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The True Cost of Childcare for Families

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Work and motherhood are competing priorities for working women but the love for both, doesn't have to be. It is October 2020, I have just given birth to my second child and we are waiting to move into our first house in Carrigaline. I begin to call up the local childcare providers to be put on a waiting list for when I intend to return to work in September 2021.


  • Do I need a place closer to home to drop off on the way to work when in the office or a short stroll when working from home?

  • Is it better to have one closer to the office due to the opening hours and commute time?


  • What is the cost of 2 children in childcare (one on the ECCE scheme)?

  • How will this affect my take-home pay?

  • What other fees will I have to pay?


  • Childminder?

  • Not working?

Can I afford to work?

I know I am not alone in having had to ask that question. My local childcare provider only accepts babies in July. Which means paying from July whether I want to start the service from that entry point. Their opening hours suggest I may have to find a workaround if working from the city which is potentially another cost. I am a year out, in the honeymoon phase with my newborn, and all of a sudden I am struck with fear, overwhelm, and quite frankly anger.

This whole experience set me on a course to disrupt the way things are done. There are far too many barriers getting in the way of moms working and while we are increasingly acknowledging it, we need to speed up fixing it.

Every day I am greeted with news headlines about the current cracks in our childcare industry:

The cost of childcare

The waitlists for spaces

The issues with recruiting staff

Does it make financial sense for me to work?

There are mammys who chose to leave work so that they can fully concentrate on motherhood. There are mums who chose to reduce their hours at work to spend more time with their families.

There are mamas who go back to work the same hours before having children

There are moms who chose to start their own business

All moms must make a choice about how they want to divide their time when they become a mom and I am on a mission to help moms make empowered decisions that are right for them and not due to a lack of choice!

So many moms tell me they don't feel like it is financially viable for them to work and this is down to a few factors:

  • A limiting belief that their wage equals the cost of childcare

  • A lack of childcare options

  • Systemic & institutional beliefs around who the default parent is

  • The motherhood penalty

How can I make the right choice for me and my family?

The true cost of childcare boils down to families questioning if the time, energy, and money are worth it. How do you make the right choice for your family when the only options are not ideal? If you are thinking about whether going to back to work makes sense for you and your family here are some questions you can consider

  • Do I find purpose in my work?

  • Where would I like to see my kids spend their time?

  • How can I best facilitate it?

  • What drains my energy?

  • What gives me energy?

  • When am I at my best?

  • When am I at my worst?

  • How will working while parenting impact this?

  • What is the cost of leaving my job?

  • What is the cost of keeping my job?

  • Long-term what is the cost of my choice?

Working moms responsibilities have grown over the decades so it is important to have a look at where you want to spend your resources the most.

The traditional childcare model is outdated and no longer fit for purpose. While the world embraces hybrid ways of living and reflects on ways we can create a better work/life balance for employees, we need the proper system to support this change.

1. Wage increases for early childhood practitioners. Creating a more attractive industry for people to enter will help retention of staff and allow more families to benefit from fully-staffed services with empowered employees.

2. Flexible options for childcare. So many services are only able to offer full-time childcare which works out more costly and limits the people buying.

3. More Government funding The national childcare scheme has done wonders for families this year and while there is a long-term plan to continue this trajectory, there needs to be better care right now to make childcare affordable. How can we improve the situation?

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