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How This Mompreneur Cut Down on Child-Care Costs

How This Mompreneur Cut Down on Child-Care Costs
Image credit: illustration © Jim Frazier
This story appears in the January 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It costs a lot of money to be an entrepreneur. Somehow, I make my personal finances work while building a startup and taking care of two kids, but I’ve noticed an increasingly expensive pattern that I would like to change in 2015: the amount of time, energy and money I put into figuring out how to care for my kids outside of school.

The average working American gets two weeks of vacation; entrepreneurs like us usually take none. Typical workdays end at 5 p.m., but entrepreneurs keep going until the work gets done. Schools, meanwhile, follow their own schedules. When you include holidays, spring and winter breaks, teacher conference days, snow days and sick days, most of us have to figure out an annual eight weeks of child care beyond the work vacations we’re allotted. And that doesn’t include regular after-school care.

In 2014, my children’s father and I spent at least $10,000 on child care to cover gaps between school and work schedules, not including what we had to shell out for the long summer break. 

Now, I know that most parents will spend whatever it takes to get their kids into a good child care/preschool/nanny situation. Paying for quality isn’t the issue here. Paying for more of it than I have to is—and something has to shift. While I can’t change the school calendar (if I could, I’d start by shrinking summer break to two weeks), I do have the power to change how I manage my business to better fit my children’s schedule—and save some dough and a bit of my sanity in the process. 

First up, I’m going to try to do away with the eight-hour workday. Cutting out just two hours per day, two or three days per week, would save me thousands in child care each year. I can easily work an extra 10 hours per week on weekends or at night after my kids are asleep to pick up the slack. 

Another tactic I’ll try is to limit after-work networking events. Networking is clearly a core part of professional advancement, but if these cocktail hours and dinners are work-related, shouldn’t they happen during work hours? Fortunately, as the founder of a high-profile women’s media brand, I can influence how some of these events are scheduled. In 2015 I’m committed to exploring more midday and virtual networking formats to better support the family schedules of all my staffers.

These small changes may fly in the face of everyone’s idea of the committed entrepreneur, but I believe all of us need to think critically about how the time our kids spend in child care is truly a cost against our businesses. The goal should be to better manage our workday so we can spend more time with our children—a payoff that’s both monetary and emotional.