When I had my first child I was shocked to discover just how expensive child care is.
So expensive, in fact, that after crunching all the numbers, factoring in an over one-hour commute on top of an 8:00 – 5:00 hour work day, my husband and I decided that my returning to work wasn’t worth it.
And we’re not alone.
In a viral TikTok with over 1.3M views, a British mother of two, now living in the U.S., is shocked to discover how much she’ll have to pay in child care and questions how families do it.
Spoiler alert: many of us don’t.
Caroline Parker-Greene, the mom behind the popular TikTok account, Mummysflippinhouse, lives in the most expensive state in the country when it comes to child care — Massachusetts.
According to Child Care Aware of America, if you happen to live in MA, be prepared to empty your wallets. You’ll be shelling out $16,781 a year on average, FOR ONE CHILD.
Caroline has two children, ages 5 months and 3 years old. She decided to start a home staging business and wanted part-time child care.
She naively assumed that costs in the U.S. and the U.K. would be similar.
She was in for a very rude awakening.
Caroline shares her discovery on TikTok. She captions the clip, “I just found out how expensive daycare is in the USA.”
She starts out by saying:
“So I’m British and I’m living in the U.S. and I’m a mother of two and I’m just unlocking all of the cultural differences between our countries that I used to think were very similar.”
Turns out, we’re not so similar. And when it comes to child care? Not even a little bit.
“So I’ve just started a business, and I’m like, you know what? I’m gonna need the kids in daycare.
Not full-time, you know, just a couple of days a week to give me a break.
And also, my daughter is 3, so you know, it’s healthy for her to be in some sort of schooling and she loves it.”
But as they say, nothing in life is free. Least of all, child care. In the U.S. anyway.
So just how much will it set Caroline back? 2 arms, 2 legs, and a kidney. (I jest, sort of.)
$2200/month for her 5-month-old son.
$1800/month for her 3-year-old daughter.
For all you non-mathy people, that’s $4000 PER MONTH. For child care. Not even full-time child care at that. It’s part-time.
“No wonder so many women are stay-at-home moms in America,” Caroline says.
Caroline compares this to the U.K where everyone works, including moms.
This has everything to do with the fact that the cost of child care isn’t equivalent to a mortgage payment on a million-dollar house.
In fact, according to Caroline (and a quick google search on the U.K. government’s website), when a British child is 3 years old, they are eligible for 15 hours of FREE child care per week.
“All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 free hours per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but you can choose to take fewer hours over more weeks, for example.”
Additionally, some 3 to 4-year-olds are eligible for 30 hours of free child care a week.
And if your child is under the age of 3, families receive a 2.5% tax relief.
Who else is googling how to move to the U.K. right about now?
It’s not just about the financial gain of having the opportunity to work outside the home. Caroline also touches on the high incidence of depression in SAHMs, which she attributes, in part, to never getting a break from parenting.
“Work gives you a time away. Even if you don’t work while your kids are at daycare, it still gives you time to be a human.”
She ends the post begging the question,
“So does that mean that I just won’t, like, will I be able to work?
Because for a lot of people, with that, you know, your child care is in the 3000s, what is the point in going to work?”
Say it louder for the politicians in the back, please.
As one commenter so eloquently put it, “Welcome to America bby, it’s about surviving not thriving.”
Other commenters shared their own stories of how the astronomical costs of daycare have made it impossible to afford to work:
The harsh reality is, that for many Americans, child care is a luxury they can’t afford.
Juxtapose this with the fact that having a parent stay home with the kids is equally as unaffordable for many and essentially, we just can’t win.
But it’s not all bad news.
Child care costs in the U.S vary hugely depending on where you live. There are pockets of more affordable child care where it’ll only cost you $5400 per year (per child) but it’ll mean moving to Mississippi or South Dakota.
Or, alternatively, there’s always the U.K, apparently.
You can check out the original video here: