The average two-income household spends roughly $972 a month on child care, according to Child Care Aware of America.
The rising costs of day cares and nannies, coupled with the increase in two-income homes, has lead to an examination of whether or not paying for child care is even worth it.
“Increasingly, middle- and upper-middle-class parents are finding that day care is hard to find or access and that even when it is available it is startlingly costly,” writes The New York Times’ Alissa Quart.
Quart’s article, “Crushed by the Cost of Child Care,” tells the story of Carla Bellamy, a professor of anthropology at Baruch College in Manhattan. Bellamy, whose husband works as a composer, struggles even with a dual income of $110,000 to find child care she can afford.
“Our entire disposable income goes to child care,” Bellamy told Quart. “I have a career, I work really hard, and yet I get no break.”
As other costs, such as gas prices, continue to eat away at the annual income of working men and women, some mothers think it simply isn’t worth it to work when close to half their annual income goes to pay for child care.
"It comes down to a cost analysis,” Anna Behnam, a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial in Rockville, Md., told CNN Money last year. “I have several clients that have taken the route of quitting."
Margaret Heffernan, in an article for CBS MoneyWatch, thinks that even though many women struggle to find affordable care for their children while they work, spending the extra cash to keep a career alive is worth the money.
“When I had my first child, I too nearly fainted at the cost of child care, but it never occurred to me to consider staying home instead,” Heffernan wrote on Tuesday. “Why?” She continued, “Because even if my work brought in net zero income to our family, I knew that that would not be true forever.”
Heffernan argues that the importance of a woman investing in herself outweighs the admittedly striking costs of child care.
“I'm struck that men don't seem to think twice about investing in themselves — in classes, qualifications, conferences and clubs,” she said. “They don't seem to have any qualms about spending time and money on their professional development. I think we can learn a lot from this.”