Minnesota Public Radio posted a question today on their Facebook Page:
"President Obama wants to help families pay for child care. Sources in the MPR Public Insight network tell us that child care expenses have been a factor in deciding whether to enter the work force. Today's Question: How has the cost of child care affected your career decisions?"
And I started typing an answer in the comments. It's too long, so here I am.
First of all, this question is usually posed within the framework of the dominant paradigm, that is, it's addressing a family of mother, father, and assorted children. In this paradigm, it's interesting that this question usually involves taking one parent's salary (the mother's) and subtracting the amount of childcare costs, as opposed to thinking about it in terms of household income.
This is for many reasons, among them: mothers are usually the primary caregivers, and women still tend to make less in the workplace. I was doing this in my head as well, knowing that our day care costs are almost $12 thousand a year for one child, thinking "That means I only bring home $14k a year," instead of thinking about it in terms of I still bring in $14k or thinking about it in terms of total net household income minus childcare costs.
In our situation, I did stay home for the majority of Finn's first year because of his prematurity. I was the one who stayed home because I do make slightly less than Pete but mainly because I am the one who was best at lactating. It was really no contest. If we were to be faced with the stay-at-home question now, it could be either of us, though I would still vote for me because daddywhumpus has the better job.
It's nice to know that either one of us could stay home if we lost our jobs and we could still pay the bills (especially considering that the recession will be hitting our job sector starting this next budget cycle). If we had another child, by accident, I would most likely stay home.