Exactly 20 days ago, my wife started a daycare at home. For most mothers who would like to stay at home a little longer with their kids, opening a home daycare seems logical. While you can stick around with your toddler, you are also bringing a few bucks home. No more rushing to the daycare; YOU are the daycare!
Well…it’s not that easy. While there are several steps you must follow before you open your daycare, there are several things to consider when you truly start as well. We took it on together as we realized we needed a little bit more of income if we wanted to reach financial freedom before the “normal age of retirement”. My wife also felt that our toddler started to run in around the house and get bored when she had to do household chores.
After 20 days living this new life, I’m ready to tell you what life looks like we have a daycare at home.
You know by now that I’m fairly organized in all aspects of my life. This is why we looked at the “process” of having a daycare at home and see how we can maximize our time and not burn out. Opening this side business meant more work for my wife and more work for me too. Since she was at home, I used to not be so implicated in the household chores. It was somewhat part of “her job” to keep the house clean.
This is why I find myself participating more than I was before… and this is also why we ended-up hiring a cleaning lady! Hahaha! NO, seriously, cleaning the house over the weekend meant that we couldn’t spend quality family time and this was non-negotiable for us. It’s important that our children can do their activities and that we keep up with a social life.
The daycare is opened starting at 7am. This means I take care of my kids from 7 am to 7:30 (the time the two oldest go to school and the toddler goes “into the daycare”). Prior to 7 am, this time is mine. It’s why I wake up at 5 am, eat breakfast alone, do my workout, wake up the kids, take my shower and then it’s 7 am and time to make breakfast for the family.
The daycare is opened until 5 pm but my wife is lucky and most of her kids leave before that. My two oldest stay at school until 4:15 pm and then walk home. Homework is done when I come home around 5 pm.
My wife didn’t want to offer just a place where kids can play safely and eat during the day. She is providing a very high quality daycare including weekly themes, homemade, healthy food with several different play areas inside and outside the house. This requires more hours for planning and designing activities where kids will not only have fun but will learn and grow.
Funny enough, simple things get complicated: how do you prepare lunch when you need to head the kitchen while you have 5 kids in the daycare? Or where will they will sleep for their afternoon nap? How to you go outside thinking they have to use the stairs when you have 3 kids around 18 months of age? These are all questions you have to find answers for before you open your daycare at home.
Gross revenues are quite easy to calculate: $25 per kid per day, 5 days per week. She has 5 kids (plus our toddler) so it adds up to $125 per day or $625 per week. My wife takes 5 weeks vacations that are not charged to the parents so the total annual income is roughly $29,375. It doesn’t look so bad when you think that she stays home, huh? Well… again… it’s a little bit more complicated than this. There is more on this later, but let’s go to the expenses first to see the net income.
I was happily surprised to discover that the daycare expenses weren’t as high as expected. We had to disburse a lump sum payment to open it (furniture, painting, materials, etc). After that, it becomes more affordable. So far, we show an increase of our grocery bill of roughly $50 to $75 per week. It’s hard to determine what is used by us or the daycare but this is probably within the ball range. Then, we decided to have a cleaning lady once a week to spare us the burnout. She charges $75/week.
Besides that, there will not be many additional expenses considering we have three kids and already have tons of toys ;-). So far, I can see a monthly expense of $600 at most. This is why I forecast to net $1,900 with the daycare.
When you think about it, the daycare is opened from 7am to 5pm. This makes 10 hours where my wife must remain accessible to kids. While there are breaks (the kids nap is roughly 1h30), there are no real and official break during the 10 hours. If one child doesn’t want to sleep one day (trust me, it happens often), the 1h30 pause just disappears! So working 50 hours per week to earn $625 makes an hourly wage of $12.50. But it’s more than 50 hours because you have to count time for planning, cooking, cleaning that is not within the 50 hours. So it’s more like 60 hours of work or $10.42/hours… and I didn’t count expenses and taxes. Gulp! If I take the net income ($1,900), it comes down to $7.92 per hour minus taxes.
Taxes won’t be much so we can almost consider the $1,900 to be net income. Still, it’s not the Klondike when you look at all the hours worked.
As you can see, life with a home daycare is far from being perfect. What truly sucks with this job is the incredibly repetitive routine you have to follow:
#1 Wake up at the same hour
#2 Prepare everything before the children arrive
#3 Welcome the kids – free play
#4 Activity #1
#5 Eat some fruit
#6 Go outside
#7 Activity #2
#8 Prepare lunch – free play
#9 Eat lunch
#10 Nap time
#11 Activity #3 – free play
#12 Kids leave
#13 You Clean up / prepare supper
#14 Our kids’ homework
#16 Wash the dishes, prepare things for the next morning
#17 free time… HAHAHA!
I’m well aware that this routine looks like a lot like any other job (just change the word Activity by client or another task and the word “outside and nap time” by taking a coffee 😉 ). The thing is that you can’t really skip it as we were able to before. We can’t skip the dishes as the children will be around the next morning so it can’t be done later. Same thing with everything else. This is also why my wife takes 5 weeks off!
Having a daycare at home is definitely a lot of work, but it brings a whole package of great things too:
#1 No transportation costs to get to work
#2 We eat healthier than ever
#3 5 weeks vacation
#4 Easy to find clients (it took my wife less than a week!)
#5 Stable income over time
And the most important: My toddler can stay at home with his mommy AND play with friends all day. Honestly, he just loves it! When we compare the other alternatives (finding a job elsewhere), we wouldn’t enjoy any of these advantages. When you consider the daycare cost, transportation and obviously more clothes, working outside the house wasn’t a good idea for her.
We will not buy a new BMW with this money but we will surely pay our debts pretty fast. Considering this additional income, I don’t need my year-end bonus to close my budget in the black. We will now be able to use the extra monthly cash flow to pay our debts along with my year-end bonus. So if I’m lucky, I will take less than three years to pay all my consumer debts other than my mortgage. If I only have my mortgage by the age of 35 to pay off, life will be great!
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