to ditch your office job and work from home. Now, the opportunity has finally come to have a remote job and a flexible schedule, not to mention all the money you’ll save by eliminating many of the expenses associated with a traditional job. But if you thought you could save money by cutting your child care, too, think again. In order to successfully work from home, you’ll still need some kind of kid care in place, especially if your children are not in school full-time yet. Working Mother Magazine recently outlined the (sigh) pretty pricey costs of child care. Here’s what you can expect to pay for child care when you work from home.

The Nanny

The Benefits: If your child is still a baby and you would like to have him at home without having to watch him 24/7, a nanny could be a good fit. The nanny will work in your home and might even become a live-in. In addition to providing personal, one-on-one care for your child (including meals and housework), a nanny can also help in a pinch in the event that you have to work extra hours or travel for your job.

The cost: Having a nanny certainly isn’t cheap. On average, you can expect to shell out about $36,275, which may (or may not) include care for multiple children. Wages may be tax-deductible (Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit) and eligible for flexible spending account (FSA) reimbursement.

Center-Based Day Care

The benefits: Even though you have a telecommuting job, you tend to stick close to home by working from your home office. That doesn’t allow for a whole lot of outdoor activities for your little one. By putting your child in a center-based day care, she can receive some much-needed social stimulation and interaction from kiddos her own age. Depending on the day care, she may also get to go on field trips or even receive kindergarten readiness help.

The cost: Depending on location, $4,863 to $16,430, on average, for full-time infant care. Prices may decrease as your children get older. Costs may be tax-deductible and eligible for FSA reimbursement.

In-Home Day Care

The benefits: If you like the idea of your toddler being with other kids, but on a smaller level, you can opt for in-home day care. Usually a single caregiver will care for a smaller group of children in her own home.

The cost: Depending on location, $3,930 to $11,046, on average, for full-time infant care. Costs may be tax-deductible and FSA-eligible, and the price may drop as children get older.

An Au Pair

The benefits: Let’s say that you want your one-year-old to start learning how to speak French. Hiring an au pair can have your child singing “Frere Jacques” fluently in no time. The au pair may be a student from another country who will live in your home and, in exchange for room, board, and a small stipend, provide care for your child. Some au pairs will even perform meal prep and clean, too.

The cost: $18,772 on average, plus food costs, regardless of the number of children. The fee includes $500 a year toward the au pair’s enrollment in a local, post-secondary U.S. education program. Au pair wages may be tax-deductible and eligible for FSA reimbursement.

Even though child care can be costly, you can still have greater work-life balance than those who have a traditional office job. Whether it’s giving your baby a kiss after the nanny puts him down for a nap or taking your toddler out of day care for an impromptu afternoon ice cream cone, having child care in place while you work from home will allow you to be as productive as ever in your job, while still savoring extra special moments with your children.

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