Monday, July 25, 2011

Hidden Costs of Staying at Home

Staying at home with your kids does not equal free "childcare."
There are a lot of hidden costs to staying at home with your children that you might not think about before deciding to do so. I don't think they are in any way prohibitive, but they definitely creep up on you when you might not be expecting it.

1) Heating and Cooling

The largest cost that I didn't consider before staying home was Heating and Cooling your house.
Before we had kids, we turned the heat off during the day and had it REALLY low at night using blankets for sleeping. We had it set to automatically turn on to be warm(ish) when we came home for dinner, but that was kind of about it.

When you stay home - you are home ALL DAY - and you have kids - which means it's not necessarily safe to pile on the blankets and have the heat low.

Same goes for HEAT waves (like the one we're all suffering right now) We have to run the AC ALL day in the living room - then for naptimes and bedtimes. This means we went from running the AC occasionally and usually only at night (cause we were at work during the day) to running anywhere from 1 - 3 for hours and hours at a time.

Don't get me wrong, I prefer fresh air - but there is NO air at all right now, and my migraines have kicked up a notch with the humidity - so there's that. Plus with Ben, we need the room to be cool enough because warm weather is a danger for SIDS - so we will be eating quite the large bill for AC and Heat in the next 2 years.

2) Food
I think that when you stay home, you tend to eat more or at least waste more maybe. I find that when I worked - I would buy stuff for lunch and make and take my lunch and that was that. Now, I find that I buy more options because I think I would like to have lots of choices for food during the day - that's actually kind of false - at least for me.
Well, maybe not entirely false - I do find that I eat healthier both because I'm home and I'm nursing - so good for me, bad for our wallet right - hahaha
I don't think it's a bad place to spend money - I'm just saying I have found that is one place I spend more since staying home.

3) Toys
Obviously you can find ways to save here - especially if you have good friends close by and can take advantage of toy swapping and borrowing - but I really do think that when your kids are home every day - they NEED a larger variety of toys to play with and learn from than a kid who goes to daycare. (they get all the variety there) So, I don't think of it as spoiling so much as making sure my kids have lots of options to swap in and swap out so that our days are not mundane. We don't go crazy with buying toys - but I do find that lately I have been buying toys randomly - whereas when Katie was smaller - it was only for gifts for holidays, etc... the other day we got her Mega Bloks (80 awfully sharp, hard pieces to step on) and some play doh accessories as regular play doh wasn't cutting it anymore. I also feel bad sometimes when I spend money on toys because you probably could run a whole daycare with the stuff we already have - but I am very savvy and I hardly EVER pay full price for anything and I have scoured a lot of GREAT tag sales for awesome deals too!

4) Books
Katie LOVES books - which is great - we read before every nap/bedtime and also throughout the day. She oftentimes picks books to bring with her as toys when we go places. I have found the DOLLAR STORE - to be one of the greatest assets for books. I don't mean cheapy nobody knows bad quality books - check out their section - I have gotten Disney Books, princess books, board books, sticker and coloring books there too - I will never buy a coloring book at a regular store again when I can get the same thing at the dollar store!

5) Day Activities
I find that you eventually have to bite the bullet and start taking your kids to mommy and me type classes and story times, etc... Not all these things are free - so you end up spending money there.

Those are the 5 big ones I could think of - can anyone else think of anything else??
Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining - I do love staying home - I really do and I see all the benefits for the kids - it's just something that I was thinking about when I started freaking out about money. I had to remind myself that AC is just something we can't really save on at the moment!!
It's just a cost of staying home;)

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